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Media in the period between Vietnam War and Iraq war

by on November 15, 2013

During the past decades the world faced a number of crises and wars from Vietnam War to Iraq war 2003. The question here is how the governments response towards the media have changed over those years? To what extent the military suppressed journalist`s work under the justification of “security”? . Have the media in the 21st  century changed to the better or is it still controlled  and manipulated by the governments?  All those question needs to be clarified in this blog.

It has been argued, that America has lost the war in Vietnam because of  “the Vietnamese war stirred a bitter hostility amongst  military officers toward the press .correspondents and their editors were undermining the American support for the war by putting gruesome images of wounded soldiers and reports of atrocities that were committed by America in Vietnam on TV screens ,as the military saw it. The media, those officers lost the war for them”. (Thomas rid P53).


There are 60,000 Americans and between two to four millions of Vietnamese died during the war. The problem is that the US has lost control over the media. Through the wars the military was attacked and ambushed without seeing their enemy. in addition, they could not provide a clear aims for the conflict`s justification and how the war involves and affects US citizens. even when journalists move back from the conflict zone to US military camps ,the soldiers could not give any real report of what is happing because most of those reports were lost or wasted in Indochina. According to CBS`s Bernard kalb once referred to the Vietcong as the most faceless foe in our history”( Thomas ride P54) .


However, even if the US can inform the media with the progress of the war they cannot sale it to the public, because of high numbers of casualties. Even the military personnel were trying to be involved in the business of selling the Vietnam war justification .However , they were not so successful and have lost control over the media , therefore  US citizens were sceptic of American governments intensions. This scepticism affected public opinion against the war as there was no proper media coverage . During that period people and the free journalists started to put pressure on the American government to withdraw their troops from South Vietnam. However, enemy side (Vietnamese) reported very cruel images showing the brutality of the US military operations in Vietnam which affected the public opinion in the US which eventually resulted in the US withdrawal of troops from South Vietnam.



On the other hand , the situation in the Iraq war of 2003  was initially different and the US military has learnt the lessons from the  Vietnam War by making  new procedures to control the information , they were using different strategies, one of those strategies is the “pool system” that sets a narrow and limited movements by providing a remote place to stay in. such as Rashid hotel in Baghdad ,where they can be informed and fed with information Also they were not alloweing the media to clarify what was happening at the war. “the predominantly American media representatives were allowed to attend classified command`s briefs and had access to an amount of mission-criteria”. ( Thomas Rid P2).

US government should be rewarded for not interfering with the media as the media has to be neutral because it represents the public`s interest.  Therefore US used other strategies to deal with the media; one of these strategies was to create a good relationship with the media. Good example of that is that the CNN owner Rupert Murdoch was a close friend of the American government and helped the government to make achieve its propaganda programme during the Iraq war of 2003 and during the Gulf War of 1991 there were many TV channels which highlighted the positive outcome of the US intervention. Other tools were used is  censoring  of reports before it was broadcasted in addition to the 24/7 live coverage which helped to influence people`s opinion and utilize public opinion before and during the war. A good representative example is that Fox news, BBC .Aljazeera. CNN and other dominant international broadcasting channels.


Media became and will remain so important and valued by governments as they reflect people’s views. From Vietnam up to the Iraq war the media have developed its techniques and changed dramatically. In anycase the question remains, does the media have influence over governments, or does governments have the influence over the media?


Hoskins A and  oloughlin B .2010.War and media.Uk

Robinson P .2002 the CNN effect. UK

Farnsworth S J  . Robert  Lichter S . 2006. The mediated Presidency. UK

William C  . Adams . 1982. Television coverage of international Affairs. US


Willam M .DarleyWar Policy,Public Support, and the Media  Access on 22/4/2014




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