Information Warfare: Japanese Propaganda and American Mass Media




June 29, 2007: U.S. troops have been mystified at how differently the war they fight in Iraq is portrayed by the U.S. media back home. Most just shrug it off as "politics," and yet another reason to not trust what the mass media presents as reliable reporting. But recently, the troops have been passing around an interesting discovery. Namely, that the Japanese psychological warfare effort during World War II included radio broadcasts that could be picked up by American troops. Popular music was played, but the commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered away on the same points;

1 Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to you.

2 This war is illegal.

3 You cannot win the war.

The troops are perplexed and somewhat amused that their own media is now sending out this message. Fighting the enemy in Iraq is simple, compared to figuring out what news editors are thinking back home. A few times, the mass media has been bold, or foolish, enough to confront the troops about this divergence of perceptions. The result is usually a surreal exchange, with the troops giving the journalist a "what planet are YOU from" look. Naturally, this sort of thing doesn't get much exposure. When pressed, a journalist or editor will dismiss the opinions of the troops (of all ranks), because they are "too close" to see "the big picture." For the same reason, reporters who send back material agreeing with the troops, find their stuff twisted into an acceptable shape, or not used at all. Historians will have a good time with all this.

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