Psychological Warfare

Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PSYOP), have been known by many other names or terms, including Psy Ops, Political Warfare, “Hearts and Minds”, and Propaganda. Various techniques are used, by any set of groups, and aimed to influence a target audience's value systems, belief systems, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior. It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator's objectives, and are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.

In Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, Jacques Ellul discusses psychological warfare as a common peace policy practice between nations as a form of indirect aggression in place of military aggression. This type of propaganda drains the public opinion of an opposing regime by stripping away its power on public opinion. This form of aggression is hard to defend against because no international court of justice is capable of protecting against psychological aggression since it cannot be legally adjudicated. The only defense is using the same means of psychological warfare. It is the burden of every government to defend its state against propaganda aggression. "Here the propagandists is dealing with a foreign adversary whose morale he seeks to destroy by psychological means so that the opponent begins to doubt the validity of his beliefs and actions."

The U.S. Department of Defense defines psychological warfare as:

"The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives."

This definition indicates that a critical element of the U.S. psychological operations capabilities includes propaganda and by extension counterpropaganda. Joint Publication 3-53 establishes specific policy to use public affairs mediums to counterpropaganda from foreign origins.

During World War II the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff defined psychological warfare more broadly stating "Psychological warfare employs any weapon to influence the mind of the enemy. The weapons are psychological only in the effect they produce and not because of the weapons themselves."

Read more about Psychological Warfare:  Modern Psychological Warfare Operations, Categories of Psychological Warfare

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Famous quotes containing the word warfare:

    And God would bid His warfare cease,
    Saying all things were well;
    And softly make a rosy peace,
    A peace of Heaven with Hell.
    William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)