This book analyses the evolving Anglo-American counter-terror propaganda strategies that spanned the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as reconstruction, between 2001 and 2008. It offers insights into the transformation beyond this period, tracking many key developments as much as possible up to the time of writing (2013) and providing a retrospective on the 'war on terror'. Using empirical data located within multiple spheres, the book draws on sociology, political science and international relations, developing an interdisciplinary analysis of political communication in the international system. It shows how media technologies presented legal, structural and cultural problems for what were seen as rigid propaganda systems defined by their emergence in an old media system of sovereign states with stable target audiences. Propaganda successes and advances were an inconsistent by-product both of malfunction and of relationships, cultures and rivalries, both domestically and between the partners. The differing social relations of planners and propagandists to wider society create tensions within the 'machine', however leaders may want it to function. The book demonstrates that the 'messy' nature of bureaucracy and international systems as well as the increasingly fluid media environment are all important in shaping what actually happens. In a context of initial failures in formal coordination, the book stresses the importance of informal relationships to planners in the propaganda war. This situated Britain in an important yet precarious position within the Anglo-American propaganda effort, particularly in Iraq.
This chapter begins by tracing developing patterns of divergence and convergence in the perceived interests dominant in each country's leadership. It argues that Britain's defence strategy was pragmatically steered towards complementing the US capabilities and spinning its 'expertise' in counter-insurgency warfare. The chapter shows how in some instances, the US restrictions and the perceived 'obstacles' could be navigated through Anglo-American relationships. British policy emphasised 'interoperability', converging doctrine and providing unique capabilities in an attempt to secure 'fit' and relative value to America, all factors which shaped the propaganda war. A significant military contribution was perceived by the leadership to be the way to secure influence with America, but British resource was quite limited. Notions of British 'expertise' were emphasised during the 'War on Terror' as a means to unify Britain's domestic military, and also played on the American sentiment for tradition.
This chapter examines the role of the British and the US governments' propaganda in Iraq. Many argued that this propaganda might reduce casualties and the need for force by changing attitudes and behaviours. The counter-insurgency warfare is often said to hinge on winning the consent of the local population. The chapter considers Anglo-American planning during the Iraq War in more detail, particularly post-invasion. An Iraq expert, Paul 'Jerry' Bremer's side of Baghdad's Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was being navigated through the British personnel's informal relations at the top of the bureaucracy. Despite the Britain being demonstrably the junior partner with the US attentions so widely drawn, the two states' institutional cultures allowed key channels of influence. The key channels of influence are used to advance their institutional objectives in the Iraq War.
Given the dramatic period of adaptation that followed 9/11, it is important to reflect on the changes in propaganda and deconstruct the role played by the Anglo-American relationship, with a view to bring wider discussion in academia, policy and wider society. This chapter emphasises the need for debate and comment on the shape of change in propaganda, and the future of British Atlanticism. Practitioners in UK and US government institutions often argue that propaganda is a tool of foreign policy and 'limited' war which is used to serve the public interest. The counter-insurgency response needed for fighting the US 'War on Terror' in a globalised media environment demonstrably posed a significant challenge to the US defence infrastructure. By supporting the US in its 'War on Terror' Britain's leadership was in a position where it was then committed to managing the consequences of the conflicts, 'reconstruction' and insurgencies.
The changes to propaganda in both the UK and the US and the huge investment in expanding the propaganda apparatus prompted demands for strategic coordination. Improved coordination of capabilities such as Psychological Operation (PSYOP) and Public Affairs, or between different government departments, was seen as a requirement of modern propaganda in a changing media environment. This chapter shows how the desired depth of coordination of propaganda proved challenging to impose on existing formal structures, particularly in the US. It discusses the 'turf war' over Donald Rumsfeld's desire to ring-fence Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) capabilities for the Defense Department and concern over the coordination of CIA efforts with the Department of Defense (DOD). CIA resources in the propaganda war are certainly far smaller than those of the Pentagon and State Department and Pentagon insularity and expansion contributed to an excessively protectionist CIA.
This chapter extends the analysis of the domestic propaganda strategy and develops a thematic argument, highlighting the trends that were crucial to propaganda policy-making within the countries. It shows the importance of informal structures in coordinating defence planning in the information war and discusses the implications of this for accountability. The chapter highlights two characteristics in the propaganda war across militaries and bureaucracies: public service and initiative. In foreign policy, a strong component of British 'public service' has been an underlying assumption that strengthening British value to the US, and British global political stature, are in the interests of the country. The notion of public service is rooted in established ideas of the state derived from classical social contract theory and translated in contemporary society into the idea of a representative government in the service of citizens.
This chapter argues that the course of the propaganda 'war on terror' fuelled a domestic rethink of the propaganda apparatus in Britain and the US. This resulted in far-reaching changes to combat the vaguely defined and globally dispersed enemy. Echoing the traditional narratives in propaganda, some British officers seemed to perceive the US as having weaker traditional boundaries and stressed the purity of UK Psychological Operations (PSYOP) activities. The British military, particularly in recent years, has evolved from its effects-based approach, toward coordinated Information Operations (IO) where PSYOP and Media Operations unite behind a holistic effort to achieve clearly defined objectives. The chapter shows how government agencies adapted to the demands of a fluid media environment. Cross-government integration is perhaps a logical consequence of the increasing scale of the propaganda operation; it appeared to provide a more responsive solution honed to departmental requirements.
This chapter begins with a short history of propaganda theories, including important definitions and concepts from academic perspectives as well as those dominant in contemporary defence policy. It provides a brief history of Anglo-American relations and propaganda use to provide valuable context to the contemporary relationship. Censorship has historically been considered crucial in any propaganda system. The ethical position of propaganda and press freedom is often treated as long ago decided. The chapter discusses how 'security' and 'threats' were defined and constructed for the 'War on Terror'. It also presents some key concepts discussed in this book. The book argues that the counter-terrorism adaptations resulted in initiatives that gave propaganda wider reach and challenged existing structures, 'rules' and practices. An examination of US and UK governments' use of the term 'terrorism', during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggests that terrorism was assumed to be an uncontroversial and homogeneous concept.