"Alexander the Great was one of history's earliest propagandists," writes Matt Labash in a historical overview of military propaganda techniques through the ages, published in the conservative Weekly Standard. He lists examples, some humorous, of psychological ploys used by American, British and Nazi warriors.
U.S. politicians are debating the effectiveness of the "propaganda front in the war on terrorism." Republicans say the White House is on the right track and "about to go into even higher gear," but Bill Press, former chairman of the California Democratic Party and author of the book, Spin This, says the Bush administration's propaganda has been inept and is "losing the spin war" in the Muslim world. The two sides can't even agree on how well the administration handled the bin Laden tape.
The United States faces an uphill battle in using the latest videotape of Osama bin Laden to influence public opinion in the Arab world, where Washington's support for Israel over the Palestinians dominates news coverage and the public tends to regard the fight to dismantle Al Qaeda as something of an American problem. Jamal Khashoggi, deputy managing editor of the Arab News daily in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, says he has no doubt that the tape is authentic.
O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports that "U.S. State Department public diplomacy head Charlotte Beers intends to incorporate the Osama bin Laden tape into her propaganda efforts, according to her spokesperson Richard Boucher. 'We may make it available to people around the world via our promotional materials, website or at embassies,' he said." O'Dwyer's also links to the video transcript.
"The ubiquity of the Internet means that for the first time in communications history all sides in a conflict can project their views to the outside world. It is probably no exaggeration to say that every force in every conflict in the world has a Web site. Partisan propaganda dominates online pages related to conflicts," writes On-line Journalism Review contributor Andrew Stroehlein in an article examining websites that focus on various conflicts in Asia and Europe. Large Western media outlet are no exception to biased reporting, writes Stoehlein.
Journalist Richard Lloyd Parry visited the village of Kama Ado, which has ceased to exist after "American B-52s unloaded dozen of bombs that killed 115 men, women and children." According to the US Department of Defense, however, nothing happened there. "A Pentagon spokesman, questioned about reports of civilian casualties in eastern Afghanistan, explained that they were not true, because the US is meticulous in selecting only military targets associated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network.
PR Week writer Douglas Quenqua asks, "Should the administration draw on the propaganda models of past conflicts to communicate the current war against terrorism?" He recounts the history of past efforts by the U.S. government to mold public opinion, beginning with the Creel Committee during World War I. "In the first few months of our current conflict, we have seen countless entities -- government and otherwise -- launch individual attempts at diplomacy," Quenqua writes. "The Pentagon has hired its own PR firm. Navy Planes are dropping leaflets on Afghanistan.
NPR's Brooke Gladstone takes a look at wartime propaganda. She talks with authors Alan Winkler, Phillip Knightley, and Rick MacArthur about propaganda used to support various U.S. military campaigns. Gladstone concludes her report with a quote from French playwright Jean Anouilh: "Propaganda is a soft weapon. Hold it in your hands too long, and it will move around like a snake and strike the other way."
Hollywood was primed when Karl Rove, the senior Bush strategist, came calling. ... Mr. Rove made the case that Uncle Sam needs Hollywood to lend its creative talents to the national struggle by encouraging community service, boosting public morale, and entertaining the troops and by reinforcing the official stance that America is at war with terrorism and evil, not with Islam.
The Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group, the only US active-duty unit dedicated to psyops, is conducting a campaign to persuade Afghan Taliban troops to defect to the opposition and Afghan civilians to join with the United States in ousting the Taliban. The group consists of about 1,200 soldiers, selected from among Army's brightest, and about 35 civilian analysts, two thirds of whom have doctoral degrees.