World War III and the PR Front

I tend not to post about politics, because politics are personal and not something for a blog - unless, of course, you are a political blogger.

This past Friday I went to see John Rendon of the Rendon Group speak at the Long Now Foundation on the long view on terrorism, and winning the war. I went on assignment for an article for O'Dwyer's - when it is up, I will highlight what I wrote there.

But, one thing stuck in my mind, and hit home this weekend when Newt Gingrich was on Meet The Press. Two great posts from the Seattle Times blogs - one from an interview with Newt, and then a synopsis of his TV appearance - do a better job at giving background.

During his speech, Rendon noted that:
The issue is that we are in a peacetime government and home front, but with a wartime military - there is a disconnect between the two.
That has always been an odd thing to me. During war time, we have always given up things on the home front, but this time you really cannot tell we are in the midst of two military operations unless you are in a military town, or part of the family.

So, here's the spin, and from a good spinmeister and one that is a student of history. Gingrich notes that we need to think of this as a war, as WWIII, and that is what will help win the war - by fighting on the same level. With that spin, it makes it a different mindset, but I wonder if the government will go with such messaging and tie in the gasoline prices into US citizens giving up things on the homefront.

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12 comments

  1. Jeremy,

    Glad to see you delving into politics -- the water's fine!

    Answer to your question: No, the government won't ask the people to sacrifice, because that's when it will lose public support.

    Govenments, including the U.S. government, do not always ask their citizens to sacrifice during war. We certainly did ask for huge sacrifices during the Civil War and WWII. In Vietnam, however, as soon as the government asked for sacrifice -- namely, the draft -- the war began losing public support rapidly. But attacking Iraq is more like the Mexican War or the Spanish-American War -- sacrifices were not asked of us then.

    And frankly, in a nuclear world, where it requires no sacrifice to push a button, I wonder if our government will ever ask for such sacrifices again. More likely, the sacrifices -- such as true gas shortages -- will be forced upon us by our enemies who control the natural resources we covet. Then, the people will ask their government to solve the problem -- namely, the need for them to sacrifice.

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  2. There's definitely a disconnect between our peacetime home front and military activities abroad, but I don't believe the government will chose to label our military operations as WWIII any time soon.

    Granted, it would probably help create a unified public mind-set, but it would also probably lead to a "hunker down" mentality, similar, although not identical, to what we saw after 9/11. And this would have economic repercussions domestically (and also internationally), which the country may not be ready to deal with yet. Given our "loss of innocence" after 9/11 and the fact that we as a nation are still dealing with that -- and that the public (military families notwithstanding) is not yet ready to make war a part of its personal daily life -- the government is likely to wait until absolutely necessary to position these conflicts as anything like a 3rd world war. Therefore any requests for practical-based "sacrifices" are likely to take a back seat for the time being as well.

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  3. Pepper, Baradell and Weckerle on PR and World War III... seriously that's it! I am going to kill myself.

    - Amanda

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  4. Promises, promises.

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  5. If it weren't for the meds.

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  6. A poly-sci prof that I had in college predicted back in '93 that terrorism would be the next World War. I guess them liberals ain't as dumb as people assume. :P

    There was an interesting piece on NPR last week about Al-Qaeda's recognition of the necessity of PR. The handbook is called The Management of Savagery, where they discuss plans on disrupting societies through terrorism and using the media to gain sympathy for their cause. Pretty unbelievable stuff.

    Anyway -- about people sacrificing during a time of war -- have you flown lately?

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  7. Actually, I haven't flown much lately. :)

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  8. The personal is political, but the political is never personal.

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  9. Kasey Butler8:42 AM

    I think the important thing to remember here is the level of support for the wars being mentioned. SB mentions that sacrifices were asked for during the Civil War and WWII, but the government was in a position to request self-denials because public support for the wars was overwhelming.

    I would agree with SB on the grounds that the Vietnam War lost support with the onset of the draft, but the support was never truly there. The government's requests/demands were really just the icing on America's bitter-tasting cake. The same holds true for the War in Iraq. While my father serves in Iraq and I would never badmouth the objective of this offensive, even I must admit that support was marginal at best to start out with.

    Sure, America was willing to give up for the War on Terrorism after vicious attacks on our homeland, but the atrocities in Iraq do not ring home quite as clearly. All of this means that the government isn't in a position to angle its message as one of heralding the selfless American, because America, sadly, doesn't support this war.

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  10. Love the blog, and there isn't anything wrong with delving into politics, since most of it is PR anyhow.

    Kasey makes a fine point, and just to elaborate on the idea of support = sacrifice in the homeland. Agree completely, but one additional aspect is the fact that some wars are supported because they are viewed as 'just'. The arguement could be made that no war is 'just', but WWII certainly would fit and on back to the Revolution.

    American's can't see this current war as just; you can argue the reasons why, but it does come down to the way it was initially positioned to the American public, who was behind this at the start with the promise of WMDs. When that did not pan out the promise was broken and no matter what happened support was sure to slowly dull.

    Now certain politicians are trying again to make promises (this is WWIII) which are more abstract and therefore easier to gain support.

    Will be interesting to see how this PR campaign pans out...but please don't forget the guys and girls fighting and dying for this 'spin'.

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  11. Coming Soon-WWW III-from the People Who Brought You Iraq

    They never cease to amaze. The same people who have us in a mess in Iraq want to solve the problem they created by having more of our troops fighting a wider war throughout the Middle East and Iran.

    Who is telling us this is WWW III, and by implication, trying to justify a wider conflict to include Syria and Iran? The same geniuses who helped get us into Iraq. Newt Gingrich, William Kristol, Sean (high school) Hannity, Oliver North, William (the virtuous gambler) Bennett, Bill O'Reilly, Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes. Not one day of military service out of the whole group.

    I guess they figure that if they can't win a smaller war they can win a larger one, though I fail to see how that follows. Do not expect even the U.K. to be around for the next misadventure the neocons want to undertake. Once Tony Blair is gone his successor has the perfect opportunity to get out of a bad situation and I think he'll take it.

    Instead of figuring out a diplomatic way to get us out of the Middle East, these yo-yo's keep trying to find a military victory somewhere, anywhere, as an excuse for their strategic ineptitude.

    The people are saying in poll after poll, "Get out", and the neocons are promising to drag them further into the Middle East quagmire.

    This latest attempt won't work to scare the American people into voting Republican in November. Just the opposite, it will scare them into getting rid of their Republican representatives so that don't have to send even more troops to the Middle East and stay even longer.

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  12. jack_(media student)2:35 PM

    errr... to call a cat a cat ,the RENDON GROUP is a propaganda bureau
    with a big budget from your pockets payed to construct and fabricate false stories to manage your perception toward a political agenda.

    There is nothing else to discuss about RENDON group.Just denounce it and claim the truth.Else the world you live in is just a lie.(And RENDON GROUPE fabricated really big ones)

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