he United States and Psychological Warfare in Italy
edge each other as legitimate enemies, as
The totality and absoluteness of the war conflicted nonetheless with the impossibility of solving it by military means. Psychological warfare, therefore, rapidly became a surrogate for a war that could not be fought-at least in the traditional way-and came to occupy a preponderant role in the United States anticommunist arsenal2 But the absolute nature of the bipolar conflict combined also with the substantial opaqueness and ambiguity of the concept of psychological warfare in transforming it into a sort of catchall formula. Since anything could have psychological repercus- sions, and since in a tmal war any act is automatically an act of war, any measure promoted by the United States could be ascribed to the potentially infinite panoply of psywar. We can reach our objective not solely, not even chiefly, by means of mil- itary force, maintained an internal document of the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) of November 1951, so, our intention is to use all other conceivable means to reach our objective; means that are lumped together under the general heading of 'Psychological Operations.'
In the early Cold War the United States goals in Italy were to prevent a Commu- nist takeover and, possibly, to reduce the appeal and electoral strength of the Italian Communist party (PCI, Partito Comunista Italiano). Most of the actions under- taken to those objectives were unofficial, since they involved intervention in the internal affairs of another sovereign country. The so-called psywar plans for Italy elaborated in the early 1950s were consequently characterized by their emphasis on the necessity for resorting to unorthodox and clandestine instruments: on specific actions, as it was explicitly stated, rather than propaganda themes. * Psychological warfare was therefore most of the time understood as synonymous with co;ert operations. But the measures provided for in these plans also considered several other aspects, reflecting the catchall nature of the vague notion of psywar. Italian economic problems, the reform of the electoral law, and Italy's trade with the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were just a few of the many issues
See Anders Stephanson, Fourteen Points on the Very Concept of the Cold War, in
Thuatail and Simon Dalby (New York, 1998), 62-85; and Federico Romero, Indivisibilit2, della guerra fredda: La guerra totale simbolica (Indivisibility of the Cold War: The symbolic total war),
(Rome), 38 (0ct.-Dec. 1997), 935-50. On the
versus the absolute enemy, see Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen (The concept of the political),
Archivfiir Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik
(Tiibingen), 58 (1927), 1-33; and Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff der Piraterie (The concept of piracy),
Volkerbund und Volker- recht
(1937), 351-54. Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), Notes on a Grand Strategy for Psychological Operation, Oct. 1, 195 1, box 23, Staff Member and Office Files, Psychological Strategy Board Files (Harry S. Truman Library, Indepen- dence, Mo.). Established in April 1951 by a presidential directive, the Psychological Strategy Board had the task of indicating the principal objectives of United States psychological warfare abroad, defining guidelines, and coor- dinating the activities of the departments and agencies engaged in the field of psychological warfare.
statutory members were its director, the undersecretary of state, the deputy secretary of defense, and the director of the
(Central Intelligence Agency). The presidential order creating the
Foreign Relations of the United States,
(10 vols., Washington, 1979), I, 58-60. See also John Prados,
Presidents Secret Wars:
and Pentagon Covert Operationsfrom World War IIthrough the Persian
Gulf(Chicag0, 1996), 84-87; and Rhodry Jeffreys-Jones,
(New Haven, 1998), 69-85. 4Psychological Strategy Board, Terms of Reference for ad hoc Panel C, Sept. 26, 1951, box 2,
Working File 1951-53, Records relating to the Psychological Strategy Board (Lot File 62D333), General Records of the Department of State, RG 59 (National Archives, Washington, D.C.).