Unraveling the Persian Knot: Indirect Approaches Towards Iran   [open pdf - 610KB]

From the monograph's abstract: "In 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini's indirect approach ignited existing socio-economic conditions during the Iranian Revolution to topple the Shah. A similar indirect approach using psychological operations to target audiences through key vulnerabilities and networks may have applicability for strategies today. Joint Pub 5-0 defines the indirect approach as the employment of attacks on an adversary's derived vulnerabilities when conditions do not permit direct attacks against a defined center of gravity (COG). […] Ayatollah Khomeini effectively unified various Iranian opposition groups through a common hatred and desire to overthrow the Shah. Most significant, the Ayatollah accomplished this while residing entirely outside Iran's borders using psychological operations as the primary arm of his approach. Joint doctrine defines psychological operations as, 'planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.' Often misunderstood, psychological operations require sufficient time in order to work but given appropriate time the effects can often be dramatic. Khomeini's synchronization of psychological operations with coordinated internal political violence successfully detonated underlying frustrations. This continued until it reached what Malcolm Gladwell calls the Tipping Point when the opposition suddenly unified and full mobilization occurred resulting in the Shah's removal. Today, fear of a similar psychological invasion haunts the Iranian leadership generating more angst than all other potential military threats."

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