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Psychological Warfare

by Natalie Manier, Monika Rieger, Kai Haubold, Jochen Werling and Florian Prokscha, class 12,
students of Comprehensive School Kandel, Germany, March 2003

The third gulf war has begun. The U.S. do not only use smart bombs. They also use psychological warefare. For example propaganda: They tell people in Iraq with flyers, e-mails and speeches that after the war everything will be better and they should not support Saddan Hussein any longer! The U.S. are testing new weapons. This is also a psychological thing. The Iraqi people, the Iraqi army know that the U.S. have such weapons, but will they really use them? Never before psychological warfare has been so intensely used by the USA.

1. Dirty bombs
It has not yet been proven that any of the involved armies has so far used dirty bombs in the current war in Iraq. Nevertheless we know a number of facts about this kind of weapons and fear they could be used in a more and more brutalising war.

- Radioactive weapons= dirty bombs - Radioactive weapons normally are: rather simple device out of conventional dynamite (as e.g. TNT or mixtures that contain fertiliser or petrol) which contain extraordinary radioactive substances.
- Released blast power evaporates the radioactive material that bounds to the dust and rubble particles
- Radiological bombs: not to be compared with radoactive boms, may cause immense damage => they make use of the fear of the population of radioactivity (you cannot feel or see it)
Effect: not masses of destruction of human lifes, but mass panic
- Such weapons contaminate large areas => for long time inaccessible => may cause economic catastrophes
- Natural levels of contamination per year 0,002 Sievert
- In general 1 sievert or more leads to a radiation sickness. An immediate medical tratment is necessary
- 4.5 Sievert: 50 percent of exposed people die in the following 60 days
- Lower dosage can lead to an increase of individual cancer risk

2. Propaganda as a Weapon

Handbills for the enemy:
The Americans try to discourage the Iraqi people psychologically. Millions of handbills were dropped over the Iraq to get Saddam's troops giving up.
'Leave now and go Home. Watch your children learning, growing and prospering.'

Information war

The Iraq war as a media event: There has never been such a large number of media in use. One can see for instance photographs of the Iraqi television, which show a wounded child who sits crying on the hospital bed, surrounded by a group of one hundred of camera teams. Is that the cruelty of the war or a media machinery?

Embedded into the US military there reports an army of journalists without distance. Many of these war correspondents do not make make any secret of their own enthusiasm for war. At the same time it is obvious that they have a very small overview. Depending on the working conditions their pictures are being commented more or less critically. It has to be noted that anything you see or hear from such correspondents might not be reliable or even propaganda.

War reporting ('Be the first to know”)

A third army of real and self named experts comments all the time what is visible or not. An expression of helplessness leads to illasory information. The US TV networks intensely use the 'embedded' journalism. The slogan is “Be the first to know”. The reporting reminds to a sports event and the term event is used for the attacks. The spectator is told about the hits in Baghdad and other war areas live and in colour.

During the media war the difference between propaganda and journalist reporting is totally lost. Pictures and information are used for propaganda purposes. More than in the first Iraq war the Iraq uses pictures to attack the image of the U.S.. Another aspect is the reporting being done by the Arab TV-channel Al Jazeera.

Lack of information

While the Americans show pictures of their army going forward towards Baghdad, Iraqi television shows pictures of killed and arrested soldiers. Pictures which are extremly degrading. But that is not the only reason, why U.S. TV stations do not show these pictures.

Iraqi regime shows American helicopter crew on TV

The Iraqi government shows American war prisoners on television. This is a means of propaganda to encourage Iraqi fighters and demoralise American soldiers and their families at home. Private equipment such as credit card, identity card (possibly) and others are shown being spread on the floor.

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