ICOM 892 International Public Relations and Advertising
Analysis of the US PR-Strategy preparing the War against Iraq 2003
In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack on the USA, Washington intended to restore and improve national security by depriving terrorists of their operational bases. Soon after bringing down the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the next target was named to be Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As a matter of fact, the US perceived Iraq as an enemy and planed to remove Hussein and his regime. Opinions about the underlying reasons still differ; may it be to punish a further culprit of 9/11, the securing of American oil supply, or the stabilization of the Middle East, preventing further terrorist training and armament (Mohamedi & Alkadiri 2002, pp. 2-3). However, the purpose of this paper is to analyse the public relations strategy, Washington initiated in the forefront and during that war. At first, the paper will name the purpose and intention of the US government, followed by locating the campaign’s main target groups. After considering the US’s advantages, this analysis will also define obstacles the Bush administration had to overcome. The next step will be to outline the PR concept and highlight different means, the US government applied to influence national and international media. Finally, the paper will critically evaluate the measures taken and point out flaws.
In order to replace Saddam Hussein as the dictator of Iraq, the government of the USA made considerable effort to gain support from the people within the US as well as internationally. The main objective was to promote a positive image of the USA as a just and rightful nation, which is therefore entitled to act on behalf of the world community (Hirshberg 1993, p. 80). More precisely, one could say, that measures were taken to create a benevolent attitude towards the foreign policy of the Bush administration (Calabrese 2005, p. 163). First to create support and later to justify its actions, the US public relations campaign had been carried out, before and during the war; the very beginning dated shortly after September 11 (PNAC 2000, p. 51). Moreover, these aims are obviously still valid and are continually spread.
On the receiving end of that campaign were various target groups. As a democratic state, all governmental power of the USA derives from its people, hence, the primary premise for the administration was to catch and to guide their attention to this specific issue (Ward 1995, p. 161). As a consequence to the negative example in the Vietnam war, generating domestic support and maintaining it, was considered a necessary target of public affairs strategy in 2003 (Rampton & Stauber 2004, pp. 182–183). Therefore the US government had to convince the American nation, that it is rightful and necessary to go to war, before broaden its efforts to the international realm (Calabrese 2005, p. 155).
Additionally, the international community is an important audience, because of various reasons. The image of the USA is mirrored by itself, and, in this case even more important, by the international public. In whatever way nations may perceive another nation-state, it influences their relationship politically and economically (Kunciz & Weber, p. 18). Since there is no common government, the UN, and especially the Security Council, is the only source of legitimation internationally.
Furthermore, one had to be aware of primarely two important international blocks. On the one hand there were cultural related or allied nations like European nation states, and on the other hand there were rather alien cultures or even potential opponents, such as there are in the Islamic world. Hence, the US-American public relations campaign had to address both groups separately.
Finally, the US directly approached the Iraqi people to explain and justify the invasion, in order to reduce resistance (Hiebert 2003, p. 247). If the majority of the Iraqi people perceived themselves as victims of American aggression, rather than as victims of Saddam Hussein’s regime, this would have undermined all previous efforts aimed at the target groups mentioned above.
As the only remaining superpower, the USA was in an excellent position to launch an international PR campaign. First, its population’s image of their nation and its foreign politics is predominantly positive, perceiving the USA as a state, which supports justice and human rights (Hirshberg 1993, pp. 79-80). Furthermore, in large parts of the world, especially in the so called “West”, the US was historically held to be the defender of freedom against the threats of fascism and communism. This led to a positive original position for the US government in terms of a leap of faith to justify its actions.
- Quote paper
- MIR, MA Sebastian Plappert (Author), 2007, Analysis of the US PR Strategy Preparing the War against Iraq 2003, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/153931