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Selina Pascale

Selina Pascale


Total Article : 213

About Me:I'm a graduate student studying International Criminal Law and first started writing for King's News almost 4 years ago! My hobbies include reading, travelling and charity work. I cover many categories but my favourite articles to write are about mysteries of the ancient world, interesting places to visit, the Italian language and animals!

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Psychological Warfare

Psychological Warfare

Recently non-traditional studies of warfare have sought to address more intricate war strategies such as psychological warfare. Psychological conditioning through the media can drastically improve a nation’s prospect of victory as it increases public support. Inter-state engagement is immensely beneficial as it not only encourages the nation to work as a unit against a common cause but it also limits internal disputes and protests, on behalf of civilians, which may rise due to the conflict and its impact on the nation. It also allows political, military and intelligence forces to focus their resources on the war. The art of psychological warfare as a form of soft power, therefore, has undergone extensive revision by war analysts as it ‘seeks to win military gains without military force’ (Linebarger 1954:37). For political scientist Eluul it is seen as a method of implicit aggression and indirect attack against the enemy in which the aim is ‘to destroy by psychological means so that the opponent begins to doubt the validity of his beliefs and actions" (Ellul 1973: 3). One of the main focuses of this practise is war propaganda, which can be exposed via the media. This rests on the principle of freedom of speech, in which all citizens are entitled to express their opinions and concerns, therefore if a news channel wishes to demonise the nation’s enemy in order to increase public sympathy their enemy target cannot provide a liable case against them as no international laws would prohibit our freedom of expression. Indeed the media can turn from an objective forum of information to a deceitful device in which nations reality is contortioned to fit the cause of war, a form of ‘routine manipulation and spin’ (Vedantam 2003: 18).  Upon consideration, propaganda emerges as a highly effective way to diffuse one’s political ideology in hindsight of victory.


The ‘hearts and mind’ campaign is used repeatedly by both British and Us counter-insurgency as a coercive non-forceful way of winning the support of the people (Dixon 2009: 353). It was first applied in the Malaysian Emergency of 1952 as a tool to influence the outcome of wars through perceptions, as British General Gerald Templer stated victory in warfare ‘lies not in pouring more soldiers into the jungle, but in the hearts and minds of the Malayan people.’ (Sergio 2012: 2). Since then winning the hearts and minds of both the adversary’s and one’s own nation’s citizens has been employed so the message is not limited to a state’s homeland but is conveyed in foreign nations worldwide. 

Such tactics were used during the Gulf War as both UK and US forces dropped countless leaflets in Arabic from planes convincing civilians to abandon Saddam Hussein, urging them to surrender whilst informing them how to do so and also telling them how to tune into American radio. On the home front, the concept of a just war was reinforced penetrating through the TV and internet whereas overseas translations of speeches inciting surrender on behalf of former US Secretary of Defence Donald Henry Rumsfeld were broadcasted until the city of Qasr was captured (Hiebert 2014: 251). The day following the collapse of Saddam’s regime, Iraqi national television was in the hands of the US which controlled Baghdad’s Channel 3 from the Pentagon to inform civilians of Iraq that ‘that their country is being liberated, not occupied, and that self-government and free enterprise are on the way.’ (Allen 2003, 3). Politics is inherently intertwined with psychology and psychological war is a discreetly divisive tool which, when used properly, can not only increase a nation’s support internally but create the same effects on an international level through contortion of the enemy’s image and decisively selecting information on the war which depicts the two sides in an epic battle of good democracies versus, usually, evil tyrannical regimes. In modern warfare psychological influence has taken a place of utmost importance in warfare tactics and, many times, has proven to be effective and efficient.


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