Psychological operations - methods of influencing the mindset and shaping the views of the population - the usual information policy of the United States and NATO
As was reflected at the recent NATO conference in Latvia and in the new Pentagon leadership “The Right of War”, the US government came to the conclusion that to control and manipulate information as weapons “Soft power” is necessary to combine psychological operations, propaganda and public relations under the catch phrase “strategic communications”.
This attitude led to the consideration of psychological operations - manipulative methods of influence on the mindset and secretive formation of the views of the target groups of the population - as just an ordinary information policy of the United States and NATO.
“The basic idea of NATO is that psychological operations should look like a fundamentally open, truthful and benign activity. And this - with the simultaneous elimination of any significant differences between domestic and foreign media, social media - means that psychological operations, in fact, are soldered to public policy and social and political communications, "- said the British military historian, Dr. Stephen Bedsey (Stephen Badsey), one of the leading authorities in the world in analyzing the use of media in wars.
Bedsi said that NATO largely abandoned the notion that it was necessary to clearly separate psychological operations and communications related to public policy, while NATO officially excluded the use of “black propaganda” or deliberately false information aimed at discrediting the enemy.
“A lengthy discussion on whether protection from psychological operations in ordinary informational activities and public policy should be protected has now basically ended, and, in my opinion, the party has won, whose opinion is contrary to common sense,” added Bedsi.
And, being a part of this Brave New World of “strategic communications,” the US military and NATO are now launching an offensive against the media, which represent real journalism, i.e. against those who doubt the correctness of what the US government seeks to communicate to the world.
Such thinking led to the publication by the Pentagon of the new leadership “The Right of War”, which suggests that journalists in wartime can be considered “spies” or “unprivileged parties to a military conflict”, so they can be subjected to indefinite imprisonment, a military tribunal and extrajudicial execution. Such methods were applied to Al-Qaida terrorists, who were also called "unprivileged parties to a military conflict."
The revised War of War leadership has been sharply criticized by both mainstream and independent media representatives, including the editors of The New York Times and the Committee to Protect Journalists, as well as scholars such as Dr. Bedsee.
“Attitudes towards the media, expressed in the Pentagon’s 2015 Guide, are in violation of international war laws signed by the United States, ranging from the HN Convention 1907 of the year to Geneva Conventions,” said Bedsey, professor of conflictology at Wolverhampton University in the UK which often criticizes the information tactics of the US military.
“But [this guide] is a reflection of the approach fully demonstrated more than ten years ago in Iraq, when the Pentagon decided that some media, in particular Al-Jazeera, are enemies that should be destroyed, not legitimate sources. News».
The Pentagon's hostility towards journalists, whose articles undermined US government propaganda, became a biased problem during the Vietnam War in the 1960 and 1970. Then, supporters of the war accused American journalists of behaving like government traitors, critically talking about the strategy and tactics of the American military, including exposing atrocities such as the massacre in Songmi.
In the 1980s, conservatives in the Reagan administration — accepting as dogma that “liberal” journalists contributed to the defeat of the United States in Vietnam — acted very aggressively to discredit journalists who wrote about human rights violations by the regimes in Central America, which were supported by the United States. In accordance with this hostile attitude, information coverage of the invasion of Grenada in 1983 was prohibited by order of President Ronald Reagan, and in 1990-91, President George W. Bush was tightly controlling journalists who were trying to tell about the Gulf War. Not letting them get there or good “watching out” for journalists, - the US military didn’t limit themselves much in actions, and their bullying mostly remained undisclosed.
This so-called “use of information as a weapon” was even more deadly during Bill Clinton’s presidency and the war over Kosovo, when NATO identified Serbia’s TV as an enemy “propaganda center” and sent military aircraft to destroy its studio in Belgrade. In April, 1999, acting on the orders of US Army General Wesley Clark, American bombers fired two cruise missiles that turned Serbia’s TV and Radio station (Radio Televizija Srbija) into a pile of stones and killed 16 civilian Serbian journalists.
Despite this premeditated massacre of unarmed journalists, the reaction of most American media was muffled. At the same time, an independent electronic media association in Yugoslavia condemned the attack.
«History showed that none of the forms of repression, in particular, the organized and premeditated murder of journalists, can prevent the flow of information and can not prevent people from choosing their own sources of information, ”the organization pointed out.
Robert Fisk from London The Independent remarked then: “if you kill people, because you don’t like what they say, you change the rules of war”. Now the Pentagon is doing just that, literally rewriting its textbook “The Right of War” and allowing ruthless treatment of “enemy” journalists as “unprivileged participants in a military conflict”.
Despite the planned 1999 attack of the year to silence the news studio, this did not result in this war crime incident being prosecuted against responsible US and NATO officials. And retired General Clark is still a frequent guest on CNN and other American news programs.
Target for defeat - Al-Jazeera
During the presidency of George W. Bush, the Arab television company Al-Jazeera was portrayed as a deserving “enemy media”, and not as a respected legitimate news organization. And American bombs were dropped on her offices. 13 November 2001, during the US invasion of Afghanistan, an American rocket struck at Al-Jazeera in Kabul, destroying the building and damaging the homes of some employees.
8 April 2003, during the US invasion of Iraq, the American rocket hit the Al-Jazeera electric generator in Baghdad, causing a fire that killed journalist Tareq Ayyoub and wounded his colleague. The Bush administration insisted that the bombing of Al-Jazeera’s offices were “random”.
However, in the 2004 year, when the American occupation of Iraq caused growing resistance, American forces launched a major attack on the city of Fallujah. And the video of the assault with pictures of ruin, shown by Al-Jazeera, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 15 of April 2004 of the year was regarded as “malicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.”
According to a published British report on the minutes of the meeting that took place the next day between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush suggested bombing Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar, but Blair dissuaded him from this idea, saying that provokes an adverse reaction worldwide.
During the Iraq war, Dr. Bedsi recorded the following observation that I cited in my book “Inappropriate behavior” - about the military’s connections to the media: “The statement that in the first battle of Falluju, the American marines were not defeated by terrorists and rebels in 2004 , but defeated by Al-Jazeera TV programs, shows that American troops did not recognize the tactics they had chosen as erroneous in the existing political realities, and this is reminiscent of another, long-discredited statement that the war in Vietnam was played on America’s television screens. ”
Although the opinion that the journalists of the Vietnam War acted in the American media as the fifth column, not the fourth power, is widespread among conservatives, in reality everything was different: at the early stage of the Vietnam War, media coverage was quite supportive, even flattering. And only then, when the war dragged on, journalists began to treat it more skeptically.
In a recent interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Charles Adams, senior editor of the new textbook / guide, Law of War, was unable to cite examples of government-threatened journalistic operations in the last five wars. Perhaps because there were very few examples of poor performance by journalists of their duties and a few cases where there was either a confusion in the rules or a violation of the embargo on news, which were later found to be unfounded.
Studying the history of journalists deprived of accreditation during the Vietnam War, William Hammond, author of the two-volume history of relations between the American army and the media in Vietnam, found only eight such cases, reflected in the army archives.
Perhaps the most serious of these was with Baltimore Sun journalist John Carroll (John Carroll), a veteran of the armed forces who firmly believed in the importance of the fact that the American people should be as informed as possible about the controversial war. He got into trouble for reporting that the US marines had gathered to leave Khe San 'base, was accused of violating the embargo and denied accreditation, although he claimed that the troops of North Vietnam surrounding the base were well aware of all the movements of the troops.
Toward the end of the war, some journalists also considered the government of South Vietnam so permeated by the Communists that in any case there could be no secrets. Chief Assistant to the Prime Minister Nguyen van Thieu was a spy, and everyone knew about it, except for the American people.
During his long career, which included the position of editor of the Los Angeles Times, Carroll came to the conclusion that journalists "are almost like public servants, and a free press is necessary as an integral part of the people's self-government", - this was written in the obituary in The New York Times after his 14's death on June 2015.
Under the Obama administration, the concept of “strategic communications” - managing the perception of the world community - has become more and more expandable, and the suppression of information flow has become unprecedented. President Barack Obama, more than any of his predecessors, has sanctioned tough legal actions against people who reveal secret state information and put on public display the unpleasant truth about US foreign policy and intelligence practices.
And the Obama State Department launched a powerful public campaign against the Russian TV channel RT, which resembles the hostility of the Clinton administration towards Serbian TV and the anger of George Bush against Al-Jazeera.
Since RT does not use the vocabulary preferred by the State Department in covering the crisis in Ukraine, and does not show the necessary respect for the US-backed regime in Kiev, the television channel was accused of "propaganda." But this accusation is in fact just a part of the game called “information war”, as it raises doubts about the information coming from the enemy, creating a more favorable environment for their own propaganda.
The growing enthusiasm for “strategic communications” spawned a new NATO sanctuary for information processing techniques called the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (NATO) or STRATCOM, located in Latvia, the former USSR republic, currently on the front line of tensions with Russia.
On August 20, some of the most influential minds from the world of “strategic communications” gathered in the Latvian capital Riga for a two-day conference called “Perception Issues”. A quotation that has become the epigraph to all the information materials of the conference, said: "Since wars begin in the minds of people, it is necessary to create in the minds the awareness of the need to protect the world." A noble thought is possible, but it was not specifically reflected in the words of more than two hundred specialists in the fields of defense and communications, many of whom view information not as a neutral factor necessary for educating society and developing democracy, but as a weapon of “soft power” for use against the enemy.
Hawk Senator John McCain (John McCain), who led a delegation of US senators there, said that STRATCOM is needed to fight Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. “This center will help spread the truth,” McCain said. Although “truth” in the world of “strategic communications” can only be the subject of perception.