TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

live.belfercenter.org

TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Sgt. 1st Class Dain Christensen, of Company C, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, placesanti-terrorist flyers over graffiti Aug. 16 in Mosul, Iraq. (Photo by Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 55thSignal Company)Influencing AudiencesIO has been compared to other countries’ propaganda efforts. But are ‘InformationOperations’ indeed synonymous with ‘propaganda?’ Although theUS government would most likely decline to describe its efforts as such, theMerriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition for propaganda—“the spreading ofideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution,a cause, or a person”—is uncannily similar to the Pentagon’s definitionfor IO.In fact, even intelligence professionals are divided over whether there is anyreal difference between IO and propaganda. For example, the former commanderof the US Army’s Fourth Psychological Operations Group, a militaryunit that produces covert and overt messages to support the US government,acknowledged the apparent double-standard, admitting, “We call our stuff informationand the enemy’s propaganda,” but “some public affairs professionalssee us unfavorably…[and call us] lying, dirty tricksters.” 210 Perhaps, then, thedifference between IO and propaganda is merely a matter of perspective.Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School85

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines