Posted by Kailey Astor
I’ve always often found it a little disconcerting that so many leading intellectuals, statesmen and captains of industry possess such naïve faith in the power of public relations. Perhaps it’s faith that sustains us as an industry, maintaining those high valuations so important to Wall Street. But truth be known, the PR industry seems like a vast, dysfunctional family that has kept a lid on its secrets for decades. Only now, thanks to the plunderous effects of the blogosphere and its near irrational call for "transparency," our magical spells are laid bare for all to see.
Yet, blind faith still abides in many quarters. The latest acolyte to declare his devotion is Daniel Pipes, a scholar of Middle East history, a counter-terrorism analyst, and neo-conservative op-ed columnist. Pipes recently contributed an essay to The New York Sun entitled “The West Must Learn the Public Relations of War,” in which he bemoans the fact that a nation at war, such as the United States, can no longer count on the support of its population.
Excuse me, but if the success of the war against Islamism depends on the likes of Richard Edelman, Dave Senay, Paul Taaffe, Harris Diamond, Ray Kotcher and their cronies – well, it might be time to restock that bomb shelter.
Contrary to Pipes' views, it doesn’t appear that there has been any lack of public relations effort since 9/11. The U.S. Army and the Department of Homeland Security have spent boatloads of cash with PR behemoths for programs connected with the war on terror. The whole notion of “embedded reporters” in Iraq and Afghanistan was a public relations move that was initially considered a resounding success. Former Bush advisor Karen Hughes is now employed by the State Department at the ambassador rank, in charge of public diplomacy, and in that role she is essentially the nation’s top PR staffer. A 2005 Washington Post story on Ms. Hughes depicted her as threatening the careers of ambassadors who strayed from her talking points. Her plans for changing world opinion of the United States were described as follows:
Bottom line: there's been no lack of effort to mold opinion, domestically and abroad, primarily using the techniques of surreptitious selling. Given the divisions in today’s electorate and the alleged low esteem in which this nation is held globally, it seems evident these PR campaigns have accomplished next to nothing. Those voters who identify with the war haven’t needed further prompting to proclaim their loyalty, and those who don’t, ironically have been turned off by all the spin and are organizing to vote the president’s party out of power.
Perhaps Mr. Pipes would be more correct if he asked our government to engage in better PR – straightforward, newsy and candid. Loyalty to country in time of war shouldn’t be so hard to gin up. Perhaps it wouldn’t be, if half the population didn’t think they were being spun.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq so far this month now stands at 67.
The U.S. military announced that eight soldiers and a Marine were killed in bombings and combat on Tuesday. Four soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb west of Baghdad. Three soldiers were killed in combat east of Baghdad, while another soldier was killed when his patrol was attacked in northern Baghdad. Also on Tuesday, a Marine died from injuries suffered in fighting in Anbar province.
If it continues at this pace, the death toll in October could become the worst month for coalition forces since January 2005, when 107 troops died.
No PR events are yet planned.