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WAR.COM:
THE INTERNET AND PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS

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As an information medium and vehicle of influence, the Internet is a powerful tool, in both open societies as well as in those whose only glimpse of the outside world is increasingly viewed and shaped through webpages, E-mail, and electronic chat rooms. Moreover, the sword cuts both ways, as unconstrained (legally, socially, politically) adversaries find the Internet an effective vehicle for influencing popular support for their cause or inciting the opposite against the U.S. or its interests. Consequently, the realm of military psychological operations (PSYOP) must be expanded to include the Internet.
Just as obvious is the need for action to remove or update current policy and legal constraints on the use of the Internet by military PSYOP forces, allowing them to embrace the full range of media, so that the U.S. will not be placed at a disadvantage. Although current international law restricts many aspects of PSYOP either through ambiguity or non-currency, there is ample legal room for both the U.S. and others to conduct PSYOP using modern technology and media such as the Internet. Existing policy and legal restrictions, however, must be changed, allowing military PSYOP forces to both defend and counter adversarial disinformation and propaganda attacks which impact on the achievement of military objectives. By examining this issue, I hope to highlight the importance of the Internet for PSYOP and foment further discussion.

Abstract .................................................................................................................... ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS............................................................................................ iii
1. INTRODUCTION................................................................................................... 1
2. PSYOP AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY....................................................................... 2
Growing Popularity of PSYOP ................................................................................. 2
3. PSYOP AND THE LAW ......................................................................................... 3
Domestic Law ........................................................................................................ 4
International Law.................................................................................................... 5
Counterarguments................................................................................................... 6
4. PSYOP AND THE INTERNET................................................................................ 7
Internet Proliferation................................................................................................ 7
Future Warfare and PSYOP...................................................................................... 8
Implications for PSYOP........................................................................................... 9
5. PSYOP AND THE FUTURE.................................................................................. 14
6. CONCLUSIONS .................................................................................................. 16
NOTES ................................................................................................................... 18
BIBLIOGRAPHY..................................................................................................... 24

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