Friday, July 27, 2007

I 'm Not Sure of the Facts Here . . .

. . . but it is good for a giggle.

I just read a book with a background of military psychological warfare (or PsyOps as those in the know would say.) I am quoting it, but not attributing the quote, because then I would have to say I don’t think it is a very good book. Is that legal? Ethical?

One of the protagonists is reminiscing about his training and noting that the first thing they taught you in basic PsyOps training was to know the mind of your enemy.

The Iraqis were famous for their ignorance of the American culture: during Desert Storm they once put a woman on the radio we called Baghdad Betty—the Arab equivalent of Tokyo Rose. One day she announced to our troops, “While you men are fighting overseas, your wives and girlfriends back home are being seduced by Tom Cruise, Tom Selleck and Bart Simpson.”
Apparently there WAS a Baghdad Betty but she was unsuccessful and only allowed to broadcast for three months!

2 comments:

Ann said...

I want to know if there is a real PsyOps unit (I trust you when you say there is), why they weren't utilized in our "war against terror." Call me a "Pollyanna," but when our current President (only a disappointment to those who had some hope for him in the first place) said we would engage in a war of an entirely different kind, I somehow thought we might actually set out to win the love of the world through humanitarian efforts and kindness. Now I find we're engaged in a war of the very same sort, except the "war" against our constitutional rights is a bit different than in the past. I wish I knew more about the PsyOps and how they might actually be used to win the world back to our side, now that we are alienated from most of it.

Beryl Ament said...

Ann, I was about to say something like, "If there is a PsyOps unit, you won't find them with Google", but then I googled the word and found 864,000 entries! The book I read is "Head Games" by Tim Downs and he was concentrating on the role of psychology to weaken the enemy's resolve. My favorite was the Viet Nam war ploy where the Americans manufactured supersized condoms and left them on trails for the Viet Cong to find (apparently an idea taken from Alexander the Great who manufactured oversized breastplates and helmets to confound his foes.)

And of course, it stands to reason that if you can use psychology to convince your enemy to surrender, you can use it to convince your constituency that you are doing the right thing.