Thursday, February 7, 2013

US Military Propaganda Program: Inform and Influence Activities (IIA)

Psychological warfare has been pursued actively by governments and corporations since World War I.

Read Edward Bernay’s Propaganda and view the film Psywar to see how it is accomplished

Psychological warfare aims to mobilize and direct “group” opinion. Mis-information and dis-information are key components.

Apparently the US military thinks it needs to increase the quantity and quality of its propaganda. No doubt the bad press about secretive drone warfare and “accidental” civilian deaths play a role in this new push:

Pentagon gearing up to fight the PR war By Walter Pincus February 6 2013

[Excerpted] Added to the traditional war elements — among them movement and maneuver, intelligence and firing against an enemy — is the new “Inform and Influence Activities” (IIA). As the manual states, IIA “is critical to understanding, visualizing, describing, directing, assessing, and leading operations toward attaining the desired end state.”

I’ve written before about the military moving into PR. But this manual shows just how serious the Army has become about it. There’s now a member of a commander’s staff with a G-7 pay level whose job is for “planning, integration and synchronization of designated information-related capabilities,” the manual says….

…There is to be “a culture of engagement in which soldiers and leaders confidently and comfortably engage the media as well as other audiences,” the manual says….

Majia here: As I mentioned above, propaganda by the military is nothing new (Pincus does acknowledge. I want to reinforce how much I like his reporting).

Perhaps the most important “founder” of modern propaganda is Edward Bernays. 

The incredibly interesting video, "The Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis, explicates Bernay's role in "engineering consent" in the US in the first half of the 20th century.

I teach Bernay's book, Propaganda, in my public relations class.

Here are a few excerpts from that book, Propaganda, written by Edward Bernays:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society”
“Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country”

“To avoid such confusion [of endless testing of options] society consents to have its choices narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention by propaganda of all kinds” p. 39

At a most basic level, Bernays defines propaganda as

an “organized effort to spread a particular belief or doctrine” (48) / a “consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group”

Bernays encouraged political leaders to promote the fear of communism in order to make the American public more malleable.

Propaganda has also been used to sell nuclear energy from the "Atoms for Peace" speech onward, to sell the benefits and hide the costs of pesticides and herbicides, to promote lead in paint, to hide the effects of atmospheric testing, to manipulate populations to support wars, to hide the realities of financial and environmental disasters, etc....


Japanese Nuclear Utilities Spending on Public Relations

April 30: A Plant in Environmental Health Perspectives

How to Bias Studies on the Biological Effects of Radiation 

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