in reply to sproule: war and public opinion

(no name) ((no email))
Mon, 31 Oct 1994 09:21:08 EDT

You mentioned the need for tribal leaders to have the support of their
people before declaring war, but then claimed that this is not necessary
in literate societies (or perhaps you meant only some segment of those?).
I would like to question that last point. Remember how carefully the
US moulded public opinion about Sadam Hussein during the runup to the
gulf war. Without that careful moulding of public opinion, the US
militarists would not have been able to convince the politicos that it
was politically safe (i.e. the politicos jobs were safe in the next election)
to go to war. Recall that when the Russian army lost confidence in its
king, they led the revolution to oust him and the people who supported him,
rather than continuing to fight on the eastern front. I suspect that
if you look hard enough, there are many other examples of such careful
manipulation of public opinion to support a desired war by the powerful,
and an almost equal number of examples of situations where the disgruntled
overrule the leaders' decisions to make (continue) war when they see it
no longer in their own best interests. I seriously doubt that the process
is different whether the society is literate or not, or has technological
modern or paleolithic equipment, or if they are democratic or a dictatorship.
It is merely a matter of how many (and who within the socieity) need to
be convinced that war is a necessary move.

bonnie blackwell