"There is nothing new about using public relations with a commercial twist in foreign policy," writes Victoria De Grazia. "The Romans demonstrated their power from Gaul to Galilee by stamping the emperor's face on their coins, and Her Majesty's government publicized the Pax Britannica by celebrating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee with global distribution of figurines and cups with her image.
"Some people are suspicious that President Bush will go for a 'wag the dog' strategy -- boosting Republican prospects with a military assault on Iraq shortly before Election Day. But a modified approach now seems to be underway. Let's call it 'wag the puppy,'" media watcher and nationally syndicated columnist Normon Solomon writes. He suggests the appearance of a "healthy debate" on Iraq may lack real substance and may instead serve to distract attention from negative economic issues facing the Bush Administration.
A recently-released list of overnight guests at the White House shows that George W. Bush is following the precedent of Bill Clinton and inviting major political donors to sleepovers at the White House. The list of guests at the Bush White House includes six "pioneers" -- Bush supporters who raised more than $100,000 for his presidential campaign.
As the current Bush administration gears up for a second war with Iraq, now would be a good time to refresh our memories about the PR campaign used to sell the first war to the American people. In our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, we showed how the first Bush administration collaborated with the Hill & Knowlton PR firm to peddle a false story about "babies removed from incubators by Iraqi soldiers," which helped swell public outrage against Saddam Hussein.
"The United States, faced with a survey by diplomats showing widespread foreign skepticism about their motives, is planning a public relations offensive to build international support among foreign opinion leaders for a war against Iraq," reports UPI correspondent Eli Lake. The Iraq Public Diplomacy Group, "which includes representatives from the CIA, National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development," plans to publish a brochure and hold interactive teleconferences targeting "opinion leaders" in Europe and the Middle East.
Brian Whitaker profiles the "cosy and cleverly-constructed network of Middle East 'experts'" who "pop up as talking heads on US television, in newspapers, books, testimonies to congressional committees, and at lunchtime gatherings in Washington." Players include the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Institute and the Middle East Forum.
In the aftermath of 9/11, Congress gave the U.S. Justice Department substantial new powers to wiretap and spy on suspected terrorists, but the Justice Department refuses to tell Congress what it is doing with those powers.
"After more than five decades of relying on advertising for its recruitment efforts, the Marine Corps has decided to let PR pros take a shot at finding them a few good men," PR Week reports in a front page story. Longtime Marine advertising agency J. Walter Thompson recruited sister company Hill & Knowlton to join in on a bid for the five-year, $200 million contract. Having won the account in July, the campaign details are still being worked out.
"U.S. Public Diplomacy chief Charlotte Beers' approach to generating goodwill and understanding for America and Americans in the Muslim and Arab world is remarkably -- even astonishingly--naive and ignorant," writes David Gaier in a guest commentary for O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Gaier is a former U.S. Marine, ex-Special Agent with the U.S.Department of State, and PR veteran, who has spent much time in the Middle East.