OUR FAVORITE LEAFLETS

SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.)

My buddy retired Major Ed Rouse wrote to me the other day and said we should write something about the 20 best leaflets since WWI. I told him that was impossible because we would have to define “best.” Do we pick the one with the best image or the best text? Do we pick the one that was most impressive in changing the minds of the enemy or the one we think was the best written and most informative? And, how do we know we will find 20? And if we find one that we really like but a group of experts studied it and found it to be incorrect and inappropriate, then what? So, I told Ed that we should start by talking about the ones we liked the best, even if they were not universally liked. I also said that we should not pick an arbitrary number. We should just keep going until we find that there are not any more that really impressed us. I don’t know if we should start by wars or by theme. I think I will mix them just a bit. I will try to stay within wars, but if there is a theme we might add a sub-classification. This is all very arbitrary; there are leaflets that I found to be just OK but the experts at headquarters loved. There are others that I thought were really impressive that critical boards said were inappropriate, maybe because they asked the people to do something they clearly could not do, or broke some cultural norm. So, I have no idea how long this article will be or what it will look like. I intend to just tell the readers about leaflets that I really liked and we will see where it goes. We will all be surprised.

World War I

Leaflet A.P. 74.

World War I started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austria- Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 by a member of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist secret society. Things moved quickly thereafter. Austria-Hungary, unsatisfied with Serbia's response to her ultimatum declared war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. Russia, bound by treaty to Serbia, mobilized its vast army. Germany, allied to Austria-Hungary by treaty, viewed the Russian mobilization as an act of war against Austria-Hungary, and declared war on Russia on 1 August. France, bound by treaty to Russia, responded by announcing war against Germany and Austria-Hungary on 3 August. Germany promptly responded on 4 August by invading neutral Belgium to open a quick path to Paris. Britain, allied to Belgium declared war against Germany on 4 August. In just a little over a month all of Europe was at war. Japan, honoring a treaty with Britain, declared war on Germany on 23 August 1914. Italy was allied to both Germany and Austria-Hungary. She was first neutral, but in May 1915, she joined the British and French against her two former allies. The United States declared a policy of absolute neutrality on the same day Britain declared war, 4 August.

The U.S. would remain neutral until 1917 when Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and the British interception of the Zimmermann telegram to Mexico forced President Wilson to declare war on 6 April 1917. The German foreign minister, Arthur Zimmermann, had sent a Telegram to the German ambassador in Washington to approach the Mexican government with an offer: if it was to join any war against America, it would be rewarded with the territories of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The British had intercepted the letter, broken the code, and informed the United States.

My favorite British leaflet of WWI is A.P.74. The words BY BALLOON - Durch Luftballon are at the top. Notice the small hole at the top where the leaflets were held in place by a string from a propaganda balloon. The leaflet depicts a long line of American Dough Boys stretching from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor to France. As George M. Cohan said in his song OVER THERE in 1917, The Yanks are Coming! The title at the bottom of the leaflet is:

THE FIRST MILLION

So, why do I like this leaflet? The war had gone on for almost three years with an amazing number of injuries and death by machinegun, artillery, aircraft and poison gas. Both sides were exhausted. They had pretty much fought to a draw. And then, the world learns that the Americans are coming by the millions. Some have said this was enough to force the Central powers to quit but there is no way to prove that. What we do know is that shortly afterwards the war was over and it is possible that this constant reminder that the Americans were on the way might have played with the enemies psyche.

The British first disseminated the leaflets in August 1918. The number produced is unknown. The British regularly updated these "Americans are coming" leaflets. For instance, A.P.84 produced in September 1918 gives the latest numbers. "American troops arriving in Europe: 117,212 in April, 224,345 in May, 276,372 in June."

Leaflet 1016 printed in October 1918 gives the total number of American troops in Europe; 100,000 in 1917, 1,750,000 in 1918, and a prospective 3,500,000 in 1919. Later in the same month leaflet 1025 raised the 1919 number to 5,000,000 American troops. It is no wonder that the German soldier became disheartened. It is my belief that these leaflets might have shortened the war considerably. It is a remarkable leaflet.

World War II

The Passierschein (The Official Allied Safe Conduct Pass for Germany)

By the time the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the British, French and Russians had already printed and dropped a host of surrender leaflets on the German Army. The leaflets were of different sizes, colors, texts, and even the surrender instructions were different. There was no overall guidance, and certainly no uniformity. This all changed with the arrival of American troops in the United Kingdom and the strong alliance between the U.S. and British psychological operators. For the first time the two allied nations worked together to prepare a standardized safe conduct leaflet that would be exactly the same wherever used. The final version of the "passierschein" has been called the most effective single leaflet of the war. It was considered so powerful that in 1944 the Allied Supreme Headquarters issued a directive forbidding reproduction of the safe conduct pass on other leaflets. They wanted to protect the authenticity of the document.

The story of the "passierschein" ("safe conduct pass") for Germany is interesting because of the alleged belief on the part of the Allies that the German officer or soldier would react in a positive way to an official looking document. Therefore, the Americans and British collaborated to produce a fancy official document bearing national seals of the United States and Great Britain and the signature of American General Dwight D. Eisenhower that would rival a stock certificate or college diploma. They produced the leaflets late in the war in various formats with different code numbers.

Paul M.A. Linebarger mentions the theory in Psychological Warfare, Infantry Journal Press, Washington D.C., 1948. He says:

Germans liked things done in an official and formal manner, even in the midst of chaos, catastrophe and defeat. The Allied obliged, and gave the Germans various forms of very official looking ‘surrender passes.’ One is printed in red and has banknote-type engraving which makes it resemble a soap-premium coupon.

Daniel Lerner says in Sykewar, George E. Stewart, NYC, 1949:

This safe conduct pass was generally regarded as the most successful leaflet produced by the Psychological Warfare Branch of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF)…everything about the leaflet was designed to appear authoritative: the format handsomely engraved on good paper in a rich color, has been described as "looking like a college diploma.

Although the passes had minor changes in color; they were printed on cream-colored, red and green paper, the front was basically always the same. The back could differ depending on the target and desired message. They all had the same message in German and English on the front:

SAFE CONDUCT

The German soldier who carries this safe conduct is using it as a sign of his genuine wish to give himself up. He is to be disarmed, to be well looked after, to receive food and medical attention as required and to be removed from the danger zone as soon as possible.

Dwight D. Eisenhower,
Supreme Commander,
Allied Expeditionary Force

Some of the leaflets added a French propaganda message and the seal of France. Some of the leaflets were tactical like ZG49, which is entitled:

To the Survivors, soldiers and officers of the 7th Army

Others, like ZG21 depict Chapter 2; article II, of the Geneva Convention rules on treatment of prisoners of war. This was to tell the Germans how well they would be treated. These leaflets were dropped in massive numbers. For instance, just one leaflet, ZG61, had 65,750,000 copies dropped on the enemy. Some, like ZG61A were printed in a smaller size to be fired in artillery shells. The Allies did not only think in terms of individual soldiers. They also produced a larger leaflet of the same general type with all the seals and signatures, but this one to be used by an entire unit to surrender. On the left side of the document is printed: HAND IMMEDIATELY TO THE COMPANY COMMANDER. On the right side: SUBSTITUTE FOR A SURRENDER DOCUMENT.

A German Parody of the Allied Passierschein

The German High Command hated this leaflet. This is one of the few cases where they retaliated in kind. They actually produced a reproduction with a slight change in wording to say that any soldier surrendering would be in captivity for the next 10 years and very probably never see his parents, wife and children again.

There is a discussion of the effectiveness of the U.S. Psychological Warfare Leaflets in an article entitled "The Voices of Freedom," in Army Talk's, Vol. IV, No. 18, dated 16 September 1945:

Within a very few months after the landings In Normandy, American and British PW Interrogators were able to gather plenty of evidence to show that SHAEF appeals, by voice and leaflet, were getting results. In October 1944, it was officially reported that 77% of prisoners taken by the Allies had read one or more of the leaflets…About 80% of the prisoners taken on the Brest peninsula had leaflets in their Possession. On one occasion, three Germans surrendering had only one leaflet for the trio. They gave themselves up, each with one hand held high and the other clutching a corner of the precious document…Another German gave himself up with the statement that he had "a document bearing General Eisenhower's personal signature." In one day 44 men of the 256th Volksgrenadier division deserted to a Third Army unit and nearly all carried the Safe Conduct surrender pass.

“I Cease Resistance” (The Official Allied Safe Conduct Pass for Japan)

According to numerous sources, the Japanese did not have a word for "surrender" in their vocabulary. Worse, under their rules of Bushido, if they did surrender they were disgraced and lost from their family and ancestors forever. Regardless, the United States did produce early leaflets that said “I Surrender.” The Japanese apparently did have several words for “surrender” including “kosan” and “kofuku.” Whatever the word, the leaflet failed miserably. Japanese surrenders were rare.

In December 1944, the OWI discussed this very subject in the classified confidential Psychological Warfare, Part One, a handbook for its own agents that discussed the psychological and technical aspects of propaganda. Some of the comments are:

It must be emphasized again that the words surrender (kosan or kofuku) and prisoner of war (horyo or furyo) never be employed in propaganda. This is in conformance with the general concept that everything must be done to help the Japanese “save face.” If pictures of captured Japanese are used in leaflets, it is imperative that their features be obscured. The Japanese, it must be remembered, would rather die than have it be known that they surrendered. Even the most voluble prisoners, although perfectly willing to give intimate details concerning their army and navy, plaintively request that absolutely no word of their capture be relayed either to their family or to their government. Thus, only if the Japanese is made to feel that his surrender will be regarded as a personal matter and will not be publicized will he give serious attention to laying down his arms.

The early leaflets have no photographs on front, just text in English and Japanese. The text is:

I Surrender

Attention American soldiers

This leaflet guarantees humane treatment to any Japanese desiring to surrender. Take him to your nearest Commissioned Officer.

By order C.G. U.S. Forces

The first “I Cease Resistance” leaflet was coded 17-J-1 and depicted above. It is a large leaflet, 7 and 5/8 x 10 and 5/8 inches. It is brightly colored in red, white and blue. The text is in English and Japanese. There are six vertical lines of Japanese text. The English-language text is:

ATTENTION AMERICAN SOLDIERS!

I CEASE RESISTANCE

This leaflet guarantees humane treatment to any Japanese desiring to cease resistance. Take him immediately to your nearest Commissioned Officer.

By Direction of the Commander in Chief

There were dozens of such leaflets used by General MacArthur during his invasion of the Philippines. They proved to be very successful. Once the American psychological Warfare experts got busy working on the minds of the Japanese soldiers, things started to change. This was first noticed on Okinawa. The first large-scale use of PSYOP in the Pacific was the Okinawa campaign. The Office of War Information (OWI) working with the Navy on Saipan printed more than six million leaflets to be dropped on Japanese troops and Okinawan civilians. While in earlier battles the Japanese fought to the death or committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner, on Okinawa no less than 11,000 gave themselves up. With the proper message and wording the Japanese would surrender. I suspect that even the Americans were amazed at their own success. 

Korean War

 

Chinese-Language Leaflet 5502

This is a favorite leaflet of mine though to be honest it was a complete and total failure. I will explain at the end.

The previously classified report Guerrilla Operations 1952, published by the Headquarters, Guerrilla Division, Far East Command, Liaison Detachment, 8240th Army Unit, mentions the American desire for a MiG-15:

A complete MiG-15 is one of the highest priorities establish by the Air Force. The Air Force and Navy will offer support for any feasible project that will acquire a MiG-15. The MiG-15 technical orders are highly desirable. These are sometimes carried in the cockpit.

The United States entered the Korean War with mostly propeller-driven aircraft like the WWII P-51 Mustang and the Navy Corsair. They fought well but the Russian MiG-15, flown by North Korean, Chinese and even Russian pilots outclassed them. The F-80 Shooting Star and F-84 Thunder Jets were sent by the USAF to help, and although jets, were not quite up to the MiG. In December 1950, the swept-wing F-86 Sabre-jet finally arrived. It was the equal of the MiG-15. But, the Americans still wanted a MiG to test and find its weak spots.

There are several stories about how the leaflet came to pass but Edward Hymoff, Bureau Chief of the International News Service in Korea during the late stages of the war told me that during fall of 1952 he and General Clark were aboard a U.S.A.F. Constellation flying to Tokyo. They talked during the long flight and Hymoff mentioned his concept of offering $100,000 for a combat-ready MiG-15. The newsman recommended that the UN broadcast the offer in several languages. He also thought that the U.S. should offer asylum in the United States. Hymoff said “He (the defector) wouldn't have any worries the rest of his life, plus, he would be a rich man, tax free.”

The actual Leaflet depicted a MiG-15 on the front and was printed in blue or tan. There are slight variations in the wording of the leaflets, depending on which of the opposing forces is the target. The code number of the Russian-language leaflet is 5701 or 5703, The Chinese leaflet 5502, and the Korean leaflet 2508 or 2510. This probably means that there is a Chinese-language tan leaflet coded 5504. All the leaflets have the same general appearance. They are on a blue or tan-tinted paper and are about 8 x 10 inches in size.

The message on the front varies slightly but this is the general translation.

20 April 1953

To:   Brave Pilots of Jet Aircraft
Subject: A Road to Freedom

Pilots! The Far East Command offers its help to all brave pilots who wish to free themselves from the vicious whip of the Communist regime and start a new and better life, with proper honor in the Free World.

The Far East Command offers you refuge, protection, human care and attention. You are given full guarantee that your names will remain secret if you so desire. Pilots! Your brave move will bring you to freedom and will give you opportunity to live in the future without fear for your well-being. Besides that, your heroism and decision will help others by pointing to them the road to freedom.

The Far East Command will reward $50,000 United States dollars to any pilot who delivers a modern, operational, combat-type jet aircraft in flyable condition to South Korea. The first pilot who delivers such a jet aircraft to the Free World will receive a bonus of an additional 50,000 US dollars for his bravery.

Following is a list of instructions to all pilots who desire to free themselves from the Communist yoke. Escapee pilots will fly to Paengyong-do Island, fifty (50) kilometers south of Chodo Island. From Paengyong-do escapee pilots will proceed to Kimpo Air Base at 6100 meters altitude, descend over Kimpo Air Base, and proceed to make an immediate landing. UN Aircraft will accompany escapee remaining always above and behind, unless low clouds or visibility prevent escapee from locating Kimpo Airbase. If escapee is unable to make a visual let-down, he will proceed to the Seoul area at 6100 meters and circle with his gear down. A United States aircraft will then fly close abreast and lead the way to the landing field. Upon initial contact with UN Aircraft, or if at any time UN Aircraft attempts attack, escapee will immediately lower landing gear and rock wings violently.

The Free World shall welcome you as an old friend as well as a hero.

Mark W. Clark
General, United States Army Commander-in-Chief
Far East Command

Two USAF B-29 Super-Fortresses dropped more than one million of the reward leaflets along the Yalu River on the night of 26 April 1953. The Air Force dropped another half-million leaflets over Sinuiju and Uiju airfields on the nights of 10 and 18 May. At the same time, The United Nations beamed a concentrated radio attack at the Communists all along the "Bamboo Curtain." Fourteen radio stations in Japan and Korea stated in Korean, Russian, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese that the United Nations would pay $50,000 dollars for a MiG and guarantee protection for the pilot.

I said at the start of this section that the leaflet was a complete failure. It was. Not a single MiG crossed the lines to collect the money. Worse, after the end of the war when a Christian North Korean flyer brought his MiG to South Korea to defect, he had never heard of the offer. He told me that the money was meaningless. Even if he had heard, he was from a society where everything was given to the pilot. He would have no idea what to do with the money or how to spend it.

So, why is this leaflet a favorite of mine? In my first tour I was a member of the USAF assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing, the Checker-tailed “MiG Killers.” After the leaflets were dropped the Reds grounded their air force for eight days. It might have been weather, or it might have been time needed to weed out the pilots who were liable to defect. Whatever the reason for the halt, there is no doubt that with the return of the MiGs, a new breed of pilot was behind the stick. The United States Air Force in Korea 1950-1953 says:

They were willing to engage in combat, but they had far more enthusiasm than ability.

They were the most aggressive, and by their record, the worst flyers of the entire war. In the ninety days following the Moolah (slang for "Money") broadcasts, The Allied air forces destroyed 165 MiGs at a cost of just three friendly aircraft. Young politically correct pilots flying MiG-15s attacked repeatedly only to fall in flames before the thundering guns of American F-86 Sabre Jets. This is a fantastic ratio of 55:1 in favor of the Fighter aircraft of the United States. The Air Force has compared these aerial battles to the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" of World War Two fame where the back of Japanese naval air-power was broken. Although we shall probably never know for sure, there can be little doubt that during those brief ninety days our enemy were young Communist Party members with more political reliability than flying ability.

Vietnam War

 

The Allied Five Flag Safe Conduct Pass of the Vietnam War – SP-893

The United States and its allies dropped over 50 billion leaflets on Vietnam. Many of them were safe conduct passes. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Dave Underhill told me about this “official safe conduct pass:”

During one trip to Vietnam, I discussed the safe conduct pass problem with our Vietnam PSYOP Detachment Commander. I suggested that he have his people draft a National Safe Conduct Pass to be used throughout the nation. He took a proposed leaflet layout to JUSPAO. They immediately took the project over and assigned it leaflet number SP-893. The leaflet was eventually produced at the rate of one hundred million leaflets per month and dropped throughout the country. It was a highly successful leaflet used by tens of thousands of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers to surrender

In War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam, author Robert W. Chandler says:

A standard certification was used. It was slightly altered in 1967 to include the flags of Thailand and the Philippines as new allies. The serial number on the old version was dropped in favor of President Thieu's signature and photograph as evidence of the official sanction for the safe conduct invitation. Both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese defectors and prisoners gave Saigon's safe conduct pass high credibility. Many cited it as an influential element in their decision to lay down their arms.

As Chandler says, there were many changes in the leaflet and although there is no code number on the leaflets they were filed as 893A to 893F. All the flag safe conduct passes show a large flag of the Republic of Vietnam at center on the front and, in the earlier versions, smaller flags of allied nations participating in the war. There were regular changes. Some Korean text in script or block letters, some codes for the 4 Combat Zones, some serial numbers in vertical or horizontal format, and different photos and signatures like Nguyen Cao Ky or Nguyen Van Thieu depending on who was in power at the time.

The first was the five-flag pass, showing flags of the United States, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand in addition to the flag of Vietnam. This leaflet and its variants were produced before 1967.

The Allied Seven Flag Safe Conduct Pass of the Vietnam War

In 1967, a seven-flag version was introduced, showing the additional flags of Thailand and the Philippines. This symbol of growing force was meant to lower the morale of the North Vietnamese sending troops down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to "Liberate" South Vietnam.

The Allied One Flag Safe Conduct Pass of the Vietnam War

Finally, in 1972, when Vietnamization became the focus of propaganda, all flags except that of Vietnam were removed. Several different forms of propaganda were used on the back side. President Richard M. Nixon explained that plan in a 3 November 1969 speech. He said:

The Vietnamization plan was launched following Secretary Laird's visit to Vietnam in March. Under the plan, I ordered first a substantial increase in the training and equipment of South Vietnamese forces. In July, on my visit to Vietnam, I changed General Abrams' orders so that they were consistent with the objectives of our new policies. Under the new orders, the primary mission of our troops is to enable the South Vietnamese forces to assume the full responsibility for the security of South Vietnam.

We do know from a 6th PSYOP Battalion Facts on Battalion Operations, that 50 million copies of leaflet SP-893 was ordered in December 1967. A second document makes this order more clear. To show the popularity of this leaflet, in the one month of November 1967 alone the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Battalion in Okinawa print 300 million copies in six different batches of 50 million each, to be delivered on 20 January, 20 February, 20 March, 20 April, 20 May and 20 June of 1958.

 

Chieu Hoi - The Winning Ticket

The image of the flag safe conduct pass is so stirring that it was used repeatedly on U.S. official documents and publications. The seven-flag pass is featured on the cover of the Booklet Chieu Hoi - The Winning Ticket issued to servicemen in Vietnam. This booklet explained the importance of taking prisoners using the pass and pointed out that lives on both side were saved.

This is clearly the most colorful and attractive leaflet prepared for Vietnam and produced in uncounted numbers. It is no wonder that it is a favorite of mine. 

A Poem to Mother – SP-2263

I must be honest and say this is not a leaflet I would have picked for a favorite. It is simply a poem written by a North Vietnamese soldier killed on his way down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. There is nothing special about it except it is apparently a very good poem.

The tradition of poetry is long and respected in Vietnam and a poem is the perfect way to send a propaganda message to the enemy. Leaflet SP-2263 is depicted in the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office November 1968 publication Communicating with Vietnamese thru Leaflets that says:

This leaflet uses poetry as a medium of communication. In fact, some of the best leaflets ever used in Vietnam have consisted of emotion-provoking poems, with suitable illustrations related to the thematic content of the poem. Poems frequently express nostalgia, sorrow and longing more effectively than is possible in prose. But the poetry must be good, or it will be scorned.

The leaflet shows a sobbing mother at top left and her son in the South below. On the back the son is shown dead and alone in the jungle. It was prepared in November 1967. Some of the long poem is:

A POEM TO MOTHER

A North Vietnamese Youth Spills out his Heart

From the day I left you, mother,
to follow my companions on the trip to
Central Vietnam through Laos,
I have endured the hardships of
climbing up the green mountains
And marching through rain and shine,

Although with my young age
life should blossom like a flower.
For the sake of peace I don’t mind
Enduring hardships and danger.

For several months I marched during
the day and rested at night.
My shoes’ heels have worn out
And my jacket's shoulders
Were rubbed thin through which the cold slips in…

The poem ends with a denouncement of the Party and the invasion:

But why did they order me to burn
The villages, destroy the bridges,
Explode the mines and sow death around?
Often my hand trembled
When I had to lay a mine

Only to later witness people being blown up
And blood sprayed around
Whose blood was it?
It was the blood of people like you, mother, and myself.
That night, my eyes were filled with tears…

A small box at the lower left in the back of the leaflet contains the text:

The above letter in poetry form was found on the body of a dead soldier of the Hanoi regime killed in the battle of Duc Co.

Text on other leaflets says that writer of the leaflet was a lonely soldier identified as the son of Mrs. Tran Thi Phan of Hai Duong, writing a poem to his mother who lives on their farm in the north.

This poem has been considered one of the best produced for Vietnam. What is interesting about this poem is that it was memorized by a Vietnamese officer heading south. This was verified in a debriefing of Second Lieutenant Nguyen Van Thong, a soldier in the 320th Regiment, 1st People’s Army of Vietnam Division, who fought in Kontum Province in March-April 1968. The poem was so moving that many North Vietnamese soldiers remembered it. The lieutenant said:

The Americans should let the Vietnamese write them as they know how to put the story or what you want said into poetry; the Vietnamese are a very poetic people…The best way to tell of good will is with a poem. All of the men in my unit knew the lines of a poem used in South Vietnam and we thought of it often. The poem that we remember is for our mother.

Lieutenant Colonel David Underhill of the 7th PSYOP Group told me about his experience preparing and having that leaflet printed:

When I visited Laos during the war, the CIA wanted to know who published it. My group did. The CIA said every North Vietnamese body they found carried the leaflet. If they captured a solder, he could recite the poem. My unit mass-shipped a load to IV Corps and I was able to initiate action to ship them to the CIA in Laos

  

Leaflet 78 Dropped over North Vietnam

The leaflet appears in many variations with slightly different scenes, though the mother is always shown crying, and in various sizes such as 3 x 6-inches, and 5 x 7-inches. It is found as a Joint United States Public Affairs Office leaflet coded SP-2141 and SP-2263. It was dropped on the Ho Chi Minh trail in bright red and blue and coded 78T. It was dropped on North Vietnam coded 29 (720,000 copies of this leaflet on a tan paper were dropped on 26 September 1965) and 78 (the front red and the back blue). I am sure there were other leaflets with the “Poem to Mother” but those are the one in front of me as I write this. So, although it was not one of my personal favorites if the Intelligence people and the PSYOP specialists and the CIA all say that it was so powerful that enemy soldiers memorized it, I cannot help but add it to my favorites.

The Nguyen Van Be Campaign

 

JUSPAO Poster SP-1775

Nguyen Van Be holding the Hanoi Tien Phong Newspaper
that depicts him in almost the same pose. The text is:

The 'Late Hero' Nguyen Van Be reads about his own death

In this case, this is really my favorite leaflet campaign, not so much individual leaflet. This is a wonderful story where the United States has found the golden ticket, caught the Communists in a major lie that should cause them to lose all credibility because they have lied to everyone. But, the Communists struck back and called the Americans liars. It is like two kids on the street, both saying “you stink” to each other. Then the U.S. escalates and says “We will prove it to the world!” and makes a major mistake that embarrasses everyone and causes our PSYOP experts to look like fools and liars. What an amazing campaign!

The story begins with a firefight when a young 25 year old Viet Cong soldier named Nguyen Van Be found himself and his squad trapped on a sampan and under heavy fire on 30 May 1966. The overloaded sampan packed with explosives overturned into the water. The Viet Cong squad jumped out of the sampan and fled to shore. Be also leaped into the water and was trying to hide himself under the surface when a South Vietnamese soldier grabbed him by the hair and pulled him out. He was the only one taken captive—and he had never got to fire a single shot. He is sent off to a prisoner-of-war camp and all was peaceful and quiet.

Thinking he is dead, the Communists decide to make a national hero and martyr out of the young man. For six months, the Lao Dong (Communist) Party told of his heroics in prose and song. Young men were urged to emulate the fallen hero. Be had been a model guerrilla. He had joined the People’s Youth League at an early age and later became a volunteer in the Liberation Army. There were newspaper articles, biographies, dozens of poems, booklets, books, a postage stamp, plays and radio broadcasts telling of Be’s death and sacrifice. The communists in the North even wrote an opera for Be. In addition, two statues were erected in his honor. The Viet Cong awarded him the posthumous title of "Indomitable Loyalty and Magnificent Bravery." The Party claimed that when the wounded Be was captured after the battle, the American and Vietnamese troops demanded that he instruct them on the workings of an unknown 10 kilogram tank mine. Be did so. He picked up the mine high over his head, and shouted:

Long live the National Front for Liberation! Down with American Imperialists!

He then smashed the mine against an armored vehicle, killing himself and 69 American and Vietnamese officers and soldiers. A true hero! On 21 May 1967, the Hanoi newspaper Tien Phong (Vanguard) mentioned Nguyen Be Again:

The Vietnamese Central Group Secretariat for all youth organizations has instructed its members to conduct major theme study meetings on Nguyen Van Be to boost the offensive revolutionary morale, and carry out with resolution the Uncle’s instructions. From 30 May to 19 August 1967, a series of concentrated study meetings on Nguyen Van Be are to be conducted and action campaigns bearing the name of Nguyen Van Be are to be launched with the offensive revolutionary morale and the resolution to crush the American aggressors….

The Truth about Nguyen Van Be Song Sheet - Leaflet SP-1964

All this exploded in their face in February 1967. Nguyen Van Be was found alive and well in a Vietnamese prison camp. Be agreed to cooperate with the Republic of Vietnam. The opportunity to show that the enemy has brazenly lied seldom occurs in psychological operations. The Government of Vietnam and the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) took full opportunity of the chance to strike at the communists, embarrass them, and destroy their credibility. According to Robert W. Chandler, War of Ideas – The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam:

By July 1967 JUSPAO had publicized the Be affair for Southern audiences through the production of more than thirty million leaflets, seven million cartoon leaflets, 465,000 posters, a special newspaper in 175,000 copies, 167,000 photographs, 10,000 song sheets, several motion pictures, and numerous radio and television programs featuring Be, his family, and his Hoi Chanh (Viet Cong who had returned to the Government of Vietnam) friends.

It seemed that the United States had caught Hanoi with its pants down. But no! When you catch a liar he can attack or retreat. Hanoi decided to attack and just escalated the amount and volume of lies. JUSPAO published a PSYOP Policy number 42 on 27 July 1967 entitled: Further Exploitation of the Nguyen Van Be Case. It said in part:

To counter the impact of Nguyen Van Be's reappearance, Hanoi and the VC began a two-part program: denunciation of the Government of Vietnam and United States for “a clumsy and stupid swindle” and step-up of the Be emulation campaign to such an extent that the dubious would be overwhelmed. The Hanoi daily Nhan Dan followed on March 21st with the charge that the U.S. had created an imposter by resorting to “the Hollywood technique of selecting actors and the medical art of changing facial traits as applied in Hong Kong and Japan.”

The Family of Nguyen Van Be
His father looks very unhappy.
Is he scanning the crowd for possible Viet Cong assassins?

Hanoi also threatened to kill any Vietnamese person who stated that Be was alive. There were some reports that people had been killed by Viet Cong assassins for doubting their story. I have seen the Viet Cong death warrant issued for his cousin Nguyen Van Anh. It mentions several alleged crimes, but I suspect the main one was “acknowledging that Nguyen Van Be is still alive.” Don Rochlen of the Field Development Division (Joint United States Public Affairs Office) found Be’s family and invited them to move to a safer area away from Viet Cong agents. We show the family above. Do they seem confident about their safety?

Finally, the Americans made the worst mistake of all. They decided to bring Be home so that all his friends would see him and know he was alive. This would be the culmination of the American PSYOP campaign. However, when they paraded Be out to shake hands with the people, nobody knew him. As impossible as it seems, they threw the “Coming Home” party in the wrong village. John R. Campbell, a civilian psychological warfare advisor in Vietnam from 1965 to 1967 says in Are we Winning? Are they Winning: A Civilian Advisor’s Reflections on Wartime Vietnam:

A day-long operation was mounted including plenty of military security and helicopters to descend unannounced into his home village, in a VC-dominated area, to present him as a living lie to his fellow villagers while we fed them, entertained them, and gave them medical attention. To our chagrin, it turned out not to be his home village, though the peasants there recognized his name and fame. Next day we went back to our files to find out where we had gone wrong. The files concerning him, including posters, printed songs, maps, stories, etc., which were kept in an office just a few steps from mine, were completely cleaned out.

When I asked Campbell exactly what he meant by that statement, he said:

My statement was meant to emphasize that someone in our own organization was a Viet Cong operative that cleaned out all our documentation on Nguyen Van Be.

This ends my brief look at one of the worst PSYOP campaigns in history. The U.S. said the enemy lied; the enemy said the U.S. lied; the U.S. said "we will take him home and show the world"; and then went to the wrong village. It doesn’t get any worse than that.

A Bathing Beauty – Leaflet 4-133-68

There is an old PSYOP adage that you must know your target audience. The Vietnamese are a very modest people. I had one tell me one time that the Chinese women were sluts because when they had to cross a stream while carrying baggage down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, they would take off their clothes in front of the men to keep them dry. Viet Cong women, I was informed with great smugness, will cross the stream fully dressed and get their clothes soaked.

Propagandists will often use nostalgia as a weapon in their leaflets. They will depict a mother, a sweetheart, or wife and children to make the enemy soldier homesick and lower his morale. In 1968, the 4th PSYOP Group in Vietnam decided to do something like that by depicting a beautiful young Vietnamese woman in a bathing suit. I am sure the thought was that the picture will get the enemy's attention and they will read the propaganda message. The girl wore a bathing suit that was not particularly risque and no “naughty bits” were showing. In the United States the picture would have been completely acceptable. The text on the front of the leaflet was:

DON’T DENY YOURSELF THE RIGHT TO BE A MAN

The back was all text:

Right now your only satisfaction is that you hope you are able to stay alive through the terrible Army of Vietnam attacks. Don’t deny yourself the right to be a man. Return to a life of happiness and personal freedom. Rally to the open arms of the Government of Viet Nam.

Robert W. Chandler mentioned this leaflet in War of Ideas: The U.S. Propaganda Campaign in Vietnam. He mentions the United States Information Agency (USIA) in Saigon warning that:

Sex-appeal propaganda be used sparingly and limited to young girls in traditional dress. Cheesecake photographs might be acceptable to Western standards but would likely offend native canons of good taste.

He quotes another unnamed writer:

The Americans often distributed their propaganda messages with pictures of voluptuous scantily clad women. The Americans assumed the pictures would turn the thoughts of enemy troops toward home. But to most Vietnamese, there is nothing captivating about over-endowed women. Pinups just don't have the same appeal here, said an American psywarrior, a little sadly.

Chandler is correct. This leaflet was a failure. The Vietnamese people are very staid and traditional and the sight of a young girl in a bathing suit was insulting to them. They would assume that she was a prostitute or bar girl. Chandler adds:

While these gaffes in themselves had no devastating effects on the psychological operations campaign, they illustrate a point that without immersing themselves in Vietnamese culture and values, Americans were engaging in dangerous and possibly counterproductive activities by participating directly in the Vietnamese battle for Vietnamese minds

Lieutenant Colonel David G. Underhill who was with the 7th PSYOP Group on Okinawa during the Vietnam War agrees. He said about this leaflet:

The 4th PSYOP Group prepared a very tame “white” leaflet that depicted a Vietnamese woman in a bathing suit that brought a strong adverse reaction in post-testing. The girl in the picture, the enemy claimed, was a prostitute for the American soldiers. Do you think any soldier would be induced to defect by a prostitute?

Midshipman Jason Thomas Chaput mentions this leaflet in his 2000 U.S. Naval Academy Department of History honors thesis. He says:

Other messages such as those of the sex appeal leaflets acted to turn the reader off to entertaining the idea of the Chieu Hoi program because they were anchored in American values and not those of the Vietnamese. The sex appeal propaganda which depicted bikini-clad, over-endowed Vietnamese women stated that the soldier could find true happiness and the satisfactions of life which every man was entitled if he chose to rally to one of the program’s centers. The individuals drafting the propaganda mistakenly believed that Vietnamese soldiers saw the world through the same masculine goggles as did American GI’s. The U.S. advisors failed to understand that the Confucian ideals held by a majority of the Vietnamese directed them to be in harmony with their environment by adopting a middle path in all areas of conduct. The effect of the sex appeal leaflets was to turn off the Vietnamese by solidifying their views that the corrupt outside Western influence present in their country had to be defeated.

Leaflet 4-132-68

Curiously, at the same time the 4th Group produced the inappropriate leaflet showing a female in a bathing suit, they produced a second leaflet showing a Vietnamese woman in traditional garb that was completely appropriate and certainly a better medium for a propaganda message. Text over the primly dressed beauty is:

WHY DO YOU DENY YOURSELVES THE SATISFACTION OF LIFE?

The back is all text:

LIFE IS FULL OF JOY. YET, WHAT GOOD IS LIFE WHEN YOU

TURN YOUR BACK ON IT?

The animal-like existence that the Army of Vietnam forces you to lead brings no happiness, only denial, without hope, love or offspring. You have nothing to look forward to change this hopeless situation. Rally now to the open arms of the Republic of Viet Nam.

I should point out that during WWII the Germans and Japanese used sex very often in their propaganda. Even the Americans prepared one leaflet that depicted the exposed breast of a Japanese wife forced to sell herself into prostitution because of the war. These old ideas carried over and were very difficult to control when facing a culture that was very prim and proper and found sexual images insulting. In this case the Americans depicted a lovely girl in a bathing suit and the enemy used the image to attack all Americans as perverted and uncultured people. The bathing suit leaflet was a valuable "lessons learned" for the U.S. Army psychological operators in Vietnam.  

Gulf War - Operation Desert Storm

 

“The Wave” Leaflet

At about 0200 on 2 August 1990, seven divisions of Iraqi armor, mechanized infantry, helicopter forces, and the elite Republic Guard invaded Kuwait. The invasion force of 120,000 troops and 2,000 tanks quickly overwhelmed Kuwait. Iraq declared the annexation of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government-in-exile fled to Saudi Arabia where it was recognized as the legitimate voice of Kuwait. President George Bush immediately froze all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the United States and called on Saddam Hussein to withdraw his troops. American Secretary of Defense Cheney met with King Fahd of Saudi Arabia on 7 August. As a result of that meeting, the 82nd Airborne Division and several USAF fighter squadrons were permitted to deploy to Saudi Arabia for the protection of the Kingdom. President George Bush authorized the first call-up of 40,000 Selected Reservists for 90 days active duty on 22 August 1990. It is hard to remember that in those days the National Guard or Reserves was hardly ever called up. If they were, the time was always very limited, and rarely exceeded 180 days. By November Bush upped the active duty time to 180 days with the option of a 180-day extension. On 18 January 1991, Bush signed an order authorizing 220,000 Reservists to be called up for 12 months. Saddam had a deadline of 15 January to be out of Kuwait. He had no intention of leaving. It was clear that the United States and its Coalition was going to war.

It was believed that the Iraqi army was a powerful foe. They had fought with Iran for almost a decade and were battle hardened and dug in. The anti-war crowd and critics pointed out that the American Army was untested and going to war with unproven weapons like the Abrams tank and the Apache helicopter, both of which might be disabled by the desert sand. Allegedly, 20,000 body bags had been sent to Saudi Arabia for all the expected American deaths in the war. The predictions were dark.

 

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

General Schwarzkopf needed a plan. In fact he needed a deception. He came up with a plan to hold the Iraqi Army in place while he moved the great majority of his forces around their left flank and hit them with all his might from the side and behind. It would be called “The Hail Mary,” named after an American football play where a team risks all and throws the football as far as it can deep into enemy territory hoping for a miracle catch that will win the game. But, how do you keep the Iraqis locked into their defensive positions?

Artist Tim Wallace in Riyadh during Operation Desert Storm

Sergeant Tim Wallace was an artist assigned to the 4th PSYOP Group during
Operation Desert Storm. He designed the deception leaflet that we call “The Wave.”

Tim Wallace was asked to make a deception leaflet. He told me:

There was a whole series of waves both on the beach and storm waves that I drew in the initial months. I could take an idea that they would want as a leaflet and present that same idea 10 different ways to find the best possible image.

His final draft showed a giant wave with the face of an angry Marine holding a Kabar knife in front of U.S. aircraft and ships attacking the beach as Iraqi defenders run away. It worked. Along with U.S. Navy SEALs exploring the beaches and some ships firing on the beaches the Iraqis bought the whole story. Five divisions of Iraqi infantry entrenched in Kuwait, some 80,000 men in all, awaited the attack from the sea. Just before the mock invasion the Iowa Class battleships Wisconsin and Missouri both opened fire on Iraqi forces. This must be the invasion!

The Iraqi Command plots the Sea-borne Invasion

The Iraqi III Corps commander's 20 x 30-foot intelligence map of Kuwait found in Kuwait City depicted virtually every Coalition avenue of approach from the sea. To the very end, Iraqi troops nervously watched the Persian Gulf for any sign of the dreaded U. S. Marines and their landing craft. They waited in vain.

12,000 of the leaflets were placed in empty plastic water bottles and floated up on the beaches of occupied Kuwait. Another 90,000 were droped by aircraft. There is also a black and white version of this leaflet; 88,000 copies of this leaflet were dropped on 15 January. These leaflets are rarer than the color version.

One American general looking at the static Iraqi Army dug in all along the border with Saudi Arabia said:

My God, they are like golf balls in the sand waiting to be struck

Honorable Mention

    

Three additional Deception Leaflets

Although not as impressive as The Wave, these three leaflets also were part of the deception plan. They all used the official surrender pass of the Coalition but also bore the emblems of units facing the Iraqis. They were used to make the Iraqis believe that the units were still directly in front of them.

900,000 leaflets with the Dragon symbol of the XVIII Airborne Corps were printed and disseminated; another 270,000 leaflets were printed with the symbol of the VII Corps. It was believed that Iraqi intelligence told their troops that they were facing Israeli forces because the symbol was similar to the six-pointed Star of David. As a result, the symbol was quickly changed to a Jayhawk. 270,000 of the Jayhawk leaflets were printed.

OOPS!

This is a strange little leaflet and by some coincidence it is also a Tim Wallace product. It is rather plain, kind of like a little political cartoon you might see in a newspaper. There is a reason for that. But first there are some major problems with this leaflet. It depicts Saddam Hussein swinging a big sword and ineptly cutting off his own head. It is aimed at Iraqis that speak Arabic, but the two words “Oops” and “thud” are in English. It is signed “Wallace,” but who signs their leaflets in wartime? Finally, the Arabic text on the back gives a date that does not exist:

30 February 1991. Saddam's prediction:
Be assured that I will solve the problem of Kuwait by the 30th of February..

Of course, there is no 30 February.What is going on here? As it turns out, the leaflet was in fact a cartoon to be sent to the Ft. Bragg newspaper Paraglide. It was never meant to be disseminated, but was apparently sent to the printers, printed and airdropped by accident.

Lieutenant Colonel Randal R. Jones of the 4th PSYOP Group said in 1991 in regard to this "error" distribution:

The leaflet was drawn by an artist in the 4th PSYOP Group. It was not distributed to opposing forces but was done as a cartoon within the command. The point of the cartoon is that nothing will occur on 30 February since 30 February doesn't exist. This point would certainly be lost on a Southwest Asian audience given their use of the Arabic calendar.

He is correct that the 4th PSYOP Group did not distribute the leaflets from Saudi Arabia. He was surely unaware that European Command in Turkey did distribute them.

I spoke to artist Tim Wallace about this leaflet in 2009. He said:

I had been sending the various political cartoons back stateside to the Ft. Bragg newspaper “Paraglide” and someone mistook it for a PSYOP product when they saw it in my work-area. It was mass produced without my knowledge, and dropped somewhere North around the Turkish border.

Later a reporter from U.S. News and World Report found the leaflet on the ground and had it published in their news magazine of 16 March 1992. Back in those days one of my goals was to have my work published in national magazine like U.S. News and World Report, and I guess I did reach that goal, just not the way that I imagined.

So why is this leaflet a favorite? It was not a leaflet; it was partially in the wrong language with a wrong date and was printed and dropped completely by accident. That is a lot of errors for one small piece of paper.

Hand-in-Hand

This quite handsome leaflet was produced in Saudi Arabia to show that Iraqis could live in peace with the other Arab nations. It depicts two Arabs holding hands, the flags of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and some lovely shaded sand dunes. The text on the back is:

In Peace we will Always Remain United

About 18,000 of these leaflets were printed. It is rumored that many were disseminated by balloon from Al Quysumah Airfield to Southern Kuwait. That was secret at the time since the troops that were the balloon experts were not supposed to be in any wars according to their laws. That of course, is another story.

I was told that the Arabs loved them as they showed the solidarity of the soldiers, hand-in-hand. Men walking hand-in-hand is not considered abnormal in much of the world, and even Russian men are sometimes known to walk that way. The problem is that it is not an American custom.

I was also told that many Americans hated the leaflet and the concept of two men walking off into the desert together. The code-name for this leaflet was “Sunset.” The image was very powerful and seemed to work well on the Muslim mentality, but allegedly the leaflet was considered part of the “Fag” series by some military personnel who thought the symbolism was inappropriate.

Colonel Borchini of the 4th PSYOP Group said:

This leaflet was probably the most effective of the war. It stressed brotherhood among the countries in the region. After the Iraqis surrendered, the captured soldiers were interviewed. We found that this leaflet had a tremendous impact upon the Iraqi soldiers. It had a nice message. There was nothing devious. We all want peace!

When I asked another Colonel about the balloon operations he practiced operational security (OPSEC):

Part of the Battalion deployed north to support some classified leaflet balloon efforts. No more to say on that.

So, why is it a favorite? It is considered one of the most powerful and meaningful leaflets of the war but some of the people producing it did not care for it because of its sexual connotations in American society, and it was secretly disseminated in part by people who were not there. That is a pretty good story.  

Operation Enduring Freedom / Operation Iraqi Freedom

EYES – Mullah Mohammed Omar is Targeted

Like the Nguyen Van Be story, this is not a case where I like a particular leaflet. Instead, I like the theme, something as simple as a pair of eyes. The terrorist, or “patriot” or “liberator” as they might call themselves cannot fight in the open against a modern mechanical Army. He does not have the firepower so must fight from the shadows at a time and place of his showing. He needs to move about invisible and unseen. We saw that in Vietnam where the enemy hid under triple canopy forests, or in Afghanistan where they hid in mountainous terrain and caves. One of the jobs of the PSYOP specialist was to make that individual feel unsure of his safety, not invisible, and constantly under surveillance. They had to play with their minds. These are some interesting examples of how that was done, simply placing eyes on leaflets.

On 2 November 2001, the Pentagon announced that they had dropped a leaflet depicting three photographs of the face of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar targeted by the cross-hairs of a gun scope at the far right. The Mullah had earlier forbidden any photographs of himself. To the left of the photographs were three photographs of the license plate of one of Omar's vehicles, again covered by the cross-hairs. This photo was taken during an earlier operation when an American Predator unmanned surveillance aircraft fitted with two "Hellfire" anti-tank missiles had targeted the car but allegedly was not allowed to fire due to a rules of engagement dispute. General Tommy Franks later stated that he had full authority to fire but was unable to get the car in a clear field of fire where there would be no collateral damage. To the left of the leaflet are three pairs of eyes alternated with the text:

WE ARE WATCHING

The leaflet is identical on both sides except for the text, which is in Pashto or Dari. The Pentagon announced that 16 million leaflets had been printed.

Perhaps the most important thing we learned from this leaflet was that the military had lawyers arguing with combat commanders about when they could fire. This permission to fire at enemy leaders was discussed in an 18 November 2001 Washington Post article by Thomas E. Ricks titled “Target Approval Delays Cost Air Force Key Hits.” Ricks claimed that:

As many as 10 times over the last six weeks, the Air Force believed it had top Taliban and al Qaida members in its cross hairs in Afghanistan but was unable to receive clearance to fire in time to hit them, according to senior Air Force officialsAir Force Lt. Gen. Charles F. Wald, who until earlier this month commanded the air campaign, has complained about the clearance problems directly to Franks more than a dozen times since the war began on 7 October, officials said. They said he never received a response. “CENTCOM was a black hole on this,” one officer said, referring to the Central Command…U.S. Special Forces troops are now being forced to go into Afghanistan on the ground to pursue members of the al Qaida terrorist network and Taliban leaders who could have been killed from the air earlier in the campaign.

The same general image was used in another leaflet coded EF3C14L1 except that there was one set of eyes and one photograph of the alleged Omar. This might have given the Taliban leader a laugh because it was later discovered that the photograph may not have been of Omar. It is possible that the Coalition had the wrong man on the leaflet. Whoops! Doubt was first raised in the 14 October 2002 issue of Newsweek. In an article entitled "Trouble: Mistaken for the Mullah" author Sami Yousafzai says:

Mulvi Hafizullah is hiding in the remote Afghan countryside in fear of his life. ... Mullah Omar was rarely photographed during his time in power, and in a case of mistaken identity, Hafizullah says it’s his picture - not Omar's - on the hundreds of thousands of leaflets that have been dropped all over Afghanistan offering $25 million for the capture of Omar and Osama bin Laden. Hafizullah fears that thousands of Afghan soldiers and villagers - not to mention U.S. troops - are looking for him. "I'm afraid to leave my house," he told Newsweek.

 

Leaflet IZG-7527

Meanwhile, In Iraq, Task Force 20 was out hunting for terrorist and prepared leaflet IZG-7527. The handout simply shows a pair of eyes looking at the viewer. On 28 March 2003 U.S. Marines distributed the same leaflets in Fallujah The text is:

No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, Coalition Special Operations Forces will find you and bring you to justice.

In the late consolidation stage of Operation Iraqi Freedom the use of the eyes as a PSYOP theme became very popular. I have seen 7 such leaflets all in a rather stark red and black, many with different short messages on the front and various vignettes on the back such as the photograph of a wanted Iraqi terrorist, cartoon depicting skeletons, and a group of 10 terrorists along with the reward for each.

These almost identical leaflets have different messages on the front and back. One leaflet depicts Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the back. The text on the front is:

We will chase you and show you no mercy

Another version has the text:

Takferi there is no place to hide

“Takferi” indicates a person who believes that he is always correct and will go to Heaven while everyone else will rot in Hell.

A third version has the text:

He speaks on your behalf

The Coalition is saying that when you passively accept the actions of the terrorists it is as if you have accepted their leadership and allowed them to speak for you.

Do these eyes on leaflets imply the “Evil Eye?” Lennea Mueller mentions the evil eye in her 2012 Institute of World Politics paper: Integrating Cultural Geography with Psychological Operations: Islamic Superstitions.

The presence of the evil eye can found in the Qur’an: “The influence of an evil eye is a fact, if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of the evil eye.” The evil eye can be source of bad luck, disease, envy, and jealously. Many Muslims believe if it is used against them they must seek protection.

Leaflet 4-123-69

I mentioned at the start of this section that we find the eye leaflets as far back as Vietnam. Most of these Vietnamese “Evil Eye” leaflets use red to terrify the finder. This one is green and perhaps not quite as scary, though if you are going to imply that the jungle has eyes, perhaps they should be green. The text on the front is:

THE DEEP JUNGLE IS NO LONGER YOUR SAFE HIDING PLACE!

The text on the back is:

TO THE CADRES AND SOLDIERS IN THE COMMUNIST RANKS!

While hiding in the deep jungle you are being watched every second!

Sooner or later the path to your hiding place will be discovered. The deep jungle has true eyes to observe you regardless of when and where.

The deep jungle is no longer your safe hiding place. Your life is as fragile as a thin needle hanging a bell. You cannot escape danger and hopelessness.

Don't let yourself die in the deep jungle. Abandon your ranks in the night while you still have time and still can!

Leaflet 4-124-69

This leaflet was aimed at the North Vietnamese Army troops coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam. This leaflet is coded from the 4th PSYOP Group but we know it was actually printed for them by the 7th PSYOP Group on Okinawa. The text on the front is:

THE DEEP JUNGLE IS WATCHING YOU!

The text on the back is:

THE FACE OF THE GREEN JUNGLE IS WATCHING YOU.

To friends in the rank and file of the North Vietnamese troops.

In the dark thick jungle, the jungle eyes are watching you. You were watched since your first steps down your infiltration path. Your prayers became hopeless. No place is so impenetrable that you can hide in it. The green jungle eyes are watching you.

Heaven's net casts wide. Though its meshes are coarse, nothing slips through. There will be more bombs and artillery rounds coming to you.

Go back! Return to the North while you still can!

I should mention that other leaflets using the same general theme depicted Allied forces using binoculars, aircraft, and even satellites to follow their movements. The concept was that the terrorist should never rest easy. He should always believe that he was being watched.

Readers who wish to comment or send further information are encouraged to write the author at Sgmbert@hotmail.com.