Propaganda is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but not many people know what it actually means. Military PSYOPS and propaganda are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Military PSYOPS is a strategic communication process that can be used to influence decisions made by opponents or potential enemies in armed conflicts with non-state actors. Propaganda refers to any form of communication designed to produce an effect on its audience, which includes information as well as emotional reactions such as fear and sympathy. In this blog post we will explore how American Propaganda was first used by reviewing the history of both military PSYOPS and propaganda from Revolutionary War up until today!
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Marketing and advertising companies use propaganda to sell products every day. It’s hard to escape it! The term “propaganda” can be traced back as far as the 15th century, but its usage became widespread during World War I when governments would send flyers into enemy territory with information about their military. The goal of military PSYOPS is to demoralize the enemy and influence their decision-making, while propaganda is designed to change public opinion.
During the Revolutionary War, George Washington was one of the first commanders to use psychological operations tactics. He would send letters to the British troops and their families that were full of lies and exaggerations about the American forces. He also tried to sow discord among the British ranks by spreading rumors and misinformation.
Since then, propaganda has been used by both sides of every conflict in America. During World War II, the United States Office of War Information (OWI) was created to produce and distribute war-related news and information to the public. The OWI was also responsible for producing anti-German and anti-Japanese propaganda posters, movies, and radio shows.
After the war ended, the OWI was disbanded and its functions were transferred to the newly created Department of State. In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which created the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA was initially tasked with conducting foreign intelligence operations, but it also began to conduct covert operations and propaganda campaigns against the Soviet Union.
The Cold War was a time of intense rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, and each side used propaganda to try to discredit the other. The Soviets were especially good at spreading disinformation, and there were several notable cases where they placed false stories in American media outlets. Soviet propaganda was also known for creating conspiracy theories that would undermine the United States’ authority and position of power.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in terrorist groups such as ISIS using social media to spread information about their ideology and recruit new members. Intelligence agencies such as the FBI and CIA have also been able to use propaganda against terrorist organizations by creating fake online personas that interact with them.
Either way, American Propaganda will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Thank you for reading, and be sure to check out our other blog posts for more information on subject such as – PSYOPS: Propaganda, Censorship, and Disinformation, How does 1984 use propaganda?, and Propaganda: The Psychological Operation Campaigns (PSYOPS).
Photo Credit: Dash Dixon for The Capital; “Fight The Pandemic!” Posters to Battle COVID-19