Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: United States Diplomacy as Propaganda

Thursday, January 26, 2006

United States Diplomacy as Propaganda

In "The Characteristics of Propaganda," Jacques Ellul says, "...Diplomacy becomes inseperable from propaganda." So, I wonder--is the United States really concerned with the freedom of Iraqis or Afghans? Or is the United States government spreading propaganda to the Middle East in the form of democracy and freedom in these two nations, saying, "the United States is concerned about the rights of all humans all over the world. We believe that every man deserves freedom. We are a fair and good nation, and we are a democratic nation. These are the qualities of a democratic nation. If you believe in our ideals and us, then your life will be like ours."

"Mao emphasizes that in 1928 an effective form of propaganda was the release of prisoners after they had been indoctrinated." So, once the prisoners believed in communist ideals, they were released in a show of fairness by Mao, and, now indoctrinated in communist beliefs, went out into the world and spread these beliefs. With this action, communism appears fair diplomatic to the rest of the world, and communist ideals are spread by previous 'enemies' in the form of the released prisoners.

What is the difference between Mao's ideas and the practices of the U.S. government in the Middle East? Is our government indoctrinating democratic ideals on suspected terrorists and insurgents? I don't think that's likely, but only because I doubt that terrorist suspects and insurgents would be indoctrinated into democratic ideals. They are already indoctrinated in their own ideals.

There are lots of nations under "evil dictatorships" throughout the world such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tibet, and Cuba. There are genocides occurring in nations throughout the world, such as Tibet, Darfur, Iran, and East Timor. If the United States government truly wanted a diplomatic showing of democracy, perhaps they would be better off invading one of these nations in which the people live under cruel dictatorships and in horrible conditions.

If the propaganda that the United States wishes to spread is that of democratic ideals, and diplomacy is inseperable from propaganda, then a diplomatic showing to the rest of the world would be the invasion of these other nations in other areas of the world, not a nation in an area of the world in which the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter, have strong economic interest, and the freeing of the peoples living there.


Blogger CBarr said...

I think sometimes we are short-sighted when it comes to war. While it is true there is great economic interest in the Middle East and that could be why we chose to spread freedom and democracy there, isn't it possible that in years to come, regardless of our motivation, that Iraq will be better off? And isn't it possible that if we successfully create a democratic "alliance" around the world by bringing down dictators, that these terrorists and insurgents will no longer have anywhere to operate? That they will not be welcome anywhere because they fight what the world stands for? I'm just putting it out there. I like to play devil's advocate. :)

1/30/2006 10:03 PM  
Blogger A. Mattson said...

It is very difficult to distinguish noble, altruistic motives from base economic interests. They are intertwined. It is also difficult to distinguish sincere diplomacy from diplmatic gestures taken for propagandistic effect.

I am going to stay out of the debate over our Middle East policy for the moment. I am happy that you are having a substantive discussion about it, but I am here to discuss propaganda & mass persuasion right now.

I will say that invasion is not diplomacy whether the regime is a genocidal dictatorship or not.

Diplomacy can be seen as another channel of communications. Whether it is Chinese diplomacy or American. Often diplomatic actions are taken not for their direct effect but for the message that such a gesture will convey.

It would be impossible to spread democracy without both setting a democratic example and using democratic propaganda and diplomacy.

1/30/2006 11:47 PM  
Blogger S.Block said...

I agree that the Middle East would be better off as a democracy. What I am saying is that there are alot of other places in the world, besides the Middle East, that could use our assistance in establishing a democracy. We undoubtedly have economic interest in the Middle East and the spreading of freedom and democracy is, in my belief, more of a tool of propaganda for our economic interests.

2/02/2006 2:53 PM  

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