"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.
War / Peace
Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, a human rights organization based in San Francisco, recently sent a fact-finding delegation to Afghanistan and Pakistan. "I didn't know that massive numbers of people were not getting food aid because the U.S. was blocking an international force from coming in to open up the roads so that aid could get in," Benjamin reports. "And I also had no idea of the extent of innocent victims, who were killed by U.S. bombs, until I realized that everywhere we went, we found people who had stories to tell of loved ones who were killed in the bombing. ...
Former tobacco industry spokesman Thomas Lauria has been working for the Northern Alliance since mid-September when he became their media liaison. Lauria, with lobbyist Otilie English and Northern Alliance spokesman Haron Amin, worked to increase awareness of the Alliance, lobbied for American military support, and tried to "dampen" reports of Alliance human right's abuses. With Northern Alliance officials now occupying high posts in Afghanistan's interim government, Lauria has been picked as one of Afghanistan's Washington-based representatives.
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.
"If there was no Afghanistan story," writes Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, "the press would be going nuts over Enron. It's the biggest corporate collapse ever, the firm employed some top administration officials and the CEO was a Dubya pal. Enron has been a big business story, but hasn't drawn the kind of daily-drumbeat political treatment that often surrounds corporate chicanery with a strong whiff of scandal."
"In 1922, social critic Walter Lippmann wrote, 'Decisions in modern states tend to be made by the interaction, not of Congress and the executive, but of public opinion and the executive.' Never has this been truer than in the war on terrorism," writes Alternet senior editor Tamara Straus. "The Bush administration has justified its bombing campaign against Afghanistan not with a Congressional declaration of war, but with polls indicating that close to 90 percent of Americans want military action.
The Defense Department has apologized for obstacles to covering war, reports the New York Times. For the past two month, the Pentagon has come under criticism from news organizations for its restrictions on journalists covering the fighting in Afghanistan. "We owe you an apology," Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, wrote Thursday in a letter to the Washington bureau chiefs of major news organizations. "The last several days have revealed severe shortcomings in our preparedness to support news organizations in their efforts to cover U.S.
"With the Pentagon claims and the mainstream media blackout here in the U.S., it has been extremely difficult to get a picture of just how many civilians the U.S. has killed," reports Amy Goodman on her radio program Democracy Now! "One professor has done something about it.
"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.
News organizations protested a U.S. military decision to prevent journalists inside Afghanistan from witnessing the transfer of American soldiers wounded by an errant B-52 bomb. The restrictions on the journalists, the only media so far allowed to accompany and cover U.S. forces based in Afghanistan, are a troubling example of the "lack of direct contact with American forces who've actually participated in the war," said Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post.