View Full Version : Psychology of War

Stuff No More
09.25.01, 06:32 AM
Back in 1996-1997 when I was in my third year of high school we had a class on morality. There was an interesting section on how to create an "enemy." Since it was six years between then and the Gulf War it didn't make sense until now.

Don't think I'm condeming the actions of the US on this, but I'm just pointing out something that most people probably don't even register.

The first step to creating an enemy we can support war against is to somehow make us feel different and superior to them. The easiest way to do this is by dehumanizing them in some fashion. It is a lot easier to go into battle against a monster than a human being.

It works on both sides. I'm sure, if nowhere other than Rod's Political Cartoons thread, you've seen cartoons portraying bin Laden as a rodent or terrorists as cockroaches or lower than microbes. During WWII comic books would regularly show the Japanese with fangs and claws, almost giving them a serpantine nature. And we've all heard the US referred to as the "Great Satan." You don't think militant Islamics that support the al-Quada would go into battle if bin Laden called us the "Great Teddybear," do you?

It's kind of like a checklist they follow:

1. Make the enemy known to the people.
2. Dehumanize the enemy.
3. Rally patriotism behind the military.
4. Smash the enemy any way necessary.

While you can argue until you're blue in the face why Vietnam was or was not justified, you can almost reduce the unpopularity down to the point that we never had a reason to hate "Charlie" or see them as less than human. Yes, Communisim was "evil," but there wasn't that clear-cut difference. In the Gulf War, Saddam became the scapegoat and all kinds of stories about him killing his family circulated. Basically, Saddam became our enemy, and it was a war against him, not Iraq. Right now we're using Bin Laden as the scapegoat, turning him into a monster, and attempting not to focus the hate on Afghanistan or the Islamic faith.

Just something to think about. Remember, everything you see and hear during war is given to you for a reason.

09.25.01, 12:02 PM
i agree with you. good point.

09.28.01, 02:31 AM
Creating an enemy is something for an unprovoked aggressor to do. In this situation, our enemy created US as the 'enemy'; all we have to create is our image of the enemy. Yeah, people will call this a racist remark, but OUR enemy is the night clerk at the 7-11, with a longer beard and thicker accent.

When you've been attacked, especially when the attackers have done a fairly effective job of it, the LAST thing you would do is generate an image of inferiority for them. Over-confidence is a dangerous thing. Case in point:

When my grandfather was fighting in WWII, he spent his time on European battlefields fighting the Germans, who were, at the time, being sold to us as 'SUPERMEN'. Well, after our boys took a few of theirs, gruesome as it may seem, he snapped a few photos of these 'Supermen' and sent them home. The photos were of a couple 18-19 year old German kids, of average size and build, riddled with 30mm cartridges. Thus broketh the myth; they were the same as anyone else-human. And unfortunately, as equals, they managed to shoot a few of THEIR bullets into my grandfather as well. He was lucky to have survived. No, they were not inferior or weak; they were a fair fight. We went into those battles FEELING inferior, we amended that impression to one of equality, and we ended up victorious. No, you do NOT want to fight an inferior enemy.

The practicality of altering your enemies' image is unquestionable. 'Tis much easier to shoot Charlie, or a Gook, or a Kraut, whatever, than Joe, William, or Steven. Why humanize them? War is war. It's ugly, and you must act in often inhumane ways to get the job done. If that means calling your enemy by generic names, so be it. Sticks and stones may break their bones, but names will never hurt them. And they do the same to us.

Most importantly though, and make NO MISTAKE about it: WE did not create an enemy here-we were CREATED as the enemy here. They attacked US, or, in Rambo speak, they drew first blood. We have no reason to see them as being human when they act like wild animals.