Operation Shanghai


Coalition leaflets threatening punitive consequences of any Iraqi use of anti-aircraft opposition to Coalition bombing of Iraq.

According to the New World Encyclopedia, psychological warfare involves using propaganda or similar methods to demoralize an enemy and ensure victory, possibly without physical violence. Modern examples include the U.S. spreading leaflets over Japan during WWII and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan

A similar term, psychological operations, is defined by the U.S.  Department of Defense as:“The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.”

A glaring omission from these definitions is the extent to which people in power can use “psychological operations” to intimidate and coerce their own people into compliance with their goals.

During WWII, the US government used propaganda leaflets to convince Americans that it was shameful for them to take time off from work  even for a holiday  and that they needed to mistrust everybody.

In olden days and in some parts of the world today, civilians have been kidnapped, beaten, tortured, and forced to fight battles for their kidnappers.  Today, in the US and many other parts of the world, leaders can influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of their own people without necessarily using violence to achieve their objectives. Does refraining from violence when pressuring and enticing people into using violence make that coercive influence any less an abuse of power than shanghaiing them?

Is there any valid reason for believing that throwing all of our military might at ISIS will make us or anyone else in the world safer?

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Sexual Trafficking in the United States

Invasions can be carried out by many noxious forces: bombs, soldiers with weapons, armed police, poisonous smog, polluted waters, bacteria, viruses….We know these things.

But how about sexual traffickers and their customers?  Men (almost exclusively) for whom trafficked girls and boys may be little more than dehumanized receptacles for their sexual satisfaction–are they not invaders too?

Human trafficking victims, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services,  “often come from countries or communities with high rates of crime, poverty, and corruption; lack opportunities for education; lack family support (e.g., orphaned, runaway/thrown-away, homeless, family members collaborating with traffickers); and/or have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse.” In other words, some of the most vulnerable people in this country and elsewhere, instead of receiving services, are forced into sexual slavery.

Human trafficking, particularly sexual trafficking, began receiving increased media attention following World War II, when Japan’s forced conversion of women and girls  into “Comfort Women”–a practice that has been labeled a war crime–became known.  On July 30, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution asking Japan to “acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility…for its military’s coercion of women into sexual slavery during the war.”

In the United States today, sexual trafficking flourishes—including right in our nation’s capital. Thousands of girls, boys,  and women –at least as many as the women forced into sexual slavery in Japan–are raped daily.Do we see a little hypocrisy here?

Billions of our tax dollars are spent on invasions of other countries to benefit the military industrial complex,  but programs and agencies committed to reducing sexual slavery and its aftereffects are woefully underfunded. Are priorities a bit skewed?

Sexual trafficking in the US may not be state-sponsored as it was in Japan, but it is largely tolerated. The powers-that-be seem unable to find ways to make a profit from ending trafficking and unable to find other reasons to do so.  Time to speak up?



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