June 15, 2013

Propaganda Analysis and Counter Propaganda, Part One


resistFirst, we have several new readers among us.  I just wanted to say that ‘Sarge’ says hello, and provide a brief intro for everyone else who just started reading.  I write here because America is locked in a battle between the State – the government; the coercive powers that bend the relationship of the citizen and his elected officials against the Liberty of the citizen – and man: you, me, the citizen.  Our Founders gave us very clear ideas as to their intentions with the foundation of the Republic and the ideal role of democracy in our Republic.  What we see today is an abomination of our Founders’ beliefs; aberrant behavior whereby, as Ayn Rand put it
“…the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may only act by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.”
We know that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are often targeted and designated as being affected by Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  I have to admit, before I went to Iraq and Afghanistan I was a good little boy; I never questioned authority and I was gung-ho to go over and fight for God and Country, and Mom and Dad, and, by-God, for the American way!  I swore, as many of you did, an Oath to support and defend the Constitution, and it was during my second tour that I began to realize that what we were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t actually for God and Country.

So I just have to ask, why is it that veterans who swore an Oath to support and defend the Constitution, upon returning from the global battlefields of Arabia and southwest Asia back to the newly opened theater of war called the USA, are being targeted simply because we realize that our government is quickly becoming little more than any other oppressive regime from which we just returned?  I see more in common between the US federal regime and the Iraqi Ba’ath Party or the Dawa Party (two very corrupt Iraqi regimes in their own right; and both oppressive towards their political and sectarian opponents) than the federal regime and the government that our Founders had in mind. 

So with this relatively new realization, we become a threat to the system because the system first became a threat to us, to the Constitution, and to our way of life.  We are the defenders.  If our government wasn’t becoming overtly oppressive, then I would be blogging about fly fishing instead.  Because our hornet’s nest is being poked, we have little recourse but to begin preparations to defend our nest.
I digress, but I just want to point out that we are pulling into the station, so to speak, of Rand’s ultimate inversion.  If you want your children and their children to be free, then it’s up to us to ensure their freedom, and up to them to ensure their children’s freedom.  The State, as we know it, simply has to go.  It doesn’t matter to me whether we accomplish that through politics, secession, or through other means, but we’re quickly running out of options.  Now on with the show…
Propaganda analysis.
The federal regime publishes state propaganda on a daily basis, sometimes in very broad and strategic directives and others in very pointed pin pricks.  (For all those future 11B’s and 0311′s out there, when I say “the state” I mean the government; the federal regime.)  Whether it’s the state demanding more authority to take away civil liberties in the best interest of public safety, or it’s the state demonizing their opponents, we’re fed a controlled message intended to make us think or feel a certain way, which is intended to affect our behavior.  All propaganda is stimulus for behavior modification.
Although these principles can be applied toward discerning the very broad messages put out by the federal regime, our focus today is on propaganda on a much smaller level.  Think of a mayor, local regime leader or military commander, a city council, or any other pro-regime authority in your region or community.  We find out a lot about our opponent’s goals through an organized analysis of what propaganda, disguised or not, he puts out.
So, as the Analysis and Control Element (ACE) Civil Team (CT), our first order of business concerning propaganda analysis is to answer these questions:
Who is the target audience?  Is this propaganda message intended toward the populace or intended toward the opposition?  What is the objective of this propaganda information?  Is this propaganda information a continuation of a previous or current campaign or a new direction; does it share a common theme, symbol, or verbiage with other propaganda?  Who, specifically, is communicating this message?  With what frequency is this message being communicated?
Target audience.
When we go to publish counter propaganda, we need to tailor our message to the regime’s target audience (TA).  We ask ourselves, who is the regime trying to reach in this message?  Is the TA the resistance or the civilian populace?  Is this propaganda a message to resistance organizations as a whole, only to specific segments such as leadership or lower level tier, or perhaps to only a few individuals?
If we’ve identified that the TA is lower level resisters, then we might analyze, based on the message, that the objective of the propaganda is to have the lower tier give up or turn on the upper tier.  Is the message attempting to create a rift between the lower tier and upper tier leadership?  Are they calling into question the leadership’s commitment and belief in the cause?  Are they rolling out a recently captured resistance leader for other leadership to see?  We need to get down to the nitty gritty because propaganda messages are trying to get a point across to the TA.  The more accurately we can identify the objective(s), the better we can counter the regime message.
Have we seen six months’ worth of different messages with the same objective and same TA?  Have they hammered a specific TA for months on end, and, if so, what does that tell us about their strategy to destabilize the resistance or destroy its morale?  Do we see a new campaign every two or three months?  What does this tell us about the efficacy of the regime propaganda plan?  Is it getting through easily or is it ineffective, which leads to a change of message every so often until something sticks?  Does any specific propaganda campaign precede operations?  Can the beginning of a propaganda campaign act as an early warning indicator to a threat?
Who is the communicator of this propaganda message?  The local military leader, or the civilian or elected leadership?  What is it about this communicator that makes the message particularly effective?  Is the military leader demanding total surrender from the resistance or is it a group of kids begging the resistance to cease operations for “the safety of the children”?  Has the local news station been co-opted by pro-regime elements to publish state propaganda?  Is an outside voice or international pressure now calling for the removal by force of resistance elements?
Is this a low-frequency propaganda acting as a reminder, or is this a high-frequency, high-intensity attempt at serious behavior modification?  What might the effort and frequency of disseminating the propaganda message tell us about the intent?  Do we see any patterns of activity regarding message frequency?  For instance, does an increased message frequency signify a slower OPTEMPO?  In other words, does an increased message frequency replace patrols?  If we can identify patterns, we can exploit them.
Coordinated operations.
Because we know that Information Operations (IO) – namely Psychological Operations (PSYOP) – are utilized in unison with both kinetic and non-kinetic operations, we can expect propaganda material to lead, follow, or coordinate with on the ground operations.  We have to accurately decide whether past or current operations had IO/PSYOP support, and what they were.
Just as an example, let’s look at a campaign for drunk driving because the anti-drunk driving campaign is utilized in the same manner that propaganda is.  In addition to sobriety checkpoints, we see billboards and commercials like this:  DRUNK DRIVING – OVER THE LIMIT, UNDER ARREST.  Typically, and especially before a major summer holiday weekend, we start to hear the press releases about how the PoPo are going to step up their operations against drunk drivers.  I seem to remember that they start putting the message out a several days before the weekend.  We see that sobriety checkpoints and the published message are used in coordination with each other.  The state troopers or sheriff’s department is attempting to modify behavior through the threat message that if you are driving drunk, you will be arrested.
Target audience: drivers and their passengers, specifically party-goers and drinkers.  The objective: to deter drunk driving, thereby making the roads safer and reducing wrecks and casualties.  Campaign: continuation of previous campaigns coordinated by state and local LE agencies; commonly found across the 50 states; center around major holiday weekends and in the summer.  Communicator: state and local LE agencies, co-opted news outlets including television and radio; authority figures.  Frequency: each news broadcast, radio ads every every hour, five billboards in a 20-mile radius; high saturation.
Now let’s consider an event in which our local pro-regime government is attempting to modify your behavior before house-to-house contraband searches (weapons or anti-regime literature, for example). If I start to see an increased anti-contraband propaganda campaign, I might alert others that there’s an increased chance of searches in the community, for starters.  CONTRABAND – NOT WORTH YOUR FREEDOM, or WEAPONS – ONLY THE TERRORISTS USE/NEED THEM, or WEAPONS – NOT WORTH YOUR LIFE, or SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. You know, whatever.
As we begin our analysis, we draw the distinction between the message and its target audience and then identify the objective, campaign, communicator, frequency, and coordinated operation(s).  Let’s get into dismantling one of these propaganda messages and in a future post, I’ll cover how we’d counter it.
The TA of this message is probably both the civilian population, primarily, and elements of the resistance as well.  The civilian population is receiving the message that anyone who has or uses a weapon is a terrorist.  Terrorists are bad, mmmkay?  The primary objective is to cast in a bad light anyone who has a firearm, to further demonize firearms, and to make the populace more amenable to idea of turning in anyone who’s seen with a weapon…they’re terrorists, after all.  The secondary objective might be targeted towards the resistance in an effort to dissuade them from using firearms.  If they convince just one resister that he or she’s a terrorist for using firearms, then the secondary objective has been met.  Campaign: Let’s say that this is a new campaign in response to reports of a new resistance cell that formed in the county; maybe even in response to increased resistance activity in the county.  Through some national-level networks, we might see that this message was used in successful IO campaigns in other states or areas.  We need to see if there was any counter propaganda response from the resistance and what made it a success/failure.  Communicator: A local group of middle school children are deliberately calling for an end to the illegal ownership of firearms.  They say that it makes the area unsafe to play outside.  Why are you being a terrorist, Sir?  Coordinated operations: Right now, state and local LE agencies are acting on tips and investigating any possible leads on gun owners.  There are a handful of searches and one case of a police offer being shot to death while searching a home; an event which only further underscored the message of this propaganda.
Well, we have our work cut out for us.  Generally, we seek to attack credibility, counter accuse, or craft and disseminate alternate versions of events through co-opted, sympathetic, or otherwise oblivious news sources (among others).  In our next post, we’ll use the information we identified above and formulate a response through publishing counter propaganda