Media/Military Relations in the United States
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Media/military relations in the United State have been frequently strained. In time of war, especially, communication between the two institutions often becomes aggravated and adversarial. The basic reason is that the nature and goals of the two institutions virtually decree a tension. To this, one may add the increasing tendency to formulate U.S. foreign policy with little or no formal debate. The media rushes to fill a vacuum left by the absence of argument between the Administration and Congress. In this way, the military complains that the media often drives the mission, forcing deployments to places where the United States has scant national interests. Like most bureaucracies, the military prefers to do its business behind closed doors, all the more so because the nature of its business is so often shocking to public sensibilities. It also relies on public support for its missions, and too often sees the media as a subversive, rather than a positive, element in that process. Although media/military tension may be endemic, the two institutions need to work together. The nature of democracy itself requires a free press to expose the actions of political and military leaders to public scrutiny. The press has a responsibility to question the policy/strategy match in military operations. Furthermore, the process is beneficial for the military, for it allows the two institutions to work in a symbiotic relationship to build support for policy and to tell the military's story.
Occasional Paper #10
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