John Mueller
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The Iraq war and the management of American public opinion
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In promoting and prosecuting its war against Iraq, the administration of George W. Bush sought to accomplish two tasks in the management of American public opinion. In the run-up to the war, it tried to rally the public to support its planned venture, and, during the war itself, it tried to maintain public backing for the war even as costs increased. American troops have been sent into harm's way many times since 1945, but in only three of those ventures, in Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq, have they been drawn into sustained ground combat and suffered more than 300 deaths in action. There is one important difference between the wars, however: the data suggest that the public places a far lower value on the stakes in Iraq than it did in the earlier wars.

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