5 Insane Psy-Op Strategies Governments Almost Tried
There are people paid by the military to sit around and think up the weirdest possible shit that will confuse and terrify the enemy. Fake vampires, ghosts, demonic toys -- there are apparently no stupid ideas when it comes to psychological warfare. Look at how ...
The U.S. Military Thought They Could Chase Saddam Hussein Out Of Kuwait With A Giant Allah Hologram
Hey, remember the plot of Spider-Man: Far From Home? Mysterio (SPOILER!) uses holograms to fake giant monsters attacking cities so he can fool people into thinking he's a hero. Replace giant monsters with "God" and "thinking he's a hero" with "shitting themselves as they retreat from an oil-rich ally," and you'll have a real idea from the Gulf War.
When the Iraqi Army invaded Kuwait in the 1990, all options were on the table to remove them. One of those options was actually not on the table, but far above it, floating and made of light. At a strategic meeting, an "Air Force officer" asked the question we all would in such a situation: "What if we projected a holographic image of Allah over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein?"
Yep. This guy wanted to turn his Visionaries action figure adventures into reality, and thought the military should foot the bill. Instead of looking at him like he'd farted out M.C. Hammer's "U Can't Touch This," the other guys at the meeting nodded, stroked their chins, and immediately gave the order to look into the technology required to project a God cartoon big enough to squash a city.
When a physicist was tossed the Jem And The Holograms plot to look over, he determined that it probably wasn't feasible, as it would require a mile-wide mirror orbiting the Earth, along with a monstrous projectors and power source. Plus, the people on the project came back with a question of their own: What does Allah look like? It seems like getting it wrong could have caused some problems.
By the way, The Washington Post found that the Air Force started looking into this technology in 1994, though who knows how long they stuck with it, or if they're still waiting for the right advancements go come around. Still, tuck this away: If a deity suddenly appears in the sky over a city at some point, you probably should remain skeptical until it performs a miracle or two.
The CIA Developed An Osama Bin Laden Toy That Would Morph Into A Demon
Look at your action figure collection. Don't shake your head at me. I know the audience for Cracked. Turn your head and gaze upon your dedicated action figure shelf right now. See them? All the Batmans, Spider-Mans, Iron Mans, Optimus Primes, and He-Mans in their original packaging. They're pretty cool, but you're missing one key figure: Osama bin Laden with real melting-devil-face action.
While sending SEAL teams, Rangers, tanks, and bombers into Afghanistan and Pakistan to hunt down and destroy bin Laden, the United States had a problem. Amidst all this bombing and shooting and invading, how could they reach out to the children? What could they do for the kids to make all this terrorism that was getting their country blown to hell on a daily basis seem less enticing? The solution was as obvious as it was brilliant: They would create an Osama bin Laden action figure that would slowly change its face to that of the devil.
This was no idle suggestion, either. In 2006, the CIA enlisted Don Levine of Hasbro, one of the guys who created the original G.I. Joe action figure, to lead a project called "Devil Eyes." Levine would help craft a fully poseable demon bin Laden to be manufactured in China. The toy was decorated with a special paint that would, over time, reveal that under bin Laden's tranquil features was a real ne'er-do-well: a red-faced, green-eyed demon with tattoos. The idea was to "spook children and their parents, causing them to turn away from the actual bin Laden." That sounds like it would just make him seem badass, but whatever.
Reportedly, Levine and the CIA created hundreds of the figures and sent them into Karachi in 2006, hopefully complete with a file card and flag points to fill out the full Evildoer Adventure Set (TM). The CIA disputes this and claims they nixed the idea after a few prototypes were made. And there's no reason not to believe them, right?
If A Landmark Space Mission Failed, The U.S. Was Going To Blame It On Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro spent most of the latter half of the 20th century as the Bugs Bunny to the CIA's Elmer Fudd. The United States wanted rid of him so badly that there was no end to the ridiculous assassination and regime change plans, including an exploding cigar, all thwarted by the Wascally Castro's ability to tie the intelligence community's shotgun into a knot or dress up like a female opera singer and make them fall helplessly in love with him. When the CIA couldn't turn conch shells into grenades, mixed a poison-filled chocolate milkshake which failed to bring Fidel to the (grave)yard, and couldn't sneak Nair into his beard to make it fall out (these were all real plots), it was time to start thinking outside the box, and maybe stop watching so many cartoons.
In the midst of all this tomfoolery, the United States was doing some pretty terrific stuff with its space program. Specifically, we were about a decade away from putting a human being on the moon. Astronauts were celebrated as national heroes. So how could this play into some anti-Castro plans? Good question!
NASA was about to do its first manned orbital flight, with John Glenn at the helm -- the Mercury-Atlas 6. And if it crashed, the CIA was going to blame it on Castro. Called "Operation Dirty Trick" (subtle), the plot was simple: If the mission ended in disaster, the CIA would claim that Cuba sabotaged the flight. This included "manufacturing pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans."
Unfortunately for the CIA, I guess, Glenn survived. Mercury-Atlas was successful, and our civilization was moved forward into what would become its crowning achievement. And only the most cynical person would suggest that anyone at the CIA was maybe a tiny bit disappointed by that. It's an outrageous thought, and we should all be ashamed.
The U.S. Faked Vampire Attacks To Put Down A Rebellion In The Philippines
When General Douglas MacArthur put boot to shore on Leyte Island in the Philippines in 1944, two years after the Japanese had taken it from him, he famously said, "I have returned." What he didn't say, but which was implied in that statement, was that he wasn't planning on leaving again, and neither was the United States.
For some Filipinos, that became an issue. The Hukbalahap were a group of communist guerrilla fighters who'd been waging war against the Japanese since MacArthur beat feet out of town, and they weren't really keen to return the keys to the Americans. After the Japanese were defeated, the Hukbalahap decided it was time for the U.S. military to shuffle off again. The U.S. military decided to agree to disagree on that.
The CIA brought in Air Force Brigadier General Edward G. Lansdale in 1950 to put a stop to all the shenanigans. Lansdale was a guy so good at his job that he had not one but two novels based on his life. In addition to being an expert at all the planes and boats and bullets part of warfare, he was an early adherent of psychological operations, believing that the best are those designed specifically with your opposition's culture in mind.
Rural Filipinos, Lansdale learned, believed in a mythical shapeshifting vampire creature called "the aswang," which would kill its victims by draining their blood with a long sharpened tongue. That's all he needed to know. To clear out a "Huk" encampment, he ordered his men to abduct an enemy soldier on patrol -- specifically the last straggler of the group -- kill him, puncture his neck in two places, and drain him of blood. When his body was found later, the rebels were convinced he'd been killed by an aswang, and yes, I realize this is shockingly close to several Scooby-Doo plots.
And Lansdale would have gotten away with it too, if not for ... well, he did get away with it. After the body was discovered, the Hukbalahap booked it out of there, and U.S. forces didn't have to fire a shot. Lansdale went on to stamp down the rebellion completely, successfully using other psy-op ideas like painting an "all-seeing eye" on the walls of villages with suspected rebels and broadcasting threatening messages from low-flying aircraft. It worked so well that the Huks surrendered in 1954. Lansdale was later asked by CIA director Allen Dulles to go to Vietnam and "do what you did in the Philippines." And guess what ...
During The Vietnam War, The U.S. Army Broadcast Ghostly Screams To Scare Away The Viet Cong
While Lansdale wasn't personally involved in this psy-op, it uses all his favorite tactics -- specifically, scaring the shit out of enemy soldiers with supernatural threats. In Vietnamese folklore, dead people not properly buried at their homes are doomed to walk the Earth as tormented ghosts until their bodies are correctly inhumed. On the anniversary of their deaths, these ghosts can communicate with the living.
Here's a clip of what it's supposed to sound like. If you can't play sound, imagine a whole lot of distant tortured wailing.
Feeling that the Viet Cong were a cowardly and superstitious lot, U.S. forces blasted these ghost tapes from backpacks and helicopters all over the jungle in the aptly named "Operation Wandering Soul." The goal was to "frighten and demoralize the enemy and ... compel many to desert their positions." After listening to the tape, all I can say is that yeah, that checks out.
A translation of the tape reads: "My friends, I have come back to let you know that I am dead ... I am dead! It's Hell ... I'm in Hell! Don't end up like me. Go home, friends, before it's too late." The fact that it was read by a Vietnamese actor and not Vincent Price remains a mystery.
After one broadcast of the "ghost tape" on February 10, 1970 in the Hau Niga Province in South Vietnam, the 27th Infantry Regiment supposedly swept the surrounding area and captured three "trembling VC insurgents." Sure, most Viet Cong just got annoyed and fired at the broadcasting helicopters, but other times the psy-op was not just effective, but too effective, "terrifying friendly South Vietnamese troops and civilians alike." After listening to that clip a few times in writing this article, frankly, I'm ready to surrender to U.S. forces right now.
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