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OSS and the Development of Psychological Warfare
COLD WAR FOUNDATIONS
The OSS was dissolved after the war. Secret Intelligence and Special Operations branches were transferred to the War Department and placed under the command of General John Magruder. 900 members of the OSS Research and Analysis Branch were transferred to the State Department, as the Interim Research and Intelligence Branch. The success of the OSS was not overlooked, however, and in the following years, the White House created the National Intelligence Authority, including a Central Intelligence Group. The following year, in 1947, Congress passed the National Security Act, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and other agencies. Within the CIA, Secret Intelligence became known as Foreign Intelligence; Special Operations became Covert Action. The two principal operating divisions of the CIA were the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), directing political subversion, and the Office of Special Operations, responsible for espionage and intelligence collection. [Smith, p. 361-66] Yet in some ways, the CIA was the mirror image of the OSS. While there was little doubt of the ethics of foreign intervention in the battle against fascism, use of the same techniques in times of peace earned the CIA a sinister reputation. "For the world as a whole," wrote Arnold Toynbee, "the CIA has now become the bogey that communism has been for America. Wherever there is trouble, violence, suffering, tragedy, the rest of us are now quick to suspect the CIA has a hand in it."
Most of the OSS records used in this study were made available to the public as a result of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998. Congress has passed no corresponding Act to declassify CIA files, and none is expected any time soon, so the same type of documentation isn't available to study the cold war. Making the best of things as they are, I've scanned sections of books about propaganda and psychological warfare during the cold war and reproduced them below.
The aim of modern propaganda is no longer to modify ideas, but to provoke action. It is no longer to change adherence to a doctrine, but to make the individual cling irrationally to a process of action. It is no longer to lead to a choice, but to loosen the reflexes. It is no longer to transform an opinion, but to arouse an active and mythical belief. Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes, by Jacques Ellul
Now the daily pattern of existence has become intolerable. This day-to-day, hand-to-mouth situation cannot continue any longer -- the final drop of water in the brimming glass ... when patience and the capacity to endure suffering have reached their limit. The rebel senses somehow that if the situation continues, he is bound to perish. If he says No, it is not because of any principles or concepts but because he cannot go on living this way. He is simply preserving himself. "He is fighting for the integrity of a part of his being. He is at the edge of despair. Camus is clearly aware of this, at the outset, when he writes "It means that things have gone too far. This far, yes, but no farther. ... There is a point beyond which you shall not go. ... The No affirms the existence of a boundary." ... Yet this crushing pressure that brings man to raise himself also brings him into history. This No, hurled at a given instant is in fact hurled in history. From Revolt to Revolution, by Jacques Ellul
The phrase "psychological warfare" is reported to have first entered English in 1941 as a translated mutation of the Nazi term Weltanschauungs- krieg (literally, worldview warfare), meaning the purportedly scientific application of propaganda, terror, and state pressure as a means of securing an ideological victory over one's enemies. William "Wild Bill" Donovan, then director of the newly established U.S. intelligence agency Office of Strategic Services (OSS), viewed an understanding of Nazi psychological tactics as a vital source of ideas for "Americanized" versions of many of the same stratagems. Use of the new term quickly became widespread throughout the U.S. intelligence community. For Donovan psychological warfare was destined to become a full arm of the U.S. military, equal in status to the army, navy, and air force. Worldview Warfare and World War II, by Christopher Simpson
Persuasion is a broader term than propaganda, since in practice the "reasons" may be an admixture of threats and appeals which include a large element of spiritual or physical coercion and violence. For this reason, in political warfare, the more specific term is "manipulative persuasion." It includes the use of bribery, blackmail, and the threat or application of such physical acts of violence as kidnaping, torture, and the use of "controls" over selected targets or agents. Propaganda, Violence and Manipulative Persuasion, by Paul Blackstock
In January 1951, Paul Hoffman became the first president of the Foundation following its accession to much of the Ford family fortune. A liberal Republican and former corporate executive, Hoffman had been chosen by Truman to head the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA), the agency charged with implementing the Marshall Plan to revive the Western European economies. Hoffman was also a firm advocate of covert operations as an important component of Cold War strategy. During his tenure, the ECA had cooperated closely in the development of psychological warfare programs aimed at selected targets. Open propaganda was seen "as part of the aggressive attack against Communist influence in Western Europe," while clandestine operations also constituted a significant component of the ECA agenda. ***
Beginning in April 1951, the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) had been charged with coordinating the entire array of intelligence operations, short of paramilitary intervention. The Economic Cooperation Administration functioned as an integral component of this coordinated approach, revising its strategic guidelines to conform to the policy objectives established by the PSB. In this context, the ECA reported to the PSB that it had engaged "in some gray and black propaganda." These programs are coordinated with CIA. Black propaganda is distinguished by its attribution to a bogus source. To lend credibility to false or deliberately misleading information, intelligence agencies arrange to have the information appear as if it originated from an objective and authoritative source, or even from within the ranks of the targeted enemy.The Ford Foundation, by Eric Thomas Chester
Turning to a consideration of CIA-sponsored psychological warfare studies, one finds a wealth of evidence showing that projects secretly funded by the CIA played a prominent role in U.S. mass communication studies during the middle and late 1950s. The secrecy that surrounds any CIA operation makes complete documentation impossible, but the fragmentary information that is now available permits identification of several important examples. The CIA and the Founding Fathers of Communication Studies, by Christopher Simpson
List of Reports by the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) of the American University, Operating Under Contract with the Department of the Army, May 1963.
The Ford Foundation almost singlehandedly established the major areas- studies programs in American universities. Between 1959 and 1963, for example, Ford made direct grants of approximately $26 million to support non-Western language and area-studies programs at fifteen universities -- Boston, California, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Stanford, Washington, Wisconsin, and Yale. These same universities are the leaders in the production of Ph.D. degrees and, because of their prestige, generally manage to place their graduates in the upper echelons of the American corporate, political, and academic strata, from which their graduates' ideas frequently dominate their respective fields. The Ideology of Philanthropy, by Edward H. Berman
"The fields of activity suggested [by the US State Department] for the Ford Foundation", writes George Rosen, "were felt to be too sensitive for a foreign (American) government agency to work in.... South Asia rapidly came to the fore as an area for possible foundation activity... Both India and Pakistan were on the rim of China and seemed threatened by communism. They appeared to be important in terms of American policy...." FF acquired extraordinary power over the Indian Plans. Rosen says that "From the 1950s to the early 1960s the foreign expert often had greater authority than the Indian", and FF and the (FF/CIA-funded) MIT Center for International Studies operated as "quasi-official advisers to the Planning Commission". Ford Foundation - A Case Study of the Aims of Foreign Funding, by R.U.P.E.
The "indignation" and claims of "innocence" by many anti-communist left intellectuals after their membership in CIA cultural fronts was revealed must be taken with a large amount of cynical skepticism. One prominent journalist, Andrew Kopkind, wrote of a deep sense of moral disillusionment with the private foundation-funded CIA cultural fronts. Kopkind wrote
The distance between the rhetoric of the open society and the reality of control was greater than anyone thought. Everyone who went abroad for an American organization was, in one way or another, a witness to the theory that the world was torn between communism and democracy and anything in between was treason. The illusion of dissent was maintained: the CIA supported socialist cold warriors, fascist cold warriors, black and white cold warriors. The catholicity and flexibility of the CIA operations were major advantages. But it was a sham pluralism and it was utterly corrupting. The Ford Foundation and the CIA, by James Petras
To elaborate on Gramsci, in the modern foundation we find the domain of intellectuals par excellence. Furthermore, a central group of liberal foundations exerts "hegemonic" power over civil society, including all of these intellectuals and their institutions, and it has a large role in shaping governmental policies. Hegemony now operates on a global scale, facilitating the globalization of both political and civil society. ... Hegemonic institutions elicit consent by the production and dissemination of ideology that appears to be merely common sense. Deviations from the central myths are considered "extremism," "paranoia," "utopianism," "self-defeating dogmatism," and the like. Dissent is thereby neutralized, often ridiculed, but dissenters are welcomed and may be transformed. Raymond Williams observed that hegemonic control is so invincible because it is a dynamic process, creatively incorporating emergent trends. ... Philanthropy suggests yet another explanation for the decline of the 1960s' and 1970s' protest movements. Radical activism often was transformed by grants and technical assistance from liberal foundations into fragmented and local organizations subject to elite control. Energies were channeled into safe, legalistic, bureaucratic and, occasionally, profit-making activities. The Mask of Pluralism, by Joan Roelofs
Copyright Paul Wolf, 2004. For educational use only. No copyright to original government works.