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The Role of the Media in the Planning and Conduct of Strategic Operations with Reference to the Gulf War 1991 and the Bosnian War 1992-95
MA Dissertation

King's College London

MA International Peace and Security 2001-2002
School of Law/Department of War Studies

Dissertation Supervisor: Prof. Lawrence Freedman

Deadline: 2 September 2002 Pubblicazioni
Centro italiano Studi per la pace
www.studiperlapace.it - no ©
Documento aggiornato al: 2000

 
Sommario

"Journalists and policy-makers alike tend to assume that media coverage has an undefined yet pivotal role in helping conflict management or prevention", writes Nik Gowing . The role of the media and its influence on the conduct of contemporary warfare is often ambiguous, even more so today where advanced satellite technologies allow us virtually 'to be' in the theatre of operations, as conflicts unfold, through our screens.

 
Indice dei contenuti
 
INTRODUCTION

PART ONE
IRAQ


The Coalitions' Media Management
War Breaks Out on Television
The Air Campaign
Polls Verdict After the First Week-End
The Scuds
Oil Spillage and Strategic Misinformation
Iraqi Media Mismanagement: Strategic Mistakes
'Collateral Damage' and Public Reaction
Al-Khafji
Preparing the Ground War Offensive
The 100-Hour-War
The Coalition's Final Strategic Media Campaign
Conclusion on Iraq

PART TWO
BOSNIA


Difficult Beginnings
The Media in Serbia in the Late 1980s: Forging War?
Serb Media during the War
Western Media and Its Manipulation
Western Media and the Bosnian Conflict
Conclusion on Bosnia

CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY
 
Abstract
 

Conclusion:

The experience of the US (in civil wars) has been unhappy, exemplified by its ignominious retreat from Somalia in 1992 after an unprecedented media circus at the first beach landings by Special Forces some months earlier: "The eagerness for intervention in civil wars is slowly receding to the same degree that the role of the media in reporting such conflicts is coming under close scrutiny" , claims Burns. One could argue that perhaps such statement is slightly exaggerated: there may be a direct, inversely proportional relationship between media scrutiny and the 'push' for intervention, but this is not what ultimately leads governments to initiate or change a certain policy path.
The CNN alone is not responsible for the failure of institutions to deal successfully with major conflicts around the world. It could be argued that the institutions are no less successful now than they ever were, it is simply that public expectations have been raised far above the practical realities of implementation and such expectations are not always necessarily compatible with realpolitik.
No president could now go to war without a strategy for managing the news to his advantage and keeping the press from unravelling his policies and successes. According to Cheney, then Secretary of Defence, two broad principles guided the planning: first, military needs should outweigh the media 'rights' to cover the war. This meant that ensuring operational security and military convenience would be placed above ensuring press access to the battlefield and information. Second, the government must at all costs maintain its credibility with the public, which meant that, in Cheney's words, "...don't get out there making claims you can't back up" . Or, in Colin Powell's words, "[if a commander] in Desert Shield sat around in his tent and mused with a few CNN guys and pool guys and other guys, it's in 105 capitals a minute later" . The preservation of operational security appears of paramount concern here, but it is not the only concern. Political needs were placed above journalists' rights. Public support and opinion, especially in those countries more prominent in the coalition against Iraq, had to be mobilized in the desired direction by conveying a unified message through a media system that was managed so as not to allow journalists running free in the desert and reporting in a patchwork of different styles and contents. National interest seems, in the end, to be a concern which is placed above public opinion's perceptions and power to influence strategies.
Iraq's propaganda attempts backfired almost completely. Instead of turning the American public against the war, if anything they stiffened America's resolve to deal harshly with Saddam Hussein and by default contributed to America's winning the war - a war which the American administration, through the military and the media, claimed pretty much successfully from the beginning was winnable.
As for Bosnia, the public, at least to begin with, did not need to be 'mobilised' into supporting particular policies as they were non-existent. The media, it could be argued, had much more of a pro-active effect in spurring initiatives that were bound to fail as long-term, effective policies but certainly helped to raise international awareness of the Yugoslav conflicts. However, if one goes back at the late 1980s, as this paper has tried to show, the nationalistic tone of Milosevic's gatherings should have warned of the troubles ahead; when they materialised, it was perhaps 'wrong timing'. The disastrous US intervention in Somalia also put a brake on the 'superpower''s willigness to intervene in a situation where there is no clear policy to follow, and, perhaps even more importantly, where an exit strategy is missing. The Croat's successful 1995 campaign to retake Serb-held Krajina, in the end, provided the favourable circumstances for intervention; the campaign allowed for a new balance of power to emerge, which provided with new opportunities for peace and the US quickly took advantage of them, especially as Milosevic did not seem to provide any support or protection to the Krajina Serbs.
Yugoslavia, as mentioned before, did not have any strategic interests for the US after the end of the Cold War; but the processes of dissolution of states following that, in the early 1990s, may have led the US to conclude that: "Western acquiescence to Yugoslavia's disintegration into ethnically based states might serve as a precedent for ethnic groups in Russia to raise up against Moscow, risking widespread chaos in a region rich in nuclear weapons" . Intervening in Bosnia saw strategic elements, such this, being taken into consideration in the final instance: issues of national interest and international security seem of paramount are the key issues here. But it seems that only when these are threatened, in a way or another, for the long-term that military intervention, or any fundamental change in international policy during conflict, will take place.

 
Bibliografia
 

Adie, K., Chief News Correspondent, BBC "What Defines the National Interest: Statesmanship vs Journalism?" Speech given in Iceland, September 2000. No further details can be provided as the paper was procured by a colleague who attended the conference.

Adie, K. Reporting War at http://www.cf.ac.uk/jomec/issues/adiemain.html accessed 2/5/2002

Ainger, K. Empires of the Senseless New Internationalist Magazine, April 2001

Bell, Martin In Harm's Way, Penguin Books 1996

Buric, A. The Media: War and Peace in Bosnia at www.ipwr.net accessed 1/7/01

Chomsky, Noam and Herman, Edward Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass
Media, Pantheon Books 1994

Carruthers, S. The Media at War, Palgrave Editions, 2000

European Institute for the Media (EIM), The Federal and Republican Elections in Serbia and Montenegro: Coverage by Press, Radio and Television A Report by the Media Monitoring Unit (Manchester and Dusseldorf: January 1993)

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting at http://www.fair.org/issues-news/military.html accessed 23/2/2002

Gottshalk, M. 'Operation Desert Cloud: the Media and the Gulf War' War Policy Journal Vol.4 No.2

Thompson, M. Forging War - The Media in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, University of Luton Press 1999

Glitman, M. US Policy in Bosnia: Rethinking a Flawed Approach Survival, Vol 38, No 4,
Winter 1996-97

Gow J., Paterson, R. and Preston, A. (Eds) Bosnia by Television British Film Institute, 1996

Gowing, N. Real Time TV coverage of Armed Conflicts and Diplomatic crises: Does it Pressure or Distort Foreign Policy Decisions? Cambridge MA: JFK School of Government, Harvard University 1994

Gowing, Nik Media Coverage - Help or Hindrance in Conflict Prevention?, Prepublication Draft, May 1997, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict

Kirtley, J. Enough is Enough Media Studies Journal, 15/10/2001 at http://alternet.org, accessed 15/3/2002

Owen, D. Balkan Odyssey London: Gollancz 1995

Ramonet, I. The control of pleasure: United States goes Global Le Monde Diplomatique, at http://www.en.monde-diplomatique.fr/2000/05/02pleasure accessed 20/4/2002

Robinson, P. The CNN effect: can the news media drive foreign policy?, Review of International Studies 1999

Rumiz, P. Maschere per un Massacro Ed Riuniti, Rome, 1996

Shawcross, William Deliver Us from Evil - Warlords and Peacekeepers in a World of Endless Conflict, Bloomsbury 2000

Stewart, B. (Lt Colonel) Broken Lives: A Personal View of the Bosnian Conflict London Harper Collins, 1993

Taylor, Philip M. War and the Media, Manchester University Press 1998

Thrall, T. War in the Media NJ Hampton Press 2000

Newspaper articles and magazines retrieved between April and May 2002 were retrieved from a number of sources:

Media Channel at www.mediachannel.org
Media Foundation at www.adbusters.org
Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom at www.cpbf.org.uk
World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters at www.amarc.org
Next 5 Minutes at www.n5m.org

The maps were retrieved from www.un.org and www.fas.org

 
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