Propaganda and the ‘War on Terror’


Theorists of democratic society postulate that its media is objective and is dedicated to discovering and reporting the truth. From this perspective, we are lead to believe that the democratic society in which we live gives us a sufficient amount of participation in the management of our own affairs and that the means of information are open and free. At least that is what a democratic society is meant to incorporate. However, the democratic society in which we live in reality incorporates the conception that the public need to be relieved of the management of their own affairs and that the means of information needs to be strictly controlled. For their own good, of course.

This notion is not a new one, going back to some of the first modern democratic revolutions in seventeenth century England. During the English civil war in 1640 popular movements were springing up and were challenging everything, including both King and Parliament. Power over the people was lessening, and something, so argued the elites, needed to be done. As they put it, the people are becoming “so curious and so arrogant that they will never find humility enough to submit to civil rule”.[1] It was at this point that it was realised that if one could not control people through force, one had to start to control what and how they thought.

According to Walter Lippmann,[2] there is a basic necessity to control the public mind. Its necessity springs from the fact that, as he put it, “the common interests elude public opinion entirely, and can only be understood and managed by a specialised class of responsible men who are smart enough to figure things out.”[3] In this way, our society is divided into classes of citizens. On the one hand, there is an elite, specialised class, a small percentage of the population, that have an active role in running general affairs in the political, economic and ideological spheres. The rest of the population on the other hand, is what Lippmann refers to as the ‘bewildered herd’ and the elite ‘specialised class’ needs to be protected from the “trampling and roar of a bewildered herd”. And the way to do this, he argued, is by the calculated ‘manufacture of consent’. The channel that is used most effectively to ensure this is the mass media.

“The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behaviour that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfil this role requires systematic propaganda.”[4]

This approach has now become a fully fledged means of practice adopted by some if not all ‘democratic’ societies. If you look at the major events going on today, one could claim with little debate that it is precisely propaganda that is deployed to influence the population into supporting the government in its actions, such as the war in Iraq and the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

In light of these issues, it seems appropriate to examine the influence that the media has over the views held by the general population and why propaganda is so vital to the functioning of news reporting. A good starting point then would be an investigation into what propaganda is, its purpose and a brief look into its history. This also would include looking at the actual role the media plays in the decision making process of what information is reported and what information is kept secret from the public. Do the reporters and editors actually have any more control over the flow of information than the majority of the population? And why in fact is information so restricted? Is it really for our own security?

In order to examine these questions exhaustively, I have chosen a specific major story that has been covered intensely for at least the last 5 years, the ‘War on Terror’. And I intend to use Chomsky’s Propaganda Model to do this. I will first give an in-depth analysis on the ‘War on Terror’, its development, its causes and its progression and inevitably how it has been systematically reported. This will be followed by an outline of this model and its components. Finally, after an examination into all these factors, I want to be able to assess how the ‘War on Terror’ correlates to Chomsky’s Propaganda Model, which in hand will enable us to see the appropriateness of it, over a decade after its formulation.

Propaganda: Its Components and Its Purpose

“The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.”[5]

“Information, ideas, opinions or images, often only giving one part of an argument, which are broadcast, published or in some other way spread with the intention of influencing people’s opinions.”[6]

“Organised dissemination of information to assist or damage political cause.”[7] 

Propaganda is the type of presentation used to spread a specific message that is aimed at serving a specific agenda. As can be seen from the definitions of propaganda above, the denotation of propaganda is to disseminate a certain philosophy or point of view, particularly employed by governments or political groups. Rather than simply communicating the facts about something, propaganda aims to actively influence people’s opinions. What distinguishes propaganda from ‘normal’ communication is the subtle, often Machiavellian ways in which the message is portrayed in order to shape opinion. “Propaganda can be as blatant as a swastika or as subtle as a joke.”[8]

There are certain tactics used for ensuring the effectiveness of propaganda. Firstly, a message in propaganda does not have to be wholly untrue to be classified as propaganda. In fact, in more recent times the message is often not blatantly untrue, but rather, it fails to portray a complete and balanced picture due to the bias it is likely to include. That is the first tactic of propaganda, ensuring the message contains at least an element of fact. Another is using only narrow sources of ‘experts’ to provide insights into a situation, i.e. interviewing only retired military personnel when it comes to military based issues. A main tactic that is used in propaganda is demonising the ‘enemy’ by ensuring they do not fit the picture of what is ‘right’. This in hand reinforces the reasons and motivations people have to act in a particular way due to the threat on their security, posed by this ‘enemy’.

One of the most effective and common characteristics of propaganda is the importance of its volume. A message must get to as many people in as many places as possible, repeatedly in order for the optimal achievement of its objective. This is commonly linked to the tactic of only allowing opinions to grow out of a very narrow range of discourse. Some may argue that there is in fact a great deal of debate around certain issues, otherwise how can one explain the ‘leftists’ and ‘rightists’? However, the existence of filters[9] in the media ensures that dissident perspectives are somehow marginalised and weeded out. In fact these opinions on the left and the right are simply a diversity within the framework that reflects the range of needs of the elites, the private power.  “So the debate only enhances the strength of the assumptions, ingraining them in people’s minds as the entire possible spectrum of opinion that there is.”[10] The intention of these two approaches is to firstly reinforce an idea through repetition[11] which secondly enables the drowning out or exclusion of any alternative ideas. The media is good at using only selective stories that appear to be wide covering and objective.

So why is it that propaganda is used so persistently in the information that we receive as being true? Why are we being fed this prejudiced information?

As I have already mentioned, it is the need of the elite, private powers to keep control over the ‘bewildered herd’, to ensure the public mind does not wonder where it does not belong and does not interfere and get involved in what it could not possibly handle.

According to Chomsky there is a point to be made about the idea of ‘government secrecy’. It is not in fact about security but overwhelmingly about preventing the population from knowing what is actually going on. The fact that a large majority of internal secret documents get declassified after thirty years or so, just proves this. In this light, government secrecy is more about marginalising the population rather than protecting them. So if governments see that their public are not going to accept and support their intervention and violence against innocent countries, then the only solution will be to hide it from them. The scale of clandestine government activities reflects the amount of activism in a society, for if the people are reacting and gaining power and support, then the government is forced underground.

This need for government secrecy and the need to influence the public mind has created one of the largest industries in the world, the Public Relations Industry. Originating in the early 1900’s and growing significantly after WWI. Some of the most prominent figures in this field were Edward Bernays, Carl Byoir and Ivy Lee. The term Public Relations was chosen because the original term propaganda came to have such negative connotations. This industry was seen as a vital element of a democratic society, and “those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”[12]

The Public Relations industry[13] has grown to such an extent that it has infringed upon a great deal of journalists’ real work, becoming as Tom Baistow predicted, the ‘fifth estate’[14]. In fact, in 1996, it was reported that 50 per cent of a broadsheet newspaper apart from the sport section is PR generated information.[15] The figures are higher in the local, mid market and tabloid press.

Propaganda: Its History

As mentioned before, propaganda is by no means a new instrument of the powerful to influence opinions of the public. Looking at its history the term was initially used for religious purposes. Its Latin stem propagand expresses a sense of ‘that which ought to be spread’. It appears to have first been used in 1622 when Pope Gregory XV established the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for Propagating the Faith). In this example, a committee of cardinals was convened to oversee the propagation of Christianity by missionaries sent to non-Christian countries. Although some proclaim that this sense of propaganda does not have the same derogatory connotation as it does today, others may see it differently. Essentially propaganda was then as it is now, about convincing the general populace about the authenticity of a set of beliefs and ideas.

In the early 20th century Walter Lippmann and the psychologist Edward Bernays were the first to officially categorise propaganda as a scientific concept. Bernays referred to this scientific opinion as the ‘engineering of consent’ and believed that “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it.” [16] During World War I, they were hired by the US government to participate in the Creel Commission[17] in order to aid them in their mission to persuade the public to support the government’s choice to enter the war on the side of the British. Their propaganda campaign was so successful, that within six months they had turned “a pacifist population into a hysterical, war mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world.”[18] In fact, the prevailing public relations industry is a direct result of their work and as mentioned previously is used extensively by the American government today.

It was the success of the World War I propaganda campaign that encouraged Hitler to adopt similar strategies and appointed Joseph Goebbels as Minister of Propaganda in 1933. As well as having total control over the output of journalists, artists, writers and musicians, they also had little conscience when it came to spreading propaganda which was outrageously false. This then became part of the doctrine known as the “Big Lie”, which originated in Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf, which discussed this as a technique which consisted of telling a lie that was so colossal that no one could possibly believe that anyone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”.[19] The Nazi propaganda campaign did of course meet strong opposition with more propaganda created by the British Political Warfare Executive.

The Cold War saw an extensive use of propaganda, by both the United States and the Soviet Union. The Kremlin (Soviet Government) used various means to spread their propaganda, posters being a predominant mode. They demonised the United States, exaggerated facts to justify military spending. What they wanted to do most of course was to create a sense of confidence in the Soviet public that would intimidate Americans and its government which would leave the rest of the world wondering what its true civil defense capabilities were. Essentially, they used the typical methods of propaganda to achieve the typical means.

The anti-communist propaganda made Americans fearful of the aspects of the Soviet totalitarian system which resulted in a strengthened public support for the opposition and suppression of communist states. The propaganda infiltrated not only the news but numerous other mediums such as books, pamphlets, films, and even comics. These messages even became a part of the educational curriculum. Britain also played a role in the anti-communist propaganda, with the creation of the Information Research Department (IRD). A great deal of propagandist information was dispensed using various media such as the BBC and publishing. George Orwell was a great contributor to this propaganda, publishing books such as his anti-Stalinist book Animal Farm, which was promoted in a vast number of languages by the IRD.

War on Terror

There has obviously been a persistent use of propaganda since then and one can see that by simply looking at the portrayal of the ‘enemy’. For the United States, there has always been a specific enemy, but with the fall of the Soviet Union, a new enemy was needed. This need arises from the fact that nearly every aspect of American life is being influenced by its “permanent war economy”.[20] This idea is based around the fact that a major chunk of government financing is going towards military spending and the maintenance of the arms industry, instead of going towards health care, education and unemployment. Being a constant threat, this “necessary enemy” gives the government an excuse to keep taking more taxes from its people and to keep their military spending up, which complies with the idea of “military keynesianism”.[21]

The candidate for this “necessary enemy” could have been anyone, but Islam’s growing role in world affairs, its influence and power in the oil industry and the event of the Iranian Revolution were seen as a direct threat to the global hegemony of the United States, creating the perfect ever so needed new enemy.

Although the Middle East, or more likely the Islamic world, has long been viewed as the ‘Christian’ West’s polar opposite; “lacking those very qualities which made the West great”[22], it was the events of September 11th that specifically brought the Islamic World into the limelight and made it a main target of propaganda. This is surprising since militant Islam was seen as a threat to the US and Israel from the early 1980’s, yet little was ever mentioned about it in the media.[23]

There are a great deal of religious connotations when it came to the declaration of the ‘War on Terror’. President Bush Jr. constatly refers to it as the fight between ‘Good’ and ‘Evil‘ and initially declared ‘Operation Infinite Justice’ as the ‘Crusade against Terrorism’. Until ofcourse the media made such an issue out of it being so religiously affiliated, that it was changed. This could be seen as an effective use of propaganda, ensuring the idea of ‘Us‘and ‘Them‘ is firmly engrained in people’s minds. Creating the necessary hostility that will ensure the people’s support for their governements actions.

This declaration of a ‘War on Terror’ is in fact a redeclaration of the war, by the same people against rather similar targets. As Chomsky points out, the first ‘War on Terror’ was declared by Ronald Reagan in 1985, with a striking number of the same people holding leading positions in the American Government[24]. The shift from Soviet-sponsored ‘International Terrorism’ , to ‘Islamic Terrorism’ is ironic, as the majority of the new and more radical groups were formed by the people/fighters/volunteers that helped the US with the defeat of the Soviet Union – who were viewed by these Arab Islamists as ‘godless communists’. Once the godless communists withdrew from Afghanistan[25], the American trained Islamist volunteers assumed that the US would assist them in toppling their own authoritarian and corrupt regimes; however this came to no prevail. Instead, after analysing the situation more carefully, they were able to conclude that it was in fact the US’s political, military and financial support that made the regimes they hated so fiercely that much more powerful. 

The hate and anger was further fueled by the first Gulf War (1991), while these Islamists were by no means supporters of Saddam Hussein’s secular regime or of the invasion of Kuwait, the war was seen as an interference by America in the Muslim world. The fact that US military bases were formed in many Muslim countries, specifically the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia for over a decade after the end of the war was simply an issue that could not be accepted or tolerated. The amount of suffering and death occurring in Iraq on a largely Muslim population due to American sanctions is another issue that has enhanced the resentment. In October 2001 a report by the United Nations Secretary General, revealed that the “obstruction of $4 billion of humanitarian supplies… is by far the main cause of the extreme suffering and deaths in Iraq” and that “every month up to 6,000 children die mostly as a result of the blockade”[26]. Pilger stresses this is twice the number of people killed in the Twin Towers which so eloquently shows the different value of different people’s lives.

The result of this frustration was a series of attacks on US embassies and military bases in Africa and the Middle East; little attention was paid to these events, regardless of the constant warning of larger and more fatal attacks. However, with the attacks on America on September 11th, they could no longer sit back and do nothing, it was their own people dying at the hands of extremists, that were attacking the ‘free world’ and they needed to be destroyed.

Propaganda Model

Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky developed the ‘Propaganda Model’ as a framework for analysing and understanding how the mainstream US media works and why it works as it does. They developed this model using the “structural factors as the only possible root of the systematic patterns of behaviour and performance”. [27]

The propaganda model emphasises the inequality of wealth and power that is present in countries where the ‘levers of power are in the hands of a state bureaucracy’[28] and its inevitable effects on the media’s choices and interests. It looks at how this inequality enables the powerful to censor and filter what they feel is newsworthy and what is suitable for the public to know, according to their own interests and objectives.

Unfortunately, the propaganda model has proven to be rather disagreeable among many groups and has been left out of many mainstream debates. This is likely to be attributable to its proclamation of the anti-democratic way the media operates. Herman points out that this exclusion is noteworthy because it is consistent with the ‘elite’ view that “the masses are notoriously short sighted[29] and are “often poor judges of their own interests”[30].

The propaganda model includes a certain set of news ‘filters’ in which information must pass through. I will discuss these filters and will show how these filters apply to my analysis of the ‘War on Terror’.

The first filter relates to The size, ownership and profit orientation of the mass media; the dominant media establishments are securely rooted in the market system. They are profit orientated establishments that are owned by either very wealthy individuals or very wealthy mega-corporations. Now, of course, that implies that the media will adhere to what their owners want them to do and what information they want them to spread. Although there are a large number of media entities,[31] a significant number of them are just small local companies that are either dependant on the large national companies or are subject to common ownership. In fact, twenty nine of the largest companies accounted for over 50 per cent of the output of newspapers and even more for magazines, broadcasting and movies.[32] When it comes to dealing with international news, there are even fewer top conglomerates that have even more control. It is these very few, very powerful companies, along with the government that are the agenda setters of the news. They set the basic framework to which the other smaller media units must adapt. And it is these agenda setters and their framework that determines what news the public receives.

The second filter is The advertising licence to do business; like most corporations, these agenda setting mega-corporations have a product to sell, audiences and a market to sell it to, advertisers. So essentially they are selling audiences to other businesses. And for these mega agenda setting corporations, their audiences are among the elite, political class that make decisions in our society. In this way, these media corporations need to portray an image of the world that will satisfy the needs of the buyers, sellers and the market[33]. These advertising companies obviously also have their own interests that need serving and the media must comply. Their power stems from the fact that they are the ones buying the programs, and therefore are unlikely to support programs that are in any way controversial or outside of the accepted spectrum.

Sourcing mass media news; the third filter looks at the sources of information that the media concentrates on from which they develop news. “The mass media are drawn into a symbiotic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interests.”[34] The media have to be able to adhere to the daily news demands and therefore they have to be able to have constant, accessible and convenient sources of information. That is why they are likely to be where news often occurs, such as the White House and the Pentagon. There are other significant reasons for the heavy dependence on official sources of information that claim objectivity, which have been discussed by Chomsky and others such as Gaye Tuchman. Firstly, journalists need to appear objective but at the same time protect themselves from possible criticisms of bias or possible more serious action. Also, using these official sources reduces costs as well as time. Journalists need not go to other sources to verify their story because more commonly than not they are seen as presumptively accurate and reliable.

Flak and the enforcers; as the fourth filter, presupposes that the use of ‘flak’ is used to strengthen the authority and authenticity of the media. Flak refers to complaints or negative responses to a media statement or program. There have been a number of organisations that have been thought to have developed over the last few decades for the sole purpose of producing official flak, such as Freedom House, The American Legal Foundation and Accuracy in Media (AIM). Although they are seen to be attacking the media, these organisations are treated respectfully and “their propagandistic role and links to large corporate program are rarely mentioned or analysed.”[35] A lot of their work is published and their members are taken seriously, with regular appearances as experts on television. This could be taken as a reflection of the power of media sponsors. In fact news management is designed to produce flak and the government also plays their role in producing it.

Finally, the fifth filter that Herman and Chomsky outline is Anticommunism as a control mechanism; Since the Cold war, if not before, Communism has been portrayed as the ultimate evil. It is a threat to the class structure of society which directly threatens their elite status. Therefore, anything that supports communism or any communist state and radicalism is a threat and becomes an enemy. This is when the media become of use. They create a dichotomized world. You are either with ‘Us’ or ‘Against Us’. “The ideology and religion of anticommunism is a potent filter.”[36]

Relevance of the Propaganda Model Today

The first four filters in the propaganda model are much more general and can be seen to be applicable to an endless number of events that are occurring around us today, including the ‘War on Terror’. In fact, the first two filters relating to the ownership of the media and the importance of advertising have become even more relevant today than ever before. Corporate power has increased significantly and has spread all across the world, with a lot of the national corporations becoming multi-national, ensuring power over as many continents as possible, including the Middle East. The decline of public broadcasting and the merging and centralisation of the media has further increased their power and crippled the possibility of any other smaller more moderate media entities of gaining power. Advertising has become even more competitive and the boundaries that advertisers have put on the editorial department are even stricter. The significant budget cuts have directly affected the ability of investigative journalists to carry out research that could possibly challenge the structure of power in the media and its propaganda.

It is debatable whether the emergence of the Internet and the new communication technologies are in fact beneficial or detrimental to these major powerful media entities. On the one hand, they may be seen to be opening up windows of opportunities for the possibility of a real open free means of information. On the other hand, they could be seen as enhancing the problem as they allow these powerful media entities to have high outputs with a decreasing need for man power as well as  enabling them to maintain their global dominance in the industry.

The third and fourth filters have also gained strength over the last decade. There has been a reduction in the possible resources that journalists can use which in hand gives even more power to those who subsidise the media. The public relations industry has grown substantially and has enhanced their expertise on how to “utilise journalistic conventions to serve its own ends.”[37] According to a study carried out by Dowie (1995) a great amount of news originates in public relations releases and there are 20,000 more public relations agents working to manipulate the news than there are journalists writing it.[38]

I would like to take this model a step further and introduce a sixth filter, which in my opinion would bring the Propaganda Model up to date historically. This sixth filter being The War on Terror as a Control Mechanism. I have chosen to introduce this as a sixth filter rather than displacing Anticommunism as a control mechanism because American society is still very much determined by class. This sixth filter however introduces the struggle of religion and ethnicity that has become so evident in the wake of the more recent emphasis on the “culture war”.[39] This is clearly a right wing response to the rise of multiculturalism in the United States and the emergence of powerful cultural and religious groupings in the context of globalisation.[40]

If the War on Terror can be taken as a control mechanism, it should be taken very seriously. If you look at the repercussions of this apparent War on Terror, such as the war in Afghanistan and the current war in Iraq, the consequences have been humanitarianly, economically and politically disastrous. This fight against terror is also suggesting the possibility of further attacks on other countries that are seen to be supporting and encouraging attacks on the Western civilised world, such as Syria and Iran. The world appears to be unstable and on the verge of a possible third world war or as Chomsky would prefer, what is happening today is a ‘Silent Genocide’.

Additionally, threats that were previously categorised into communism, social activism and an array of others are now all being incorporated into this broad concept of ‘terrorism’. This stems from the ambiguity of the definition and nature of terrorism. One no longer seems to be able to take the official definition as total because the American government itself do not. ‘Calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious or ideological in nature.’[41] Now anything that is seen as a threat to the US’s global hegemony or a threat to the power of these mammoth conglomerates will be labelled as terrorists and suitable action taken against them. This may be seen with the events in Columbia, Chechnya and North Korea.


The use of propaganda during wars has always been a good reason for those governments that want to persuade their population of the justness of their causes as well as being a perfect tool for hiding the atrocities, failures and consequences of the war. The ability propaganda has of using misinformation and disinformation in order to create alternate realities that will distract people from the truth seemed to have worked quite well. One may at first glance say that propaganda is winning, however I feel there is still hope. Since the 1980’s during Reagan’s presidency the amount of clandestine government activities rose considerably and has been rising consistently since. This could be viewed as a good thing, as it implies that people are reacting and at least attempting to fight the system.

The lack of control that journalists and editors have in what information can be researched and published is unfortunately not changing; in fact the situation may be getting worse. As just pointed out, the power of the public relations industry is strengthening leaving even less opportunity for these professional investigative journalists. The power now needs to be with the public. They need to open their eyes, and take their attention off of what the government wants us to see. Because people do not have to look very hard to see the truth, on the contrary, people have to try very hard not to see them.

Unfortunately, the ‘War on Terror’ is still a major worry. It seems to be in a constant state of metamorphoses with an uncertainty in the direction it is taking. The possible implications of it are unclear and therefore dangerous. There is of course the question of how we can stop terrorism, or at least attempt to reduce it. This question is never discussed as Chomsky points out. The answer? Well, ‘Stop participating in it!’. America has consistently supported major participants of terrorism, namely Israel and also previously Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s, to name but a few. Apart from that, there is a need to rethink the policies that are creating this reservoir of support.[42] Stop organising and training possible future terrorist armies, such as  in the case with Afghanistan. Finally, use the opportunities that are available to be open to debate around these issues. It is evident people are interested, people do not want blood on their hands. It is only with people united that any change is possible.


Bagdikian, B. (1987). The Media Monopoly. 2nd Ed. Beacon Press, Boston.

Bailey, Thomas (1948) The Man in the Street: the Impact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy, New York: Macmillan.

Baistow, T. (1985) Fourth Rate Estate. Comedia, London.

Bernays, E.L. (1972).  Propaganda. Kennikat Publishing, USA.

Chomsky, N. (2002) Distorted Morality: America’s War on Terror? Accessed on 2nd January 2006.–02.htm

Chomsky, N. (2003). Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. Penguin, UK, USA.

Chomsky, N. (2002). Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. 2nd Ed. Seven Stories Press, USA.

Chomsky, N. (2001) The New War Against Terror. Accessed on 2nd January 2006.

Delwiche, A. (2002). Why think about Propaganda. Propaganda. Accessed on 29th December, 2006.

Gumbel, Andrew (2006). How the War machine is Driving the United States Economy.  Common Dreams News Centre.  Accessed 21 January 2006.

Herman, E.S. (2003). The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective.  Accessed on 10th January 2006.

Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Vintage, UK, USA.

Huntington, S. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations?. Foreign Affairs Vol. 72, 22-49.

Jewett, R. & Lawrence, J. S. (2003). Captain America and the Crusade against Evil. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., UK.   

Lasswell, Harold (1933) ‘Propaganda,’ Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, New York: Macmillan.

Lippmann, W. (1921). Public Opinion. Accessed on 2nd January 2006.

Lockman, Z. (2004). Contending Visions of the Middle East. Cambridge University Press, UK.

Melman, S. (2004). They are All Implicated: In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy. Counter Punch. Accessed on 4th January 2006.

Mitchel, P.R. & Schoeffel, J. (2003). Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. Vintage, UK, USA.

O. Keohane, R. (2001). The United Nations: An Essential Instrument Against Terror. Accessed on 6th January 2006,

Pilger, J. (1999). Hidden Agendas. Vintage, UK.

Pilger, J. (2003). The New Rulers of the World. Verso, UK & USA.

Cambridge Dictionary Online. Accessed on 2nd January 2006.

Centre for Media and Democracy. PR Watch.  Accessed on 29th December 2005.

Collins Gem Dictionary (2001). HarperCollins Publishers, UK. Accessed on 2nd January 2006.

The 9/11 Review. (2004). Divide and Conquer.  Accessed on 2nd January 2006.    

[1] Mitchel, P.R. & Schoeffel, J. (2003). Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. P. 16.[2] Walter Lipmann one of the most influential writers, journalists and political commentators. In Lippmann’s view, the ‘manufacture of consent’ by an elite class had already become ‘a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government by the 1920s.

[3] Lippmann, W. (1921). Public Opinion.

[4] Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.  p. 1


[6] Cambridge Dictionary Online

[7] Collins Gem Dictionary

[8] Delwiche, A. (2002) Why think about Propaganda.

[9] These filters will be discussed in the next section on Chomsky’s Propaganda Model.

[10] Mitchel, P.R. & Schoeffel, J. (2003). Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky p. 13.

[11] Interestingly, it is this method of repetition that was adopted by Joseph Goebbels which made ‘The Big Lie’ so effective. (This will be discussed in more detail further on.)

[12] Centre for Media and Democracy. PR Watch

[13] It is interesting that in the US, the Public Relations industry is not subject to taxation since, it is argues that this would be an infringement on the First Amendment Rights of Freedom of Speech.

[14] Baistow, T. (1985) Fourth Rate Estate. Comedia, London.

[15] Pilger, J. (1999). Hidden Agendas. p. 540.

[16] Bernays, E.L. (1972).  Propaganda.

[17] The Creel Commission was established under President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 and its purpose was to influence the American public into supporting US intervention in WW1 using a powerful propaganda campaign.

[18] Chomsky, N. (2002). Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. 2nd Ed. p. 11.

[19] The 9/11 Review. (2004). Divide and Conquer

[20] Melman, S. (2004). They are All Implicated: In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy. Counter Punch.

[21] Gumbel, Andrew (2006). “How the War Machine is Driving the US Economy. Common Dreams.

[22] Lockman, Z. (2004). Contending Visions of the Middle East. p. 62.

[23] In December 2001, an article entitled ‘America at War’ that was published by the journal Current History, identified the 1980’s as the era of state sponsored terror, one may take that a step further and call it the era of state sponsored international terrorism. The main player being the Middle East, however Central America is also occasionally mentioned. Some of the main atrocities that occurred at this time were the car bombing in Beirut in 1985, placed outside a mosque, detonated at a time that would create the largest number of casualties and fatalities. Killing and injuring over 300 people, women, children and babies still in their beds. Set off by the CIA in collaboration with British intelligence. The Israeli attacks on occupied southern Lebanon in March 1985 that was supported militarily and diplomatically by the US. The even more violent Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that lead to the death of twenty thousand people, also aided and supported by the US. However these events were not even mentioned in the article in Current History. Instead the main atrocities were said to include the hijacking of TWA 847 that killed one American and the hijacking of Achille Lauro killing one American. (Chomsky, 2002, Distorted Morality: America’s War on Terror?).

[24] Chomsky, N. (2002). Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. 2nd Ed.

[25] Incidentally, the war in Afghanistan (2001) was a major source of the American propaganda campaign. Psychological operations tactics were used to demoralise the Taliban. Gain the trust of the Afghan people. The jamming of local radio transmissions and in its place the transmission of propaganda messages. As well as leaflets offering rewards for Osama bin Laden.

[26] Pilger, J. (2003). The New Rulers of the World. p. 9.

[27] Herman, E.S. (2003). The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective. 

[28] Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. p. 1.

[29] Bailey, Thomas (1948) The Man in the Street: the Impact of American Public Opinion on Foreign Policy, New York: Macmillan. Pg. 13.

[30] Lasswell, Harold (1933) ‘Propaganda,’ Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, New York: Macmillan, p. 527.

[31] 25,000 reported in 1986. in Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.  p. 4.

[32] Bagdikian, B. (1987). The Media Monopoly. 2nd Ed. Beacon Press, Boston.

[33] Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. p. 14.

[34] Ibid. p. 18.

[35] Ibid . p. 28.  This is also the case with other so called ‘think tanks’ such as the Heritage Foundation, the Rand Corporation, and the American Enterprise Institute to name but a few.

[36] Ibid. p. 31.

[37] Herman, E.S. (2003). The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective. 

[38] Ibid.

[39] This phrase became famous in the Presidential campaigns of far-right wing Patrick Buchanan in 1992 and 1996.

[40] This culture war seems to follow quite well with Huntington’s theory ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’, “the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future”. Although there have been a number of criticisms of this theory, looking at the current situation in the world, it is hard to dismiss it totally, regardless of it faults.

[41] Chomsky, N. (2002) Distorted Morality: America’s War on Terror?

[42] Chomsky, N. (2001) The New War Against Terror.

2 Responses to “Propaganda and the ‘War on Terror’”

  1. This is going to be very helpful to my assignment, ‘Is the Propaganda Model valid’


  2. Please make the world peacefully without war.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: