Information Warfare: March 14, 2003


Throughout the Cold War, many outrageous accusations were made against the United States, and many people outside America believed them. Among the lies were those asserting that the CIA had invented AIDS, or biological weapons that only killed non-white people. The CIA was also said to be behind the 1981 assassination attempt against the pope (which was actually organized by the KGB). Another favorite was that the United States sent people to poor countries to steal babies for their organs. Many forged letters from American leaders were distributed. The overall effect of this disinformation campaign had a lasting impact, because, even if each of the accusations could easily be dismissed, taken as a whole, it made a lot of people hostile to the United States. In 1992, former senior KGB official Yevgeny Primakov admitted (in a rather boastful way) that all of this was, indeed, an organized KGB operation. This admission, alas, did not get to most of the people around the world who still believed the falsehoods. This sort of thing is not new. In the decade before World War II, the nazis and communists perfected what came to be known as the "Big Lie" propaganda technique. Tell a lot of whoppers frequently enough and the target of those lies will be hurt. We see this technique being played out over the last two decades by Islamic demagogues and tyrants the world over, particularly Saddam Hussein. It still works.




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