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A comparison of the way the media handled the falklands war and the gulf war

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A comparison of the way the media handled the falklands war and the gulf war

Under the price of havin. Both the Gulf War and the Falklands War were extremely different not only in how they were fought but also how the media covered them. It is widely accepted that relations between the military and the media suffer from friction and at wartime this even more true. This it has been argued is due to the fundamental differences between the military and the media. The media sees publicity as the way to its success, whereas for the military secrecy is essential to the success of its operations.

For the military information and the control of it is seen as a weapon 1. The British media suffered several problems in covering the Falklands. First of all there was the location of the islands. Being 8,000 miles away from the United Kingdom and more than 400 miles away from the nearest landmass and also being subject to a total exclusion zone the Ministry of Defence had the sole say in how many if any correspondents it would let sail with the task force.

The MoD only accepted British correspondents and it has been argued that those that were accepted were vetted. In the end the MoD accredited less than thirty correspondents, which is a minuscule number when compared to the number that were present in the Gulf War.

All the correspondents had to agree to censorship by the MoD at source 2. This censorship was made even more painful when the correspondents learned that no such censure would apply to stories written in Britain 3.

This served to heighten tensions between the media and the military and showed that there was a mutual distrust between the two. The media reliance on the military was, as mentioned above, due to not only the location of the Islands but also due to the terrain and climate which made unsuitable for independent media operations, unlike the Gulf War.

Another problem faced by correspondents travelling with the task force was the difficulty involved in sending their reports back to the United Kingdom. Due to the difficulty in sending these reports the only effective way of transmission was controlled by the military. There was no provision made for live TV coverage and all video footage had to be flown back to the United Kingdom where it was first examined by military censors who would cut out any unsuitable material.

Due to the length of time involved it was often three weeks before it was shown on television by which time it was invariably out of date.

  • The apparent extent of this sensitivity is now such as to call into question the entire utility of the United States' massive armed forces and those of some other NATO nations other than for home defence or entirely symbolic purposes;
  • What the US citizens could see and hear in this case were materials meticulously prepared by the army personnel, showing successful actions of anti-Iraqi coalition, including direct footage from missiles launched against enemy targets;
  • However, the connection between Vietnam and the supposed communist threat to the US was blurred in the eyes of an average American citizen;
  • It was but one of several steps aimed at silencing journalists that the American army took during the conflict, and similar ones were taken by British and French authorities;
  • These often intimidated the interviewee it was claimed.

Due to the limited availability of this system the media could only transmit at night thereby ensuring that most reports were often two days old when published 4 and if the military had to send information of higher priority then sometimes the report would not get sent until the following night. Back in the United Kingdom the media face another problem.

Some newspapers, it has been argued, supported the government completely and even taking it to the extreme and attacking other newspapers that expressed doubts over the campaign in the South Atlantic.

This, it has been argued, created an environment in which to question the government was considered to be just short of treason. This was to repeat itself in the Gulf War. However newspapers were also constrained by the ever-present threat of Schedule D Notices should they attempt to print something the government did not agree with. The BBC itself was told by parliament that it was its duty to be patriotic and not to screen programmes which could be seen as defeatist or pro-enemy.

Another development that was to occur among the correspondents on the task force was that they were to put patriotism above professionalism and thus lose the critical objectivity they could have bought to covering the campaign. It has been argued that they praised the courage, determination, loyalty and leadership of the British troops but down downplayed those of the Argentine forces. This it has been argued caused them not only to become an integral part of the task force but also to be instrumental in promoting propaganda for the British 7.

One phenomenon that was to first appear during the Falklands War was that of the Armchair Strategist. More often that not these would be retired senior military officers who would be asked on television to speculate on the next phase of the campaign, which was to lead to the controversy over the battle for Goose Green.

  1. The isolated and sparsely-populated falkland islands the islands are self-governing, although foreign affairs and defence matters are handled by the british government prompting falklands war. New zealand official in approaching the book this way it is worth with 125 to 150 percent of average rainfall in the hauraki gulf, south auckland.
  2. This served to heighten tensions between the media and the military and showed that there was a mutual distrust between the two. In April, Bosnian Serb forces were on the verge of capturing the town of Srebenica, held by Bosnian government forces, and agreed to a UN ceasefire only if the town were demilitarized.
  3. There was no provision made for live TV coverage and all video footage had to be flown back to the United Kingdom where it was first examined by military censors who would cut out any unsuitable material. An important mid-point in the process was the ultimately unsuccessful attempt of the Biafran government during the Nigerian Civil War 1967-70 to mobilize support by seeking to exploit the famine within its own country as a propaganda weapon, directed through television and advertising consultancies at elite opinion in Britain in particular.
  4. The landings finally took place peacefully after negotiations with the incumbent Haitian authorities. A middle position, particularly after President Bill Clinton's statement to the UN of 27 September 1993 on American willingness to engage in future peacekeeping operations, together with Presidential Decision Directive [PDD] 25 of 1995 , is that the United States might supply logistics, transport and intelligence services, and possibly combat aircraft, for future operations, leaving the lesser NATO powers or others to supply the troops on the ground.
  5. That is why it was hard to accept for people that so many American young boys were dying [8]. Although countries have made errors in their military doctrines through wish-fulfilment in the past most obviously the French doctrine of the offensive before 1914 the scale of impact of what is essentially an error in media analysis upon America's military posture and its transmission to other countries through shared military doctrines may be without precedent.

This was to occur during the Gulf War as well with the military writer James F. Dunnigan correctly predicting every major aspect of the air and land war in November 1990 on American television.

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Often this is no more that harmless speculation, but sometimes they gave away information, such as the case involving Goose Green, that may have been of use to the enemy.

This led to an outcry from those on the military and those in government. Baroness Thatcher, the then Prime Minister, called these speculations nothing short of treachery 8.

A comparison of the way in which the media handled the falklands war and the gulf war

The war in the Falklands was not only unique and unusual for the British military but for the media as well. For the first time in modern warfare they had to cover a war that was thousands of miles away and were dependent on the military not only for transport to the theatre of operations but also for support once in theatre. Back in the United Kingdom there were only two other sources for the British media to utilise, the Argentine press and press releases from the MoD.

The first was highly suspect as a source of information and the second was tightly regulated by the government and would not release any information of a sensitive or critical nature. The American Media would also face some of the problems faced by the British media in the Falklands in the following ten years especially in the Gulf.

In the years following the Falklands War the U. S military took on board the lessons learned by the British. The American invasion of Grenada in 1983 went unseen as the U. S government excluded correspondents from the proceedings. It was argued that people who thought that the media were responsible for the American defeat in Vietnam 9 handled the media in the Falklands and Grenada. In the Panama invasion the U.

S government instituted the press poll system. This allowed the U. S military to keep the media away from the battle action for the whole of the first day, which proved to be the most decisive day of the whole campaign. Also it enabled the U. S military to keep the press confined to a military base for the following few days. The pool system was established, it has been argued, because it was perceived by the military that critical reporting led to the U.

S defeat in Vietnam. During the Gulf War the control of the news and other information became one of the main tasks of the Pentagon and the military tightly controlled both access to and content of the news. It has been argued that this is one of the most intense examples of news management and the manufacturing of public opinion in American history 11. Correspondents that were perceived to be critical of the war were not allowed to join accredited press pools or interview senior military officials.

However those that did toe the line were given interviews and were accredited. This was, it has been argued, as the military was more concerned about its image and avoiding any criticism rather than legitimate national security reasons.

A comparison of the way the media handled the falklands war and the gulf war

The military was able to review all reports written and footage filmed by accredited correspondents in theatre prior to publication or transmission. This was it is claimed due to security reasons but in effect the military was exercising censorship similar to that exercised by the British in the Falklands. This effectively led to a block of all critical commentary coming from the Persian Gulf.

The reason given for this censorship was that there was a very real fear among the military that open and unrestricted reporting would reveal the coalitions plans to the enemy.

S government saw the co-operation of the media as essential in maintaining public support for the war. Military planners took this one step further and openly admitted after the war that they used the media as a weapon of psychological warfare 12.

The Pentagon decreed that there were to be twelve categories of information, which would be subject to censorship. These included troop movements, plans and tactics.

Also as during the Falklands War correspondents were to be escorted by military officials, minders, during all interviews. These often intimidated the interviewee it was claimed. As the Air War began over Iraq in January 1991 the media became ever more reliant on the daily press briefing s given by military chiefs. This soon became for them the only reliable source of information.

From the 18th of January they began to show the media video footage of smart bombs and missiles striking Iraqi targets.

However the military refused a comparison of the way the media handled the falklands war and the gulf war release any footage of the bombs missing or any including visible human casualties. The military therefore was able to exercise total control over the public presentation of the air war 14. The communication problems faced by the correspondents in the Falklands were not evident in the Gulf War. This was the age of satellite technology. And with the amount of equipment required by the correspondents in the Gulf to transmit it has been said it was not only a logistical achievement not only for the military but for the media as well 15.

There was to a large extent none of the problems face d by the media in transmitting their reports or footage. This led to two developments. They were often hidden by sympathetic soldiers and officers, but when caught were arrested and detained by the Military Police. However they invariably led to good reporting free from the influence of the military and censorship 16. However the military was not too keen on correspondents running around Saudi Arabia interviewing anyone they wanted as it was felt that this what led to the U.

It was much more preferred to have them where they could be easily managed. Without having to rely on the military for transmission of their reports the unilateralists enjoyed great freedom. Another off shot from this high level of technology was that it allowed the American media to transmit live right from inside Baghdad during the period of the war.

Peter Arnett of CNN who continued broadcasting right through the war spearheaded this. Although live video feed was not allowed by the Iraqi Authorities live voice feed was.

This allowed the American people to witness first hand to what their military was doing in Baghdad. Back in the U. S there were hardly any voices of dissent heard in the media. In particular the media failed to criticise the governments failure to negotiate a diplomatic settlement.

It has been argued that the American media consistently supported whatever strategy the government adopted and that they became little more than public relations mangers for the White House and the Pentagon 17. When rational arguments from intellectuals in countries such as Egypt and Jordan, where American news crews were stationed, who were often the only critical voices heard were shown by the media they were passed off a anti-American hostility 18.

  1. Shoot first and ask questions later. The propaganda of success was at its most efficient at the time of the Desert Storm operation.
  2. It is probable that a similar effect was achieved by the American precision bombing attacks on Bosnian Serb positions in September 1995, prior to the successful Croat and Bosnian offensives which led to the peace settlement in Dayton, Ohio on 22 November.
  3. While the term "peacekeeping" is clearly now unsatisfactory, it will be used in this article without parentheses hereafter to avoid the search for an alternative becoming an end in itself.
  4. It was much more preferred to have them where they could be easily managed.
  5. In April, Bosnian Serb forces were on the verge of capturing the town of Srebenica, held by Bosnian government forces, and agreed to a UN ceasefire only if the town were demilitarized. The media sees publicity as the way to its success, whereas for the military secrecy is essential to the success of its operations.

When President Bush told the world that this would not be another Vietnam he was undoubtley sending a message to the media as well. Many of the Generals responsible for the planning of the campaign served in Vietnam and felt that particular war had been lost by the media. So unlike the war in the Falklands there was no questioning of government policy, however thin, by the media. When in the U.