Strategic News Management in the Iraq War:
: How were US and UK media organisations utilised by Coalition forces to instigate information and psychological operations against domestic audiences?

  • Mark Newton

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


This dissertation examines the role of information strategy and its interaction with the media in modern information environments. In particular it investigates how military information operations utilised the media to protect Coalition strategic vulnerabilities and provide the basis for effective war-fighting in the 2003 Iraq War.
It investigates the role information plays in strategy, and its development into concepts of Information and Psychological Operations. In particular, military public communication methods are scrutinised, especially regarding the domestic use of psychological operations and military dedication to ‘truth-telling’. It is concluded that the military generally does communicate ‘truths’, but only ‘selected truths’ for target audiences, resulting in a manipulative relationship.
Following this the media-management policies prior to the Iraq War are examined. These are defined as a ‘restrictive model’ which limited the amount of information the media received. An examination of policies during the Iraq War illustrates that the military have moved beyond this model, towards the information saturation of the media. This information, however, was of a narrow nature which appealed to media imperatives. The military’s policies capitalised on these developments, providing information dominance and protecting public will.
Following this the legitimacy of this conduct by democratic nations is explored, arriving at the conclusion it is tolerated if utilised in popular wars, however this toleration depletes if public will is insufficient. This conclusion is linked to Clausewitz’s concepts of the trinity and maximum expenditure of effort in warfare.
To conclude, it is stated that the military attempted to instigate manipulative relationships with the media in order to affect domestic opinion. However, the media are partly responsible for this through their adoption of infotainment and commercial formats which prioritise spectacle over education. The military, with the aid of PR companies, understood these developments and set to control them with information overload, as opposed to information restriction. These measures are only successful however if the necessary public will has been generated through governmental justification
Date of Award2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University

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