The Spanish American War: by Michael G. Hehman
"In war the first casualty is truth." -George Orwell
One hundred years ago this country entered a conflict that is remembered as one of the most important wars in American history. America entered the Spanish-American War. Within a few years of the war's end, the United States was exercising control and influence over islands in the Caribbean Sea, the mid-Pacific Ocean and close to the Asian mainland. More importantly, the war established America as a world power.
The Spanish-American War was the product of Yellow journalism. Yellow journalism most simply is the act of using sensationalist headlines and manipulating story content to increase the readership of newspaper. This type of journalism was the mainstay of the time. Due to the critical role that yellow journalism played in the development of the Spanish-American War, it is commonly referred Lo as the "Newspaper War."
Pivobal characters in the production of the SpanishAmerican War were Joseph Pulitzer, who was the editor-inchief of the New York World, and William Randolph Hearst, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Examiner. These two men were responsible for starting and perfecting the ideas that drove and still drive Yellow Journalism even today.
Major American military involvement in the Spanish-American War came following the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine, buL the American media involvement started years before with the coverage of the Spanish deteriorating imperialist power in the Caribbean. By the 1890s, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the only remnants of Spain's once vast empire in the New World, while the Philippine Islands comprised the core of Spanish power in the Pacific. In 1895, Cuba's growing wrath against the "tyranny' of its mother country burst into a war of independence. The next year, the Spanish appointed Gen. Valeriano Weyler -- soon nicknamed "Butcher" Weyler by William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal -- as commander of its forces in Cuba. On Jan. 17, 1897, the Journal had run a story titled: "Weyler throws nuns into prison. Butcher wages brutal warfare on helpless women." This was just one of many American press attacks on the general Weyler began a policy known as reconcentrado, a forerunner of World War II's concentration camp policies. People living in the countryside would be concentrated into camps, where they could be "defended" from the rebels - and prevented from joining or supplying them The Spanish Army had no way to adequately supply food or water to those camps and the suffering was great. Newspapers were estimating that by 1898 more than 400,000 Cubans -- almost a quarter of the island's population --had died during the revolution. The number was probably about half that, but it didn't matter to the press, the damage was done. William Randolph Hearst coined the phrase, "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." And that he did, American papers showed drawings of emaciated Cuban children, reported on atrocities and many mass executions of prisoners and sympathizers in the camps most of which were extremely exaggerated.
At 9:40 p.m. on Feb. 15 the icing on the cake came for the Yellow Journalists. The U.S.S. Maine exploded in its Harbor in Havana, and immediately caught the attention of everyone around the world. With the sympathy already produced for the suffering people of Cuba coupled with the sinking of an U.S. Warship, hostility towards the Spanish grew. War seemed inevitable in the minds of the Yellow Journalists and this was what they pushed for in the papers. Despite the fct that the original reports from the U.S. Navy speculated that the explosion might had been caused by the coal bunker or boiler, the papers ran headlines like "The Maine Blown to Bits" and hinted at Spain playing an intricate role. Two days after the explosion the San Francisco Chronicle ran the story, "MAINE BLOWN UP BY TORPEDO" with small type reading "Such is the belief now gaining ground." Whereas in reality the government was not exactly sure what caused the explosion. But headlines like, "If There Was Treachery, Spain Must Do Battle," fueling the American public. It was impossible to believe how the talk of war could not have been on the tip of every American's tongue. A bombardment of accounts of how the Spanish sank a proud American ship that was sent to port of Havana to protect American property and people raised tensions even higher. And most importantly how 260 American boys perished in the treacherous act. This led to plenty of civil unrest at home, where the talk of war with Spain was spoken of highly, but the lethargic speed at which President McKinley was acting was viewed by the American public in a very unfavorable light.
Just look at the headline in the above picture, an actual headline from an Examiner. THE SPIRIT OF WAR PERVADES THE BREAST OF ALL AMERICANS-Patriotic Citizens Advocate Resource to Arms to Wreak Vengeance Upon Spain for the Cruel and Cowardly Destruction of the Maine. The paper was effectively lobbying for war through the headline of the paper. The paper is saying that all the Americans that care about the reputation of the country want to go to war and that they want Congress to declare war so they can take up in arms to defend the "cowardly destruction" of the proud ship the U.S.S. Maine. Even in the images that the paper uses in the illustration, the American flags, the smoking crippled Maine and most importantly George Washington invoke feelings of patriotism. Most importantly George Washington, because at this time President McKinley was dragging his feet because he did not want the United States to enter another war. The country was finally beginning to recuperate from the Civil War. He did not want to enter this conflict even though it had seemed (or at least had been portrayed by the media) that the Spanish had sunk the ship, which is a direct example of an act of war. Many Americans thought that McKinley was afraid and weak, whereas everyone knew that the great George Washington never would have stood for the disrespect displayed by the Spanish. Congress was so in favor of the war that they had sent the vice-president to inform the president that they were ready to declare war on their own authority and bypass the president completely. The vice president reported, 'Mr. President, I can no longer hold back the Senate. They will act if you do not act at once. McKinley then asked, 'Do you mean that the Senate will declare war on its own motion?' When the vice president replied in the affirmative, McKinley exclaimed, 'Say no more.'" McKinley declared war and just in time because the Examiner was getting ready to publish headlines like, "Americans Look to Congress to Save the Nation's Honor."(Nofi, pp. 74) This is certainly not the way that any American president wants to be remembered.
If there ever was a "popular war" -- one forced upon a reluctant leadership by the people -- it was this one. The views of the voters, as refracted through Congress, found expression in April 1898 only after President McKinley had unsuccessfully called upon all of his political skill to frustrate them. Where did this war leave the state of the American media? What precedents did it set and are still in use today?
The spirits of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer still live on in current American journalism as strong as they were at the turn of the century. They had an everlasting impression on the industry and were for the trailblazers for the way that major newspapers are produced today.
First and foremost, probably the most obvious feature of the newspaper that can be attributed to the two of them are the sensationalized headlines. Granted, sensationalizing headlines has been a part of journalism since the colonial period, but the two of them turned it into an are form. Sensationalized headlines was something that this country was founded on, perfect example, The Boston Massacre. The "massacre" that claimed the lives of five people. Sure to some this was a massacre, but by today's standards it would not be more than a daily occurrence in any major American city. But beyond that, the art of sensationalizing headlines has certainly become just that, an art. Newspaper editors like Hearst and Pulitzer, knew that if there were two newspapers each covering the same story, and a person were to come up for a paper. Presuming that they had no disposition to one paper or the other they would pick the paper that had the more eye catching headline, hence the headline's synonym the "hook."
The other feature that Hearst revolutionized was the slanting of the story. The distortion of fact to fit the story that he wanted to write. Hearst of a master of the manipulation of quotes, pictures, and stories, wrote articles about emaciated children being killed by the Spanish. The slant of the story is a staple of today's journalistic style of writing. Depending of the views of the writer writing the story the article can be shifted to either of two extremes.
Case in point, The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. The Tribune and the Sun-Times despite being the two biggest newspapers in Chicago are two of the ten largest daily newspapers in the United States. Neither paper claims any private ownership, but there is something very special about the two papers. The two newspapers are one of the great examples of slanted news and targeted audiences. The Tribune is targeted towards the upscale suburban white-collar reader, whereas the Sun-Times is specifically targeted towards the inner-city blue-collar worker. There are numerous examples of the targeting through language, style, and price. The language of the Tribune is far more sophisticated; it has the traditional sectioned newspaper style and costs fifty cents during the week. The language of the Sun-Times is very simple, it is fashioned like a giant magazine, so you do not lose any of the paper on the job, and it cost thirty-five cents during the week.
More importantly though than style and price is the content of the stories. The differences in the way that these papers attack the same story are like night and day. In a highly urbanized city like Chicago, in which there is a large manual labor workforce, there is a strong hold of unions. You can expect that there will be a story every week regarding another in the long line of union strikes. These stories are a very interesting case study of the way in which each paper relays the event and the way that the parties involved are depicted. In the Tribune the workers are viewed as these mindless, corrupted, problem causing people. Whereas in the Sun-Times it is the business that is portrayed in the unfavorable light, usually as money grubbing, heartless industries. The different ways in which these papers depict the same event is a perfect example of how Pulitzer and Hearst have left their mark on modern media.
In a world that preaches, "You can't trust what you read in the papers," there is a dire need for the American public to find the truth. But how? How is the average American going to find the grain of truth through the beaches of slanted stories, quotes taken out of context, and manipulated story accounts? Read it all. By reading the opposing arguments on the topic of which you are concerned, you should eventually be able to infer what the truth is. Orwell is right in his presumption that the first casualty in war is truth, but truth is really what the war should be fought over.
Effects of the Media Before, During and After WWI: By Chris Bonzon
Word War One came at a unique time in the history of the United States. To name a few of the current events at the turn of the century, the Industrial Revolution was in progress, there was conflict with Mexico, and the US has just finished the Spanish-American war in 1899. In the eyes of most Americans the war in Europe did not concern the United States, therefore they did not give much attention to it. To the citizens, and many leaders as well, there were more pertinent activities occurring in the States. That all changed on May 7th, 1915 when the Germans sank the Lusitania, a British passenger ship going to England, killing 128 American passengers. Citizens and leaders were outraged, many demanding the US to take action.
The following is a brief outline of the events relevant to the United States and its involvement in the war. On June 28th, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the apparent heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,was assassinated in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip, a Serb. This was one of many bitter actions between the two countries, forcing Austria-Hungary to declare war on Russia on July 28th, 1914. Because of military pacts between countries and ongoing boarder and control disputes throughout Europe, many others were brought into the war. On August 1st, 1914, Germany declared war on Russia. On August 4th, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Others joined sides and by the end of the war thirty-two nations were involved. There were the Central Powers rallying around Germany, and there were the Allied Forces rallying around Russia and Great Britain. On September 15th, 1914 trenches were dug on the Western front. On May 7th, 1915 the Lusitania was sunk, catching the attention of the United States, but it was not until April 6th, 1917 that the US finally got into the overseas conflict by declaring war on Germany. On November 7th, 1917 the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, overthrew Kerensky and tuok control of Russian political power. On March 21st, 1918 the first American troops arrived in the trenches on the Western front. On June 8th, 1918 United States president Woodrow Wilson declared his Fourteen Points as a path to world peace. And on November 11th, 1918, at 11:00, Germany signed the Armistice that ended the war.
These are some of the general facts and dates of World War I, but obviously many more subtle occurrences were happening that were extremely important regarding the United States involvement in the war. As the war raged on in Europe, it was apparent that the US was going to have to militarily support the ~ied movement. This was somewhat of a frightening thought for the leaders of the country ,for the US had never been inv~ved in such a war, there were potenti~ly serious military probTems with Mexico as Po~cho Villa was running raids into the US, and the US miTitary was quite small. Dealing with Mexico was tough enough, but with the possibility of getting into the war in Europe, serious concern was an appropriate sentiment. Faced with these possibilities, the House and Senate passed the National Defense Act of May 1916. This authorized the doubling of the size of the Army and the quadrupling of the Organized Militia, or National Guaid, over a period of five years. Also, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) was formed. While these efforts were still small in comparison to the number of troops that would be needed for WWI (over one million), it provided the military with a running start.
Woodrow Wilson knew that a serious recruitment of soldiers and workers, utilization of materials and resources, and the strong backing of the nations' citizens, were paramount if the war effort was to succeed. With the help of a propaganda apparatus that was unparalleled in world history, Wilson forged a nation of immigrants into a fighting whole. At the time of his inauguration, immigrants constituted one third of the population. Allied and German propaganda revived old-world loyalties among "hyphenated" European- Americans, and opinions about US intervention were sharply polarized. More than 8 million German-Americans lived in this country, and many were sympathetic to the cause of their homeland. Meanwhile, anti-German feeling was strong among the upper classes on the Atlantic coast, and was particularly intense among those with social and business connections to Britain or France. Most Americans, however, were not connected to the European conflict by blood or capital, and were not interested in waging wal overseas.
The absence of public unity was a primary concern when America entered the war on April 6,1917. In Washington, unwavering public support was considered to be crucial to the entire wartime effort. On April 13, 1917, Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) to promote the war domestically while publicizing American war aims abroad. Undei the leadership of a muckraking journalist named George Creel, the CPI recruited heavily from business, media, academia, and the art worid. The CPI blended advertising techniques with a sophisticated understanding of human psychology, and its efforts represent the first time that a modern government disseminated propaganda on such a large scale. It is fascinating that this phenomenon, often linked with totalitarian regimes, emerged in a democratic state.
Although George Creel was an outspoken critic of censorship at the hands of public servants, the CPI took immediate steps to limit damaging information. Invoking the threat of German propaganda, the CPI implemented "voluntary guidelines" for the news media and helped to pass the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. The CPI did not have explicit enforcement power, but it nevertheless "enjoyed censorship power which was tantamount to direct legal force." Like modern reporters who participate in Pentagon press pools, journalists grudgingly complied with the official guidelines in order to stay connected to the information loop. Radical newspapers, such as the socialist Appeal to Reason, were almost completely extinguished by wartime limitations on dissent. The CPI was not a censor in the strictest sense, but "it came as close to performing that function as any government agency in the US has ever done."
Censorship was only one element of the CPJ's efforts. With all the sophistication of a modern advertising agency, the CPI examined the different ways that information flowed to the population and flooded these channels with pro-war material. The CPI's domestic divi~ion was composed of 19 sub-divisions, and each focused on a particular type of propaganda. A comprehensive survey is beyond the scope of this paper, but the use of newspapers, academics, artists, and filmmakers will be discussed.
One of the most important elements of the CPI was the Division of News, which distributed more than 6,000 press releases and acted as the primary conduit for warrelated information. According to Creel, on any given week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns were filled with material gleaned from CPT handouts. Realizing that many Americans glided right past the front page and headed straight for the features section, the CPI also created the Division of Syndicated Features and recruited the help of leading novelists, short story writers, and essayists. These popular American writers presented the official line in an easily digestible form, and their work was said to have reached twelve million people every month.
The CPI did not limit its promotional efforts to the written word. The Division of Pictorial Publicity "had at its disposal many of the most talented advertising illustrators and cartoonists of the time," and these artists worked closely with publicity experts in the Advertising Division. Newspapers and magazines eagerly donated advertising space, and it was almost impossible to pick up a periodical without encountering CPI material. Powerful posters, painted in patriotic colors, were plastered on billboards across the country. Even from the cynical vantage point of the mid 1990s, there is something compelling about these images that leaps across the decades and stirs a deep yearning to buy liberty bonds or enlist in the navy.
Moving images were even more popular than still ones, and the Division of Films ensured that the war was promoted in the cinema. The film industry suffered from a sleazy reputation, and producers sought respectability by lending wholehearted support to the war effort. Hollywood's mood was summed up in a 1917 editorial in The Motion Picture News which proclaimed that "every individual at work in this industry wants to do his share", and promised that "through slides, film leaders and trailers, posters, and newspaper publicity they will spread that propaganda so necessary to the immediate mobilization )f the country's great resources." Movies with titles like The Kaiser: The Beast of Berli~~ Wolves of Kultu~, and Pershing's Crusaders flooded American theaters. One picture To Hell With The Kaiser, was so popular that Massachusetts riot police were summoned to deal with an angry mob that had been denied admission.
The pi~ece&ng discussion merely hints at the breadth of CPI domestic propaganda activities. From lecture hall podiums and movie screens to the pages of popular fiction and the inside of payroll envelopes, the cause of the Allies was creatively publicized in almost every available communication channel. But this is only part of the story. The propaganda techniques employed by the CPI are also fascinating, and, from the standpoint of democratic government, much more significant.
The definition of propaganda has been widely debated, but there is little agreement about what it means. Some argue that all persuasive communication is propagandistic, while others suggest that only dishonest messages can be considered propaganda. Political activists of all stripes claim that they speak the truth while their opponents preach propaganda. In order to accommodate the breadth of the CPI's activities, this discussion relies on Harold Lasswell's broad interpretation of the term. "Not bombs nor bread," wrote Lasswell, "but words, pictures, songs, parades, and many similar devices are the typical means of making propaganda." According to Lasswell, "propaganda relies on symbols to attain its end: the manipulation of collective attitudes."
Propagandists usually attempt to influence individuals while leading each one to behave "as though his response were his own decision." Mass communication tools extend the propagandist's reach and make it possible to shape the attitudes of many individuals simultaneously. Because propagandists attempt to "do the other fellow's thinking for him," they prefer indirect messages to overt, logical arguments. During the war, the CPI accomplished this by making calculated emotional appeals, by demonizing Germany, by linking the war to the goals of various social groups, and, when necessary, by lying outright.
CPI propaganda typically appealed to the heart, not to the mind. Emotional agitation is a favorite technique of the propagandist, because '~any emotion may be 'drained off' into any activity by skillful manipulation." Shortly after the war, an article that appeared in Scientific Monthlv argued that "the detailed suffering of a little girl and her kitten can motivate our hatred against the Germans, arouse our sympathy for Armenians, make us enthusiastic for the Red Cross, or lead us to give money for a home for cats." Wartime slogans such as "Bleeding Belgium," "The Criminal Kaiser," and "Make the World Safe For Democracy," suggest that the CPI was no stranger to this idea. Evidence of this technique can be seen in a typical propaganda poster that portrayed an aggressive, bayonet-wielding German soldier above the caption "Beat Back The Hun With Liberty Bonds." In this example, the emotions of hate and fear were redirected toward giving money to the war effort. It is an interesting side-note that many analysts attribute the failure of German propaganda in America to the fact that it emphasized logic over passion. According to Count von Bernstorff, a German diplomat, "the outstanding characteristic of the average American is rather a great, though superficial, sentimentality," and German press telegrams completely failed to grasp this fact.
A second propaganda technique used by the CPI was demonization of the enemy. "So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern nations," wrote Lasswell "that every war must appear to be a war of defense against a menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about who the public is to hate." American propaganda was not the only source of anti-German feeling, but most historians agree that the CPI pamphlets went too far in portraying Germans as depraved, brutal aggressors. For example, in one CPI publication, Professor Vernon Kellogg asked, "will it be any wonder if, after the war, the people of the world, when they recognize any human being as a German, will shrink aside so that they may not touch him as he passes, or stoop for stones to drive him from their path?"
A pail icularly effective strategy for demonizing Germans was the use of atrocity stories. "A handy rule for arousin~ hate," said Lasswell "is, if at first they do not enrage, use an atrocity. It has been employed with unvarying success in every conflict known to man." Unlike the pacifist, who argues that all wars are brutal, the atrocity story implies that war is only brutal when practiced by the enemy. Certain members of the CPI were relatively cautious about repeating unsubstantiated allegations, but the committee's publications often relied on dubious material. After the war, Edward Bernays, who directed CPI propaganda efforts in Latin America, openly admitted that his colleagues used alleged ~'drocities to provoke a public outcry against Germany. Some of the atrocity stories which were circulated during the war, such as the one about a tub full of eyeballs or the story of the seven-year old boy who confronted German soldiers with a wooden gun, were actually recycled from previous conflicts. In his seminal work on wartime propaganda, Lasswell speculated that atrocity stories will always be popular because the audience is able 10 feel self-righteous indignation toward the enemy, and, at some level, identify with the perpetrators of the crimes. "A young woman, ravished by the enemy, he wrote "yields secret satisfaction to a host of vicarious ravishers on the other side of the border."
Anti-German propaganda fueled support for the war, but it also contributed to intolerance on the home front. Dachshunds were renamed liberty dogs, German measles were renamed liberty measles, and the City University of New York reduced by one credit every course in German. Fourteen states banned the speaking of German in public schools. The military adversary was thousands of miles away, but German-Americans provided convenient local scapegoats. In Van Houten, New Mexico, an angry mob accused an immigrant miner of supporting Germany and forced him to kneel before them, kiss the flag, and shout "To hell with the Kaiser." In Illinois, a group of zealous patriots accused Robert Prager, a German coal miner, of hoarding explosives. Though Prager asserted his loyalty to the very end, he was lynched by the angry mob. Explosives were never found.
The War to End All Wars
Emotional appeals and simplistic caricatures of the enemy influenced many Americans, but the CPI recognized that certain social groups had more compTex propaganda needs. In order to reach intellectuals and pacifists, the CPI claimed that military intervention would bring about a democratic League of Nations and end warfare forever. With other social groups, the CPI modified its arguments and interpreted the war as "a conflict to destroy the threat of German industrial competition (business group), to protect the American standard of living ~abor), to remove certain baneful German influences in our education (teachers), to destroy German music - itself a subtle propaganda (musicians), to preserve civilization, 'we' and 'civilization' being synonymous (nationalists), to make the world safe for democracy, crush militarism, [andi establish the rights of small nations et aT. (religious and idealistic groups)." It is impossible to make rigorous statements about which one of these appeals was most effective, but this is the advantage that the propagandist has over the cornmunications scholar. The propagandist is primarily concerned with effectiveness and can afford to ignore the methodological demands of social science.
Finally, like most propagandists, the CPI was frequently dishonest. Despite George Creels claim that the CPI strived for unflinching accuracy, many of his employees later admitted that they were quite willing to lie. Will Irwin, an ex-CPI member who published several confessional pieces after the war, felt that the CPI was more honest than other propaganda ministries, but made it clear that "we never told the whole truth - not by any manner of means." Citing an intelligence officer who bluntly said "you can't tell them the truth," G.S Viereck argued that, as on all fronts, victories were routinely manufactured by American military authorities. The professional propagandist realizes that, when a single lie is exposed, the entire campaign is jeopardized. Dishonesty is discouraged, but on strategic, not moral, grounds.
In the final months of 1918, as the war drew to a close, the CPI fell under increasing scrutiny from a war-weary American public and from the Republican majority that had gained control of Congress. On November 12,1918, George Creel halted the domestic activities of the CPI. The activities of the foreign division were ended, amidst great controversy, a few months later. One might assume that the wartime propagandists then put down their pens and paintbrushes and returned to ordinary life. This was not the case.
According to Lasswell, many former agents of the CPI stayed in Washington and New York and took advantage of their skill and contacts. Two years later, the Director of the CPI's Foreign Division argued that "the history of propaganda in the war would scarcely be worthy of consideration here, but for one fact - it did not stop with the armistice. No indeed! The methods invented and tried out in the war were too valuable for the uses of governments, factions, and special interests." Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, took the techniques he learned in the CPI directly to Madison Avenue and became an outspoken proponent of propaganda as a tool for democratic government. "It was, of course, the astounding success of propaganda during the war that opened the eyes of the inlelligent few in all d~partments of life to the possibilities of regimenting the public mind," wrote Bernays in his 1928 bombshell Propaganda. "It was only natural, after the war ended, that intelligent persons should ask themselves whether it was not possible to apply a similar technique to the problems of peace."
This peacetime application of what was, after all, a tool of war, began to trouble Americans who suspected that they had been mi~ed. In The New Republic, John Dewey questioned tht paternalistic assumptions of those who disguised propaganda as news. "There is uneasiness and solicitude about what men hear and learn," wrote Dewey, and the "paternalistic care for the source of men's beliefs, once generated by war, carnes over to the troubles of peace." Dewey argued that the manipulation of information was particularly evident in coverage of post-Revolutionary Russia. The Nation agreed in 1919, arguing that "what has happened in regard to Russia is the most striking case in point as showing what may be accomplished by Government propaganda... Bartholomew nights that never take place, togetLier with the wildest rumors of communism in women, and of murder and bloodshed, taken from obscure Scandinavian newspapers, are hastily relayed to the US, while everything favorable to the Soviets, every bit of constructive accomplishment, is suppressed."
When one considers the horrible legacy of the war, it is tempting to pin complete responsibility for American involvement on hate-mongering militarists in the CPI. Such retroactive condemnation is no more complex than a wartime slogan. Ultimately, their guilt is less important than the questions their activities raised about the role of propaganda in a democratic society.
Democratic theory, as interpreted by Jefferson and Paine, was rooted in the Enlightenment belief that free citizens could form respectable opinions about issues of the day and use these opinions to guide their own destiny. Communication between citizens was assumed to be a necessary element of the democratic process. During the first world war, America's leaderr felt that citizens were not making the correct decisions quickly enough, so they flooded the channels of communication with dishonest messages that were designed to stir up emotions and provoke hatred of Germany. The war came to an end, but propaganda did not. For the past seven decades, those who lead our nation, along with those who seek to overthrow it, have mouthed the ideals of Jefferson while behaving like Bernays.
Is propaganda compatible with democracy, or does it undermine the population's ability to think critically about world events? What happens when simplistic, emotional appeals are endlessly repeated? During the war, Bourne complained that "simple syllogisms are substituted for analysis, things are known by their labels, [and] our heart's desire dictate what we shall see." Could this description apply equally to a political climate in which slogans like "Three Strikes, You're Out," "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and "Just Say No" are treated as if they were actual policies for dealing with social needs?
What of the propagandist's argument that the complexity of the modern world makes obsolete the Enlightenment faith in popular wisdom? It is impossible for one person to simultaneously be an expert in foreign policy, labor disputes, the environment, the educational system, health care, constitutional law, and scientific regulation. Even the President is forced to rely on the advice of key advisors. Should America follow Bernays' prescription and accept the wisdom of "a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses?" Or is "leadership democracy' simply one stage of our democratic development? Could it someday be replaced by something more far reaching?
What contribution will emerging communication technologies make to the dissemination of propaganda? Does the myth of "interactivity" legitimize an unbalanced social relationship, or does it make it possible for the audience to challenge the propagandist? The hosts of radio talk shows claim that theirs is a democratic medium, but callers are screened in advance and filtered through a three-second time delay. Are truly interactive tools on the horizon?
The important difference between our "leadership democracy" and a totalitarian state is that we are allowed to raise questions such as these. However, history shows that, in times of political crisis and social dislocation, this freedom is one of the first to disappear. As we approach the end of the twentieth century, finding answers to these questions is more important than ever.
Power of Persuasion: Propaganda Durin~ World War II: by Andrew Hunter
"If you work at it, you can convince the proles (proletariat) that war is peace, slavery is freedom, black is white, and two and two make five.,,
-George Orwell, 1984
The Second World War, in some senses, was much like every other war fought previously. There were huge human casualties with over fifty different countries participating. New alliances formed, old countries split, and new countnes were established. Of course, some changes occurred in the art of warfare due to advancements in technology. Mechanized armies of destruction collided in Europe and the South Pacific: tanks, enormous battleships, air strikes, and the hydrogen bomb. The difference between World War II and every other war fought was the motives behind the war and the unusually heinous cruelty that occurred in Germany and the rest of Eastern Europe. Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich intended to eliminate all non-Aryan people from the face of the earth. As a result, millions of Jews and political prisoners died in internment camps throughout Germany. Many starved to death or died from diseases and those who didn't were executed in gas chambers. General opinion in the United States, due to effective propaganda, is such that Germans are an inhumane race and are the only people capable of such injustices. Fortunately enough for the German people, this is not true. (In fact, rumor has it that Adolf Hitler got the idea of internment camps from the United States Government's methods of dealing with the Native Americans.) They were just victims of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels's, Propaganda Minister of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, (Reichsministerium fur Volksaufklarung und Propoganda) ingenious propaganda campaign. Still the question still must be solved as to how Hitler convinced an entire nation that his ideals were worth fighting for and that the Jews were the enemy of the German people? Also, how did the United States War Department convince Americans that they needed to fight in this war prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor?
To fully understand how Hitler convinced a nation to exterminate an entire race, one must be aware of the events leading up to Hitler's takeover of Germany. Within a decade after the First World War, most of the world was in chaos. A global economic depression destroyed nearly every country including Germany, who also had to deal with the repercussions of the Versailles Treaty, signed June 28, 1919. By June of 1923, the mark value had dropped to 4,000,000 to the dollar. Germans lost their life savings. Salaries were paid in worthless money. Groceries cost billions. Hunger riots broke out. Germany began to recover from this plight by borrowing huge sums of money from the United States. However, with the stock market crash in October of 1929, Germany once again fell into huge economic crisis. Inflation soon followed making it hard for families to purchase expensive necessities with devalued money. Hitler used this to his advantage. With the country's economy completely destroyed and its democracy unraveling Hitler knew this was when his push for power would be most effective. He knew his accusations of the Jews being responsible for everything would be more believable during this period. Then in September of 1930, the Nazi party successfully won the congressional election and was the second largest political group in Germany. At this time Hitler used his popularity to promote his book Mien Keirpf, a book dictated by Hitler, while in jail, of all his political thoughts and ideals. In his book Hitler divides humans into categories based on physical appearance, establishing higher and lower orders, or types of humans. At the top, according to Hitler, is the Germanic man with his fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes. Hitler refers to this type of person as an Aryan. He asserts the Aryan is the supreme form of human, or master race. And so it follows in Hitler's thinking, if there is a supreme form of human, then there must be others less than supreme, the racially inferior. Hitler assigns this position to Jews and the Slavic peoples, notably the Czechs, Poles, and Russians. The book became a best seller within months after the Nazi party took control. In 1932, Hitler won the presidential election and the Nazi party was the largest in Germany. By January of 1933 Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany. By March the Enabling Act gave him dictatorial power which gave him control of all forms of media.
Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels as Propaganda Minister of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Goebbels was the marketing coordinator and basic campaign manager of Hitler's rise to power. He was the creator and organizer of the Fuhrer myth, of the image of the Messiah-redeemer, feeding the theatrical element in the Nazi leader while at the same time inducing the self- surrender of the German masses through skillful stage management and manipulation. Between Goebbels's Diar~ and Hitler's Mein Kempf the Nazi party had an established plan as to what they wanted to achieve and in what manner they wanted to do it. The two of them created not only a grand image for Hitler but created a terrible image for the Jews. Jews were depicted as lewd, money-grabbing Bolsheviks and a threat to Aryan purity. Hitler believed that the Germans could be united by focusing on one major enemy, namely the Jews. He imposed Nazi propaganda on traditional antisemitism and asserted that the Jews were the enemy of the German people. Goebbels played adroitly on German fears of the 'Asiatic hordes', using his all-pervasive control of press, film, and radio to maintain morale, inventing mythical 'secret weapons' and impregnable fortresses in the mountains where the last stand would be made. Here is an excert from Joseph Goebbels's diary giving some of his views on propaganda: "To whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligensia or to the less educated masses? It must be addressed always and solely to the masses. What the intelligensia... need is not propaganda, but scientific instruction. The content of propaganda is as far from being science as the object depicted in the poster is from being art. A poster's art lies in the designer's ability to capture the attention of the masses by form and color. The function of propaganda does not lie in the scientific training of the individual, but rather in directing the attention of the masses towards certain facts. . It must be directed towards the emotions, and only to a very limited extent toward the so-called intellect. The receptive ability of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, their forgetfulness enormous. Therefore, all propaganda has to limit itself to a very few points and repeat them like slogans until even the very last man is able to understand what you want him to understand."
German propaganda came in all forms of media because of the fact that the government controlled all mediums of media. Posters, speechs, television broadcasts, and radio broadcasts, and movies such as "The Eternal Jew" one of the worst hate films of all time, directed by Fritz
Hippler, were all regulated and carefully engineered to suit the needs of the Nazi party. A prime example of Hitler's use of propaganda can be seen in the poster to the right. This is a propaganda poster from Germany during the 1930's. There is a family of blond haired blue eyed Germans being guarded by the German Hawk. They are safe, happy, and content with the leadership and protection of the Nazi party. Posters like these were used to instill nationalism in the hearts of the German citizens.
Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, "the first task of propaganda is to win people for subsequent organization." Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels said that propaganda must be directed at the 11least intelligent elements of society." If you tell a lie long enough, and effectively enough, you can get the masses to believe it.
"My father looked at me and I could see tears in his eyes. He was sending his one and only child off to war and was uncertain of whether or not I would return. He had accepted it. My father understood the sacrifice. He served in the military and now it was my patriotic duty to do so as well. He put his arms around me for a moment and then backed away and dug down into the pocket of his trousers. He pulled out a shiny silver dollar; the same silver dollar I have on my money clip. The past few years had been rough on our family and silver dollars were rarely if never in our possession, so the sight of one coming out of his pocket stunned
me a bit. He looked at it for a moment and then forced it into my hand and said 'Kill a Jap for me son and for your country."
-Richard Skain, talking about the day he left for the Pacific
Words, posters, and films waged a constant battle for the hearts and minds of the American citizenry prior to any serious conflicts with either Germany or Japan. Persuading the American public became a wartime industry, almost as important as the manufacturing of bullets and planes. The Government launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to galvanize public support, and some of the nation~s foremost intellectuals, artists, and filmmakers became warriors on that front. In the United States, there was a strong anti-Japanese sentiment, as well as an anti-German feeling. There was a sense of nationalism and the slightest aggravation from Japan was all it took to invite the United States into the war. The military had mobilized, the draft was in effect, and all that was left was the need for a little persuasion. The majority of citizens in the United States were ready to go to war; Congress was the only group holding back the floodgates. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Congress had no choice but to go to war. Americans were pressuring Congress to act on this matter; these facts are not in question. The real mystery lies in the question of who persuaded the citizens of the United States to go to war?
The Untied States government, in particular the Department of Social Affairs and the War Department, began their war campaign months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Posters and billboards in support of the war and maliciously attacking Hitler and his movement, spanned from one end of the country to the other. Famous artist like Norman Rockwell and Thomas Hart Benton found inspiration in the war effort and painted entire series of paintings supporting the war.
Although newspapers, radio, and movies were popular forms of propaganda, the posters and paintings developed by the war department and freelance artists are the most intriguing form of American propaganda. The human eye and mind are designed to process images, not words (which must be translated into images.), therefore posters are very powerful forms of propaganda. All propaganda posters can be divided into two categories: those which instill pride and nationalism and those which foster feelings of suspicion and hate. Thomas Hart Benton created eight paintings that "rocked people out of complacency (Thomas Benton)." They showed the grim unromantic vision of war, the human cost of war: corpses, bloodshed, and gravestones. The picture to the right is the depiction of a German soldier. The enemy is bulky and brutish. ground. He said that he wanted this war home to the American violence and barbarity of fascism. He is tossing human skulls onto the to "bring the bloody actual realities of people. " He wanted to portray the
Other painters like Norman Rockwell, wanted to display pride and patriotism. They wanted to motivate the viewers and show them a positive outlook. Many posters had the colors of red, white, and blue in them. Many times symbols such as fists, muscles, tools, artillery, were used to convey American strength. Many times American heroes and national symbols were used like the eagle or Uncle Sam.
There is no one medium of media that effects the people of a nation greater than propaganda. The newspapers and radio reports must hold to some forms of honesty and integrity when reporting the news. No matter how much a reporter attempts to slant an article invariable facts still remain. However, war propaganda has no limits, no restrictions, and no actual chain of events that must to be reported. This makes propaganda a limitless form of persuasion for any given government or political group. As demonstrated by Adolf Hitler during the 1920's and 1930's, propaganda is a powerful weapon when manipulated correctly. Hitler recognized that carefully crafted words were needed to assume power in Germany. Under Joseph Goebbels and the Ministry of People's Enlightenment and Propaganda (RMVP), the Nazi party was able to consolidate control over Germany's film, press, and radio services and use them for the party's own gains. Also, in the United States, the U.S. government was able to persuade the American citizens that Hitler needed to be stopped at all costs, including the necessity to go to war. If effective propaganda can get the people to believe the biggest lie one can tell, the corrollary is that, if you are going to tell the tnith, you had better use effective methods. Had the Nazis' opponents used similar methods during the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Holocaust- and the Second World War- might never have happened.
The Vietnam War and the Media: By Shawn I. Harmon
"No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic."
Countless articles, debates, documentaries, and even movies today portray the myriad of conflicting opinions and stories of the Vietnam War. The United States involvement in the war created controversy from the beginning. And controversy is what American media thrives upon. Newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, and especially television were integral in the formation of the American consciousness of the war, a consciousness created not so much by what actually took place, but by what the media showed and told us. The media's effects thrive still today. Countless Vietnam movies portray different (mostly negative) aspects of it, creating the images so popularly scrutinized. Take for example "Apocalypse Now," "Platoon," "Full Metal Jacket," "Forest Gump, "Rambo, First Blood Part II" "The Killing Fields," "Air America," "Dead Presidents," "Born on the Fourth of July," and "Jacob's Ladder" to name a few of the major ones. Each of these movies provides its own twist, creating a kaleidoscope of disillusionment. In a way, the media coverage of the Vietnam War wrote, and is writing, history, controlling what we see and believe; therefore, dominant media opinion becomes truth.
So what was the Vietnam War really about and what did it mean to America? Let us begin with a brief, factual history of the war. First of all, it was never actually a war for America; that is, we never formally declared war. Before the United States was involved, it began as a civil military struggle in 1959; Communist guerrillas (the so-called Vietcong) in South Vietnam who were backed by North Vietnam attempted to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. The
war developed into an international conflict as it spread into Laos and Cambodia, with approximately 40 countries (including the US) supporting South Vietnam and the communist nations of China and USSR supporting North Vietnam. (Microsoft)
Although a more detailed chronology of the war and the events leading up to it may be enlightening, I will limit the focus to the most relevant United States involvement in the war. The United States had given direct aid (both military and economic) to South Vietnam and its capital, Saigon, as early as 1950. In 1960, North Vietnam voiced its goal "to liberate South Vietnam from the ruling yoke of the US imperialists and their henchman," while strengthening attacks on US military installations that began a year earlier. US support of South Vietnam continued to grow, as 11,200 US troops were in Vietnam by 1962. By 1965, US planes were performing regular bombing raids of North Vietnam and US troops numbered 200,000, with war waging on. By 1967, over 15,000 US troops had been killed in what wasn't even a war for them. (Microsoft) America ended its involvement in the war in 1973, having spent approximately $150 billion and having lost over 58,000 troops. The War ended on April 30, 1975, when Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam fell to North Vietnam. (McCullough)
The statistics and facts of the war are easily accessible, but how we look at Vietnam today is largely shaped by contemporary media. As a college student, much of what I know about the Vietnam War I learned by watching television. That is exactly what people during the 1960's did. With the invention and proliferation of the television, it was now possible for America to see live, daily, uncensored updates of the goings-on in Vietnam. They were able to understand the atrocities of war because they could see them right there in their living room with their own eyes. One very large problem develops with this: we only see the pictures that the media wants us to see, the pictures that will persuade us to their viewpoints. And without anything else to compare them to, our viewpoints are rendered stagnant and useless.
This is a major problem. Americans had no objective, concrete knowledge of the war on which to base their opinions. Which TV station were they to believe regarding this profound issue? How bad was this thing they called "Nam?" It was the first time they had actually seen and experienced war. Nobody saw the American Revolution on TV, or even World War II, the most globalized war ever. In the past they only knew what they had read and heard. And since they were now seeing inhuman brutality they never thought possible, they assumed that the atrocity of Vietnam was unique in some way, that what was happening was new and not right.
Truth is, Vietnam was unique. It is seen as the media portrayed it, as a war fought by unsupportive, poor, young, uneducated men. Statistics actually show that two thirds of the soldiers were volunteers rather than draftees (McCaffrey) and 91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad that they served. (Westmoreland) 97% were discharged under honorable conditions (the same as in previous times) . (Westmoreland) The education level was the highest America had ever sent to combat: 79% had high school diplomas. (McCaf frey) The average age of soldiers, although younger than that of those in World War II (26 years) at 22 years, was not nearly as young as ~he public was led to believe: 19 years old. This war was unique in other ways. Americans were fighting in guerrilla warfare. That is, they were unfamiliar with the jungle terrain and could not decipher the enemy; North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese differences were indiscernible. They were battling an enemy they knew little about under the near constant surveillance of American cameras. Any wrongdoing or mistakes they made were immediately exploited by the media whose access to the war was unlimited. So how Jifferent were the basic elements of war?
War is inherently brutal. People kill people. The media says much about the inhumanity and ugliness specific to the Vietnam War: the use of agent orange (a chemical weapon),the killing of innocent people, addictive drug use, and excessively cruel and inhumane acts Coupled with the fact that people did not understand why America was involved in the war to begin with, general public support quickly deteriorated as they saw these actions live on television.
Truth is, other wars saw similar actions and brutality level is relative. American agent organe parallels atomic radiation from World War II and mustard gas from World War I, as well as the more modern chemical warfare of the Persian Gulf War. There is no statistical difference in drug usage between Vietnam veteran~ and non-veterans of the same age group. (Westmoreland) Innocent people almost always die in war and malicious behavior against them by soldiers happens due to the emotional nature of war. Atrocities by individual soldiers were immediately scrutinized by the media and nearly none of these actions went unpunished. (Nixon) I present this not to ovE~rsimplify these actions or make them seem acceptable, but rather to show that they are not uncommon in war and that Vietnam was exaggerated by mass exposure by an overzealous media.
One perfect example of this is the infamous My Lai Massacre ~hat occurred on March 16, 1968. On that day, the Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division led by Lieutenan~ William Calley marched into the village of My Lai in South Vietnam and killed 300 apparently unarmed citizens. What is often overlookeJ is the fighting that had preceded this attack (for several weeks) as well as lacking leadership and the relative inexperience of the soldiers involved. This occurrence was extreme and Lt. Calley was punished accordingly. (McCullough) Yet it still lives on as a representative example of American action in Vietnam.
Although well-documented, similar actions from other wars (such as the Persian Gulf War about which you will read later) are usually kept silent to preserve the integrity of American troops.
Not only did the media distort the war, but they still do... through movies. Scores of movies have contributed to our outlook on Vietnam. Many are billed as accurate depictions of the war. Some may indeed be accurate in conveying certain aspects of the war, but by seeing them the public globalizes their ideas, assigning the attributes of each individual movie to the entire war. Others glorify, exaggerate, or completely misconstrue the Vietnam War. Take for example the movie, "Jacob's Ladder." This film is entirely about a man who goes mad after the war after being given an experimental drug by the government to make him more aggressive and suited for combat. Whether or not this type of thing actually happened, it perpetuates stereotypes about Vietnam. The famous film "Apocalypse Now," much acclaimed for its accuracy in representation, is about a soldier sent to assassinate a general who has gone mad and established a savage, p~imitive colony of soldiers.
"Platoon," winner of the 1986 Academy Award for best picture and highly touted for its realistic depiction of the Vietnam War, narrates the story of a young soldier's experiences in Vietnam and how they reshape his morals, skewing his ideas of right and wrong. The movie poster for "Platoon" bore the statement, "The first casualty of war is innocence." This quote, a play on the George Orwell quote referred to in the chapter on the Spanish-American War, personifies American attitude on Vietnam.
"Dead Presidents" gives a modern image of the role of minorities in the war. This film is about a black man who goes to Vietnam, has life-changing experiences, is never the same when he returns home, and turns to crime to survive. "Air America" , the 1990 satire perpetuates the idea that American planes were used for drug trafficking by the CIA and the war was actually partly funded by drug money. "Born on the Fourth of July" is an example of a man who goes to Vietnam only to have his life ruined by the injuries he suffers. This list could continue indefinitely; Negative images of Vietnam and its American soldiers permeate our society through movies.
What positive images have we received concerning Vietnam from the media? Are there any? Or is it possible that Vietnam was as negative an experience for America as the media portrays Why have we not fully seen this same situation with other wars? Part of the answer to this last question has to do with the fact that Vietnam was the first war to be nationally televised. Another part relates to the nature of this war. To most people, it seemed pointless that the US was even involved. What interest would a national superpower have in some little country in East Asia? The answer to that question is far more complex than people realize and beyond the scope of this paper. Fact is, the United States had a vested interest in helping South Vietnam. We probably should have either fully committed to the war or not been involved at all. By not winning the war and accomplishing little in the process, we gave the media something to run with and help create a huge public backlash.
Once the media had fuel to stir public opinion, they were able to control that same public opinion. People did not want to like the war in Vietnam. At first maybe they did. They figured America could go in and save the day like it always had. But once they realized that things were not that simple and that we were not fully committed as a country, they sought every reason to hate it. And the media fed off that. They gave people what they wanted to see. They made the Vietnam War into an evil creature, America's bastard child.
Maybe the government was trying to prevent having to go into full-blown war in Vietnam. Maybe if they had declared war on North Vietnam then war could have erupted with the
Communist nations of China and the USSR as well. This was the same era as the Cuban Missile crisis and the Cold War. The United States and the USSR were in the midst of an arms race and harbored strongly negative outlooks on one another. We were just coming off of the Korean War, a huge conflict involving China. Maybe America's tip-toeing approach to Vietnam actually prevented a global disaster! With all of the ill will, a third world war does not seem that implausible.
But the media refused to see things in this way it all. Rather than encouragin~ nationalism as in previous wars, they kept showing the United States losing this war, a war that was not even ours to fight. It is possible that the power of the media in part dictated US involvement in the war. In a way, media, particularly television, wrote the history books. They made the Vietnam War be the biggest mistake our country has ever made. They made it the single war we have ever lost. They made it the unjustified, atrocious, brutal, savage war in a far off land, because they could. The media wields immeasurable power. I would venture to say that in modern America it is stronger than religion. With the power to shape public opinion, they change how things are seen forever. The sad part is, we have nothing to check it against. Sure, the minority of the media who hold differing views can occasionally be heard, but their opinions are drowned out by those of the dominant majority of the media, the ones who matter. And yes, the negativity surrounding the war may be well-founded. But when we recount the Vietnam War and discuss it, it is nearly impossible to do so objectively, to compare it to other wars and global events, because we have never seen it that way. To go even deeper, we can not even look at other wars objectively, because the media influenced them as well We can never see history exactly as it happened because our records our determined by what is written and recorded--the very context of the media! After awhile it matters not what is right or what is wrong, or what is true or what is false, but rather what we see. The media is truth whether it really is or not.
War & the Media In the Last 100 Years Focus: Persian Gulf Operation Desert Storm: By Beau Weiner
The Persian Gulf War established a new era of waging war. Never before had a country so swiftly and decisively conquered a rival nation, and aired the video footage of it victories to its countrymen that same day. Marked by technological innovation and stunning military might, the war's success by the combined aUied forces exceeded the expectations of even its staunchest supporters. What was even more amazing was the fact that not only did the U.S. lead the Allied Forces to victory, but it did so with an historically-u riprecedented level of public support, and a minimum of unnecessary suffering and bloodshed- or so the American people have been led to believe.
The Gulf War marked a new step in government control of media information. Taking lessons learned from Vietnam, the Pentagon established strict rules and guidelines concerning media coverage in the 1970's. After the American press was totally excluded from the invasion of Grenada in 1983, they began to submit incrementally to Pentagon controls of wartime reporting. By the time of the Persian Gulf war, a military escort was required to accompany every reporter into the war zone, effectively determining what could and could not be seen, and therefore reported. This, coupled with the fact that Thaq was hostile to the Western Press in general and that the desert war zone was not conducive to easy travel for any independent reporters, gave the U.S. Armed Forces a virtual monopoly on media coverage during the entire conflict.
The true strength of the war propaganda and its effect on the Media can be seen by a number of fallacies held as true by the majority of the American People both during and after the war. Not the public was held totally ignorant, but rather, they were selectively misinformed about events leading up to the war as well as events occurring during the war itself.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark was so disgusted with this campaign of misinformation that he sent a complaint to the International War Crimes Tribunal outlining 19 violations of international law by the U.S. during the war. He claims flagrant vi&ations of the Geneva Convention, UN Charter, and the laws of armed conflict occurred on a regular basis.
A study of the Media's effect on popular opinion during the war was done at the University of Massachusetts shortly after kaq agreed to an unconditional surrender. The study examined public conceptions during the conflict and exposed some eye-opening revelations.
Quickly and apparently without warning to the international community, Iraqi troops overran Kuwait with Blitzkrieg- like force. However, it is now well documented that the U.S. knew that kaq was planning the assault far in advance. Prior to the invasion of Kuwait by kaq, the U.S. ambassadors indicated to Saddam that we would take no action against his country should an attack take place, and that it we "considered the dispute a regional concern"(Clark), yet as soon as his invasion had commenced, we denounced it and announced our plans to intervene militarily. It was widely accepted by the American Public that kaq gave no provocation for their aggression; only 13% of the respondents polled in the Umass study were aware the U.S. had advance knowledge of the attack (Media Study). It could be argued that the U.S. effectively coaxed Saddam into the invasion and created the ensuing public uproar so that we could have ajustification to punish him militarily.
One interesting prewar propaganda ploy centered around kaqi troop atrocities performed on Kuwaitis. Perhaps the most well known story was the wholesale slaughter of helpless babies in incubators by kaqis- a story with no factual validity but rather created by a PR firm in Washington DC to drum up support for the war. (Lusignan)
Saddam's megalomaniac tendencies aside, it is also well documented that Thaq's primary motive to invade Kuwait was economic, not a first step in Hitler-like world domination. Kuwaiti oil suppliers were undercutting kaq in the world oil market, causing a severe strain on Iraq's economy. According to Clark's report:
The U.S., through the C.I.A., induced Kuwait to violate its O.P.E.C. agreements and glut the market with oil pumped from the same underground pool shared with Iraq, causing prices to drop, increasing economic pressure on Iraq. Kuwait also demanded repayment of loans it made to kaq during the Than-kaq war, heightening tensions between the countries. (Clark)
It was only after diplomatic efforts failed and Kuwait refused to raise their oil prices that kaq chose a military solution and invaded.
The invasion of Kuwait by kaqi forces brought about a furor worldwide. Such "unprovoked" aggression swung world opinion harshly against the invaders. Calls for Kuwaiti freedom from tyranny resounded throughout the U.S. on television and newspapers nationwide, and it soon became clear that it would be our patriotic duty was to free Kuwait from the evil hand of Thaqi oppression.
In the post-war poll, 58% of the respondents supported the use of force to free an occupied country, as in the case of Kuwait and Thaq. Yet of these same respondents, only 31 % were aware that Israel currently occupies land in the Middle East that originally belonged to other countries, an occupation that the U.S. government adamantly supports. Such double standards clearly demonstrate American media biases for and against certain groups, and are in direct opposition to the media's duty to report objectively to the American people.
The new terminology of technological rhetoric drummed up by public relations departments in Washington employed in the war, terms such as surgical strike and smart bombs give the impression of a clean war, cosmetic, almost bloodless. Documented atrocities, such as the bulldozing of Iraqi troop barracks after the soldiers had already surrendered, ('rnd the carpet bombing massacre of surrendered military and civilians alike trying to escape Kuwait down the infamous "Highway to Hell" is a perfect example of how the wartime terminology was so deeply ingrained in the collective American Psyche that even when grisly accounts of war would pop up, they would effectively be trampled under by the mass of U.S. propaganda.
There is also conclusive evidence that the Patriot Missiles used by the military to intercept Scud missiles were a total failure. This was kept under the table by the military until long after the war, for success of the anti-missile system was required to justify the exorbitant amount of money spent by the armed forces on such projects
U.S. news reports during and after the war were quick to emphasize the success of the war based on the astoundingly low number of Americans killed. Yet little is mentioned about the unnecessary bloodshed the Allied Desert Storm Forces brought about during the war. The war itself basically amounted to a fair fight for a day or two at most, and quickly degraded into wholesale slaughter of a defenseless people for months afterward.
It is far to easy to accept facts offered as the truth in any given situation. Vivid media depictions of Iraqi atrocities were always summarized by the well-known fact that they were a nation of religious fanatics. Saddam Hussein was pictured as the antichrist incarnate, an(l it was our nations patriotic duty to rescue the hapless Kuwaitis from the clutches of tyranny and death. The fact that the region was integral to our nations energy needs, and that Kuwait was no more of a democracy than kaq was often a conveniently overlooked fact.
In contrast to the depiction of the Iraqi invaders swooping down from the north like barbariar~ invaders, raping and pillaging everything in their path, our troops were portrayed as the chivalrous defenders of the weak, repelling the attackers with our morally superior forces. It is not to be said that the Iraqis were hapless victims turned
criminals by the US government and media, but rather that wartime atrocities existed on both sides.
It is a dangerous thing when accounts of a war have the appearance of an oversimplified storybook. The war was not about good versus evil, or even a fight between democracy and dictatorship. It was first and foremost about economics and politics. While it is hardly surprising that our government attempted to invoke a moral cause to the war effort- this is hardly a new phenomenon in times of war, and it is arguably quite justifiable- it is the media's' duty to give objective, unbiased reports of the facts, and they clearly failed to do so.
Speculation abounds as to why the American Media Machine presented such a one-sided viewpoint of the war and everything surrounding it. One obvious reason in that no one wants to be accused of being anti-American in the midst of such a popular war. It is much wise'. to jump on the bandwagon and reap the benefits.
A good summary of the economic imperatives of positive media reporting is given in the conclu~ion of the University of Massachusetts study:
Television's tendency to present a one-sided view is compounded by the economic imperatives of a system funded by advertising. The upbeat tone of the covenige was seen as necessary to retain advertisers, since nobody wants their product surrounded by images of death, pain and destruction. The problem, from the point of view of journalistic objectivity, it that this upbeat tone has played into the hands of the Bush Administration's attempt to sell the public the war policy. (Media Study)
The portrayal of kaq throughout the entire Gulf War saga has established a dangerous precedent for continued public conception. Iraq continues to be depicted as an inflexible, unrelenting enemy, determined at all costs to hamper any efforts to establish peace in the region. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact that Iraq may be opposing the sanctions to bring worldwide attention to their plight is often a conveniently overlooked option by the American media. According to UNICEF, civilian casualties since the war ended nearly eight years ago have been appalling. Have conditions improved since the war ended? Judge for yourself:
More than on million kaqis have died- 567,000 of them children- as a direct consequence of economic sanctions. As many as 12 percent of the children surveyed in Baghdad are wasted, 28 percent stunted and 29 percent underweight. (United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, December 1995)
"Since the on set of sanctions, there has been a six-fold increase in the mortality rate for children under five, and the majority of the country's population has been on a semistarvation diet." (World Health Organization, March 1996)
"4,500 children under the age of 5 are dying each month from hunger and disease.. .the situation is disastrous for children. Many are living on the very margin of survival."
The 1977 Protocol 1 Addition to the 1949 Geneva Convention states "that the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is illegal and ethically indefensible" (Clark).
This is exactly what is occurring this very moment, nearly eight years after the supposed cessation of hostilities between the two countries. The media continues to portray the Iraqi government as unable to capitulate to the reasonable demands asked of them. The U.S. has estal,lished a stranglehold on kaq, and uses excuses of inspection team violations to continue economic sanctions indefinitely.
Cohen, Stanley. Images of the Spanish American War.
Allen, Douglass. Fredric Remington and the Spanish-American War. New York: Putnam,1971.
Baker, John. "Spanish-American Relations in 1898." Dis. U of Michigan, 1990.
Brown, Charles. The Correspondents' War. New York: Brown, 1967.
Cohen, Stanley. Images of the Spanish American War. Berkeley: Kramer, 1997.
Combs, Jerald with Arthur. The History of American Foreign Policy. New York: McGraw-Hill Company, 1997.
Encyclopedia Brittanica Online. The Spanish-American War. www. eb. com.
Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. CD ROM. Copyright 1996 by Microsoft.
Nofi, Albert. The Spanish American War, 1898. New York: Harper and Row, 1997.
Trask, David. The War with Spain in 1898. New York: Macmillian Publishing,1981.
Bernays, Edward. Propoganda. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Press, 1972
Burge, David F. et al. Almanac of World War One. 1998
Bourne, Randolph. History of a Literary Radical and Other Essays. New York: Dell Press, 1973.
Edwards, Violet. Group Leader's Guide to Propa2anda Analvsis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1938.
Ellul, Jacques. Propaganda: The Formation of Men's A~itudes. New York: Vintage Books, 1965.
Hummel, William and Huntress, Keith. The Analysis of Propa~anda. New York:
William Sloane Associates, 1949.
Institute for Propaganda Analysis. ProDa~anda Analysis. New York: Columbia University Pkss, 1938.
Institu~ for Propaganda Analysis. The Fine Art of Propaganda. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1939.
Lassw~ll, Harold D., ProDa~anda Technique in World War 1.1972
Lasswell, Harold D., Blumenstock, Dorothy. World Revolutionary Propoganda. New York: Columbia University Press. 1939
Lee, Alfred McClung. How to Understand Propa~anda. New York: Rinehart and Company, 1952.
Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. CD Rom. Copyright 1996 by Microsoft
Toland, John. Adolf Hitler. New York. Doubleday Publishing House, 1992
Encyclopedia Brittanica Online. World War Two. www.eb.com
Keegan, John. The Second World War. Published 1990. Chicago. McGraw-Hill Company.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kemnf. New York. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973.
Doob, Leonard. Propa~anda: It's Psycholo~ and Technique. New York.
Henry Holt and Company, 1956.
Lee, Alfred McClung. How to Understand Proi,aganda. New York.
Rinehart and Company, 1952.
Thum, Gladys and Thum, Marcella. The Persuaders: Pro~a~anda in War and Peace. New York. Crown Publishers, 1946.
National Archives and Record Association www. nara.gov Interview
Richard Skain, Marine World War II Veteran. Served in the Pacific from 1944-1945
Donald Jacobsen, Air Force, Bombadier. Served in the Pacific from 143-1945
Brody, Richard A. et. al., Public Ooinion and the War in Vietnam (ICPR Study 7295). Surveys taken in the first quarter of 1966. Ann Arbor: Inter-University Consortium for Political Research, 1972, reprinted 1975.
Hallin, Daniel C. "The Uncensored War": The Media and Vietnam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
McCaf frey, Lt. General Barry R. Speech: Memorial Day 1993. Pentagram, June 4, 1993.
McCullough, David. Introductorv Essav to Vietnam: A Television Histor~.
http: //www.pbs .org/wgbh/pages/amex/vietnam/intro .html
Mv Lai Massacre http: //www.pbs .org/wgbh/pages/amex/vietnam/trenches/myla i .htm
Microsoft Encarta 97 Encvclo~edia. Microsoft Corporation 1997. "Vietnam War". CD-ROM
Mohr, Charles. Once A~ain--Did the Press Lose Vietnam? Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 1983, pp. 51-56.
Nixon, Richard. No More Vietnams. Arbor House, New York 1985
William P: Cochnau, Once U~on a Distant War. New York: Random House, 1995. xii, 546 pp.
Westmoreland, General ~i11iam C. Speech before 3rd Annual
Reunion of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association July 5th, 1986. Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association
Historical Reference Dictionary Volume 2A.
1) The Gulf War: A Study Of The Media, Public Opinion And Public Knowledge. Center for the Study of Communication, Department of Communication. University of Massachusetts! Amherst February 1991
2) Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh.pages.frontline.gulf.appendix.press.html
3) Initial Complaint Submitted by the Commission Of Inquiry. May 8, 1991 U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
4) World Socialist Web Site. http:I/www.wsws.org