PROPAGANDA AND SOCIAL CONTROL
A Panel Discussion featuring:
Brett McCabe: I'd like to introduce our first panel,
Steve Hassna is a former Staff Sergeant, US Army and a Vietnam Veteran. He lives in Berkeley and is an activist for Veterans rights and against war. A poet and public speaker, he is also part of the Vietnam Speaker's Alliance and the National Committee Against Registration and the Draft.
Steve Hassna: I'm going to talk about the military as far as an apparatus for controlling people. One of the jobs I had when I returned from Vietnam was I was issued this hat. Army Drill Sergeant. I was trained, by the US Army, in various tactics of psychological control to get 40 people at a time to do what they're told without them thinking about it.
I'm going to talk about the military as far as its control and how it's used to manipulate people and get them to do things they normally wouldn't do. I left Vietnam, I was with the 101st Airborne division, as an Infantry Paratrooper, pointman, squad leader, tunnel rat. I was there in 1967-'68, I went through the Tet Offensive, returned here, and was issued this hat [Army Drill Sergeant] OK? The United States Army has what is called i's Drill Sergeant School. It's a 6 week course . . .
Lori Bradford: [half in jest] It's mind control.
Steve Hassna: OK . . . Drill Sergeant school is a six week course where you are trained to give instruction for basic training. Now, mentioned here today, has been an historical process of, if you don't know the historical process of what happened before, you have a tendency to repeat it over and over again. I did not know the historical process that got us into the Vietnam conflict and consequently enlisted in the United States Army in l966. Later, I got out of the army and started looking at what I had endured and how I had been manipulated as a trainee and then controlled as a soldier in the field in Vietnam and then came back and was put through a school to then train people to go and do exactly what I had done a year prior.
I did not know when I went into the army that we had trained and financed Ho Chi Minh's forces during WWII to fight the common enemy, the Japanese. And one of the tactics we had trained Ho Chi Minh's people in was Colonel Robert Rogers Rules of Order which is the basic Army Ranger tactics that were developed by Colonel Robert Rogers during the French and Indian Wars in the 1700s here in the United States. These tactics were taught to Ho Chi Minh's people, aside from what they already knew about fighting in their own country.
I did not know this. I did not know or read the books, or study (because I was a child growing up, in the 50s), the different manipulative factors that we did as far as Southeast Asia to control the economy, the political atmosphere, the military atmosphere, and everything else.
And consequently I participated in that war, and then, like I said, trained 1200 young men to go and do exactly what I did.
And what did I train them in? I trained them in patriotism, in love of country, in amplifying the feeling of worth for your country by serving your country as it's a noble cause. And I also trained them in very . . . um . . . it's embarrassing to me, it . . . it's shameful, but . . . tactics of hating the Vietnamese. I'll just use the Vietnamese as an example. But an American soldier was supposed to be in Vietnam to help the Vietnamese decide their own political destiny, as an ally. And yet in training, the Vietnamese were referred to as "gooks" and "slopes" and "dinks" and "zipperheads" and everything else that you could think of to make the Vietnamese look subhuman and less than intelligent. So that when you killed them, you really weren't killing a human being, you were killing this subhuman creature.
And that was my job.
That was not why I went into the military to serve my country. But that was the job that I did. And today, 20 years later, I still have a hard time sleeping at night.
Now, why would a country that is supposedly based on the foundations of freedom, democracy, and equality for people, train their soldiers in such tactics? Because if you're going to employ your troops in such an inhuman fashion, you have to have them operate against people and not look at them as being human.
We would have silhouette targets. Little pop-up silhouette targets at the rifle range. You'd shoot at them, the bullet would hit it and they'd fall down and then come back up. Electronically controlled. Human shaped. In the close range combat courses these silhouette targets were actual, you know, with a . . . a life-like figure was painted onto the silhouette target. And usually it was of a Viet Cong. The typical Viet Cong: the conical hat, the slant eyes, you know, and this glaring face at you. With like, maybe a red star on the hat. That you were then to develop an attitude towards the Vietnamese people that they were really not worth saving. That we were just there because . . . you know, we had to . . . you know . . ."save the world." But we weren't really going to save this part of the world. We were gonna save the world, but the Vietnamese were . . . expendable.
On top of everything else, I also learned the astonishing fact that all military personnel are expendable. OK? No matter what your job in the military, you are infantry. The Marine Corps is honest, alright? The Marine Corps, you go into the Marine Corps, they tell you, "Whatever your job is, you're infantry." The Army says you're a "combat engineer," you're a "medic," you're a "this," you're a "that," but when push comes to shove, you have a rifle in your hand and you will kill to survive because now you're in an absurd situation.
Editor's note: Rear echelon main forces were not issued ammunition even though they were in a combat zone.
Alright, the military is a killing machine. The reason they have combat engineers is to build roads to the front lines. It's not there for some humanitarian aid like to build a bridge to help a village. It's to build a bridge to get across the river to blow the village up, OK? So? You understand this? These are little things that I did not realize at 19 when I went into the army. I thought that I was going to save the world because we were going to get overrun by these barbarians called Communists, OK?
The United States Army (I'll use that because that's what I was in) is a very interesting mechanism. Everybody has a job. And all the jobs are interlocked, but at the same time, your job is better than the other person's job. So it's constantly a competitive attitude. The issue about this is, is that in the military enlistment document they have a small clause that negates all your jobs. Section 5, paragraph B states, " . . . laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. These changes may affect my pay, allowances, benefits and responsibilities as a member of the armed forces, regardless of the provisions of this enlistment/re-enlistment document."
You are infantry, OK? It does not make any difference.
Now, many people go into the military for hundreds of different reasons: to get out of town, to leave, to go away, to find a career, to become a computer specialist, because you want to be macho and jump out of airplanes. I made the weirdest decision in my life, that I was tired of being controlled in school and having my folks tell me what to do, so I joined the United States Army. [laughter and applause]
One thing is, that the military will use these different things to get people to join, and even if they don't go along wholeheartedly with the military apparatus, they're at least good for a year. They've got you for at least a year. By the time a year is over, you're either so thoroughly disgusted . . . or . . . you're there forever. I was going to do 20 years when I went in. I had purposely designed myself to do 20 years in the United States Army. By the time my tour of duty was over in Vietnam, and the subsequent year as a Drill Sergeant, I was so disillusioned, upset, pissed off [angry]and downright bothered, that I couldn't wait to get out of the military as fast as I could. I left Fort Campbell Kentucky at 12:00 o'clock in the afternoon on a Thursday; I did not stop until I got to St. Louis. I wanted to get as far away from that place as I possibly could.
Because the military is a lie. And that lie becomes prevalent as you realize what you're doing over and over and over again.
You've read about the Holocaust, and you've seen the movies, and all the other stuff in WWII. You've heard about the Panzer divisions and the SS going across the Ukraine and Poland and Czechoslovakia and France and all the other places that they ran around and stomped on people. Well folks, the First Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division in l967 that went through Vietnam was NO DIFFERENT! ! ! We did NO DIFFERENT tactics; we burned everything in our wake and we killed it if it got in our way. Period.
That was a contradiction to what I was raised spiritually, morally, and politically, to conduct myself. And yet that is how the US Army operated in Vietnam.
And yet they turn around and they act like the Russians are being weird in Afghanistan because they use chemical/biological warfare. We defoliated five million acres of land that will not grow anything for almost one hundred and fifty years, and on top of that we killed Americans by having an additive in the defoliant Agent Orange called Dioxin. Lori mentioned that asbestos was known in 1918 and now they're just getting around to cleaning it up. Dioxin was known to Dow Chemical and different manufacturers of that herbicide in 1951. They knew it was lethal in l951. They did not remove dioxin from the herbicide because it is a by-product. It has nothing to do with the function of the herbicide. But, when you mix chemicals together, you get a by-product. They did not remove dioxin from that chemical because it would have increased production cost. So they said nothing. Now, you have "hysterical veterans" all over this country. That's what the VA calls us. We're "hysterical veterans," because we're wondering why we're dying, and we're being "hysterical" about the whole thing. I went to a conference on Agent Orange and a chemical company person said that, and I said: "You're goddam right I'm hysterical. You're trying to kill me; why shouldn't I be hysterical?"
Now, the military is a function of the large corporations of this country. That's another little historical fact that I did not know about when I went to Vietnam at 20 years old. But, my job was to protect the political, economic, and military/strategic interest of the US corporate and government heads in this country, while carrying a rifle around Vietnam. Chase Manhattan Bank, Colt/Armalite, Northrup. You know the list of the Fortune 500.
Well, they couldn't tell me, they couldn't say, "Steve, you're going to Vietnam and you're going to kill as many Vietnamese as you can, so that Colt/Armalite and Chase Manhattan Bank make a profit." They couldn't do that because then I might have said: "Well, I don't really think that's what I want to do." But they used the thing of: "If we don't stop them there, they're going to take Burbank." OK? At 41 years old, if they want Burbank, they can have it. I've been there. There's nothing there. But at 19 that was a definite threat to me.
So after serving a year in combat and seeing . . . seeing and then not seeing . . . because in combat you become a person that you're watching something happen daily to a point where you don't see it happen anymore. The destruction becomes a blur. The bodies are like over there, out of your peripheral vision, and you really don't see them. Because if you focus on them, you go insane. Even though you are already insane . . . from being there. You go totally mad if you really focus on what you're doing, so you just act like it's not happening.
Now, when I got back and I was assigned to Drill Sergeant school, I was then trained in how to manipulate people to get them to go do what I had just done. And become just as numb. The US Army is not really a fancy, sophisticated entity in the psychological mind control like has been already talked about here today: the ultra-fancy CIA and everything else. They're real nonchalant. They just teach you how to manipulate 40 people without them knowing it which is a pretty good trick. One of the things I was taught was that you go into a barracks in the morning, and you tell the people in the barracks: "We're having an inspection Saturday morning, and this inspection is a very important inspection. All inspections are important. We have to pass this inspection. But, we don't have enough mops and brooms and rakes, you know, in our platoon area, and we can't get them through the supply area because they've already got their requisitions in. But, C company across the street has got lots of mops and rakes and stuff like that." And then in the afternoon, you leave. And in the middle of the night, one of the squads from the platoon gets together and they go out and they get these mops and rakes and bring them back, and then you pass the inspection.
OK, now, these people think they were getting mops and rakes so that they wouldn't get yelled at by their drill sergeant to pass the inspection; not realizing that they had actually made a military mission, accomplished that mission, and got back with as few causalities as possible, by "requisitioning" these mops and rakes.
They didn't realize that two weeks before, these ten people that were total strangers, from several different parts of the country, probably could not walk down the street together without tripping over each other, now snuck out and "requisitioned" these mops and rakes. And accomplished a military mission. They don't even . . . it doesn't occur to them . . . that that was what was happening. That was what I was trained to do.
When I was going through basic training, I thought that drill sergeants were just people they just picked. "You, over there, here's a hat, go for it." I didn't realize till I got to this school that they were purposely taught these different mind controlling things. I would do things like, walk into the barracks at 4 o'clock in the morning and drop a heavy steel garbage can down a flight of stairs and then start yelling and screaming, and tell people to empty the building, and get out of the building, now. And they'd all be standing out in front in their skivvies and everything, shivering and all that sort of stuff, and then I'd tell them, "The reason we're having this exercise is because this wood frame building that was built in l941 can burn down in 3 minutes. So, I'm getting you ready to be able to evacuate the building at a moment's notice." And they believed that.
They did not realize until 8 weeks later that every time I said, "formation," these 40 people dropped what they were doing, ran to a designated area, got into a numerical order, and stood there and waited for the next command. And sometimes I would say, "OK, good, dismissed." And they'd get halfway away doing something else and I'd yell, "formation," to the point where they would instantaneously react to my voice.
And then I sent them to their advanced individual training.
That's what the military does. That's the end result of all this stuff. And it's very, very low . . . it's not even sophisticated . . . I mean these people aren't even imaginative. You know, I mean, what John and Lori are talking about is like these people are really sitting down and thinking how we can do this stuff. "We'll get some fancy drugs, implants, and everything else." The US military just hasn't got time for that. "We'll just traumatize them to hell and they'll do anything we tell them, just so we won't yell at them anymore." And that's the truth. I had trainees that would respond simply so I would not raise my voice at them. That they would do so so I would not pick them out of a crowd.
And a lot of times, we were trained in Drill Sergeant school to individually choose people. As you're going through the training cycle, systematically go through and put everybody at least once or twice on the block. Do not let anyone in your platoon get out of the cycle without having had his ass chewed out. Period. So it was not like, these people thought they were just getting yelled at on the spur of the moment, where I would actually know, "Tomorrow, I'm taking this one out, the next day I'm taking these two . . . " And I would have a list as to just who I was going to go after, and when I was going to go after them, and why I was going to go after them. And I was trained to do that.
An interesting thing also, is that the military is a contradiction itself. I went through basic training. I graduated from basic training. I went into my Advanced Individual Training. I'm an infantry paratrooper. At AIT I was told; "Whatever you learned in basic training, forget, except, you know, how to shine your boots, make your bed, who to salute, how to salute and when to salute, and if in doubt, salute." OK? Clear. "Oh, OK, so I'm going to learn to be a paratrooper."
So I went and I learned to be an infantry paratrooper. Then I went to Vietnam. And I got there and they put me in a week's training. Preparatory training. You learn ambush tactics, booby traps, and all this other stuff. And the first thing I was told there was; "Whatever you learned in AIT, forget. This is Vietnam, and this is how it's done. You know how to shine your boots and make your bed, and you know who to salute and how to salute and when to salute, and if in doubt, salute." OK. I thought, "Alright, that's a little strange, but I can go along with that."
I got to my unit in the field. The first thing my platoon sergeant said was; "Whatever you learned up until this point, forget. This is Vietnam. You ain't got no bed, your boots are dirty, don't salute nobody." And I'm here for a year.
So, actually, what they could have done, in all intent and purpose, was and saved them a year's training, and price several thousand dollars, was take me from 1515 Clay, in Oakland, when I enlisted (I am from this area, so I went to Oakland for my induction) put me on a plane, give me a rifle, and send me directly to Vietnam. Because, when I got to my unit in Vietnam, they said, "Forget whatever you learned before, because it doesn't apply here."
And then when I got back, they made me a Drill Sergeant. And by the time I was done, I was ready to, well . . . shoot my officers. You know, I mean, just simply shoot somebody, because of the frustration, and the whole thing.
Now, what I'm trying to lead into is that the military apparatus is the end result of all the things that have been talked about on this panel today. That that is the stark reality. You have the CIA experimentation, you have the plots, you have the psychiatric control and everything else, but the military is the final result. And it hasn't changed much since I got out of the army in l969. I've kept abreast of it since l969, because I'm trying to analyze what happened to me.
And it hasn't really changed that much. They have changed names and numbers, job descriptions, but the fiasco that came down in Grenada was no different than the fiascoes that I went through in Vietnam. As far as bad intelligence, these guys didn't have maps, they gave them tourist maps. One guy had to call on the telephone to get an airstrike. You know, I mean, the Beirut fiasco where you take 250 Marines and put them completely out of their job description, because they're not designed to do this particular type of "hold a fortified position forever," and then you wonder why they get blown up. It's the same as Khe San when the Marines were put into Khe San which was totally out of their job description. The Marine Corps Commandant argued with Westmoreland because the Marines are not designed to do that. They take the beach, they hold it, they get reinforced, and they pull out; you know, that type of thing. Marines are not designed to hold anything for very long.
That's what the military does. And, that's because " . . . laws and regulations governing military personnel may change without notice to me . . . "
I've been writing poetry. I'd like to close with a poem because I feel that the governments of the world, not just the United States, but the governments, the main governments of the world, they're all working in cahoots with each other. OK, you know, the United States points at the Russians, the Russians point at us, and, "We're so bad," and "This is bad," and "They're bad," and they're working together, folks. Because it's easier to keep your population of people thinking the other side is so bad so that they'll fight for your country. I've been writing poetry since I got out of Vietnam and I've got one volume published and I'm doing my second volume now. it's almost finished. This is entitled: On Irony. Some of you may even have seen this particular newscast. And this also goes along with the manipulation, the mass mind manipulation of all people.
Today I got a shot of irony Right between the eyes New item, CBS news. Dan Rather Diary of a young Russian troop 19 Killed in Afghanistan 1987 Seems he was killed And possessions he carried recovered By those who took his life Afghan, one each issue attitude Diary and photos Of a soldier's life In a hostile, foreign land The irony? I was a foreign soldier In a hostile land Vietnam '67 -'68
The diary words: "Silently we board the helicopters So many of my friends Dead Move foreword and kill Why Why am I here Damn Afghanistan Only three of us left" Afghanistan '87.
LZ coming in Get ready Ready to kill and Die Vietnam '67 The photos: Young men, this time with AK 47s RPGs and Guitars smiling in groups,
Young Wounded Dead Brains never to be the same Afghanistan '87 Vietnam '67.
You have all seen the pictures On TV, in books, et cetera. Young men smiling carrying M16s M60s, guitars Wounded Dead Sent by those who do not go To do what the young should never have to do. Afghanistan '87 Vietnam '67.
His last words: Damn Afghanistan! Why am I here
And that's what these governments are doing to us and our children. Both of them. All of 'em. And they're going to continue to do it as long as we let them.
[thunderous, sustained applause]