Highlighted Selections from:

Political Vacuum Opens Up Propaganda Possibilities


DOI: 10.1177/0306422014523379

Wind-Cowie, M. “Political Vacuum Opens Up Propaganda Possibilities.” Index on Censorship 43.1 (2014): 74–77. Web.

p.75: The reality is that when the stakes are as high as they surely must always be in warfare, lying and misleading and emitting and embellishing are all just too tempting to be resisted. Propaganda, in short, will always find a space in the nooks and crannies of battle. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.75: The benefits of winning over as-yet ambivalent or neutral governments and peoples to your cause can be decisive. All of these audiences require encouragement, reinforcement and persuasion – and that’s before one even gets to the possibilities contained in convincing one’s enemy of the futility or injustice of their own cause. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.76: The British government spent much of World War I mixing fear and outrage into a potent and highly effective mood enhancer for the British people. Tall tales of German barbarism were told – in exercises straight out of the “atrocity propaganda” playbook – in order both to inspire a humanitarian urge to intervention and to remind voters of the consequences of defeat for themselves and their families. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.77: A significant percentage of the witness statements describing the massbrutalisation of Belgium by German troops came from defeated Belgian soldiers – and many historians and scholars argue that the Bryce Report hugely inflated the systemic nature of German barbarism and the level of deliberate suffering imposed on the Belgian civilian population. But whatever its questionable worth as a historic document, the Bryce Report was gold dust for the whizz kids at the Ministry of Information – who ensured sensationalist headlines at home and abroad -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.77: But the point I am trying to make is that, back then, it was effective – supremely so at times. But it just isn’t effective anymore. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.77: Compare that with 2003, when the government released a report on another despotic regime intent on regional domination. That document too was, at best, unreliable in its sourcing and heavy on the red alert messaging. It, too, was a small part of a larger case for standing up to tyranny – one that was perhaps a tad over the top about the imminent terror the enemy represented. But the infamous “dodgy dossier” that formed part of Prime Minister Blair’s justification for invading Iraq was mocked and monstered almost from the start. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.77: It’s hard to win a propaganda war when your public won’t even listen to your elegant reconstruction of the truth. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.78: Because we no longer believe what our governments tell us we are left open and available to misinformation and disinformation from other sources instead. Propaganda hasn’t died as we’ve become less credulous of our political class – it has blossomed. But the propagandists now live entirely outside any pretence of democratic accountability. NGOs, lobby groups, corporations and media outfits funded and controlled by foreign governments but with a mask of independence, compete to convince us – on questions of war and peace more than on almost anything else -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014

p.78: And they can say whatever they want because we no longer have any mutually agreed base line of impartiality. -- Highlighted apr 3, 2014