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National Liberation Front" (at any rate, something like that), records Humanité correspondents Wilfred Burchette and Madeleine Riffaud eating and singing with happy peasants. The film is almost completely uninformative and comes close to being embarrassing-Mlle. Riffaud is more than effuse in her desire to kiss and fondle young Vietcong guerrillas. The quality of the print is mercifully poor and a good portion of all this is practically invisible.
Although the NLF movies draw unexpectedly large audiences (mostly students) wherever they are shown, their net effect is ambiguous at best. They seldom exploit the motion picture as a particular form of communication, nor do they explore the special qualities that set it off from pamphlets or slide shows. The films do not achieve a sense of the camera's own participation in events, a sense present in the footage of volunteer cameramen for the Spanish Republic (To Die in Madrid). Judged by the standards we apply to works of art, or even against the more vague measure of some kind of immediacy of feeling, the work is crude and conventional. One responds with something of the suspicion Trotsky felt, perhaps unjustly, for the work of the poet Mayakovsky: “[he] shouts too often where one should speak; and so his cry, where cry is needed, sounds inadequate."
THE VIET CONG SLOGAN SLIP*
By the JUSPAO PLANNING STAFF
The slogan slip, containing short and succinct messages and appeals, has, because of its
size, the advantage of being covertly distributed in enemy-held areas. [One) tool in the Viet Cong communication armory is the slogan slip. This is a small slip of paper (some as small as two by three inches) which contains a short message expressing one idea. The most terse, for example, might read, “Down With the U.S.-Lackey Clique." Use of the slogan slip apparently stems from the experiences gained by the Soviet communists who have raised sloganeering to a high pitch. Of course revolutionaries have for generations used the slogan as a rallying cry, particularly among the less educated. For example, Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death." Or the Loyalist slogan of the Spanish Civil War: “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees." Or Lenin's cry: “Land to the Tillers." Or almost anything from Madison Avenue.
One of the primary uses for (the) slogan slip by Viet Cong cadres is to help raise revolutionary consciousness. Villagers are encouraged to draft, produce and distribute slogan slips.
* Excerpts from “The Viet Cong Slogan Slip," JUSPAO Memorandum, February 9, 1966.
A captured Viet Cong directive for example declared that: The slogan is a form of agitation that concentrates the determination of the masses to struggle, expresses the attitudes and actions of the masses to make revolution, and lowers the prestige and power of the enemy ... They are of three types: those which praise our policies; those which express hatred especially for enemy crimes; and those which support the binh van proselyting movement.
It went on to say that slogans could be written on paper, on wood panels, carved into tree trunks and also lettered on walls or on large banners to be hung across roads leading into villages. The directive added:
Slogans may be written in the form of poetry, in verses of six or eight words, or in the form of words to popular songs. . .But all slogans must be written in serious and dignified form and not scrawled. Many slogans now used are disorderly. These must be improved. The masses must be taught to write slogans properly, hang them in public places, and protect them from enemy soldiers during clearing operations.
The directive gave an example of villagers protecting their slogan:
In one village the people wrote slogans on the bark of tree trunks. The enemy soldiers came to the village and saw the slogans on the tree and said, “We think we should cut down these trees with those offending words.” The people replied to them: “If the Liberation soldiers had written the slogans on bridges would you blow up the bridges?” The soldiers were forced by this logic to withdraw, without cutting down the trees.
Slogan slips are generally distributed covertly. They are slipped into women's shopping baskets at markets, tossed in parked vehicles in the cities, placed at night in school room desks or simply scattered along paths and walks where they are apt to be found by pedestrians.
A ... study ... of 144 slogan slips, collected at random from throughout the country, indicates both the priority of audiences currently maintained by the Viet Cong as well as a general overview of current themes.
As far as language was concerned the vast majority of the slogan slips, about 90 percent, were in Vietnamese, with Montagnard dialects and English following in that order. The largest single target for the slogan slip was the general rural population; fifty percent were omnidirectional. The largest single target was members of ARVN, with Montagnards, youth, specifically rural, civil servants, Americans and Hoa Hao.
More than two thirds of the total number of slogan slips were devoted to two themes: support for the Viet Cong effort and proselyting of military and civil servants; these ranked about 40 percent and 30 percent respectively. Then came anti-U.S. themes of 12 percent (although antiU.S. themes appeared as secondary themes in a majority of the sample), followed by 15 other themes of less than three percent each.
LEAFLETS AT A GLANCE
BY the EDITORS
Bold lettered leaflets were used in Vietnam to gain the attention of an audience in a rigidly
controlled environment. Even the most carefully designed message satisfying well-known effectiveness criteria such as comprehension and appeal may be a wasted effort. An essential condition for effective communication is that the attention of the audience is secured. In the case of printed matter, the minimal condition is that the message at least be seen; the desired effect is that the audience also read the message.
Seeing a message is no problem if the targeting is accurate; reading it, on the other hand, may constitute a grave danger to the recipients if the audience is in a controlled environment. For example, leaders of Axis and Communist forces in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam imposed severe penalties for reading Allied propaganda. Interviews with captured North Vietnamese and Viet Cong prisoners as well as captured enemy documents revealed that the reading of Allied propaganda could lead to harsh punishment, and possession of such leaflets could even mean death. Quite understandably, then, many of those disenchanted with their conditions were fearful of being caught by their leaders reading or possessing Allied leaflets.
A major problem facing psyoperators in Vietnam, as well as in earlier conflicts, was how to induce cadres in enemy ranks to read a message in an environment that was rigidly controlled. Allied psyoperators tried many techniques to overcome enemy countermeasures, and certainly one of the most interesting of these was "Leaflets-at-a-Glance" material. They were printed in bold letters so that they could be read from a distance with minimal danger to the audience. Of course, leaflets of this type are usually not suitable for directive purposes in a controlled environment; they are clumsy to carry or hide. They can, however, lower morale by reinforcing existing feelings of suspicion or duress. Moreover, "Leaflets-at-a-Glance" can fulfill a specific informational objective such as indicating where to look for or hide other Allied messages.
BY REUBEN S. NATHAN
Because one of the important elements of PSYOP is offering options, the absence of reasonable alternatives in the content of the communicator's message is counterproductive: in a conflict situation, for instance, it often leaves the target audience little choice but to rally behind parties against whom the communicator uas directing his message, whether One of the main objectives of propaganda in times of war is to build Golden Bridges, to persuade the enemy that there is a way out, that there is no need to fight to the end. Leaving room for maneuver does not mean abandoning national objectives. War aims at changing governments, at eliminating hostile regimes which resist an equitable peace. People are eternal—they will be there after they and their governments have been defeated; they will continue to live and must be lived with. That is why good propaganda must see to it that they are not cornered, for cornered people will fight and kill until they die, and the people they kill will be one's own.
they want to or not.
*Original essay by Reuben S. Nathan.
WORLD WAR II
We sensed at the time of the Casablanca conference and we now know this supposition was correct—that the demand for unconditional surrender would make it next to impossible for the Germans opposing Hitler to overthrow him. They had nothing to offer to the people, no expectation that they would be able to negotiate an acceptable compromise.
Deprived of the opportunity to build Golden Bridges by the call for unconditional surrender, the Allied propagandists of World War II were severely limited in potential effectiveness. The war would be decided by guns; words that might conceivably have shortened it and so saved lives, had been disarmed.
According to Robert E. Sherwood's Roosevelt and Hopkins", President Roosevelt told his aide “We had so much trouble getting those two French generals (Giraud and de Gaulle) together that I thought to myself that this was as difficult as arranging the meeting of Grant and Lee—and then suddenly, the press conference was on, and Winston and I had had no time to prepare for it, and the thought popped into my mind that they had called Grant Old Unconditional Surrender,' and the next thing I knew I had said it." In other words, the most important PSYWAR decision of World War II had not been the result of deliberate PSYWAR thinking. It had just "popped" into the President's mind. Admittedly, there were very few PSYWAR experts on the Allied side, apparently none on the staff of any of the leaders who met at Casablanca. One wonders whether Hitler would have made an equally momentous decision without consulting with Dr. Goebbels. One need not wonder what Stalin would have done for that is a matter of record. When the armies of the Soviet Union entered Germany, Ilja Ehrenburg's blunt anti-German line was abruptly dropped. Soviet propaganda instead proclaimed that Moscow had been fighting the Nazis but was aware that Nazis come and go and that the German people would remain—to be lived with. Soviet propaganda did not go in for brainstorms. Totalitarian propaganda seldom does. It relies on experts. NORTH VIETNAM Less than ten years ago we faced a similar situation in the decision to "sustained reprisals" in response to increasing Viet Cong violence and direct North Vietnamese involvement in the war. The situation in South Vietnam was deteriorating; a close advisor to the president felt that defeat was "inevitable" unless the United States put pressure on Hanoi. If there was any reference to psychological considerations, they came from former President Eisenhower who did not think that air strikes against the North could prevent the North Vietnamese from infiltrating men and supplies in to the South, but who seemed to feel that they would help South Vietnamese morale.
a bomb North Vietnam. We know2 that the first strikes were ordered in retaliation for attacks on U.S. barracks in Pleiku, and the following
There is no mention that U.S. Information Agency directors attempted to present the case for psychological operations. Yet, there was a case to be made. It is possible that it should have been overruled for compelling military and political reasons, and probable that it would have been overruled, but it had sufficient merits to be taken into consideration.
First, we had, at least theoretically, an excellent opportunity to demoralize North Vietnamese troops fighting in South Vietnam. They had had a very hard time getting to South Vietnam. Presumably, many of them were tired and ill. They were cut off from their families, not even permitted to write home or receive letters, and their lines of resupply were tenuous. They had been told that they would fight imperialist American aggressors but there were not many Americans in Vietnam in the Spring and Summer of 1965, and they found themselves fighting other Vietnamese. Many of them may not have understood why. They were, in sum, tailor-made targets for PSYWAR, the operator's wishdream.
Bombing North Vietnam changed that. Suddenly all North Vietnamese soldiers in South Vietnam had a reason to fight, a reason any one of them could understand. The Americans were threatening the lives, limbs, and homes of their families. Fathers, husbands, brothers, sons began to have a personal stake in the war.
Second, the air strikes put an end to any hopes to divide the people of North Vietnam at home. It is axiomatic that there is no such thing as a permanently united nation. Even the most fanatic totalitarian governments face a domestic opposition-voiceless, it is true, but opposition nevertheless. We might have strengthened that opposition by making people question the wisdom of Hanoi's warring in South Vietnam-the casualties, the draft, the cost, the sacrifices, the austerity. But it is also axiomatic that bombing attacks make people rally behind their government whether they like it or not. There is nowhere else to look for leadership and protection. The British were never as united as they were behind Winston Churchill while German bombers, buzzbombs, and rockets threatened their lives. Yet only a few months after the threat had ended, they repudiated the man who had united them. They returned to "normaley," division, and opposition. It is interesting to note that the termination of the bombing campaign against North Vietnam immediately created problems for Hanoi. French and Canadian reporters related them: black-marketeering, indifference of youth, goldbricking, a