Manipulating public opinion to wage war: Part 2/5

The contrast between the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War demonstrates the important use of the media to manipulate public opinion—something America’s leaders were still learning.

The War of 1812 to March 1815 was also known as the Second War of Independence

The United States entered the war with confused objectives and divided loyalties and made peace without settling any of the issues that had induced the nation to go to war. Source:

Why? Because the prosecution of the war was marred by considerable bungling and mismanagement.  This was partly due to the nature of the republic.  The nation was too young and immature—and its government too feeble and inexperienced—to prosecute a major war efficiently.  Politics also played a part.  Federalists vigorously opposed the conflict, and so too did some Republicans.  Even those who supported the war feuded among themselves and never displayed the sort of patriotic enthusiasm that has been so evident in other American wars.

It is this lack of success that may best explain why the war is so little remembered.  Americans have characteristically judged their wars on the basis of their success.  The best-known wars—the Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II—were all clear-cut successes. Source:

Then we have the Mexican American War (1846 – 1848) where public opinion was divided at first. Many accused President Polk of provoking a war. … The Mexican War was not popular among certain people, especially in the north. They thought it was meant to expand the territory of slavery. … In the end—thrilled by sensationalized newspaper accounts of American victories— the public embraced the war. Source:

As you can see, the government needs the media to popularize a war.  It also helps if the war is short. Long wars tend to lose public support.

Continued on July 10, 2013 in Manipulating public opinion to wage wars: Part 3 or return to Part 1

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 Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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One thought on “Manipulating public opinion to wage war: Part 2/5

  1. Nationalism and wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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