10 principles of military propaganda – we study the work of Anna Morelli, which is always relevant

It has been well over a century since the foundational concepts were initially developed. However, as was evident from the practice, nobody has learnt anything. It's not the first time, and it probably won't be the last, either.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

In today’s hectic times, flashy headlines, exclusive materials, and summaries aim to divert our attention away from what is important by filling our thoughts with information that is not pertinent to the topic at hand. The worsening of people’s attitudes and the never-ending nature of their debates are detrimental to overall productivity and lead everyone to constantly scroll through Telegram groups, YouTube, and other supposedly “reliable” sources of information. Do you recall the adage, “Whoever possesses the information owns the world?” This is partly true, provided the individual possesses “important and beneficial information.” If a person’s mind is cluttered with the excessive knowledge, they will never be able to think properly or appropriately. The fact that people have different levels of education places certain constraints on their ability to comprehend particular truths, even though everything we use has been invented and has been presented for quite some time.

I want to draw your attention to ‘The basic principles of war propaganda,’ a monograph published in 2001 by Anna Morelli. It was inspired by ‘Lies in Wartime’ by Arthur Ponsonby and ‘The War of 1914’ by Unknown. Another work on the subject of propaganda is titled “Mobilization of Conscience,” written by George Demartial during the First World War. It has been well over a century since the foundational concepts were initially developed. However, as was evident from the practice, nobody has learn’t anything. It’s not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last, either.

An essential consideration: even if you haven’t read about it, wars and battles on our globe occur consistently and never end. Therefore, it is crucial to recognize that these ideas apply to ANY period of time and that you should avoid being fixated on the current struggle in every known area. Here are ten takeaways from the book.

We do not seek conflict; we defend ourselves!

Military wars are seldom desirable, and on top of that, the general populace has a very pessimistic view of them because they can directly impact areas of their lives such as their work, their families, and their communities. Because no other options are available, it is regarded as the utmost significance to foster the mentality that resorting to armed force is an unavoidable course of action.

The responsibility for everything is with the opponent

This notion originates from the realization that both parties must be forced into declaring war to forestall the adversary from “destroying our values,” putting our liberty in jeopardy, or annihilating us as a nation. This is the absurdity of a war being fought to prevent further conflicts from happening – a paradox of the highest order. It is like removing a healthy tooth since even a healthy tooth might become infected after a while. Or perhaps not become ill at all. But you don’t need to think about it. Morelli uses the United States’ involvement in the war in Iraq and Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 as examples.

Bringing into question the credibility of the adversary’s leader

A strategy that is exceptionally well-liked and is regularly employed. It is productive to aim anger against the leading personality of the nation that is the enemy. There is no doubt that a psychopath or some other monstrosity is in control of the enemy camp. This adversary is a threat to humanity and must be vanquished. The example of Saddam Hussein and his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction demonstrates how the personality of a single individual can bring an entire nation’s reputation into disrepute. As if no one lives in the country besides him.

We defend a worthy cause rather than our particular interests

It would appear that by the logic of all the assertions presented, we subsist on a “good deed,” and while employed, we earn good deed. And when we get home from work, we wash it all down with a glass of “good cause” while enjoying a treat from the “just cause.” The economic and geopolitical objectives of war must be concealed under an ideal, values of morality and legality. In the contemporary society that we live in, starting a war requires the approval of the populace first. It is imperative that we can persuade public opinion that, in contrast to our adversaries, we go to war for incomparably honourable reasons. If you think about any military battle from a different perspective and then look at a map that shows where natural resources are located, you will quickly grasp what is going on.

Anna Morelli

Anna Morelli. Image: Paul Van Welden – wikiportrait.n

Enemy deliberately commits atrocities; we make mistakes without intent

The normal habit of the enemy is to conduct war crimes, and if we commit them as well, then this is a mistake, a human factor, and a technical struggle. Morelli observes that military propaganda is typically not satisfied with actual occurrences; instead, it must manufacture horrors.

The enemy uses forbidden methods

We do not engage in heinous acts, but rather, we fight like knights, abiding by all of the laws that have been established. These are, without a doubt, stringent and macho guidelines. During World War I, there were violent demonstrations against the deployment of poison gas. These demonstrations took place across Europe. Both sides of the conflict pointed the finger of blame at the other for using the gas. It should not come as a surprise that both sides used gas and carried out studies into the application of such methods and the enhancement of efficiency.

Our casualties are negligible, but the enemies are incredibly high

This type of information raises morale in both camps and convinces public opinion of the effectiveness of the fight. The enemy suffered enormous losses, and their army did not put up any opposition. During the conflict in Iraq, for instance, the United States government forbade the distribution of images of the caskets of American service members killed in action. And such an initiative is coming from both sides, even though in this day and age, with the speed and methods currently available for transmitting information, it is becoming increasingly impossible to hide it.

Intelligentsia loves us

Morelli contends that after the First World War, intellectuals predominantly backed their camp in the aftermath of the conflict. There were artists, writers, and musicians on both sides of the conflict who supported the causes of their respective countries and could be counted on to lend their support. However, everything depends on the methods and readily available information. It is challenging to identify a consensus among members of the intelligentsia in favour of military operations; more often than not, there is a range of conflicting perspectives. This principle is becoming increasingly outdated because it is dependent on the sources of funding for the same vocalists and the location from which they earned the majority of the profit for their job.

Our mission is sacred

The conflict looks to be a crusade when taken in its most literal meaning since it is supported by a divine purpose: “we carry the real faith, a rich culture, and we safeguard people.” Morelli observes that the war in Iraq is portrayed as a crusade against the “axis of evil” or as “a conflict between good and evil.” It is crucial to remember that the year 2022 has already passed. In the age of nanotechnology and space travel, certain religious missions sound, to put it gently, unconvincing.

Whoever questioning our propaganda aids the enemy and is, therefore, a traitor

Anyone who questions even one of the guiding principles must necessarily work with the opposition. You can either be “for” or “against” evil, but you can’t be neutral. There is not a typical variety of viewpoints because any disagreement is stifled and dismissed using misleading reasoning. A state that is currently at war is required to have complete information control. Such a viewpoint is vital for all parties to any disputes taking place on our planet.


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