You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific

You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific

You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific

You Can't Fight Tanks with Bayonets: Psychological Warfare against the Japanese Army in the Southwest Pacific

Synopsis

A startling omission from the extensive literature on the Pacific events of World War II is an analysis of Allied psychological operations. In this work Allison B. Gilmore makes a strong case for the importance of psychological warfare (psywar) in this theater, countering the usual view of fanatical resistance by Japanese units. Gilmore marshals evidence that Japanese military indoctrination was not proof against demoralization and the survival instinct.

The Pacific War was particularly brutal, racist on both sides, and often fought without regard to so-called civilized norms of warfare. Yet Gilmore offers her study as "the story of how psywar personnel attempted to convince Japanese and Americans alike that their assumptions about the other were misleading and counterproductive". To do so, she focuses on combat propaganda -- activities conducted in support of military operations and intended to demoralize Japanese combatants -- and examines the objectives of the psywar campaign. She outlines the process by which propaganda was created, evaluates the policies that guided that creation, and offers criteria for judging the relative success of these efforts. The work also examines the Imperial Army's training, the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese morale, and the Allies' attempts to exploit the Japanese military structure and ethos.

Excerpt

The War of Thought is as important as that of armed might or economy. Japanese army officer

Two thousand years ago the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu , in his classic treatise The Art of War, recognized the impact of psychological factors on the conduct of military operations. Sun Tzu argued that it was a superior general who could "render others' armies helpless without fighting" and "overcome opponents by dispiriting them rather than by battling with them." Some nineteen centuries later, Carl von Clausewitz analyzed the internal dynamics of warfare in his On War, which placed the "analysis of psychological forces at the very center of the study of war." Clausewitz emphasized the critical wartime role of "immaterial forces" such as morale, spirit, genius, and enthusiasm for the cause. He said that while these moral elements of war "can be neither counted nor classified," they "constitute the spirit which permeates the whole being of war."

Indeed, the nature and outcome of warfare, as of any human endeavor, are largely dependent on the individual talents and cumulative experiences of the people who engage in it. To study the material and technological aspects of modern warfare to the exclusion of its emotional, spiritual, and intellectual elements is foolish. the very existence . . .

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