Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Wartime Blunders

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wartime Blunders

In chapter three of Fussell’s “Wartime” the careless, ignorant, and embarrassing mistakes of world war two are discussed. Known as blunders, Fussell discusses the damaging and traumatic effects of friendly fire and fire on civilians. He states “the world survives only by assuming that error is not going to launch the rockets or detonate the hydrogen bomb” but in this chapter it is evident that there were tremendous and catastrophic errors. (Fussell, Wartime p. 26)

Arthur T. Hadley, who fought in a infantry unite, talks of how they “had shot down so many of our own planes that its antiaircraft machine guns all had little tags on their triggers saying: this gun will only be fired under command of an officer” (Fussell 22). It went beyond just the error of shooting down allied plains though; soldiers shot allies on the battle field, civilian cruise liners were sunk, insufficient technologies were being relied upon, and training errors resulted in mass causalities.

A majority of these errors resulting in death were simply written off as “killed in action”, Covered up to some degree and hushed by the military. Although in some cases it may have been necessary to cover up an accident that could reveal training tactics and war strategies, it is wrong to conceal an incident to save oneself of embarrassment. It makes you think how many more incidents caused by error occurred that were never revealed?


Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post.

Human error is an unavoidable part of any massive undertaking involving thousands of people. And chaos and rushed conditions of war are especially conducive to screw-ups.

How can a government at war compensate for the inevitability of disaster? One response is censorship. Keep the bad news from destroying morale by not reporting it. Second, wartime propaganda can do its best to disguise the chaos and fog of war by providing a reassuring narrative of competence and rational order.

3/29/2009 11:34 AM  

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