Publication:
Why we fight: mass persuasion, morale, and American public opinion from World War I until the present

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Authors
Virginia, Richard A., Jr.
Subjects
Propaganda
Office of War Information
Committee on Public Information
Global War on Terror
World War I
World War II
Cold War
Vietnam
Korean War
Strategy
Policy
Clausewitz
Total War
Limited War.
Advisors
Abenheim, Donald
Halladay, Carolyn
Date of Issue
2014-06
Date
Jun-14
Publisher
Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
This thesis examines the role of US mass persuasion during modern war and the effects of propaganda, strategic narrative, military strategy, and policy on morale and public opinion. Through historical analysis of several phases of US war propaganda, from the world wars to the Global War on Terror, this study aims to understand the political essence and the cultural and functional nuance of propaganda in a wartime democracy. Prevailing wisdom holds that the United States managed a coherent, focused, and intelligently wielded campaign of mass persuasion in Europe, 1941–1989. Yet, American strategic mass persuasion efforts since 2001 have consistently failed to persuade friend and foe of the strategic efficacy of American and allied campaigns. This thesis finds that wartime propaganda has little effect if it is not derived from a concrete overall strategy, policy, and narrative. The most impactful uses of mass persuasion rely on a perpetual rebalancing of military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s paradoxical trinity—violence, chance, and policy, anchored in democratic statecraft and the virtues of pluralism. Therefore, to better facilitate balancing, an independent governmental agency charged with information management during war may better serve the public, policy makers and the military, producing the desired political ends.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
National Security Affairs
Organization
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NPS Report Number
Sponsors
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Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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