Sunday, April 20, 2008

How to Market a War? The Pentagon's 'Hidden Hand'

Have you seen today's NY Times? There is a front-page report on the "Pentagon's Hidden Hand" -- its use of retired military officials to help push the case for the current war with Iraq. In other words, a report on how the administration managed public interpretation of the war. An interesting story, one that reminds us that marketing, especially the marketing of a war, is not an easy thing to do. Read the story and judge for yourself. Here's how the story starts:

In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

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