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  • February 25, 2012

    Psychological Warfare Must Precede Strike on Iran

    by Bill Levinson
    Originally published in The American Thinkers

    Sun Tzu wrote 2,500 years ago that war is of vital interest to the state, and a matter of life and death. Colonel Paul Linebarger’s Psychological Warfare says the same of his science: “Yet success, though incalculable, can be overwhelming; and failure, though undetectable, can be mortal.” Most of the West does not understand this science, and Israel is particularly deficient in its study.

    Any attack on Iran’s nuclear program will, in the absence of preparatory psychological warfare, unite the Iranian people against the attacker. Germans who had no use for Hitler and Nazism nonetheless fought harder when Allied troops entered Germany itself, and Russians who feared or despised Stalin took up arms against German invaders. Iran’s government is obviously relying on its people to react similarly to any Western effort to derail Iran’s nuclear program, and may in fact want to provoke an attack to divert the minds of Iranians from their government’s numerous shortcomings. This is why a PsyWar campaign must precede an attack on Iran, and it may in fact make such an attack unnecessary.

    The campaign must educate the Iranian people that the West has no quarrel with them, but only with their rulers, who plan to attack other countries with nuclear weapons. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “World Without Zionism” poster shows a glass ball with the Israeli flag falling through an hourglass, along with a broken one with an American flag at the bottom. Iranians must realize that their leaders are effectively brandishing weapons of mass destruction, which both invites and justifies a pre-emptive response.

    The first step of such a campaign is to identify the Propaganda Man, or hypothetical audience we seek to persuade. Most countries have more than one Propaganda Man. In Iran, for example, we have the soldiers who control the means of violence, as well as civilians who live in fear of the government and religious police. Both audiences are likely to dread the inevitable nuclear retaliation should their rulers put their threats into effect.

    The propaganda campaign should therefore state, “The West has no quarrel with Iran unless Iran starts it, in which case the target of Iran’s aggression would have no choice but to retaliate in kind and with overwhelming force. Tens of millions of Iranians would die, and the great cities and proud heritage that date back to your Persian ancestors would lie in ruins. This [insert pictures of victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki] is not what you seek for your great nation, but it is where your self-serving rulers are leading you.”

    The phrase “self-serving” is important because a leader who does not serve his followers loses what China calls the Mandate of Heaven: the right to lead as derived from effective service to stakeholders. This argument can be phrased with the ancient Indo-European word dher, for the duty of a leader or ruler to care for the welfare of his subjects. It appears, for example, in the name of Darius (a king of Persia), Jemadar (lieutenant, holder in trust of a body of men), and Dharma (the Right Way). The Iranian words for duty and stewardship should therefore be used as often as possible.

    The first step is therefore to persuade Iranians that the Ahmadinejad government, unlike a true Persian leader, rules for its own benefit and not for that of its people. The next step is to tell Iranians, and especially those who control weapons, what they can do about it.

      Another great nation, the people of Germany, had a heritage of learning and culture that, while not as old as Iran’s, was the envy of Europe. Then they made the mistake of electing a self-serving demagogue named Adolf Hitler. Hitler said he would lead Germany to greatness, but by 1944, it was clear that he was leading Germany nowhere but to utter ruin. Millions of Germans already lay dead, and the nations that Germany had attacked the way your government threatens to attack the West were closing in on it from both sides.

      Then a group of patriotic German officers realized that loyalty to Hitler was not compatible with loyalty to their Fatherland. These German patriots conspired to kill Hitler, overthrow his government, and make peace with the nations whom Hitler had attacked. Had they succeeded, it is quite likely that the Allies would have made peace without occupying and humiliating Germany as they did in 1945. The elimination of the Nazi government and Germany’s withdrawal from all occupied countries would have left the Allies with no real reason to continue to fight.

      Does your duty to your countrymen and to Iran’s ancient heritage call upon you to help start a senseless war in which your friends and families are likely to die wholesale, or to remove the self-serving rulers who call for this war in the name of an ideology every bit as deranged as that of the Nazis?

    The appeal can add that the Italian people took matters into their own hands with regard to Benito Mussolini, and the famous or infamous pictures of Mussolini hanging upside-down could be included as a suggestion as to what ordinary Iranians can do with their government — especially religious judges and secret police who have made Iranian dissidents disappear, or have sentenced women to be stoned to death for mostly imaginary offenses.

    This propaganda offers the added effect of fomenting paranoia in the Iranian government, and Sir Thomas More’s Utopia actually recommended this approach. It was the practice of More’s fictional Utopians to offer a reward for the murder of the enemy leaders, with amnesty for any enemy leader who turned on his associates. The resulting breakdown of trust, at least in a despotic government, is quite likely to result in preemptive executions and/or assassinations.

    Commentators on Sun Tzu’s Art of War added a case study in which a country sent a “secret” message to a high-ranking official on the other side, with the intention that it be intercepted to make it look like the official was disloyal. The valuable official was put to death; Germany used the same technique to cause the execution of a Russian general during the Second World War.

    Colonel Linebarger contended quite accurately that psychological warfare is the most humane of all weapons. If you can persuade an enemy to lay down his arms, desert, malinger, or otherwise not do his master’s bidding, he won’t kill you, and you don’t have to kill him. The persuasion of the Iranian people to overthrow their dictators will save lives on all sides while offering Iranians a prosperous future free of religious oppression, violence, and the dreaded knock on the door in the middle of the night.

  • Posted by Bill Levinson @ 7:38 pm | 11 Comments »

    11 Comments to Psychological Warfare Must Precede Strike on Iran

    1. yamit82 says:

      Sun Tzu is useful as a theoretical exercise for understanding strategy in certain contexts but in modern warfare either between states or against asymmetrical opponents almost useless. You can never know what you don’t know which leads invariably to unintended consequences usually never foreseen. Israel applied much of Sun Tzu concepts of deception in 67′ with great success but in 73′ they almost led to disaster.

      I find Clausewitz is more relevant in the modern battlefield against technically armed and competent enemies. In modern warfare political aims determine battles goals and durations. Technology has changed warfare immensely. The US has the most advanced technology and the strongest military in the world, but this has not necessarily helped it win wars. Thus, there is yet no valid alternative to strategic theory.

      Clausewitz distinguishes between limited and unlimited aims. Wars fought for limited aims are “merely to occupy some of [the enemy’s] frontier districts” , whereas the goal of unlimited wars is “to overthrow the enemy”

      Clausewitz has strongly influenced Western strategy and is thus certainly useful to explain the two total wars of the twentieth century.

      Clausewitz argues for the necessity of a correlation between the value a state attaches to its aims and the means used. “…the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration…”

      Clausewitz’ definition of war as a continuation of politics is also has great meaning for the contemporary conflicts: It emphasizes that war is politics and thus a clear political goal is necessary to achieve an end, by use of political tools, not merely force.

      Sun Tzu, should be studied even if his tactics are never used, to get a better idea of the adversary, who might be using them.

    2. Shem says:

      Whatever else I know, I know that the nightmare of a world without Zionism shall never exist, however much this liar Achmadinejad may desire it. Read it in Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 30 how Moshiach, the chief and the all-powerful Zionist, will bring the galut home, after that both Israeli houses have been punished and restored to Him. Read in Ovadyah/Obadiah–one of Edom’s own who became an Israeli–how Edom will be wiped out and cleaned up like dirt from the land. The same Moshiach who had His prophets write these things is the One who will do all this, and He will prove once and for all: AM YISRAEL CHAI!

    3. bernard ross says:

      I find this statement odd: “..made peace without occupying and humiliating Germany as they did in 1945.” Yet Germany and Japan, through their humiliation, unconditional surrender and unconditional rule, are now allies for decades of their former enemies. contrary to this comment I believe one of the problems is that Israel does not complete its military actions and further humiliate and destroy their enemy. The enemy views each war as a battle in a war they will win. Annihilation and humiliation is the only way that their bloodthirsty, cultish, rabid desires to slaughter jews and infidels will cease. All hope must be eliminated for them, a;; ot their leaders must be humiliated like Ghadaffi. Of course the Jews will ponder this concept and reject it in their usual self critical and suicidal tendencies. One of Israels successful moments was seizing beirut and forcing the PLO out of the middle east. they have been on the road to damascus and cairo but allowed their tormentors to survive. Another psy op is to drive fear into tthe hearts of the enemy. The enemy views Israel and the western world as civilized adversaries who can be depended upon to be restrained. this is a mistake.

    4. Shem says:

      Bernard Ross is correct in this assessment, I believe. Hasn’t it always been that Israelim have been considered “merciful,” which the enemy translated as “weak,” even wicked King Ahab when the Aramean came to him after a sore defeat, and Ahab called him “brother”? And then the prophet told him it would be Ahab’s life for the one that he should have taken. Isn’t it true what someone has said, that he who is merciful to the cruel is thereby cruel to the upright? Isn’t that why Moshiach will give them utter defeat and eviction from the land, and why He will restore the Kingdom to the 12 tribes? HalleluYAH!

    5. howard Malaky says:

      The West and Israel could formulate all the psychology they can master, issue the most appealing declaration, they are simply not believed.

    6. Suppose however that the Iranian military succeeded where Operation Valkyrie failed, and the Iranian people then rose up and slaughtered all the religious judges, religious police, and so on. Then Iran would no longer prove a danger to the Western world, and there would be no need to attack or occupy it.

      The same had Operation Valkyrie succeeded; the German Army would not have consented to Allied occupation of Germany but would probably have offered to withdraw from all occupied territories. The Allies would have then had no real reason to keep fighting and losing men, as the root cause of the problem would have been gone.

    7. Viiit says:

      The key to winning the propaganda war with the Islamic Republic is to re-brand them.
      Iran is a great ancient civilization occupied by primitive, barbarian Arab ideology of Islam.
      Iranians hate and despise Arabs, they know that Islam is an imposition, and instantly resonate with this statement.

    8. bernard ross says:

      suppose they had been successful. Perhaps the “final solution” would still have been implemented. Certainly we know that no one would have interfered. Because it was unsuccessful war continued and the jews were let loose. However, the west was operating in its own interest without regard for the lives of the Jews. Perhaps a higher intelligence was aware that what what was happening to the Jews must also happen to the others in order for there to be a solution. Suppose a similar operation occurred in Iran and the military or anyone in the current structure took over, Perhaps they would still want the bomb and to kill jews and infidels. Perhaps the Jews are the canary in the coal mine, a sign given to wake up those who do not wish to be awakened. Those that do not observe the canary go down into the mine themselves. We are at the mouth of the mine now and the canary is under threat.

    9. Vinnie says:

      I don’t have access to the relevant secret intel, but reading between the lines of open source material, it would seem that time is now too short to implement such a plan, to the extent that it has not been implemented as of yet.

      To some degree, it already has. Former Mossad head Dagan, reportedly was quoted s saying that in the minds of Iranians in the street today, there is already an established relationship between Iran’s nuke program and the privations they suffer in daily life due to the related sanctions regime.

      If Iran is as close to Israel’s “red line” as press reports seem to indicate, time is short. The strike will likely occur sooner rather than later, and we’ll have to hope that it is successful (I’d define “success” as setting Iran back at least five years), and that perhaps it might provoke an uprising against the regime. If not, at least Israel should be kept safe from an Iranian nuclear attack long enough for Obama to be out of office, assuming he is re-elected, which may happen (thanks to what I see as a prospective third-party run by Ron Paul, to achieve this aim).

    10. Saint says:

      Sun Tzu was true. YOu guys can defeat the shit out of iran just by psychological warfare too, you do not need to waste ammunition on such bastards.

    11. C.R. says:

      I don’t expect either the USA or Israel to strike Iran–and certainly not the USA under Barack Obama. The time to strike Iran along with Afganistan was ASAP after September 11, 2001!

      I’ve been hearing of an impending Israeli strike since 2006–Israel has wasted every good opportunity they have had!

      Even if Iran had a million tactical nuclear weapons–they will never destroy Israel–the God of Islam [Satan] will not prevail against the one true God of the Bible, i.e., El Shaddai!

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