O'Dwyer's PR Daily columnist Frasier Seitel writes, "In the war on terrorism, PR is key. And in the coming days, as they wend through the shadowy thicket of Bin Ladenesque aggressors, President Bush and his associates might consider the following prescription for wartime PR strategy." Seitel's prescription includes the following points: build grassroots support; lead with goodwill; communicate, communicate communicate; and don't play fast and loose with the truth. Seitel says the last point poses a critical PR question for the Bush administration.
War / Peace
The U.S. armed forces are waging a propaganda war in Afghanistan with leaflets, radio broadcasts, and food according to an AP story. "The effort involves information soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, a division of the U.S. Air Force's Special Operations Command. The psy-ops soldiers have planes to scatter leaflets, mobile print shops that can be dropped by parachute and loudspeaker systems to blare messages. The soldiers use local languages to reach people on the ground.
MIT Institute Professor Noam Chomsky, an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy, discusses U.S.-Muslim relations and reasons for the tensions between the two.
In a TomPaine.com commentary, Institute for Public Accuracy's Sam Husseini warns of the chilling effect the Federal Communications Commission, the agency that controls broadcast licenses, could have on reporting U.S. military actions. Husseini recalls the Pentagon Papers, an internal report on Vietnam that few media outlets would touch for fear of drawing expensive and threatening FCC investigations.
The "war on terrorism" has made life easier for President Bush's image handlers, reports Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, who describes the way journalists have come to "rely on Bush's inner circle for behind-the-scenes color about the tense atmosphere" inside the White House.
The terrorist attacks of September 11 have generated new rhetoric from the White House, using terms such as "crusade," "infinite justice" and "homeland defense." This column by William Safire examines the background of some of these terms.
A front-page story by USA Today reporting that US special forces had already been covertly operating in Afghanistan for two weeks has stirred up controversy for journalists. At issue is whether USA Today's story, which was picked up by AP and CNN, may have endanger US military forces. The Boston Globe writes, "with the administration stressing the need for secrecy and stealth, some of the public reaction [to the USA Today story] accused journalists of unpatriotically divulging covert military action.
An editorial in the Dawn, a Pakistan newspaper, notes with approval that U.S. "official utterances and media commentaries to depict the 'war against terrorism' as a clash between western values and Islam or the Muslim countries" have been replaced by "strenuous efforts to correct that impression." However, the United States still has a long way to go if it wants to avoid turning the campaign against terrorism into a wider, religious war.
In contrast to the sloppy sentimentality and uncritical cheerleading for the Bush administration that has saturated U.S. news coverage since the September 11 attack, Jane's Information Group, the world's leading commercial analyst of military hardware and tactics, has been offering meticulous and often sobering analysis of the challenges confronting U.S. military planners. Here are some recent examples:
Peace Action is no new kid on the block. This very serious and well established group dates back forty years to the 'ban the bomb' movement of the 1960s, and led the fight in the 1980s against Ronald Reagan's nuclear build-up. Now, it tackles the current crisis in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.