Fake news: Psy-war and propaganda in the Indonesian Genocide of 1965-66

Historian article

By Geoffrey Robinson, published 16th August 2019

Geoffrey Robinson explores a little-known episode of the Cold War where half a million people were killed and the Indonesian communist party was destroyed, aided and abetted by the major Western Powers.

Amidst all the talk of fake news and Russian meddling in US politics, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that such methods have been around for a long time, and that Russia has hardly been alone in using them. While the technology and actors have changed, the methods and aims of today – using false information to sow confusion and exacerbate conflict and division – are largely indistinguishable from the propaganda and psychological warfare campaigns of an earlier era. It is also easy to forget that, while they purport to operate solely in the realm of information and human psychology, rather than physical force, such methods can have deadly consequences that reverberate for generations...

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