Monday, March 7, 2022

The Fog of War

Wartime Propaganda is nothing new:

  • Ancient Greek commander Themistocles, in 480 BCE, used a disinformation campaign to lure Xerxes into a naval battle at the Straits of Salamis. The strait was so narrow that the large Persian fleet could not manuever. This helped the outnumbered Greeks defeat Xerxes.
  • Alexander used images of himself on statues, monuments and coins as propaganda.
  • Propaganda was used extensively in the Roman Empire; Julius Caesar was exceptionally good at it.
  • Pope Urban II used religious propaganda to stir up support for the Crusades (12th & 13th centuries).
  • Martin Luther appeared to be a propaganda master, knowing exactly how to get his message out in the most effective way, thus setting off the Reformation.
  • The Vatican countered Luther with a propaganda campaign in the Counter-Reformation. Its purpose was to solidify the Catholic Church's dominance, and it worked very well.
  • Benjamin Franklin is noted as being skilled at propaganda in the time of the Revolution. So was Thomas Jefferson.
  • From the Napoleonic Wars through the U.S. Civil War, propaganda was used extensively and effectively.
  • In the 19th century, the political cartoon emerged as a very effective form of Propaganda. The name best remembered is Thomas Nast.

There's some background, now in this post we'll be focusing on the 20th and 21st Century and American.

In Wartime all sides release propaganda, counter propaganda and half-truths. In addition, the staging of False Flag operations is common. 


At 9:40pm on February 15, 1898, the battleship U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, killing 268 men and shocking the American populace. Of the two-thirds of the crew who perished, only 200 bodies were recovered and 76 identified.

The sinking of the Maine, which had been in Havana since February 15, 1898, on an official observation visit, was a climax in pre-war tension between the United States and Spain. In the American press, headlines proclaimed "Spanish Treachery!" and "Destruction of the War Ship Maine Was the Work of an Enemy!" William Randolph Hearst and his New York Journal offered a $50,000 award for the "detection of the Perpetrator of the Maine Outrage." Many Americans assumed the Spanish were responsible for the Maine's destruction.

On March 28, 1898, the United States Naval Court of Inquiry found that the Maine was destroyed by a submerged mine. Although blame was never formally placed on the Spanish, implication was clear. Recent research suggests that the explosion may have been an accident, involving a spontaneous combustion fire in the coal bunker. Some conspiracy theorists have even suggested that sensational journalist William Randolph Hearst may have set the explosion in order to precipitate a war. While historians will never know exactly what happened the night the Maine went down, it is clear that the incident was a significant force that propelled the United States into the Spanish-American War.

source: PBS


On March 1, 1917, the American public learned about a German proposal to ally with Mexico if the United States entered the war. Months earlier, British intelligence had intercepted a secret message from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the Mexican government, inviting an alliance (along with Japan) that would recover the southwestern states Mexico lost to the U.S. during the Mexican War of 1846-47.

Arthur Zimmermann's Speech Regarding the Zimmermann Telegram, 29 March 1917

"I wrote no letter to General Carranza.  I was not so naive.  I merely addressed, by a route that appeared to me to be a safe one, instructions to our representative in Mexico.

It is being investigated how these instructions fell into the hands of the American authorities.  I instructed the Minister to Mexico, in the event of war with the United States, to propose a German alliance to Mexico, and simultaneously to suggest that Japan join the alliance.

I declared expressly that, despite the submarine war, we hoped that America would maintain neutrality.

My instructions were to be carried out only after the United States declared war and a state of war supervened.  I believe the instructions were absolutely loyal as regards the United States..."

Some suspected the telegram might be a forgery to manipulate America into the war. 

Turns out it may not have been fake but the intentions were over-blown.



On May 7, 1915, the German submarine (U-boat) U-20 torpedoed and sank the Lusitania, a swift-moving British cruise liner traveling from New York to Liverpool, England. Of the 1,959 men, women, and children on board, 1,195 perished, including 123 Americans. A headline in the New York Times the following day—"Divergent Views of the Sinking of The Lusitania"—sums up the initial public response to the disaster. Some saw it as a blatant act of evil and transgression against the conventions of war. Others understood that Germany previously had unambiguously alerted all neutral passengers of Atlantic vessels to the potential for submarine attacks on British ships and that Germany considered the Lusitania a British, and therefore an "enemy ship."

Recent mini sub exploration of the wreck has confirmed that she was carrying vast amounts of war supplies in the form of ammunition. This made her a legitimate target under the Geneva Convention and “the accepted rules of engagement”. 

Erik Larson, an award winning historical non-fiction writer describes the scheme at 4:08 in this clip

source: PBS,


The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorized President Lyndon Johnson to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression” by the communist government of North Vietnam.
Many suspect foul play.

source: simply history

great website:


Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, ordered the invasion and occupation of Kuwait with the apparent aim of acquiring that nation's large oil reserves, canceling a large debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and expanding Iraqi power in the region.

Stories of "babies thrown from incubators" played on people's emotions and fanned the flames of invasion.

The Nayirah testimony was a false testimony given before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990 by a 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah. The testimony was widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States senators and President George H. W. Bush in their rationale to back Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992,

Even CNN got in the mix
This is a clip of "live coverage" of the 1993 Gulf War prefaced by leaked footage of the set where the "episode" was filmed. It shows CNN anchor Charles Jaco, famous for his Gulf War coverage, joking around on a CNN sound stage in Saudi Arabia. It is followed by a live satellite feed of the "actors" playing out a scene of the chaos of war.

source: Britannica, The Court Jesters Club


In March 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. When WMD intelligence proved illusory and a violent insurgency arose, the war lost public support.


ABC News Airs "Syria" Footage From A Kentucky Gun Range

ABC News was heavily criticized this week after airing footage the network said showed an embattled Syrian border town — only for some viewers to point out it looked very similar to YouTube video from a Kentucky gun range. The network took down the video and apologized, but did not offer further explanation.

source: GBH News


'Ghost Of Kyiv' Fighter Pilot Blowing Up Russian Aircraft In Trending Clip Actually From Video Game

A clip of a Ukrainian fighter jet blowing up a suspected Russian aircraft started trending on social media yesterday. Many believed it was proof of the exploits of a mysterious and unverified ace pilot called the “Ghost of Kyiv.” It was actually fake footage from the 2013 PC game, Digital Combat Simulator: World.

Of course there are plenty more examples from many different countries throughout the long trudge of time. 

And who knows how many more are to come?


Writing activity

Do you think we'll ever stop starting wars? Why are some countries so eager to wage war, while others aren't? What wars has your country fought in the recent past? Would you fight in a war to save your country? What if they had a war and nobody showed up?

Find some part of war that moves you, not so much emotionally but in your gut, against your principles or moral code. Expand on that.

Now Reverse Engineer above information with what you want to say about war. What does your soul say about it?

No comments:

Post a Comment