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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.



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 was directing his message, whether

they want to or not.

*Original essay by Reuben S. Nathan.

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.


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.


Less than ten years ago we faced a similar situation in the decision to bomb North Vietnam. We know2 that the first strikes were ordered in retaliation for attacks on U.S. barracks in Pleiku, and the following “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.

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 “normalcy,” 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 slackening of disciplined production. Hanoi was forced, time and again, to remind the people that the war was still on and that they had duties.

Nobody can say whether we would have succeeded in demoralizing North Vietnamese troops or in driving wedges between the people and the government of North Vietnam; the point is that there was a chance to do so, that this chance might have weakened Hanoi significantly, and that the bombing of North Vietnam deprived us of that chance. It follows that the case should at least have been given a hearing. We had no such hearing in Casablanca, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or when the decision to bomb North Vietnam was made. This must change if the enormous capabilities of PSYWAR are to come into their own.

NOTES 1. Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History (New York: Harper and Row, 1950), p. 696.

2. Lyndon B. Johnson, Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency (New York: Harper and Row, 1971), p. 124 ff.


By the 7th PSYOP GROUP

Because the success of PSYOP depends heavily on the receptivity of the target audience, a good sense of timing and skill in exploiting an opportunity become important elements in

the delivery of a message or appeal. Peking NCNA International carried a message from Prince Norodom Sihanouk to the Khmer Buddhist monks on September 17th. In his message (one of four] he asked the monks of Cambodia to join him in his struggle to regain his throne.

The gist of his message was designed to impress upon the Buddhist monks their duty to stand on the side of the city poor, the exploited workers, and the peasants rather than with people who "have sold the country to U.S. neo-colonialism." In this regard, he felt that the Lon Nol group did not deserve support from monks because of the manner in which it took over the reigns of government.

In order to oppose this neo-colonialist undertaking of the Americans, (Sihanouk continued,] it is necessary for the people of Asia to reconcile with one another, unite and fight together, regardless of their beliefs and ideology. It is absolutely wrong to distinguish believers from atheists, non-Communist from Communist. For the safety, freedom and independence of our Asian countries, it is necessary for us to create a union and solidarity among all the Asians determined to fight for an Asia free from imperialism and neo-colonialism. It is necessary for us to expose the renegades in Asia and to fight against those who, prompted by ambitions and

personal interests, serve the unjustifiable cause of U.S. imperialism. In the next portion of Sihanouk's message he points out five cases in which people with seemingly good paying jobs and happy families have left their jobs and family to join him. According to Sihanouk these people now have only very modest pay but feel they are working for a good cause. “In one case," Sihanouk said, “those students living abroad who agree to support Lon Nol have received big rewards (some have even been given 300 U.S. dollars each). In Europe, the student members of the National United Front of Kampuchea (NUFK) remain poor. They lack money, and sometimes they have only one meal a day."

*Excerpted and adapted from “Sihanouk's Appeal to the Monks of Cambodia,” “Communist Propaganda Highlights: Trends and Analysis,” Issue No. 41-70 (9 October 1970), pp. 41-4-41-9.

Let our monks and Samdech, head of the sect, take pains to ask themselves why all these young and old patriots agree to such sacrifices and such hardships. Let them ask themselves why our citizens of the provinces, young and old, men and women, yesterday in hundreds and today in thousands, agree spontaneously to leave their houses, rice fields, farmland, livestock and carts, etc., in order to join the people's heroes Khieu Samphan Hu Nim, and Hou Youn in the jungle.

In this regard, I would like to state precisely for our Buddhist monks that first, the said Communist states of Eastern Europe have not given their official recognition to the Lon Nol government which was born of the coup of last 18 Mar; secondly, some of these very European Communist states have recognized officially, while others admitted publicly, that Nordom Sihanouk remains the legal head of state of Cambodia; thirdly, the political parties, the people's fronts, and the people of these very countries have officially given their recognition to the NUFK as the only representative of the Khmer people and have time and again and most expressly affirmed their support to our people and their NUFK in our struggle against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys and for national salvation and the liberation of the Khmer motherland; fourthly, the refusal by certain European Communist governments to recognize the RGNUK by no means signifies that they support or like the regime of Lon Nol. This refusal might be explained by certain interests of their own of these governments. This should lead our Buddhist monks to think over the policies, attitudes, maneuvers, and actions of certain powers in Asia which seem unwilling to see the Asians become complete masters of the destinies of their Asia and of their Asian countries.

Therefore, (said Sihanouk in closing, ) if our Buddhist monks and Samdech, head of the sect, like our nation, agree to look these realities straight in the face, I am sure that they will not fail to march on the just roads towards a future which would not be in contradiction to the national ideals of pure patriotism, peoples democracy and

genuine freedom. Comment: Sihanouk broadcast his speeches at a time when the people were about to observe their oldest and most significant Buddhist ceremony, the Festival of the Dead. Offerings of food and garments are made to the monks during the first 15 days of the tenth lunar month. The reasoning behind the broadcast of the speeches at this time is that the monks have a great deal of influence on the people and many of them probably have not lost all loyalty to Sihanouk. He knows that if he can possibly get the support of the monks at this time, he would also keep the support of a large majority of the people.

The four speeches, employing kaleidoscopic verbosity, suggest that the people come back to the pure and simple life. He appears to be trying to sway the Khmer by explaining that others in seemingly good paying jobs have given up everything to support him, hoping that the monks and their followers might heed the advice and actions of these people and join him. Sihanouk would like the Khmer to think if they do not join him they will be dishonoring the Kingdom of Cambodia and the sacred Buddha.

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