Sunday, October 11, 2009

Credibility and Management - Michael Tweedy

Throughout the ages of history, propaganda has played an important role, whether good or bad, in persuading a population to believe in a certain ideology to help further a particular agenda. When used properly, it can be very beneficial in bringing mass populations together in support of certain actions taken by and individual or group of individuals. One of the greatest purposes of propaganda is used by countries who try to increase their soft power, or image in the global community. Soft power is essential for many countries to be able to use diplomatic measures in the global community to solve issues between their country and others. Countries use propaganda efforts in order to maintain credibility and image between other countries, and to stay in good standing with their own people.


        Leaders of countries use propaganda in order to maintain the support of their citizens, and also to gain support of other nations to help further their foreign policy agendas. Soft power is the ability to get what you want by attracting and persuading others to adopt your goals. It differs from hard power, the ability to use the carrots and sticks of economic and military might to make others follow your will. Both hard and soft powers are important in the war on terrorism, but attraction is much cheaper than coercion, and an asset that needs to be nourished (Nye, 2003). This is best exemplified in the Bush Administration’s propaganda used to gain support for the War on Terrorism. First, President Bush played on the hearts of the American people shortly after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center rallying them together through their anger, rage, sorrow, and sadness to gain their support for the United States’ open-ended campaign against terrorism worldwide. Bush took the support from the American people and pushed his foreign political agenda to rid the world of terrorism, stopping at nothing to have this goal obtained.

        The second source of propaganda used by the Bush Administration was grey propaganda, saying whatever it needed to in order to get the support of ally nations to help the United States in their War on Terrorism efforts. Without other countries, the war efforts would have been halted by the backlash from different terrorist organizations, because the United States military is not large enough to combat the entire world’s terrorism alone. The Bush Administration put forth this image of the United States as a “nation dedicated to ridding the world of terrorism.” With this image in hand, and spread throughout the global community, the United States was able to pursue the terrorist threats as they appeared in an attempt to preempt any future attacks. Without the soft power and image created through the support of the American people, and the support of ally nations, the War on Terrorism would be ineffective and unwinnable.


        Leonard Doob states in his article, Goebbel’s Principles of Propaganda, “Credibility alone must determine whether propaganda output should be true or false.”  The credibility of the source is a major determinant of how people view the information presented, and if the credibility is low, the actuality of the information being persuasive is low as well. Referring back to the Bush Administration example, they used black propaganda to gain the support of both the American people and the global community when invading Iraq. They told us that Iraq was holding weapons of mass destruction, and an invasion was the only was to stop them from being used, when actually there were no weapons of mass destruction found in the area, and they in turn took the opportunity to seize control of the government and take over the country. This use of black propaganda led to the eventual decline in the credibility of the United States in the global community, and now all the multi-lateral efforts we were working towards have essentially turned into unilateral ones, because no country wanted to support our outlandish tactics and efforts. “Rising anti-Americanism around the world threatens to deprive the US of the soft or attractive power that it needs to succeed in the struggle against terrorism. As Iraq has shown, hard military power alone cannot provide a solution” (Nye, 2005). The United States needs to do something in order for it to be able to effectively continue its foreign policy agendas. We need to increase our credibility in the global community in order to gain support of other nations to help us with our campaigns, and hopefully help decrease terrorism throughout the world.

        Image and credibility is absolutely essential when it comes to the use of propaganda within a country. As seen in the previous examples, the wrong use of propaganda can easily hurt a country’s image and credibility to the point where the global community refuses to help them in certain campaigns. It is necessary to maintain a good image and high credibility to be able to gain support for certain diplomatic and military efforts, and to keep in good graces with the ally countries you would like support from in the future. So, when using propaganda, the best type would be to use white propaganda, and hope that the truth will allow you to gain the support necessary to further your agenda.     

Joseph Nye. (2003, January 10). Propaganda Isn’t the Way: Soft Power. International Herald
        Tribune. Retrieved from

Joseph Nye. (2005, January 22). America’s Soft Power Suffering As It Loses the Propaganda War.
        Taipei Times. Retrieved from

Leonard W. Doob. Joesph Goebbel’s Principles of Propaganda. Public Opinion and Propaganda.
        Retrieved from

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