Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

Web Page

U.S. Foreign Policy Blog

E-Mail: dormanw at

<< current


War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Saturday, February 04, 2006  
Ability to Wage 'Long War' Is Key To Pentagon Plan
Conventional Tactics De-Emphasized

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post
Saturday, February 4, 2006; A01

Blog editor's note: There would indeed appear to be nothing new under the sun. For those whose memory does not go back to the 1980s, let alone the 1960s, it might be useful to review in any standard history of clandestine operations since WWII the notions of counter insurgency (JFK era) and Low Intensity Conflict (Reagan era).

The Pentagon, readying for what it calls a "long war," yesterday laid out a new 20-year defense strategy that envisions U.S. troops deployed, often clandestinely, in dozens of countries at once to fight terrorism and other nontraditional threats.

Major initiatives include a 15 percent boost in the number of elite U.S. troops known as Special Operations Forces, a near-doubling of the capacity of unmanned aerial drones to gather intelligence, a $1.5 billion investment to counter a biological attack, and the creation of special teams to find, track and defuse nuclear bombs and other catastrophic weapons.

China is singled out as having "the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States," and the strategy in response calls for accelerating the fielding of a new Air Force long-range strike force, as well as for building undersea warfare capabilities.

To read the full text, see Washington Post

8:49 AM

Friday, February 03, 2006  
Bush's Bill for War Is Rising

By Mark Mazzetti and Joel Havemann
Los Angeles Times
February 3, 2006

Blog editor's note: The figure used by AP in the previous item apparently does NOT include the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan. See the LATimes story below. It's interesting to note that at the end of the cold war, the defense budget was 283 billion. In 1980, the federal government's total revenue was less than 520 billion dollars.

WASHINGTON — The White House said Thursday that it planned to ask Congress for an additional $70 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving the cost of military operations in the two countries to $120 billion this year, the highest since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Most of the new money would go to the war in Iraq, which already has cost an estimated $250 billion since the U.S. invasion in March 2003. The additional spending, along with other war funds the Bush administration will seek separately in its regular budget next week, would push the price tag for combat and nation-building since Sept. 11, 2001, to nearly half a trillion dollars — approaching the cost of the 13-year-long Vietnam War.

To read the full text, see Los Angeles Times

1:31 PM

Bush to Request $439.3 Billion Defense Department Budget, Nearly a 5 Percent Increase

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON Feb 3, 2006 — President Bush's 2007 budget seeks a nearly 5 percent increase in Defense Department spending, to $439.3 billion, with significantly more money for weapons programs, according to senior Pentagon officials and documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The budget figures, to be unveiled next week, come as the Pentagon prepares to release a separate long-range strategy to reshape the military into a more agile fighting force better able to fight terrorism, while still preserving its ability to wage large conventional wars.

To read the full text, see

1:29 PM

Thursday, February 02, 2006  

Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)
January/February 2006

Blog editor's note: PIPA is one of the most highly regarded research organizations of its type in the U.S.

A new poll of the Iraqi public finds that a large majority of Iraqis think the US plans to maintain bases in Iraq permanently, even if the newly elected government asks the US to leave. A large majority favors setting a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces, though this majority divides over whether the timeline should be over a period of six months or two years. Nearly half of Iraqis approve of attacks on US-led forces—including nine out of 10 Sunnis. Most Iraqis believe that many aspects of their lives will improve once the US-led forces leave, but are nonetheless uncertain that Iraqi security forces are ready to stand on their own.

The poll was conducted for by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and was fielded by KA Research Limited/D3 Systems, Inc. Polling was conducted January 2-5 with a nationwide sample of 1,150, which included an oversample of 150 Arab Sunnis (hereafter simply called Sunnis).

To read the full text, see

8:13 AM

Wednesday, February 01, 2006  
The Biggest Secret

By Thomas Powers
[To appear in Feb. 23 issue
of New York Review of Books]

Published in advance by TomDispatch.Com
31 January 2006

Blog editor's note: Thomas Powers, author of "Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to al-Qaeda," and a Pulitizer Prize winner, explores the meaning of the recent NSA spying scandal.. As he writes trenchantly, "In public life as in kindergarten, the all-important word is no." It's clear that the expansion of secret (and not so secret) "war-time" powers proved a heady, addictive experience for top officials of this administration.

A review of State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen.

The challenges posed to American democracy by secrecy and by unchecked presidential power are the two great themes running through the history of the Iraq war. How long the war will last, who will "win," and what it will do to the political landscape of the Middle East will not be obvious for years to come, but the answers to those questions cannot alter the character of what happened at the outset. Put plainly, the President decided to attack Iraq, he brushed caution and objection aside, and Congress, the press, and the people, with very few exceptions, stepped back out of the way and let him do it.

Explaining this fact is not going to be easy. Commentators often now refer to President Bush's decision to invade Iraq as "a war of choice," which means that it was not provoked. The usual word for an unprovoked attack is aggression. Why did Americans - elected representatives and plain citizens alike - accede so readily to this act of aggression, and why did they question the President's arguments for war so feebly? The whole business is painfully awkward to consider, but it will not go away. If the Constitution forbids a president anything it forbids war on his say-so, and if it insists on anything it insists that presidents are not above the law. In plain terms this means that presidents cannot enact laws on their own, or ignore laws that have been enacted by Congress.

To read the full text, see

2:01 PM


Blog editor's note: Someone once observed that a half a truth is like half a brick--you can throw both a long way. If you are interested in how this notion might apply to President Bush's fifth State of the Union address delivered last night to Congress, I recommend listening to a piece on National Public Radio's "Morning Editon" that does some revealing fact checking. It will be equally interesting to see whether mainstream news media provide similar context or whether they settle for stenography.

To listen to NPR's piece, go to and click on the link to the right of the headline: "Fact Checking the State of the Union Address."

8:13 AM

Monday, January 30, 2006  
Americans Ponder Military Action Against Iran
latest news and polls

Angus Reid Consultants
January 30, 2006

Blog editor's note: Students in my War, Peace and Mass Media course [and others] might do well to keep these poll figures in mind as they read Andrew J. Bacevich's book, "The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War," this semester. Even as polls indicate Americans' dismay at being bogged down in Iraq, a majority evidently see nothing wrong with opening the lid to yet another of Pandora's seemingly endless supply of war boxes.

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Many adults in the United States are starting to assess the possibility of a war against Iran, according to three recent public opinion polls. In the survey by Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times, 57 per cent of respondents support taking military action against the Islamic nation if it continues to produce material that can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

After being branded as part of an "axis of evil" by U.S. president George W. Bush in January 2002, Iran has contended that its nuclear program aims to produce energy, not weapons.

In November 2004, the Iranian government announced a voluntary suspension of its uranium enrichment program following international pressure. In August 2005, Iran resumed uranium conversion activities at the Isfahan facility. Earlier this month, Iran removed the international seals from the Natanz site.

To read the full text, see Angus Reid Consultants

8:41 AM

Sunday, January 29, 2006  
Two Top Papers Ask: Is the Earth Heading for Doom--With an Assist from the White House?

By E&P Staff
January 28, 2006

Blog editor's note: This item from Editor & Publisher, the newspaper industry's 'bible' indicates that perhaps some elite newspapers are waking up to the problems posed in several entries to this blog last week that dealt with the U.S. news agenda.

NEW YORK While most Americans remain preoccupied with war, terrorism, high gas prices--or the coming Pitt-Jolie baby--an issue that may dwarf all of those concerns receives major attention on the front page of the Sunday editions of The New York Times and The Washington Post.

One story raises a nightmare global warming scenario for the end of the world, at least as we know it, while the other suggests that the Bush administration doesn't want anyone to know about that.

To read the full text, see Editor & Publisher

6:45 PM

Rumsfeld's Roadmap to Propaganda
Secret Pentagon "roadmap" calls for "boundaries"
between "information operations" abroad and at home
but provides no actual limits as long as US doesn't "target" Americans

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2006 - A secret Pentagon "roadmap" on war propaganda, personally approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but provides for no such limits and claims that as long as the American public is not "targeted," any leakage of PSYOP to the American public does not matter.

Obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive at George Washington University and posted on the Web today, the 74-page "Information Operations Roadmap" admits that "information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa," but argues that "the distinction between foreign and domestic audiences becomes more a question of USG [U.S. government] intent rather than information dissemination practices."

To read the full text, see National Security Archive

11:53 AM

This page is powered by Blogger.