This propaganda leaflet
January 4, 2002 2:03 PM   Subscribe

This propaganda leaflet is apparently being dropped in afghanistan by the American Military (taken from this msnbc story about the first american soldier to die from hostile fire). Regardless of your opinion about propaganda, this seems rather sloppy. If the purpose of propaganda is to convince people of something, wouldn't you want to say it in a language they understand? Is the American military getting lazy / sloppy / over-confident? It looks like the propaganda leaflets from Desert storm (1991), Desert Fox (1998), and the bombing of Kosovo were at least in the local languages. (Who knew there was a quarterly magazine dedicated to aerial leaflet propaganda?)
posted by jnthnjng (25 comments total)
Hey, at least Frank Zappa's getting some work...
posted by ColdChef at 2:13 PM on January 4, 2002

This is obviosuly to counter those devastating "Bart Simpson is sleeping with your wife" pamphlets the Taliban is distributing.
posted by RavinDave at 2:18 PM on January 4, 2002

from the aricle: as he might look without a beard and in Western attire

Sounds as though they even photoshopped that picture.
posted by skyline at 2:20 PM on January 4, 2002

who makes these things? On one hand, CIA "psyop" stuff always seems kind of shady and scary, but all the leaflets I've seen from this war are terrible in a really stupid way. I keep picturing some committee sitting around and deciding to put osama in a colonel sanders suit like that.
posted by dina at 2:22 PM on January 4, 2002

I can't believe they would do something as stupid as that picture. Why don't you just come out and admit to the Islamic world that we created the whole Osama video that was found last month? Even thought we didn't, this sure makes it look a lot more credible that we did. So so so stupid. And so cheap-looking and juvenile.

There's no need to doctor the guy up. Show him for what he really is...isn't that enough? I happen to like the wording they use...but the picture is the dumbest thing I've seen in a while.
posted by aacheson at 2:24 PM on January 4, 2002

posted by Hankins at 2:24 PM on January 4, 2002

Sounds as though they even photoshopped that picture.

Which could make the photo convincing to people who don't know what Photoshop is.

I think doctoring a photo of bin Laden is unwise considering the recent doubts in some circles about the authenticity of his latest video.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:25 PM on January 4, 2002

ABC News article on this leaflet - is this tactic ethical, will it backfire, etc.
posted by skyline at 2:27 PM on January 4, 2002

Thousands of Afghanis are currently wondering where Bert is.
posted by Skot at 2:29 PM on January 4, 2002

dina: Actually, there was a segment on NPR (Real Media) about the team of U.S. folks involved in the country's psychological warfare. I remember a leader saying something like, "Though we may bend the truth... in my X number of years doing this, I have never told a lie." Wonder how this fits into his record.
posted by Hankins at 2:29 PM on January 4, 2002

Is it just me, or does the photoshopped Osama look a lot like Gomez Addams?
posted by jonmc at 2:30 PM on January 4, 2002

dammit, jonmc, you beat me to it, but I've got the pictures to prove we're right!
posted by msacheson at 2:33 PM on January 4, 2002

msacheson- great minds think alike.
posted by jonmc at 2:34 PM on January 4, 2002

is it better to trick someone into giving up than to shoot them? sure, i guess so. This isn't meant to fool/anger anyone except the guys on the ground. They could have been a little more witty though...something along the lines of "...when you are sitting in a dark prison, or your bones lie unburied on a forgotten battlefield, Osama and his millions can comfortably hide and live in luxury..." and then the fake osama pick surrounded by playboy playmates.

[available for freelance psyops writing if any representatives of govt agencies read this.]
posted by th3ph17 at 2:46 PM on January 4, 2002

If the purpose of propaganda is to convince people of something, wouldn't you want to say it in a language they understand?

I've read reports on other propaganda, and they do say it in a language they understand. They just make English versions for the press or whomever.
posted by hootch at 2:58 PM on January 4, 2002

Anyone who would letterspace all caps like that would steal sheep.

Not to mention the orphan.
(typography jokes)
posted by DragonBoy at 3:02 PM on January 4, 2002

Well, as they're showing Osama to have been Westernized, maybe it's appropriate that they're using English...?
posted by mrbula at 3:31 PM on January 4, 2002

I've always assumed that they provide english for the benefit of the pentagon higher-ups. It would be hard for them to evaluate the leaflets if they can't read the language.
posted by phatboy at 4:13 PM on January 4, 2002

"Let's see.. he's been a sworn enemy of the United States for decades, he's sacrificed the luxury of being a male child in one of Afghanistan's wealthiest families to forward his cause, he's lived in caves and traveled under tarpaulin sheets to hide from international law, but if the Great Satan says so, and has a small, indistinct photograph to prove it, then I guess he must have sold us out. Here Mr. Rivera, take my rifle."

Afghanistan is a back-asswards country. Most people have never used a computer, and don't have the slightest clue what the word "photoshop"--in either noun or verb form--refers to. This is exactly why we're not going to convince anyone that this is real. All the average Afghani has is a vague knowledge that America has the power to make things look real that aren't real. They've been told for years not to trust anything you see or hear from the American Jewish-controlled media, because Satan can take any form he chooses. Their propagandists were years ahead of ours in this particular instance. My money says they will take one look at that picture and say, "it's fake."

Which, of course, it is. And shame on us, by the way.
posted by Hildago at 5:58 PM on January 4, 2002

Hankins, I thought of Mahir too. Now if they can get him to play ping-pong in a speedo, maybe Letterman will book him.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:22 PM on January 4, 2002

Come on gang, the Propaganda Czar is Charlotte Beers, an advertising executive. This woman wouldn't know how to tell the truth if she were hogtied to it.
posted by dejah420 at 10:26 PM on January 4, 2002

exactly, Hildago. I can't imagine how they expect this to play out to their advantage. I also can't believe how surprised I am that we did this. It really does make the fake video scenario seem much more plausible.
posted by mdn at 11:02 PM on January 4, 2002

Bin Laden looks younger in the leaflet photo (larger picture) than he does today. Other photos have surfaced from his youth when he was wearing Western attire; it's possible this isn't doctored at all.

Still, the tactic is goofy and makes our hunt for Bin Laden seem desperate.
posted by rcade at 6:04 AM on January 5, 2002

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