War, Journalism, and Propaganda


the BIg Lie


Public Relations


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Wars and conflicts begin in the minds of men and women. Before there is a war of bullets and bombs, there is a war of ideas. Images and ideas emerge first. Before one kills another human being, one has to rationalize killing, to explain killing, to justify killing. The first casualty in war is the truth.

How are racist propaganda campaigns and war to be explained and comprehended? How are propaganda campaigns of racism and bigoted satanization and demonization of an entire people and religion to be explained by an avowedly "democratic" and "free and open society", the United States, "the leader of the free world"? The techniques and methods --- information warfare (war propaganda )--- are those routinely used by ruthless and oppressive totalitarian, authoritarian, and undemocratic states and governments. To understand and to grasp why and how the US government and media wages propaganda campaigns or wars, the role of journalism and war in US history must be examined and studied.

Journalism in America

Is there a free press in the U.S.? Do we have freedom of the press, or, as Wilson Bryan Key has argued, do we need freedom from the press, which is biased, manipulative, controlling and controlled by the government and business interests?

The first newspaper in colonial America, Publick Occurrences both Foreign and Domestic (l690), was immediately suppressed by the governor of Massachusetts. The first regular newspaper in the colonies, the weekly Boston News-Letter, appeared in 1704 and was published by authority of the government; it was a government-run newspaper, published by John Campbell, the postmaster. In 1719, it was replaced by the Boston Gazette, published by postmaster James Franklin, who two years later started his own newspaper, the New England Courant, which was the beginning of independent journalism in America.

American newspapers became highly partisan after the Constitution of l787. Newspapers either adopted the positions of John Adams' Federalists or Thomas Jefferson's Republicans. The US government immediately saw the value of newspapers as a tool or instrumentality of the government. At one time, President Andrew Jackson had 60 full-time journalists on the White House payroll, the precursor of the White House press corps.

It was in reaction to such political partisanship in the press that James Gordon Bennett in l835 founded The New York Herald. In 1841, Horace Greeley founded The New York Tribune. In 1851, Henry J. Raymond founded The New York Times newspaper, which in 1896 was bought by Adolph Simon Ochs who rejected the sensationalistic yellow journalism of Pulitzer and Hearst. Ochs made the Times into the most authoritative newspaper in America and the world. The New York Times would later be a party two landmark US Supreme Court cases on freedom of speech: New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964) which allowed a public official to sue for libel only if there was "actual malice", and the New York Times Company v. U.S. (1971), the "Pentagon papers case", which denied the government request to impose a "prior restraint" on information impinging on national security. By l850, there were 400 dailies; in l880, 850 dailies; and, in l900, more than l, 950. The mass audience or mass public newspaper emerged.

But what is the nature of "all the news that fits"? U.S. newspapers are comprised of approximately 70 % advertising and 30 % editorial content. Thus, about 70% of any U.S. newspaper consists of strictly commercial propaganda, advertising. The remaining 30 % of news is imbued with "highly specific motives". In other words, the news is not neutrally selected, but originates from government spokespersons, government agencies, public relations firms, industry, corporate and commercial organizations, and publishers. Moreover, government and business often engage in what is known as planting within media, that is, infiltrating the media with its own personnel. In the Kosovo Crisis in 1999, this was evident when it was disclosed that U.S. Army psyops (psychological operations) Specialists, i.e., military propagandists, were working for the largest news network, CNN. These propaganda specialists, psyops specialists, were involved in propaganda operations and dissemination during the Persian Gulf War and the Bosnian Civil War. Such plants by government and industry are long-standing, common, and routine, especially in newspapers. Moreover, most readers of newspapers do not read to gain information per se, but to gain reinforcement of established stereotypes, prejudices, and predispositions, to maintain the status quo and to sell products, what appears in newspapers is "all the news that sells". Thus, much of what appears as news in newspapers is not neutral, but biased and selected with connections to government and industry. Very little of the so-called free press is actually free.

In l887, William Randolph Hearst (1863-195l) ran the San Francisco Daily Examiner newspaper and made it into a success by sensationalistic and manipulative journalistic methods and techniques. In l895, he purchased The New York Morning Journal, copies of which sold for one cent and he began making use of "yellow journalism", sensationalistic, manipulative journalism.

Yellow journalism derived from the cartoon strip The Yellow Kid, drawn by Richard Felton Outcault in Joseph Pulitzer's World Newspaper and which was printed in yellow ink. Outcault would later join Heart's Journal newspaper.

In l897 and l898, during the Cuban crisis, Hearst made use of the techniques of yellow journalism by editorially clamouring for US military intervention against Spain. Through disinformation, yellow journalism, jingoism, and media manipulation, Hearst was able to induce the US to wage a largely needless war against Spain, the Spanish-American War. The techniques and methodology used by the US media and government in manufacturing the war against Spain in l898 are instructive and essential in understanding the role of journalism.

The Cuban Crisis

“Readers and viewers received the most vivid reports of cruelty, tragedy, and barbarism...It was an unprecedented and unrelenting onslaught, combining media techniques with advocacy journalism ...The media became a movement, co-belligerents no longer disguised as noncombatants and nonpartisan. News was outfitted in its full battle dress of bold headlines - the clear purpose was to force governments to intervene militarily.”

This description exactly describes what appeared in Heart's Journal and Pulitzer's World from l895 to l898. The sensationalistic, inflammatory, and propagandistic articles and editorials in Hearst's Journal and Pulitzer's World newspapers did much to incite war hysteria and in fact did much to cause an unnecessary war with Spain. Hearst and Pulitzer, the deans of American journalism, vied with each other to see who could produce the most sensationalistic, biased, and one-sided news stories about the Cuban crisis.


Hearst himself best described this style of journalism when he castigated Pulitzer who he stated was a journalist "who made his money by pandering to the worst tastes of the prurient and horror-loving, by dealing in bogus news ... and by affecting a devotion to the interests of the people while...sedulously looking out for his own." Their style of journalism became known as "yellow journalism", which meant a style that made use of cheaply sensational and unscrupulous methods in newspapers to attract or influence the reader. Today, it would be termed "trash" or "tabloid journalism".


Both Hearst and Pulitzer demanded that the US intervene and wage war against Spain. They published sensationalistic stories about "Spanish atrocities" and about the Spanish Governor General of Cuba, General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau, who was labeled "the butcher Weyler", a "rapist", and a "torturer".


Hearst sent the artist Frederick Remington to Havana and other Journal correspondents to report on the Cuban civil war. But Remington reported back that there was virtually no fighting in Cuba at all and that a major conflict could be avoided. Remington sent the following telegram to Hearst in March, l898:

"Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. I wish to return. --- Remington."

Hearst sent the following famous telegram in reply:

Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war. --- W. R.


In virtually all media propaganda meant to lead to war or intervention, atrocities are an essential element. Atrocities are essential to create an imperative for intervention. During World War I, British, French, and US propaganda relied on a single theme, German or "Hun atrocities". German soldiers were accused of bayoneting Belgian infants, chopping off the limbs of children and eating them, raping Belgian girls, shooting children and executing hostages and committing massacres. Before the German invasion of Poland in l939, the regime exhibited through the media examples of alleged Polish atrocities against the German minority. Indeed, the Germans even manufactured and staged an atrocity, "Operation Himmler", a supposed Polish attack on a German radio station in Gleiwitz in 1939 to justify the German invasion of Poland. Before the US attack on Iraq in 1991, the US manufactured a bogus atrocity to incite popular support for intervention. Iraqi soldiers were accused of turning off incubators in hospitals and allowing Kuwaiti infants to die. A Kuwaiti girl testified before a US Congressional Committee, the Human Rights Caucus chaired by Tom Lantos and John Porter, that she was an eyewitness to this alleged atrocity. After the Persian Gulf War had ended, it was exposed that the Kuwaiti girl, Nayirah al-Sabah, was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, Saud al-Sabah, and that she did not witness any of the events, which instead were manufactured by the PR firm, Hill & Knowlton, a firm like MPRI, which has close contacts with the U.S. government. Moreover, the US media ran non-stop coverage of video footage of a gas attack by Iraqi forces against Kurdish civilians accused of collaborating with Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. Before the conflict, when Iraq was a client state, the U.S. maintained that responsibility for the gas attack could not be determined. Most recently, before the US invasion of Haiti in l994, President Bill Clinton distributed and made available to news reporters and journalists "atrocity photographs", which the US government alleged purported to show atrocities committed by the Haitian regime which the US sought to overthrow. Wars and conflicts come and go, but the propaganda techniques and methods remain the same.


Hearst's Journal and Pulitzer's World newspapers relied on biased, one-sided, sensationalistic and propagandistic coverage of the Cuban crisis. While the smaller New York newspapers, the Herald, the Post, Tribune, and Times, were anti-war and presented analyses of the conflict which discussed the complicated political issues involved and reported that crimes had been committed by both sides, the World and Journal had the highest circulation which only dramatically increased with the use of yellow journalism. Pulitzer himself was at first opposed to the war with Spain, but later changed his view when he realized that a pro-war stance led to higher circulation.


Both Hearst and Pulitzer presented a hero-villain scenario for the Cuban crisis, a good guys and bad guys role for the combatants which was simple to understand and grasp by those who knew little about the conflict. Both papers featured articles about the murder of Cuban infants and the rape of Cuban women by the Spaniards.


The World sent Sylvester Scovel, a University of Michigan alumnus, to Cuba to cover the conflict. Scovel was a strong advocate of the Cuban insurgents and reported on Spanish "atrocities", vividly describing the bodies of murdered and mutilated Cubans, stating that "the Spanish soldiers habitually cut off the ears of the Cuban dead and retain them as trophies." Due to this propagandistic reporting, the Spanish restricted American journalists. This led to still more inaccurate coverage, based on innuendo, rumour, subterfuge and deceit. Thus, neither the US government nor the US public was accurately apprised of what the facts were in Cuba. The Spanish side of the conflict was virtually unknown and unavailable in the US. US coverage focused on "Spanish atrocities" which were based on biased and usually fictitious reports by journalists and reporters who did not witness the reports but merely repeated hearsay and innuendo.


The US government armed, trained, and supplied the Cuban rebels who were led by rebel leaders based in New York City. Clearly, the US government allowed journalists and newspapers to do its dirty work, to allow journalism to act as a vanguard for the government, allowing the US government to act covertly and invisibly, although the government was clearly pulling the strings.


American journalism and journalists and reporters to this day are guided by the techniques and methods used by Hearst and Pulitzer, changing very little since that time.


On February 15, l898, the US battleship Maine blew up in Havana harbour. The cause of the explosion was never determined, but the immediate US media and government reaction was to blame Spain. Pulitzer and Hearst clamoured for war, with the rallying cry, "Remember the Maine". Pulitzer's World had the following headline: "Maine Explosion caused by Bomb or Torpedo? Washington officials ready for vigorous action if Spanish responsibility can be shown." The World sent its reporters to investigate the cause of the explosion. Hearst's Journal ran the following headline: "How do you like the Journal's War?"


Hearst's Journal and Pulitzer's World whipped up war frenzy and hysteria to a fever pitch using sensationalistic reporting, jingoism, and yellow journalism to manipulate and distort the news. The bloody war which resulted, the Spanish-American War, was called by Secretary of State John Hay "a splendid little war", much like the later Persian Gulf War, which was almost a bloodless video-game war using "smart bombs"

The most intense fighting of the Spanish-American War, the "splendid little war", occurred in the Philippines, in which an estimated 20,000 Filipino "insurgents" were killed and up to 200,000 died of hunger and disease caused by the US invasion. US combat deaths were slightly over 4,000.


The US Secretary of War described the Philippine people as those who engage in "base treachery, revolting cruelty." US military commanders described the Filipinos as "gorillas...savages, habitually violating all the laws of war as known to civilized nations." A second commander stated that it was difficult to ascertain who was an enemy soldier from the general population because "the problem here is more difficult on account of the inbred treachery of these people, their great number, and the impossibility of recognizing the actively bad from the only passively so." Theodore Roosevelt described the US victory as a triumph of civilization over "the black chaos of savagery and barbarism." In "The White Man's Burden", Rudyard Kipling in l899 wrote about Filipinos and other Asians as follows: "... Fluttered folk and wild ... sullen peoples, half devil and half child."


American troops referred to the Filipinos as "niggers", "treacherous savages", and "treacherous gugus" or "goo-goos", which would re-emerge as "gook" in World War II and the Vietnam War as derogatory terms for Asians.


The fighting in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War was called "Injun warfare". One American soldier told a reporter that "the country won't be pacified until the niggers are killed off like the Indians." Another soldier stated that "the only good Filipino is a dead one. Take no prisoners; lead is cheaper than rice." A US private told of the results of a "goo goo hunt": "The old boys will say that no cruelty is too severe for these brainless monkeys, who can appreciate no sense of honour, kindness or justice ... With an enemy like this to fight, it is not surprising that the boys should soon adopt 'No quarter' as a motto, and fill the blacks full of lead before finding out whether they are friends or enemies." General Arthur MacArthur stated that "inferior races" succumb to wounds more easily than Anglo-Saxons in explaining to a Congressional Committee why 15 Filipinos were killed for every one wounded..


How is one to grasp and comprehend this pattern of news reporting? One has to begin with an examination of the development and techniques of propaganda. What is propaganda?


The term propaganda is derived from the Latin propagare, to propagate, to reproduce, to spread, with the meaning, to transmit, to spread from person to person. Propaganda is short for Congregatio de propaganda fide (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), a committee of Roman Catholic cardinals established by Pope Gregory XV in l622 organized as a missionary group which proselytized for conversion to Roman Catholicism.


A modern definition is the systematic, widespread dissemination or promotion of particular ideas, doctrines, or practices, meant to further a particular cause or agenda and weaken that of another; it is a systematic effort to manipulate attitudes, beliefs, or actions by the use of symbols. It is commonly used to describe any deceptive or distorted accounts, usually as a dismissive, disparaging, and pejorative term, which in its broadest sense, can be and is applied to any account one does not agree with. In its purest and essential form, propaganda consists in the manipulation of symbols----words, pictures, signs, and images. At its most pure level, words and language, and indeed, even thought can be dispensed with. Merely a stimulus or image is all that is required to produce the desired response. Hearst stated: "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Hearst, like his journalist successors of today, understood the methodology and essential principles of propaganda perfectly.


The term 'propaganda' is unpopular as a description in American political and social discourse and analysis. Instead, propaganda and propagandists are known by different terms: public relations (PR), publicity, advertising, information warfare, spin doctors, image brokers, public affairs, promotion, marketing, media relations specialists, lobbyists. Moreover, the term 'propaganda' has been overused so that the term is practically meaningless today. This is so because propaganda has been one of the most prevalent and widespread phenomena of the twentieth century. The dangers of propaganda were first perceived in its first widespread and systematic use during World War I, the Great War.


There is a widespread misconception and myth that propaganda exists only in totalitarian states and not in democracies. The German philosopher Georg Hegel was one of the first to show that even in democracies, the public is manipulated and persuaded by "hidden persuaders" and "hidden manipulators". In his l821 The Philosophy of Right, Hegel explained how the public in a democracy is manipulated by commercial interests which seek to make a profit:


"What the English call 'comfort' is something inexhaustible and illimitable. [Others can discover to you that what you take to be] comfort at any stage is discomfort, and these discoveries never come to an end. Hence the need for greater comfort does not exactly arise within you directly; it is suggested to you by those who hope to make a profit from its creation."


Even in democracies, the populace is manipulated and persuaded by unseen and invisible persuaders and manipulators. Hegel was one of the first to see this, before Alexis de Tocqueville, before William Randolph Hearst, before Noam Chomsky. The French author Anatole France explained it this way: "Democracy (and, indeed, all society) is run by an unseen engineer",


Edward L. Bernays (1891-1995), a nephew of Sigmund Freud, was a theatrical publicist and propagandist during World War I, working for the Committee on Public Information headed by George Creel, writing propaganda pamphlets. In l928, he published the influential book, Propaganda, in which he argued that propaganda could be a mechanism for engineering consent and popular approval. Bernays virtually invented the public relations business, establishing the theoretical groundwork in Crystallizing Public Opinion (l923). The masses could be controlled without their knowledge through public relations or propaganda. Bernays stated: "If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it."


Bernays, known as the "father of spin", was a pioneer of public relations (PR) and his work did much to open the door for the PR conglomerates of today, such as Hill & Knowlton, Ruder Finn, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum PR, and Ogilvy & Mather. He was a "public relations counselor" for the American Tobacco Company, the United Fruit Company ( now United Brands),Venida Hair Net Company, Cartier, and Proctor & Gamble. His greatest achievement in commercial propaganda or PR was a brilliant campaign to convince American women that to "emancipate" themselves, they should smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes, the "torches of freedom".


By l996, US business would spend $l trillion on marketing. PR firms would employ over 150,000 workers and who would influence 40% of everything Americans read or see.


Bernays, the dean of the public relations profession, called "U.S. Publicist No. 1", defined public relations as "the attempt, by information, persuasion, and adjustment to engineer public support for an activity, cause, movement, or institution." In his book Propaganda, he described public relations as follows: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country." In The Engineering of Consent, a 1947 article and 1955 book, he outlined how the engineering of consent is accomplished by public relations.


First, one must set up "over-all themes for the campaign". The themes chosen must coincide with the "fundamental motivations" of the interested publics. Once the themes are chosen, "they are expressed over and over again, in ever varied form."


Second, the theme is tied to a symbol.


Finally, to arouse interest, the PR activity must be newsworthy. Bernays emphasized that newsworthy events are seldom spontaneous but are more-often planned events, known as "propaganda of the deed":Newsworthy events involving people usually do not happen by accident. They are planned deliberately to accomplish a purpose, to influence ideas and actions.


Bernays based his methodology for PR in part upon the works of Walter Lippmann who wrote about controlling and managing public opinion or the masses in Public Opinion (l922) and The Phantom Public (l925). During World War I, Lippmann was a member of US Army Military Intelligence, engaged in propaganda operations against Germany. Like Bernays, Lippmann believed most people were irrational and acted chaotically and were unable to independently make rational choices because they could not know all there was to a topic. Lippmann argued that people could be guided by a "specialized class of enlightened elites." People are simple-minded and sheep-like who are incapable of formulating or organizing their desires and wishes and interests. Both Bernays and Lippmann were convinced that "enlightened elites" could lead and educate the masses. Bernays stated that "the public must be regimented." Lippmann saw it as the "making of one general will out of a multitude of general wishes." The American masses were convinced that Coca-Cola was the soft-drink of freedom and McDonalds' Big Mac was the food of freedom and that smoking tobacco products was conducive to rugged individualism, as exemplified by the Marlboro Man campaign.


Moreover, Bernays was one of the first to use PR to advance the political interests of nations and foreign governments when he was retained to provide public relations services on behalf of Lithuania. Bernays organized the PR or propaganda campaign against the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz, on behalf of his client, the United Fruit Company, maintaining that Arbenz was a Communist. Arbenz sought to reform the economic structure of Guatemala to help the majority Maya population by instituting land reforms that threatened the land holdings of United Fruit. The CIA and John Foster Dulles were able to use Bernays' propaganda in organizing a military coup that overthrew Arbenz and installed a right wing military dictator in 1954. The new CIA-installed regime would torture and murder and displace hundreds of thousands in the Guatemalan banana republic. United Fruit relied on "virtual slave labor" in its economic exploitation of Guatemala to produce inexpensive bananas for the American market. The overthrow of Arbenz and consolidating the power of United Fruit in Central America were important PR successes and accomplishments of Bernays.


Both Bernays and Lippmann based their methodology on the researches in the social sciences, particularly the work of French psychologist Gustav Le Bon, in his important book The Psychology of the Crowd (l895) and Sigmund Freud, particularly Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (l922), which examined collective group behaviour and the behaviour of crowds. The research of Russian experimental psychologist Ivan Pavlov published in Conditioned Reflexes (l926) was also of influence on Bernays. Bernays had no compunction about taking findings from the social sciences and applying them to public relations.

War Propaganda

Propaganda emerged as an instrument of persuasion and manipulation during World War I, a large-scale ideological conflict of unimagined dimensions. World War I was the first truly global war; it introduced mankind to "total war" and was the first truly technological war, making use of airplanes, submarines, poison gas, tanks, and the aerial bombardment of cities. World War I was "the war to make the world safe for democracy", "the war to end wars", when "the fate of Western civilization is at stake" from the attack by "the Hunnish barbarians".


In l927, Harold D. Lasswell, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, in Propaganda Technique in the World War, analyzed the techniques employed by the Allies, the French, British, and Americans, against Germany and her allies during the war. Lasswell described propaganda as follows:


"A new and subtler instrument must weld thousands and even millions of human beings into one amalgamated mass of hate and will and hope ... propaganda. It is the new dynamic of society ... The fact remains that propaganda is one of the most powerful instrumentalities in the modern world. Propaganda is a reflex to the immensity, the rationality and willfulness of the modern world."

War propaganda has four major objectives:

l) to mobilize hatred against the enemy;

2) to preserve the friendship of allies;

3) to preserve the friendship and, if possible, to procure the co-operation of neutrals; and,

4) to demoralize the enemy.

Lasswell explained that "to mobilize the hatred of the people against the enemy, represent the opposing nation as a menacing, murderous aggressor ... Represent the opposing nation as satanic; it violates all the moral standards (mores) of the group, and insults its self-esteem." This Allied propaganda was able to accomplish, portraying the Germans as the "satanic enemy", as child killers and rapists, committing atrocities against the Belgian civilians. Thus, primarily, the Allies succeeded in portraying the Germans as "aggressors" and as a "satanic enemy". Lasswell explained that French propaganda relied on "simple Satanism":


"The French propaganda was lucid and simple ... her chief propaganda was that of simple Satanism ...The Germans were never able to efface the initial impression that they were aggressors ... The Germans were never able to popularize so striking an epithet as "Hun" or "Boche"."

Invariably, the enemy is dehumanized and is portrayed as "barbaric", "brutal", "cruel", "uncivilized" and as violators of international law and the mores of mankind and humanity. German Kaiser Wilhelm II was labelled "the Kaiser, the beast of Berlin". Germans were portrayed in subhuman stereotypes, usually as apes or other animals. This was best expressed by Rudyard Kipling in 1915 in The Morning Post (London):

"There are only two divisions in the world today---human beings and Germans."  There are three tactical objectives of propaganda:

l) to arouse the interest of specific groups;
2) to nullify inconvenient ideas; and,
3) to avoid untruth which is likely to be contradicted before the achievement of the strategic purpose.

President Woodrow Wilson by Executive Order created the Committee on Public Information during World War I headed by George Creel and was associated with the Military Intelligence Bureau. This was the US propaganda office.

Harold Lasswell was not the only one who studied the techniques of war propaganda during World War I. Adolph Hitler made a careful and diligent study of Allied war propaganda which he discussed in Mein Kampf, the first part published in 1924, wherein he analyzed Allied propaganda techniques:

"The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the masses...The purpose of propaganda is not to provide interesting distraction for blasé young gentlemen, but to convince, and what I mean is to convince the masses...What our authorities least of all understood was the very first axiom of all propagandistic activity: to wit, the basically subjective and one-sided attitude it must take toward every question it deals with...Its effect for the most part must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect."

Many people know the Nazi regime made use of propaganda. Few, however, realize that Nazi propaganda was based and modeled upon Allied propaganda against Germany. Hitler learned the lessons well. Josef Göbbels was an ardent student of American public relations pioneer Edward Bernays. The "evil" and "satanic" Hun became the "eternal Jew" who in The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion sought to enslave mankind. Indeed, Hitler learned more from Allied propaganda than the intellectual elites, scholars, and academicians did. Hitler assessed American and British propaganda accurately:

"The war propaganda of the English and the Americans was psychologically sound. By representing the Germans to their own people as barbarians and Huns, they prepared the individual for the terrors of war ... The function of propaganda is ... exclusively to emphasize the one right which it has set out to argue for ... Sober reasoning determines (the people's) thoughts and actions far less than emotion and feeling ... All effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan ... To be a leader means to be able to move the masses."

Like Bernays and Lippmann, Hitler was convinced the masses must be guided and led and that to fully grasp an idea or issue it was to be repeated over and over:

"The intelligence of the masses is small. Their forgetfulness is great. They must be told the same thing a thousand times."

Hitler explained that through repetition, the propaganda would ultimately and eventually achieve success:

"At first the claims of the propaganda were so impudent that people thought it insane; later, it got on people's nerves; and in the end, it was believed...The great masses of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one."

Like Bernays, Lippmann, and Hearst, Hitler fully grasped the psychological mechanisms of propaganda. Repetition was important to ensure that the "message" becomes internalized, that is, that it enter the subconscious, where it becomes merely data and where rationality and conscious control is not possible. This is the "secret" of propaganda. This is how it works on a mass scale. Bernays used the analogy of a water bucket, that when rocks are dropped in it, eventually overflows, a "critical mass" is achieved. This is how indoctrination, brain-washing, and even education occurs. This is similar to the popular saying, "If you throw enough mud, some of it will stick."

Propaganda operates at the subliminal or subconscious level and the sensory perception level. The subconscious and sensory perception and processing are largely involuntary. That is, we cannot control our mental processes at the subconscious level and we cannot control sensory processing. Once we have seen or heard data or information, we cannot unsee or unhear it. Propaganda and persuasion techniques operate at this involuntary level, the subliminal, subconscious, and sensory perception level. Conscious thought is voluntary, but sensory perception processing and the subconscious are not. All propaganda and all propagandists understand this and make use of it. Hitler stated: "In the end, it was believed." Propaganda operates at this involuntary level. We have no or very little control over this level. We receive and process this data or information involuntarily and with or against our will. These factors highlight the myth and illusion in so-called democratic societies of free will and independent choice and action. The nature of sense perception and of subconscious activity limits the amount of voluntary control we can exercise. There are limits to free will and free choice. We are limited by these sensory perception and processing. William Wordsworth stated it this way: "The eye---it cannot choose but see; we cannot bid the ear be still; our bodies feel, where'er they be, against or with our will." The television generation, the cyberspace generation, our generation of mass culture and mass media with innumerable informational channels receives data and stimuli which operate at the subconscious or perception levels, that is, at the involuntary level. Propaganda operates at the conscious level, or voluntary level, but more importantly, at the subconscious and sensory perception level as well, at the involuntary level. Not everyone realizes this. But all propaganda and all propagandists utilize this fact.

The Nazi propaganda machine was also based upon the "machinery" of the Roman Catholic Church and the Jesuit order, as Hermann Rauschning explained in l939:

"Hitler has a deep respect for the Catholic church and the Jesuit order not because of their Christian doctrine, but because of the 'machinery' they have elaborated and controlled, their hierarchical system, their extremely clever tactics..."

Joseph Göbbels, who was appointed Reich Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment (Reich Minister fur Volksaufklärung und Propaganda) in the Nazi regime, defined propaganda as follows:

"Propaganda has only one object, to conquer the masses. Every means that furthers that aim is good; every means that hinders it is bad ... You can make a man believe anything if you tell it to him in the right way ... Nothing is easier than leading the people on a leash. I just hold up a dazzling campaign poster and they jump through it."..

Göbbels made a distinction between passive and active propaganda. Like Bernays and Lippmann, Göbbels enunciated the goal of propaganda is to create a single will:

"The people must begin to think as one unit, react as such, and put themselves at the disposal of the government wholeheartedly...To belabour the people so long until they succumb to us."

In Communist or Marxist-Leninist regimes and theory, there is a distinction became propaganda and agitation ("agitatsyia"), or agitprop. In What is to be Done? (l902), Vladimir Lenin defined propaganda as the reasoned use of historical and scientific arguments to indoctrinate the educated and enlightened, what a public relations specialist would call "attentive and informed publics". Agitation is defined as the use of slogans, parables, and half-truths to exploit the grievances of the uneducated and ignorant masses. Every unit of the Communist Party had an "agitprop section" because under Communist thought, propaganda is commendable and honest, the ends justify the means.

The US government established two propaganda offices during World War II, the Office of War Information (OWI), specializing in overt propaganda, and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which specialized in covert propaganda or "information warfare". With the defeat of Germany, the US entered into another major ideological conflict, the Cold War, which necessitated an unprecedented and immense propaganda or information campaign against the USSR and global Communism. Several government agencies were created specifically for the Cold War ideological struggle, such as the US Information Agency (USIA) which co-ordinated propaganda broadcasts by the Voice of America (VOA). The Central Intelligence Agency co-ordinated the Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty propaganda efforts. In the Cold War battle between the "free world" and Western democracies and the Communist bloc and satellites, propaganda was all-important and crucial. Thus, both domestic and foreign policy became ideologically charged in the US. In the last fifty years, we have witnessed the massive growth of propaganda, both commercial and political in the US.

How is propaganda to be recognized and analyzed?

"Concentration Camps" in America:

A Case Study of Intolerance and Racism: The Evacuation and Internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II

Intolerance and repression of its own citizens runs counter to the rhetoric that depicts the US as a "democratic" and "open and free democracy". In fact, American intolerance and racism have a long history directed against Native American Indians, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. During World War I, German-Americans were the targets. During World War II, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Japanese-Americans were singled out and targeted for bigotry and repression. The Japanese-Americans suffered the most under American "democracy" and "tolerance" during a time of war.


Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, l941, a racist hysteria of intolerance and a lynch mob mentality seized the US which harkened back to the Salem witch hunts and the hysteria against German-Americans during World War I. The targets of this racist hysteria in l941 were Japanese-American citizens and Japanese immigrants. Over 120,000 Japanese-Americans, men, women, and children, 72,000 of whom were US citizens, roughly two-thirds, were forced to abandon their homes, properties, and businesses and were "evacuated" and "interned" in "internment camps" in the Western United States.


The evacuations and internments were carried out under Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Lt. General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defence Command, under the War Relocation Authority, issued Public Proclamation no. l, which ordered the "evacuation" of "all persons of Japanese ancestry" from California, Oregon, and Idaho to "assembly centres". They were then rounded up and transferred to "relocation centres" in California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Arkansas, ten in all. Many were crowded into horse or cattle stalls and pigpens.


No reason for the evacuation and internments was given only that it was done for their own protection. Japanese-Americans were not found to be a threat or danger to national security. J. Edgar Hoover maintained that Japanese-Americans posed no internal domestic danger. But columnist Walter Lippmann warned that the entire Pacific Coast was "in imminent danger of attack from within." Other prominent political and media figures were voicing similar racist warnings. The mayor of Los Angeles urged that the Japanese be rounded up and put in camps because they were "inassimilable" and because "blood will tell. "Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson wrote that "their racial characteristics are such that we cannot understand or trust even the citizen Japanese." The Los Angeles Times explained the need for this policy as follows: "A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched --- so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents, grows up to be a Japanese not an American." In the National Geographic for October, 1942, the need for the internments was explained as follows by a provost marshal's aide: "Probably not five percent of the thousands we're interning would be dangerous if left at large. But how identify that small percentage? So we corral all." Lt. General DeWitt, who administered the evacuations, explained that "a Jap is a Jap" and that the "Japs we will be worried about all the time until they are wiped off the face of the map."


On December 18,l944, in Korematsu v. US, the US Supreme court upheld the exclusion of a single ethnic group, the Japanese, as within the war powers of the Congress and the President. The evacuations and internments based on race were upheld as legal. The final internment camp was closed on March 20,l946.


Why were the Japanese-Americans put in internment camps, "American concentration camps", most of whom were loyal US citizens? A l983 Congressional report blamed it on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership." The report, moreover, concluded that the internments were "not justified by military necessity".


Even before the l942 internments, Japanese immigrants experienced racism in America. The Japanese were feared because they were successful farmers which American farmers perceived as a threat. In a l906 California poster from the Japanese Exclusion League, the following statement appears: "No Japs in our schools!" A  l905 San Francisco newspaper article decried Japanese immigration, which it termed "the problem of the hour" and condemned the "brown stream" of immigrants who steal "white man's work".


This paroxysm of racism and bigotry can be explained in psychological terms as an example of consensual paranoia, creating tribal and social solidarity and membership by defining an enemy, an other, an outsider, an alien. Us, the tribe, insiders, are pitted against them, the enemy, outsiders. Psychologically, the unknown and the strange is perceived as dangerous and as a threat. Consensual paranoia results. A bipolar opposition is maintained: Us versus Them, Good against Evil, insiders versus outsiders. The Japanese become the Other who must be destroyed if we are to survive. Consensual paranoia was exhibited during the Salem witchcraft hysteria, when New England colonists were threatened by Indian and French attack, and during World War I, when German-Americans were targets of racism and intolerance, and during the Red Scares following World Wars I and II, when the danger was perceived to be Communism.


In l988, 46 years after, the US Congress and president Ronald Reagan officially "apologized" for the evacuations and internments, US government actions, and promised every surviving Japanese internee $20,000. $1.25 billion was allocated to "educate American schoolchildren about this event."


A perception of danger and threat leads to intolerance and racism, a product of consensual paranoia. Even when the danger or threat is not real but is imaginary and illusory, nevertheless, the perception of danger and threat is all that is needed. This is why propaganda targets the emotions and rarely the intellect. The propagandist merely has to present a sense or perception of danger causing fear. It is irrelevant whether that fear or danger or threat is real.

The Archetypes of Propaganda: Us and Them

A Case Study of America at War: From Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima

The war between the US and Japan during World War II, 1941-1945, is indicative of how nations wage war and illustrates the us versus them dichotomy, the bipolar opposition, required in all war and all propaganda.


The historian Allan Nevins characterized the American war against Japan as follows:


"Probably in all our history no foe has been so detested as were the Japanese...Emotions forgotten since our most savage Indian wars were reawakened by the ferocities of Japanese commanders."


The US government and media adopted an exterminationist policy towards the Japanese which called for the total destruction, annihilation, and extermination of the Japanese people and nation. John Toland, in Infamy, maintained that the war against Japan was "a war that need not have been fought...fought because of...American racial prejudice, distrust, ignorance of the orient, rigidity, self-righteousness, honour, national pride and fear." The methodology and tactics used by the US to defeat the Japanese were in part based on the patterns of the "Indian wars" and on a Manichean total war between good and evil, between us and them. In a poll conducted in December, l944, Americans were asked, "What do you think we should do with Japan as a country after the war?" 13% of the respondents wanted to "kill all Japanese", while 33% supported destroying Japan as a political entity.


The first step in defeating the Japanese was to dehumanize them as a people and to depict them in archetypical racist terms as inferior, subhuman, apes, "savages", and "barbarians". Standard archetypes or exemplars or avatars of propaganda were utilized to dehumanize and stereotype the enemy. These archetypes of propaganda reappear in all propaganda campaigns and all wars. This was precisely how Native American Indians were defeated and how blacks were enslaved and excluded. The Japanese were denoted as animals, reptiles, insects, as "yellow monkeys", baboons, gorillas, dogs, mice, rats, vipers, rattlesnakes, cockroaches, and vermin. Depicting the enemy as an animal lessens the amount of guilt when the enemy is killed. In Nazi Germany, for instance, Jews were depicted as lice or rats to expedite mass extermination. Franz Stangl, the commander of the Treblinka concentration camp explained that dehumanization was necessary to expedite the extermination process:


To condition those who actually had to carry out the policies. To make it possible for them to do what they did.


The enemy was subhuman, or lesser than human, or not human, and thus deserved or warranted extermination. Killing such an enemy is proper and appropriate and those doing the killing should feel no guilt or moral compunction. The Japanese were "mad dogs" or "yellow dogs", and as reflected in a statement during the war, "mad dogs are just insane animals that should be shot."


A manifestation of racism and racist hysteria was to refer to the Japanese in racist stereotypical terms: "Nip", from Nippon, the Japanese word for Japan, and the shortened "Jap". These were the equivalent of "nigger" and "gook" and "Hun". New terms were also coined by US Marines: "Japes", a combination of "Japs" and "Apes". Another neologism was "monkeynips". US Marine Eugene B. Sledge recalled that native peoples of the Pacific were referred to as "gooks". The major themes were of hunting and then exterminating vermin, or predatory animals, "a nameless mass of vermin". Guadalcanal was described as "a hunter's paradise...teeming with monkey-men."


J. Glenn Gray described how American troops hunted down a Japanese soldier and killed him as if he were not a human being, but an animal, a beast of prey:


"When a Japanese soldier was "flushed" from his hiding place...the unit...was resting and joking. But they seized their rifles and began using him as a live target while he dashed frantically around the clearing in search of safety. The soldiers found his movements uproariously funny. Finally...they succeeded in killing him...The veteran emphasized the similarity of the enemy soldier to an animal. None of the American soldiers apparently ever considered that he may have had human feelings of fear and the wish to be spared."


The dehumanization of the enemy was meant to lead to extermination and total annihilation, as was reflected in the pronouncements of US military leaders and the media. Admiral William F. Halsey, commander of the US South Pacific Force, at a l944 press conference declared:


"The only good Jap is a Jap whose been dead six months. When we get to Tokyo ... we'll have a celebration where Tokyo was."


A popular wartime saying was "the only good Jap is a dead Jap". In l943, Leatherneck, the US Marine monthly magazine, ran a photograph of Japanese corpses on Guadalcanal with an uppercase heading reading: "Good Japs". The caption for the photo read: "Good Japs are dead Japs."


Extermination was buttressed by dehumanization. Admiral Halsey referred to the Japanese as "yellow bastards", "stupid animals", "yellow monkeys", and "monkeymen". He stated that he was "rarin' to go...to get some more monkey meat" and that "the Japs are losing their grip, even with their tails" and explained that "the Japanese were a product of mating between female apes and the worst Chinese criminals." The objective was to persuade to kill, to kill "them". Halsey rallied his men with the following motto: "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs." The US Marine Corps motto was: "Remember Pear Harbour---keep 'em dying."


Time magazine expressed its outrage after the attack on Pearl Harbour in blatantly racist terms: "Why the yellow bastards!" The New Yorker depicted the Japanese as "yellow monkeys" while the Washington Post caricatured them as a large gorilla. Rear Admiral Husband Kimmel explained his shock at the attack on Pearl Harbour as follows: "I never thought those little yellow sons of bitches could pull off such an attack so far from Japan."

Captain H. L. Pence, the Navy representative to the first interdepartmental US government committee to consider the issue of the treatment of Japan after the war, stated in May, l943, that he advocated the "almost total elimination of the Japanese as a race," because this was "a question of which race was to survive, and white civilization was at stake."

The chairman of the War Manpower Commission, Paul V. McNutt, told a public audience in May, l945, that he favoured "the extermination of the Japanese in Toto ... for I know the Japanese people."

Vice Admiral Arthur Radford, several days before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, stated that "Japan will eventually be a nation without cities---a nomadic people."

 William Randolph Hearst's newspapers warned of the "yellow peril" and maintained that Japan was a "racial menace". The US war with Japan took on the nature of a race or racist war. The Japanese, along with other Asians, were regarded as "despised races", "inassimilable races", and "inferior races". Racism is a manifestation of consensual paranoia which sees a person or group that is different in any way as a "stranger", as an "alien", the enemy "other". Racism divides "us" against "them" based upon racial differences. In conjunction with the exterminationist and dehumanization policies, there was the use of racist stereotypes. Racist stereotyping is reflected in the following photograph caption from the National Geographic of October, 1942: "Who Says All Orientals Are "Inscrutable"? These Japanese, Arriving at an Evacuation Camp, Plainly Show They're Worried."

The dehumanization of the enemy is achieved also by picturing the enemy as a faceless and nameless "them", removing individuality from the enemy. The enemy becomes a homogeneous mass, an object for "us" to hate and to kill. It is accepted that killing other human beings is morally wrong. But defeating what we perceive as hostile ideologies can be commendable. We are not fighting a people and nation, but an ideology. Guilt and responsibility are thereby lessened. Of course, it is human beings who maintain the ideologies. As Stanislaw Lec has stated, "In a war of words, it is people who get killed." This is why ideology is so important in war and propaganda. The enemy, "them", must appear as a single, undifferentiated mass or unit guided by one idea, a single ideology, a single purpose. The Japanese people were said to be "photographic prints off the same negative". They were "an obedient mass with but a single mind", a "subservient mass" "a human herd", faceless hordes. This is a familiar and standard tactic in all war propaganda meant to lessen sympathy for the enemy people. The enemy people must be seen as an undifferentiated mass, inseparable from its leaders and government. All individuality must be eradicated. One could sympathize with the suffering and hardships of a Japanese individual caught up in a war his leaders had imposed. But as a faceless mass, the Japanese people were merely a numerical statistic, a thing, a cipher, not a person.

The exterminationist policy of the US was manifested in many ways during the war, such as not taking prisoners, killing POWs and surrendering troops, fire-bombing cities with incendiary bombs, using atomic bombs on cities, and the practice of collecting battlefield trophies from dead or near-dead Japanese soldiers. US troops routinely took gold teeth, ears, bones, scalps, and skulls from dead Japanese soldiers. In Guadalcanal Diary, Richard Tregaskis reported the following conversation between US soldiers:

They say the Japs have a lot of gold teeth. I'm going to make myself a necklace ... I'm going to bring back some Jap ears ... Pickled.


The Marine monthly Leatherneck ran this account in l943: "The other night Stanley emptied his pockets of 'souvenirs'---eleven ears from dead Japs." The Baltimore Sun and The Detroit Free Press ran stories about war 'souvenirs'. In Baltimore, a mother petitioned to be allowed to have her son mail her an ear he had cut off a dead Japanese soldier. In Detroit, a minor had attempted to enlist by promising his chaplain that he would send him the third pair of ears he collected from dead Japanese soldiers.


Eugene B. Sledge, a US Marine veteran of the Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns, recalled how US soldiers would routinely shoot even wounded Japanese soldiers to obtain their gold teeth, a practice more commonly associated with Nazi guards extracting gold teeth from Jews:


I've seen guys shoot Japanese wounded when it really was not necessary and knock gold teeth out of their mouths. .. I remember one time at Peleliu, I thought I'd collect gold teeth. One of my buddies carried a bunch of 'em in a sock. ... The way you extracted gold teeth was by putting the tip of the blade on the tooth of the dead Japanese---I've seen guys do it to wounded ones---and hit the hilt of the knife to knock the tooth loose. ...This Jap had been hit. One of my buddies was field-stripping him for souvenirs.. the guys dragging him around like a carcass...This guy had been a human being.... It was so savage. We were savages.

When he said goodby two years ago to Natalie Nickerson, a 20 year old war worker of Phoenix, Ariz., a big, handsome Navy lieutenant promised her a Jap. Last week Natalie received a human skull, autographed by her lieutenant and 13 friends, and inscribed: "This is a good Jap - a dead one picked up on the New Guinea beach." Natalie, surprised at the gift, named it Tojo. The armed forces disapprove strongly of this sort of thing."

LIFE MAGAZINE, 5/22/44 p.35 "Picture of the Week"

Daniel Okrent, the managing editor of Life in l996, commenting on the decision not to publish the photograph of an incinerated and charred corpse of an Iraqi soldier during the Persian Gulf War, stated that "at some point we have to acknowledge what people are capable of doing to one another." Such inhumanity is the necessary result of propaganda, of an us versus them bipolar opposition. Sam Keen has described this in Faces of the Enemy as follows:

In the beginning we create the enemy. Before the weapon comes the image. We think others to death and then invent the battle-axe or the ballistic missiles with which to actually kill them. Propaganda precedes technology.

In l944, the New York Times reported that a US serviceman had sent President Roosevelt a letter opener made from the bone of a dead Japanese soldier. Life magazine published a photograph of a woman standing next to a Japanese skull which her fiancé had sent from the pacific, with the caption: "Arizona war worker writes her Navy boy-friend a thank-you note for the Jap skull he sent her" in the May 22,l943 issue.

US soldiers routinely used Japanese skulls as ornaments on military vehicles and as war trophies, after the flesh was boiled in lye or left to be eaten by ants. On February 1, 1943, Life magazine published a famous photograph by Ralph Morse which showed the charred, open-mouthed, decapitated skull of a Japanese soldier killed by US Marines at Guadalcanal, which was placed on the tank. The caption read as follows: "A Japanese soldier's skull is propped up on a burned-out Jap tank by U.S. troops."

Life received letters of protest from mothers who had sons in the war and others "in disbelief that American soldiers were capable of such brutality toward the enemy." The editors of Life explained that "war is unpleasant, cruel, and inhuman. And it is more dangerous to forget this than to be shocked by reminders." Indeed, remarkably, Life received more than twice as many protest letters over a photograph of a maltreated cat in the same issue than they did over the photo of the charred skull of the Japanese soldier.

This is the ultimate achievement of propaganda and dehumanization: Man's inhumanity to man, even to the point where we are more concerned for the welfare of our pet animals than we are for other human beings.

"Japanese skulls were much-envied trophies among U.S. Marines in the Pacific theater during World War II. The practice of collecting them apparently began after the bloody conflict on Guadalcanal, when the troops set up the skulls as ornaments or totems atop poles as a type of warning. The Marines boiled the skulls and then used lye to remove any residual flesh so they would be suitable as souvenirs. U.S. sailors cleaned their trophy skulls by putting them in nets and dragging them behind their vessels. Winfield Townley Scott wrote a wartime poem, 'The U.S. Sailor with the Japanese Skull" that detailed the entire technique of preserving the headskull as a souvenir. Referring to this practice, Edward L. Jones, a U.S. war correspondent in the Pacific wrote in the February 1946 Atlantic Magazine, "We boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter-openers." On occasion, these "Japanese trophy skulls" have confused police when they have turned up during murder investigations. It has been reported that when the remains of Japanese soldiers were repatriated from the Mariana Islands in 1984, sixty percent were missing their skulls."

Source: Kenneth V. Iserson, M.D., Death to Dust: What happens to Dead Bodies?, Galen Press, Ltd. Tucson, AZ. 1994. p.382.























Before the weapon In an unconditional, Manicheans exterminationist war, the enemy is archetypically depicted as a superman or as supermen. The psychological pattern in propaganda to create an image of the enemy as a superman is rooted in a paranoid, infantile orientation. The paranoid orientation cannot accept balance or equality; the paranoid must either sadistically dominate or masochistically be an inferior victim. Moreover, anxiety and guilt is lessened when the enemy is omnipotent and criminal. This tactic is necessary to galvanize and mobilize all the resources against the enemy, which is not as easily done if the enemy is not perceived as a threat or danger. The analogy most often used in propaganda is that of the bully. The Japanese were referred to as "Jap bullies", The New York Times Magazine in l943 ran a caption which asked, "How Tough are the Japanese?"


A standard element of war propaganda is to characterize any action against the enemy as defensive or reactive in nature. We only defend ourselves. The enemy are aggressors. Paranoia creates a passive-aggressive orientation. The passive-aggressive victim always reacts to the aggression of the enemy, thus all responsibility and guilt is negated. This is how war results. A passive-aggressive victim lacks balance, lacks equilibrium. As a powerless victim, the paranoid justifies his own attacks as an attempt to gain power over the enemy. A passive orientation dissipates all responsibility and guilt. An American soldier who slits the throat of a Japanese soldier "did it only because he knew the Japs had done it to his buddies." Eugene B. Sledge explained: "You developed an attitude of no mercy because they had no mercy on us. It was a no-quarter, savage kind of thing."  The weak, innocent, defenceless were being protected and saved from the barbarous, vicious, and cruel enemy supermen. The Japanese were "barbarous", "uncivilized", "inhuman", "depraved", given to "mad dog orgies of brutality and atrocity", exhibiting "primitive blood lust and brutal butchery", a "naked, tribal savagery". Charles Lindbergh kept a diary in which he wrote down his observations of the war in the Pacific. He noted the desire to ruthlessly exterminate all Japanese as follows: "They treat the Japs with less respect than they would give to an animal, and these acts are condoned by almost everyone."


The movie industry reinforced the propaganda archetypes of the enemy in Hollywood films. Movies, like television, alter our environments, that is, they are new ways of perceiving or perception. As Marshall McLuhan has explained, these new forms of media change the manner in which we process information and "evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions." By altering the medium or environment, we change our ways of perceiving the world, thus, new media change us at the epistemological level. By changing the media, "the way we think and act" is altered. Information becomes instantaneous and communal, processed in a "global village", the information being uniform and replicated, being received as simultaneous stimuli with little time for rational examination. Movies and television have a tremendous capacity to dehumanize and to persuade. Pauline Kael, the film critic of the New Yorker, recalled the propagandistic nature of Hollywood films during World War II in reinforcing archetypes of the enemy in the "The Good War" by Studs Terkel. Kael recalled how "a lot of the movies were very condescending to Europeans and Asiatics." Movies created a bipolar dichotomy of us versus them, dehumanizing the enemy, as Kael recounted:


I hated the war movies, because they robbed the enemy of any humanity or individuality. ... Even the German or Japanese who happened to be your friend ... had to be killed ...We had stereotypes of a shocking nature. They could never be people, who were just caught in the army the same way Americans were and told what to do.... I got so angry. It was so difficult to deal with, because in some intangible way they did represent the essence of war propaganda.


As explained by John W. Dower in War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, fighting the Filipinos in the Spanish-American War and later the Japanese was directly linked to US experiences fighting Indians on the western frontier. The US thus had developed an stereotypical and archetypical blueprint for the enemy other. The Japanese and Filipinos were substituted for the Native American Indians. In fact, many soldiers were transferred to Asia from frontier posts where they had fought Indians in the Spanish-American War. Arthur MacArthur, the father of Douglas MacArthur, was "one of the more conspicuous U.S. Indian fighters."


The war against the Japanese during World War II was characterized as "Indian fighting". The US Army Infantry Journal stated that the Japanese were "as good as Indians ever were." The New York Times magazine of February 13,l942, in an article called "The Nips", explained the analogy with the Indian wars as follows:


"The Japanese are likened to the American Indian in their manner of making war. Our fighting men say that isn't fair to the Indian. He had honour of a sort. Moreover, even a dead Jap isn't a good Jap...Yet such are the Nipponese. In death as in life, treacherous."


The racist and exterminationist language was obvious. Asians were termed "yellowbellies", "yellow bastards", "yellow monkeys", "slant-eye", "slant", "squint eyes", "almond eyes", "slopey", or "slopie", "gook", "goo-goo", "dinks", "ochre horde". "Gook" derives from "goo-goo", the ethnic label used to describe Filipinos at the end of the nineteenth century.


The exterminationist policy was further exemplified by the massive bombing campaign directed against major Japanese cities, targeting civilians, unarmed men, women, and children. US military planners at first espoused a policy of "precision bombing", targeting military and industrial targets only. But on March 9,l945, precision bombing was abandoned when Tokyo was attacked by 334 US aircraft at low altitude with incendiary bombs which destroyed 16 square miles of the city and left over a million homeless. An estimated 80,000-l00,000 Japanese civilians---men, women, and children---were killed, "scorched and boiled and baked to death". This new aerial strategy, "strategic bombing", was developed by Major General Curtis LeMay, who applauded the fire bombing of Tokyo that "scorched and boiled and baked to death" so many Japanese civilians. Strategic bombing would be employed against Yugoslavia in 1999 during the NATO bombardment of Belgrade, Pristina, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Nis, and Cacak. Civilians and civilian infra-structure became key NATO targets. Hospitals, nursing homes, television stations, buses, trains, automobiles, tractors, and civilian homes were all targeted. Strategic bombing seeks to demoralize the civilian population by targeting civilian targets and civilian infra-structure, such as electrical power grids, energy plants, water supplies.


Incendiary bombardment of civilian targets became the prime US aerial strategy in U.S. bombing of Japan. In all, 66 Japanese cities were bombed, killing nearly 400,000 Japanese civilians. Fire bombing or "slaughter bombing" or "massacre by bombing" accounted for two-thirds of the total tonnage of explosives dropped on Japan. This type of "obliteration bombing" was regarded as "just retribution" with hardly any dissent on the home front. Brigadier General Bonner Fellers, in a confidential memorandum, described the US bombing raids on Japan as "one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of non-combatants in all history." Of a total of l53,000 tons of bombs dropped on Japan, 98,000 were incendiary or fire bombs. The "slaughter bombing" of Japanese cities would culminate in the first use of atom bombs in warfare, used against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The estimate of the numbers killed from the atomic bombs is 130,000-150,000 for Hiroshima and 60,000-80,000 for Nagasaki. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, in explaining the decision to use the atomic bomb, stated that "the face of war is the face of death ... war is death." Stimson maintained that "there must be administered a tremendous shock ... such an effective shock would save many times the number of lives, both American and Japanese, that it would cost." The policy applied is that the ends justified the means.

Propaganda Analysis

Because propaganda in its many guises---public relations (PR), advertising, publicity, marketing---is ever-present and all encompassing in society, it is rarely if ever seriously studied or even discussed. Noam Chomsky has stated that "the whole topic [of propaganda in U.S. culture] is vastly understudied, for pretty obvious reasons." One in every six dollars of G.D.P. $l trillion, however, is spent by US business on various forms of marketing, i.e., commercial propaganda. As early as l930, John Dewey remarked that "we are exposed to the greatest flood of mass suggestion that any people has yet experienced." First of all, propaganda in its broadest sense, has always been a part of human social interaction and can be said to fill a social need, informing the public. Furthermore, persuasion and manipulation are a part of everyday life, as Voltaire noted in 1766: "Men use thought only to justify their wrongdoings, and speech only to conceal their thoughts." In a political context, Niccolo Machiavelli advised that "occasionally words must serve to veil the facts, but this must happen in such a way that no one become aware of it, or if it should become noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately," plausible deniability. Nevertheless, although commonplace and wide-spread, political propaganda can be recognized and it can be analyzed and understood.


As we have seen, propaganda methods and techniques have not changed much in the last century. Public relations and propaganda rely on an variation of the same theme: How to manipulate and persuade the masses. Virtually all propaganda campaigns rely on: l) Repetition; and, 2) Confusion.


To grasp the mechanisms of propaganda is to understand man as social animal. As Harold Lasswell has put it, "to illuminate the mechanism of propaganda is to reveal the secret springs of social action." That is, to understand how and why propaganda works is to understand man's relationship to reality and how he perceives it. The analysis must begin with a study of the origin of language because we understand physical reality and can communicate this understanding through language.


First of all, our understanding of the world is inextricably tied to our language. Language cannot be dispensed with to arrive at a pure, self-authenticating truth or method. As quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of German quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg have shown, physical reality is probabilistic, relative, and uncertain. That is, there is no objective truth out there; there is no absolute truth, but only a truth. Thus, there can in theory be no completely unbiased, objective truth. To search for absolute truth is in theory an illusion.


In language we rely on signs or symbols to create meaning. But symbols are never settled on an absolute meaning. Meaning is always to a certain extent deferred and in constant development through metaphor. We understand reality through metaphors.


Niels Bohr, for example, studied the atom, an unknown, (metaphrand). To grasp the atom, he created a model based on something familiar, the solar system (the metaphier). Bohr then related these two, the metaphrand with the metaphier , which is a metaphorical process, as a model to assist in understanding the atom. This is how we understand or perceive reality, by creating models and applying them to phenomena. The models are helpful tools only and do not reflect absolute truth, or an absolute representation or perception of phenomena. Like the lenses in eyeglasses, they aid us in perceiving phenomena, but they all distort and structure reality. Our arbitrary and subjective structuring of reality results.


Propaganda has its basis in binary opposition, the structural division of the indivisible into hierarchical oppositions. For example, we structure reality into us/them, male/female, truth/fiction, literal/metaphoric, mind/body, cause/effect, reason/emotion. But these binary oppositions, while helpful in analyzing phenomena, delude us into believing that they are absolute and objective dichotomies. In fact, these divisions are arbitrary and rhetorical. That is, our language shapes and structures the manner in which we see and perceive reality, language becoming a perceptual strait-jacket. The Chinese philosopher Confucius deduced that a sane and well-ordered society resulted when things were named or labelled accurately. The whole art of propaganda consists in mislabelling or inaccurately signifying things.


Binary opposition assumes hierarchical opposition. The first term is automatically given superiority or pre-eminence over the second term. This structure creates a two-valued system, either "true" or "false", either "right" or "wrong", "good" or "evil". A black and white, us and them scenario results, for example, "Whoever is not for us is against us", "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." This is the structural basis for all propaganda. Hitler understood this when he wrote that propaganda "does not have multiple shadings; it has a positive and a negative; love or hate, right or wrong, truth or lie, never half this way and half that way, never partially, or that kind of thing ... The function of propaganda is, for example, not to weigh and ponder the rights of different people ... Its task is not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favours the enemy."


Wars and conflicts change, but the archetypes or stereotypes of the enemy employed in all propaganda remain constant. The images of the enemy created or manufactured by propaganda are the result of consensual paranoia. A paranoid blames or projects its own rejected vices on the enemy, all the cruelty, sadism, hate, avarice of the paranoid is transferred to the enemy. A schizophrenia results as the paranoid mind projects the worst aspects of itself, what Carl Jung referred to as "the shadow", to the enemy, while retaining all the positive aspects for itself. Everything that we find reprehensible in ourselves, which is denied or repressed, we transfer or project onto the enemy. Thus, a propagandist looks into a mirror when he manufactures the image of the enemy. This is why propaganda accuses or blames the enemy for what the propagandist seeks to do or is guilty of himself. What the propagandist accuses the enemy of is usually what the propagandist himself is guilty of. Moreover, this projection is based on an infantile, paranoid orientation that oscillates between sadistic dominance and masochistic victimization. This is why Bosnian Serb military forces were depicted as invincible supermen by U.S. propaganda, why Saddam Hussein threatens the world with "weapons of mass destruction", and why there were Communist witch hunts during the 1950s era of Joseph McCarthy, during the Red Scare. Propaganda reveals more about the propagandist than it does about the enemy.


Western language structures are conducive to propaganda because of its nature as two-valued, based upon arbitrary binary oppositions. Propaganda does not seek to expand thought, but to narrow it; in fact, propaganda seeks to do away with thought altogether. The masses do not need to think at all, thought is unnecessary and superfluous, but merely to react to symbols and images, that is, to stimuli, not unlike Ivan Pavlov's dog, who salivates merely when its master rings a bell, i.e., creating conditioned reflexes (which led to the psychological school of behaviourism).


Propaganda can be analyzed and dissected by various methodologies and approaches, from a structuralist linguistic approach relying on structuralism, based upon the writings of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, in his Course in General Linguistics (19l5), to the deconstructionist approach, or the General Semantics approach developed by Alfred Korzybski in Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (l933). The content analysis approach or symbol counting method of Harold Lasswell can be employed or statistical systems theory approaches. Finally, psychological approaches are also possible. In the 1930's, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis was established in New York for the analysis and detection of propaganda. The Institute published a periodical entitled Propaganda


Analysis from l937 to l942 to counteract the pervasive and invidious influence of propaganda in America, by such propagandists as Detroit-based radio propagandist Father Charles Coughlin, and William Randolph Hearst. Hearst had met with Hitler in 1934, was photographed with Alfred Rosenberg, and had published a series of articles by Hermann Göring in his newspapers. In 1939, to combat this propaganda, the Institute published the book The Fine Art of Propaganda. Alfred McClung Lee of the Institute published many studies on propaganda analysis and detection in subsequent years. But with the entry of the US into World War II necessitating a large-scale ideological conflict, i.e., a propaganda war, the antipathy to propaganda was much lessened. With the emergence of the Cold War following World War II, propaganda became accepted as necessary in the ideological struggle against world Communism. Propaganda was no longer seriously studied and its analysis was disfavoured by the mainstream intellectual elites.


The following propaganda techniques are found in all propaganda campaigns.


The Appeals Technique---this technique appeals to human emotions and desires in order to promote or sell something else, in the Bosnian case, the something else was US military intervention on the side of the Muslims and Croats. Thus, atrocity stories or Atrocity Appeal is an appeal to our emotions to sell intervention. The objective is to convince us that intervention is necessary to prevent future mass slaughter, to prevent genocide, to prevent violations of human rights. This is how British propaganda sold World War I to America: The US should intervene to prevent Hun atrocities, to prevent human slaughter of innocents. The atrocity stories are a means to an end, intervention. Once military intervention is achieved, the atrocities are superfluous and no longer required and thus are no longer reported.


Bandwagon Appeal consists in showing that one should support intervention to get on the bandwagon because the whole world supports it, i.e., the UN, the international community, the Western world, the free world, all mankind.


Testimonial Appeal relies on experts, celebrities, or authorities to promote intervention.


Plain Folks Appeal relies on the appeal that intervention is appropriate because the victims are plain folks like us, relying on the us versus them dichotomy. Propaganda is rarely logical or rational, but as Hitler correctly noted, is meant to appeal to the emotions, affective appeal, and only the emotions and not to the intellect, cognitive appeal.


The Logical Fallacy Technique - Even when lies are told the media concludedsthat, nevertheless, that the stories were "generally true" although specifically untrue, a reductio ad absurdum.


The Misleading Association Technique --- Propaganda is amoral and based on emotion, affective appeal. This is why it is so invidious because it dehumanizes both the persuader and the persuaded. In order to persuade others to kill, propaganda dehumanizes all concerned in its propagation.


The Oversimplification Technique appears in the media analysis of conflict. This is an established propaganda paradigm: Valeriano Weyler, the Kaiser, Adolph Hitler, Tojo, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic would all become the focus of propaganda campaigns as the straw man targets.

The Selection Technique consists of selecting only a part of the story and presenting it as the complete picture.


The Word Techniques---used against an individual, cause, or idea---are the most prevalent. Name calling---referring to the enemy as "aggressors", "rapists", "killers"---allows us to form a judgment before examining all of the evidence or the complete record. By using such words, "name calling", the media wishes to tell us how to think about the events and actors in a conflict, in fact, to preclude thought. In Nazi Germany, for example, concentration camp guards told Jews and other inmates to repeat, "We are swine!", so that they would begin to think they are subhuman.


Glittering Words, or Virtue Words, are given to an actor to preclude an examination of the evidence. In essence, Glittering or Virtue Words are employed by the propagandist to preclude thought on the part of the target audience. The facts or evidence need not be examined. The conclusion has already been made for the audience, thus saving them the needless expenditure of thought. It is a thought-saving device. Why waste your time on thinking? Or examining the evidence or the facts?

Likewise, Glittering Generalities preclude a debate or discussion of the conclusions reached. This is a primary objective of all propaganda, to prevent or preclude discussion or debate, or ideally, to preclude any thought whatsoever. As Marshall McLuhan has noted, "propaganda ends where dialogue begins


The US media and government inconsistently applies the legal doctrines of positivism and natural law, a clear sign that a propaganda war is in effect.

Positivism stipulates that the law is to be obeyed regardless of whether one regards it as just or not. The law is the final authority. The Nazi Nuremberg laws were based on the positivist approach. The law was the law and one had to follow it, even though it is racist, genocidal, and unjust. I was just following the law, your honour. It was the law.


The natural law approach states that when one believes the law to be unjust one does not have to obey it and can violate it by rejecting it.

The US government and media inconsistently applies these two approaches. Hypocrisy and double-standard may be apparent to all, but if no one cares. the propaganda has achieved its purpose.


The intellectual elites may underestimate the intelligence and common sense of the US public. The US public may refuse to be duped or tricked (persuaded or convinced) because of past experiences with the media and the cadre of intellectual and enlightened elites. Perhaps the greatest sin in politics is to lose the confidence of the public. The public is unforgiving and has an elephant's memory. The 16th US President, Abraham Lincoln, best understood this when he stated as follows:


If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you may even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time...Public opinion in this country is everything.


Democracy has limitations. Political representation is an imperfect vehicle in ensuring that the will of the public is heard. Those who would speak for us and who would work for our interests usually only end up working for themselves and their own self-interest. As Hegel stated in The Philosophy of History (l832):


"The Few assume to be the deputies, but they are often only the despoilers of the Many."


As Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman noted in Manufacturing Consent, a government and interests, the "mind managers" or "hidden persuaders", which are able to fix the premises of discourse, are able to decide what the public is to hear, see, and think about, and to "manage" public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns is incompatible with the democratic ideals of an independent media committed to discovering and reporting the truth.


The intellectual elites --- regard the American public as an ignorant and impotent rabble, a mob that has to be guided and led. Only the best and brightest, the intellectual elites, and those arrivistes and intellectual wannabes, journalists, know what is right and what is the truth. We are stupid cattle that have to be led and guided by these enlightened intellectual elites. Alas, behold, man the puppet, man the robot, the automaton, a dehumanized cipher. All we have to do is sit back and let them guide and inform and lead us. They know better than us. They are better than us.


The twentieth century began with so much promise with the advent of the technological revolution. But as the century progressed, we witness the worst horrors in the history of mankind, gas attacks, bombing of cities, genocide, two world wars, total war, nuclear holocaust. As the twenty-first century begins, has the human condition improved for the better? We must conclude that nothing much has changed in one hundred years. We have greater comforts and longer life spans, but bought at what cost? Are we any better off at the end of the twentieth century than we were at the beginning? We each have to decide for ourselves.