All world leaders will tell you this. It is not easy to have your people agree on going to war. Let’s be honest, most people just don’t want their houses destroyed, their women raped, and their children killed. That’s why it is of vital importance to know the elementary principles of war propaganda. If you use these simple rules, you may find the majority of your population agreeing with the war.

1. “We don’t want war”

War is never desired. Whatever happens, make sure that the people know that you don’t want to go to war. Tell them war is the worst thing that can happen to a nation. You will actually find most people agree on that. Explain to the people that you are a peace-maker, even a bit of hippy from time to time. 
In the good old cold war tradition you can go on explaining that the best guarantee for peace is an army preparing for war. As long as you make sure you don’t want war, you can easily raise a strong army in just a few years time. 
Once you have prepared for war, this first rule may no longer be enough. After all it’s hard to start a war when you continue to solemnly swear that you are a peacemaker. However it is not impossible. The second rule helps you overcome this problem.

2. “The enemy forces us to go to war.”

Make sure the people understand that the enemy leaves you no other option than going to war. Explain to the people that the enemy is a James Bond like villain who desires nothing but the absolute dictatorship over this planet. Make sure they know that the enemy is so evil that no peaceful solution is conceivable. 
Von Ribbentrop had understood this when he told the German people that the Führer didn’t want war, but the polish had forced him to. Both Bushes told the Americans that they didn’t want war, but mean old sadam left them no other option. 
By now you may find that some people start wondering why that other guy forces us to go to war. The next rule may help you deal with this situation.

3.”The leader of the camp is the devil himself”

It is hard to make your people hate a whole nation. It’s much easier to make them hate just one person. If you want to sell a war, you’d better focus on spreading hatred against one person, the leader of that nation. Show that he is the cause of all the problems in his nation. Show that he is a terrorist, a dictator, a mass murderer. Make sure the people know that the leader of the enemy is the devil in the flesh.
Be it Milosevic, Assad, Sadam, or Khomeini, they were all said to be the reincarnation of Hitler, absolute evil. Everyone has seen the images that show how each of these villains was/is a curse to their own people and a threat to world peace. 
In this way you can explain to your people that your war is not because of complex economical, social, or geo-political factors, but because the enemy is Satan himself. It is but just to free the world of these Beelzabubs.
In this way it is also shown that the war is not against another nation, but against one monster and his disciples. Once this is fairly established, it becomes easy to show that:

4. “We fight for a noble cause, not for our own interest”

Now that the people know about the monster you’re fighting, they will easily understand that the war is not about resources and money or power and control but about bringing peace, freedom and democracy. Make sure to remember these words “freedom”, “democracy” and “peace”. No other words have helped selling wars as much as these three. If there is one thing you should remember about this article, it is to use the three wonder words of selling war.
George Bush Sr. assured us that his Iraq war was not about oil, but about a brutal aggression. It was a humanitarian reaction against a brutal attack, a pious effort to restore peace in the region. A decade later his son made clear that his own invasion of Iraq was not about oil either, but about weapons of mass destruction (the imaginary ones hidden in some secret Sadam bunker, not the real ones scattered around the globe in American nuclear bases). Hitler didn’t go to war to win more lebensraum for the German industrial elite, but to help the poor Sudeten Germans.
Make sure the people understand this: you are the good guy and the enemy is the bad guy. You are the noble knight who protects the weak; they are the tyrants who oppress them. If the people understand this, you may find the next rule relatively easy.

5. “The enemy knowingly commits atrocities; our ‘collateral damage’ is unintended”

The heart of all war propaganda is the recitation of the list of all (real and imaginary) atrocities committed by the enemy. Every war is a long series of horror committed by both sides. This usually confuses your people. This is why it is important to show the key difference between your atrocities and those of the enemy.
It is essential to show that the horror of the enemy is a crime, committed knowingly and willingly. Make sure to show these crimes every day in the news. If people get bored of one crime, choose another one. If you don’t find a new one, invent one. 
Tell the people that the enemy snapped babies from incubators or tell them that he beats his dog. No matter what, tell them that the enemy is a criminal committing one act of horror after the other.
And don’t forget to explain that the horror that you may cause yourself is purely accidental. Since the Kosovo war the world has learned the new concept of ‘collateral damage’, which is the correct term for the horror committed by the good guys (us) in the conflict. Use that word when explaining the people why we go to war. Don’t forget the wonder words ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘peace’ when you tell the people about the ‘collateral damage’.
If you need to explain why the enemy causes horror and you don’t, the next rule may help:

6. “The enemy uses unauthorized weapons.”

Be sure to always point out that you are using humanitarian weapons (or even better still, don’t use the word weapons, simply call them ‘means’) while the enemy is using weapons of mass destruction. Boast about the technical superiority of your means that are designed to reduce collateral damage and scoff at the enemy for using weapons that aren’t only more old-fashioned, but also designed to murder in a far less humanitarian way then yours.
Make sure that everyone knows that the weapons of mass destruction of the enemy are a threat to the whole planet, and explain the difference with your own chemical, biological and nuclear means, that are for strictly humanitarian use only.
Now here comes a tricky part. When you explain that you only have humanitarian weapons, while the enemy has weapons of mass destruction, some people may believe that the enemy has more chance to win the war. You don’t want them to think that, the next rule will help you deal with it.

7. “We don’t have many losses, the enemy does.”

Nobody likes to be on the losing side, so it is important to have the people understand that you are the winner of the war. The best way to do this is to have your own defeats ignored, while focusing all attention on the losses of the enemy. 
During a war, you’d better have pictures of your dead soldiers banned from the media. They only distract the minds of the people from the real issue: the dead soldiers of the enemy. Be sure to be very fuzzy about how many losses your army has suffered. You can use incomprehensible jargon to answer questions about that, or just explain how rude it is to speak about these poor brave men in such a way, while their families are still mourning.
Beware however that you show that all the people who were killed on the enemy’s side were combatants. When stories about civilian victims arise, remember the rule about ‘collateral damage’ and the wonder words ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘peace’.
Now you have the essential part of your message conveyed to your people. However, you may find that there are still some who doubt. The next rule helps you deal with them.

8. “The artists and intellectuals agree”

Make sure to have enough famous people who will support your war efforts. Have them repeating the message over and over to the people. Make sure you have a good mix of famous supporters: pop-stars, actors, writers, journalists (as many journalists as possible, believe me you will need them), professors, athletes, NGO-faces… each of them has his own way of transmitting the message and gaining credibility for it.
In the months preceding the first world war, the majority of the European intellectuals supported their own elite in the effort to start the war to end all wars. In 1990 all major newspapers helped to explain why it was important to invade Iraq. During each of the US invasion wars, Fox News was there to faithfully spread the good news exactly the way the leader liked it. 
Make sure to have some college professors at hand to explain the reasons for your war in difficult but trustworthy sounding terms. Their degree helps raising awareness of the viewers that war is the only answer.
It is true that not everyone has faith in famous people. That’s why the next rule explains how to use an even higher power for support.

9. “We fight for a sacred cause”

If people are doubtful about the word of famous people, your only option is to appeal to the highest power in existence. You have to show that god wants this war. It is not a human scaled conflict between two nations; it is a mythical battle between good and evil. 
Even in the time of the crusades this rule was used. The Pope declared war because God told him so. Since then this method has proven to be effective time after time. ‘Gott mit us’, ‘God save the queen’ and ‘in God we trust’ are some of the best marketing slogans to sell your war. After all, one can disagree with celebrities, but with god? Who would dare to do that?
Just look at the great marketing results that Bush Junior had when he explained that his war was against the axis of evil, and that it was the sacred duty of the Americans to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. (notice that Bush Jr was very good at using the wonder words for selling the war)
When you apply all these rules, you will find that most of the people will agree with you. A minority however will never understand your message, they will continue to oppose your war whatever you say. The best way to deal with them is the final rule.

10. “All those who oppose the war are traitors.”

Make sure that everybody understands that all these peace-loving hippies are just helping the enemy in his horrifying plan. They may not realise it themselves, but they are accomplices to the crimes committed by that villain. It is best of all to keep them out of the media. Try to ban hippie peace loving songs from the radio (or at least ban ‘War is Over’ by John Lennon) and make sure that the images of anti-war protesters clearly show that they are a marginal crypto-communist group of Satan worshippers. 
It may also be important to keep explaining to the people that all those who oppose war essentially oppose freedom, democracy and peace. In this way you can make everybody understand how criminal those hippies actually are.

These 10 rules have proven their value again and again. Many wars were sold to the people using just these key ideas. You may want to experiment with them in order to fit them nicely to your own personal style. If you consider yourself more of a liberal, you may want to stress the reactionary conservative side of the enemy. If you consider yourself to be conservative, you can stress his permissiveness and decadence. Don’t forget to mention that the enemy has no respect for the rights of women, queers or religious minorities; this always works since most nations indeed do violate these rights in many ways.

To keep all things running smoothly, I want to suggest one extra rule:

11. “There hardly is a war going on.”

Make sure your people have tons of other things on their heads. Have pop stars twerking on national television, have people obsessed with America’s next idol, or the latest game of thrones episode. The less people think about the war, the less they will oppose it.

Now I think you know all the elementary rules to sell your war, you can go ahead and bomb other nations back to the stone-age with as little opposition of your people as possible. I can only wish you good luck in your next war. Remember to use the wonder words ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘peace’ as often as you can and stay safe. Remember a good warmongerer doesn’t get killed; he has others doing that for him.

Now you are on your own. Remember the simple rules and use them wisely. Have a great war!

* based on the ideas in the book “Principes élémentaires de propagande de guerre, (utilisables en cas de guerre froide, chaude ou tiède…)” by prof. Anne Morelli


imam amina wadud, may allah reward her for all her work, in this life and the next.