Information wars: The government, the military, the media and the people, 1941--1991
Thompson, Matthew Andrew
Gruber, Ira D.
Doctor of Philosophy
This study examined the tensions between the military and the media; the need for governments to articulate clear war aims, win public, and international support; and the public's power to hold a government accountable in a democracy for actions during wartime in a fifty-year period. The long view of history demonstrated the complex and multidirectional. interactions among the government, the military, the media, and the people of a democracy during wartime. In the past, historians and scholars have focused almost exclusively on the relationship between the military and media during wartime. Talking that approach as a starting point, this thesis expanded upon those earlier studies and moved beyond technical disagreements between officers and journalists to examine the broader context of national unity during times of conflict. By looking at the level of national unity during the major conflicts that the United States was involved between 1941 and 1991---and examining the British experience during the Falkland Islands War---the interaction between government leaders and the public overshadowed the relationship between the military and the media. Government leaders were most successful in building and sustaining public support when they clearly articulated war aims, and maintained those aims throughout the period of the conflict. This study also suggested a correlation between the successful building of domestic support for war and the government's prior acquisition of the international community's support for its actions. These findings showed that the relationships among the government, the military, the media, and people have been very nuanced and complex during times of war between 1941 and 1991. The struggles on the homefront and in the international community have been just as heated as clash of armies on the battlefield. While not always victorious, democratic nations have fought and re-fought battles to build and maintain support for during times of war---an element essential for any hope of victory in modern warfare.
American history; Modern history; Political science; Mass communication