Military Wire: Why the truth matters more than you think


“How do you kill 11 million people?” That was the question posed by New York Times best-selling author of The Noticer and The Traveler’s Gift, Andy Andrews. It’s also the title of one of his books.

As one who has studied war history and had to endure reading the Psychological Operations manual more than once, I was curious to hear Mr. Andrews’ take on how countries can control and eliminate their populations.

By the way, controlling populations and perceptions is not new – ruling governments, tyrants, and cult leaders have been using these techniques for centuries. We as a nation certainly deploy these strategies and we don’t hide it. Straight out of the PSYOP handbook it clearly states, “PSYOP are a vital part of the broad range of United States (U.S.) diplomatic, informational, military, and economic (DIME) activities.” The goal of PSYOP is to influence the perception of others – intended to influence foreign perceptions, of course – and designed to save lives, when properly deployed.

But what happens when it isn’t “properly” deployed?

And what happens when a society ignores the truth or chooses to sit on the sidelines, cover their eyes, close their minds to other perspectives, and accept what they are told so their comfortable life isn’t disrupted?

It’s only a matter of time before you fall victim.

“How fortunate for leaders,” Hitler said to his inner circle, “that men do not think. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

In Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, he wrote, “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to the big lie than a small one.”

The book was widely read by most German people at the time – and yet they believed him anyway. Or maybe they just ignored him.

Until it impacted them personally. Between 1933 and 1945, 11,283,000 people were recorded killed by Hitler’s troops – that only represents the institutionalized killing.

I won’t bore you with the seven-phase process, but essentially a tactical component of a PSYOP mission is to create fear, then provide hope partnered with security, then begin to isolate or dehumanize outliers or individuals who oppose the desired outcome, and in drastic cases, eliminate the threat.

Mr. Andrews, to my knowledge, wasn’t versed in PSYOPS so I was curious how he would answer. His answer was almost too simple, but it was truth: “You lie to them.” That’s how you control or kill those you govern. You lie to them. Because most will “buy the lie” until it’s too late.

Am I suggesting PSYOPS are laced with lies? Only when they are not properly deployed. And that is why it is so important to seek truth. Not YOUR truth. But THE truth.

In these rapidly changing, ever accelerating times of chaos, confusion, division instead of discussion, 24-hour propaganda cycles, and politicians who lie to get elected, there is no greater time than now to seek the truth – even if it means you must change your mind. There are always two sides to every story. Seek both sides and apply discernment.

Today, we must pay attention to those who aspire to lead us at a local, county, state, and national level and truly listen to what they say and then watch what they do. Do they align with how you lead your family or the values you hold sacred? On a local level, are those who are seeking to lead align with your vision for your city?

You must get involved. Apathy leads to dependence. And dependence leads to bondage.

It was a decade ago that I sat in the room with several other individuals listening to Mr. Andrews talk about the truth and share the chilling story of how Hitler really fooled Germany – until it was too late and cost millions of lives. He then asked how it applied to America.

It was also a decade ago that his book, How Do You Kill 11 Million People, was published. And it is quite relevant – and maybe even prophetic of today’s environment.

I encourage you to read it. It is a quick read but leaves a very lasting impression.

— By Mike Schindler

Mike Schindler is a U.S. Navy veteran and CEO of Operation Military Family, a 501(c)(3) veteran service organization that provides proven pathways for Veterans to discover and deploy their greatest gifts in family, work and life. Schindler is an award-winning author, the national podcast host of The Military Wire/VISION2020 and an effective trainer who has been featured in USA Today, CBS Radio, Entrepreneur Radio, the Lars Larson Show, the Boston Globe, Q13 FOX, Yahoo Finance, and others.




  1. Mike,
    Excellent op-ed. We could all benefit from looking back at past mistakes and reading authors past and present who have investigated. While I don’t expect Andrews (or Hayek) to make the current best seller’s list, I’m starting to question how many books are more valuable at this point in history?

  2. Reminds me of the babies being taken from incubators. It’s not easy to proactively identify a PSYOP. The example I’m giving [to me] is more of manufacturing consent by using a tragedy or a lie. A big lie seems the opposite of a PSYOP in a way. A big lie is a lie people want to believe, not a propaganda or misdirection that changes the course of public opinion.

    The irony about the Big Lie is that Hitler was talking Jews telling big lies. The big lie was that Jews were undermining the German right of self realization, thus justifying the Holocaust in self defense. In another thread in MEN comments there are people rationalizing the denial of healthcare to those who are not vaccinated under the auspice that non-vaccination is causing the pandemic. In my opinion, a Big Lie is really taking advantage of people’s inclination to believe personal un-truth and if enough people agree with you that the untruth is true, then it removes the taboo of believing a lie. Democrats hate Republicans and not getting vaccinated for CV-19 is token Republican feature, so denying them access to healthcare is a way to kill them.

    1. Matt, I’ve read nothing seriously suggesting that non-vaccinated people be denied health care when they contract Delta virus. Yes, their foolishness put them into that sad situation, but foolishness should not be a death sentence. We owe them our compassion and care.

      Nor have I read anything suggesting that non-vaccinated people are “causing the pandemic,” as you put it. Yes, unvaxxed people are exacerbating the pandemic by providing ripe hosts for the virus to infect, and opportunities for new mutations (perhaps even more deadly) to emerge and spread to other unvaxxed people. But that’s not the *cause* of the pandemic.

      I believe the only way to get this thing contained is for some large percentage, in the vicinity of maybe 85%, of the population to get vaccinated. But there’s too much misinformation out there (call it the Big Lie if you like) allowing otherwise intelligent people to believe they can tough this out without vaccination. Sadly, too many of those folks whisper their final words~ “I wish I’d taken the vaccine.”

  3. Matt,
    I took it as a moment of frustration, not a deliberate wish. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of censorship and division, promoted by people who want our citizens to be at odds with each other. The US is a giant melting pot of cultures and ideas and some people are frustrated at those of us who see that as a strength.

    1. Glen, the comments are shocking, and they’ve said things like that a few times. This is exactly how the things Mike is talking about happen. I don’t think baddies need to be lied to, so much as they are looking for lies to latch onto.
      Are we the baddies?

  4. In reading Mike’s letter I get a bit concerned it gives the wrong impression. I agree the tactics mentioned played a part in what eventually killed millions of people but how that occurred is much more complex than that.
    If one is going to read this book they should also read other books that cover other factors that contributed to this horrific period of time. As a History major studying Germany (including pre WWI, WWI, years between the wars, WWII, Hitler, postWWII) I was required to read a number of books on this subject.
    I do see many of the same factors in play in the USA today and the Big Lie is certainly one of them. United we stand, divided we fall.

    1. Hey Polly, I’d love to hear more on your concern. To your point, I did break this “complex” issue into simple terms. There are a lot of factors – I was expressing the framework, more than the details.

      I agree that people should educate themselves on all factors. The goal is for people to think and do the work on understanding issues and events instead of allowing themselves to be spoon fed.

  5. Mike, as someone who visited the beaches and U.S Veteran’s Memorial at Normandy, France in 2011, reading your excellent Op-Ed brings back some powerful images and feelings. As one looks out at Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach you can almost transport yourself to that day when our brave forces were picked off as easily as shooting at an arcade. We were literally sacrificed. We didn’t stand a chance.

    Upon returning home I read Berlin Diary – the Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941 by Wm. L. Shirer and The End of Berlin Diary 1944-47 by Shirer. As one reads through these books one can easily see where there were so many missed opportunities for people to stand up and stop Hitler. They didn’t, they were silent. Visiting Auschwitz , again, was a horrifying reminder of what one man can do when left unchecked. 11 million men, women, and children were murdered. Shirer writes – I’m paraphrasing – He watched Europe with increasing fascination and horror plunge madly down the road to Armageddon in the last half of the 1930s. The primary cause of Europe’s upheaval was one country, Germany, one man, Adollf Hitler.

    Yes, Mike, you are correct when you say, “we must pay attention to those who aspire to lead us at a local, county, state, and national level and truly listen to what they say and then watch what they do”. Mayor Nelson’s Hate Portal that encourages us to snitch, to rat out our neighbors is a bone chilling reminder of what occurred during WWII. History can repeat itself. Another instance where the will of one, or a few, is trampling on the people is by ignoring, leaving us out of critical decisions, i.e., the push to upzone our single family neighborhoods when the majority of Edmonds is against it. Slowly, our voices and freedoms get drowned out because we allow a few to trample on the many. We choose to be silent, we do nothing. We abdicate.

    Let our voices be heard.

  6. Hitler came to power in a free democratic election, then used the Reichstag fire (that his storm troopers started) as an excuse to suspend civil liberties, and take over the government as a dictator for life. He manufactured a crisis. Trump just tried the same thing but failed (barely) because one of his boot licking toadies finally stood up to him for the good of the country and obeyed the law against Trump’s and his blind cult follower’s wishes. This is all because people just love to believe stupid stuff and hypocritical theories over any sort of objective truths that require real thought and analysis. They especially believe, if the belief of these lies gives them some sort of economical or psychological short term support. Blindly believing is much easier than thinking and pushing back against self serving authority when that is what is drastically needed. Germans paid the price for their docility and we will too, if we aren’t careful. I agree totally agree with Mike on this one. Well written my friend.

  7. Thanks Clinton. Churchill is first credited with stating, “don’t let a good crisis go to waste, “referring to Yalta and the alliance forged between himself, Stalin and Roosevelt, nearing the end of WWII. Rahm Emanuel later repeated that but for different reasons. It is sad that those we often elect fall in a trance to power and control.

    I’ll not get into the political ideologies – as each side has their perceptions and perspectives – and I certainly have mine.

    What I personally find troubling is our legislative bodies handing control over to their governors, thus giving one individual the power and the ability to execute mandates. I never thought we’d live in fiefdoms (cities controlled by mayoral mandates) and kingdoms (states controlled by individual governor mandates). In my travels I find it interesting that I can travel to different states and it truly feels like different countries.

    We must stay involved. Even in our differences. Let those lead to discussions, not division. And may we not fall victim to our apathy.

    1. Mike, if you ever tried to get a bill passed through the Legislature, something needing quick action, you’d understand why crisis response is left to a single elected chief executive. A 147-person Legislature, in two separate houses no less, battling the pandemic there would be a disaster..

      1. Hey Roger, I appreciate your perspective. My observation still stands. We’ve moved away from a legislative controlled form of government to a single individual holding power. That is dangerous – regardless of your political ideology.

        1. If I’m remembering correctly, Mike, the Legislature granted the governor emergency powers to be exercised only in event of emergencies. They have the power to call themselves into special session to revoke or amend those powers if they so choose.. The Legislature’s hands are not tied; the people’s representatives still rule.

          Before invoking words such as *dangerous*, remember these emergency powers are limited in both scope and time~ only fighting the COVID pandemic, and only for the duration of the pandemic.

      2. Roger, COVID had been here a long time and is here forever. That’s plenty of time to write a law. They don’t write laws anymore bc it’s how due process starts. Immigration is a crisis for example. The crisis has been there a long time. Of course laws are capable of handling crisis.

    2. You are right again Mike. We could argue the rest of our lives about which of our national parties is the worst or best at manufacturing crises’ to get what THEY think is in the best interest of everyone. I guess the real trick is to figure out what is, indeed, a real crisis and what we should do as individuals to stop it or at least mitigate it’s influence on us as much as possible.

      What generally seems to happen is fear gets stoked in the general public by misinformed or totally corrupt political types and power brokers and our elected officials find it easier to abdicate their legal responsibilities to the various heads of state. We tend to revert to strong man rule, when we get sufficiently frightened or convinced that “down” is actually “up”.

      Keeping it local for a minute, we are in trouble in Edmonds now because we have no real representation for anything other than special interests of one sort or another and when our supposed representatives try to speak up in our behalf, they are simply told to know their place. No real checks and balances here. The strong Mayor system goes way back to Feudal time.

  8. I agree with the article. As a major in history (in a past life), if one learned anything, it’s to learn from history lest you repeat it.

    Oh, and one other point. Mr. Schindler said there are two sides to every story. I beg to differ. There are three sides – your side, my side & what’s really happening.

    1. Ah. Ms. Hetherly, so right you are if that is the comparison. Such is the difference between history (what is recorded through the writer’s lens and perspective) and the past (what actually happened).

  9. After reading people’s responses to Mr. Schindler’s op-ed I could not help but wonder why no one mentioned the two glaringly polarized “news” sources on our cable or direct TV. Clearly (to me) both change the vocabulary of news stories and commentary to suit their predetermined political objectives. The right wing source is especially adept at passing completely fictitious information to the American audience, and to the world. The left wing source is almost magical in its ability to defuse the commission of non violent crimes like illegal immigration by simply changing the descriptors to reflect a no consequence outcome. The FCC must have some guidelines on voracity in reporting and commenting on news stories and issues. Why has neither been fined or have their FCC licenses revoked. We are indeed being lied to all the time, if there are limitations for broadcasters let’s USE THEM!

  10. Simple answer to this one. It’s called censorship, which we try not to allow in a free and open society. We don’t burn books or tell TV channels what their content can consist of. The FCC used to require a certain percentage of time to be devoted to public service programming but I think that was declared unconstitutional if I’m not mistaken. Pornography and profanity was banned once-upon-a-time but that has pretty much gone by the wayside too, in the interest of allowing as much freedom of thought as possible.

    Personally, I try to watch both of the political extremes of television programming to make some sense of the world we live in. My experience has been that while both are highly slanted in their content, one simply doesn’t show what they don’t want their viewers to see. For example actual footage of the Capital riot on Jan. 6th. MSNBC continually showed pictures of the rioters actually attacking police officers with pro police blue flags and staffs, while FOX news showed virtually no or very limited footage of the actual event. I can readily see why the different audiences got a different take on what really happened that day. The trick is knowing when you are being tricked into believing something in either case. Both channels are biased. The difference is MSNBC tells you they are biased and FOX news claims to be fair and balanced at all times, which they aren’t. We are all free to arrive at our own conclusions which is a very good thing that many countries don’t have.

  11. Well I will have to disagree with Mr. Wright’s position. There is no “simple answer” to the issue of people and organizations using public airways to disseminate lies and to skew information in the hope that the public will be swayed to their side. The past four years should provide proof positive that people who are poorly educated can easily be led in ANY direction. I am sure we would like to leave the issue with the idea that we are all responsible for what we believe BUT reality tells me that some people do not have either the intellect or the practice of using critical thinking and cannot tell the difference between fact and opinion and or deceit. The idea that we are all free to believe what we want and therefore act on those beliefs, to me, has been completely discredited by the recent attempted insurrection. In a responsible society the standard of truth and proof must be the goal of all broadcasters of political content. Where would Oliver Wendel Holmes be on this issue?

  12. You are certainly free to believe whatever you choose to believe, but no one is free to do whatever they want in terms of acting on their beliefs. You can believe that the last election was stolen from ex-President Trump, for example, but you aren’t free to invade the Capitol and hang Mike Pence because you believe he has the right to nullify the election and failed to do so.

    We recognize freedom of thought and expression but we don’t recognize the practice of mob rule or conviction and punishment of accused “crimes” without legal process. In your view, what person or group has the responsibility to determine who is unfit to, “tell the difference between fact and opinion and/or deceit?” Maybe you want that responsibility, but I don’t. That’s why we have laws and Courts to interpret the laws. Perfect? No way, but better than anywhere else in the world? I think so. Please, no censorship!

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