Create tension between two or more target groups

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The phrase create tension between two or more target groups comes from a 1993 book by Paul H. Nitze: Tension Between Opposites: Reflections on the Practices and Theory of Politics. Alleged to be connected with the Council on Foreign Relations, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University is said to be a spy school.[1]

Creating tension between two or more target groups, perhaps originally a technique more commonly employed for political and military purposes, is often employed as a propaganda tactic. Typical forms this tactic takes include:

  • Creating a dummy or shell group that has no purpose except to advocate a view bystanders will see as compatible with that of another target group and which is also opposed to the view of the manipulating group; Then legitimate groups can be drawn into turf wars, be discredited by visible engagement in unappealing confrontations with the new rival, and ultimately discredit their "shared" view - which is of course the opposite of the manipulator's view.
  • Finding legitimate but incompetent or purist advocates of a view roughly compatible with that of another target group, and funding the incompetents or purists or extremists to become the dominant voice on the issue. Not dealing with the issue is thus easy to excuse, as the dominant view is more extreme than the public's own.
  • Dealing directly with moderates and requiring concessions that will be found unacceptable by purists, thus co-opting the middle and alienating purists. If purists can be simultaneously drawn into dummy, shell, incompetent or extreme groups, preferably many of these, then an entire movement can be splintered.

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