American foreign policy's use of propaganda

Topics: Propaganda, United States, Cold War Pages: 7 (1085 words) Published: February 12, 2014
Propaganda:Its use by American foreign policy

The United States has utilized propaganda tactics consecutively throughout its

history, mainly within periods of international crisis. As far back as revolutionary times,

Americans have shown to have a clever grasp pertaining to the usefulness

propaganda has as a tool for foreign policy. “ The total wars of the early twentieth

century led the U.S government to employ propaganda on a massive scale as an

accessory to military operations…” (Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy 2002)

though the Cold War instilled propaganda as a core component of America’s foreign

policy. But, what is American foreign policy?

Foreign policy itself is, “The policy of a sovereign state in its interaction with

other sovereign states.” () Now, the main component of foreign policy is the display of

its own nation’s interests. For that, the foreign policy must defend and even promote

said nation’s interests among other nations. Thus foreign policy may use various tools

among that of propaganda. From what we initially know of propaganda, we may see

the use of such a tool as deemed for the use of a totalitarian government. But America

has employed numerous euphemisms for their propaganda in order to set apart itself

from some wicked implications. So this begs the question, exactly what is propaganda?

Propaganda, as the Merriam Webster dictionary may put it, is the “ideas or

statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a

cause, a political leader, a government, etc.” It forgets to mention though the three

types of propaganda, Logos - which is propaganda based on sole facts and evidence,

Pathos - which targets individuals feelings based on imagery or written illustration, and

Ethos - a way to promote or denounce a cause, interest, person etc. based on

credibility. These types can be manipulated and mixed in order to have its viewers not

even distinguish it as propaganda. Our Foreign policy mainly uses the Pathos of

propaganda, though not in the common fear tactic way. Foreign policy has even

implemented it within their means of psychological warfare. The way America’s foreign

policy used it during the Cold War is a great demonstration of propaganda’s elusive


“Propaganda becomes extremely important at a time when there is no actual

combat by arms. It allows one side to attack the philosophy and beliefs of another,

usually at no risk of escalation.”()The Cold War was a sustained state of political and

military anxiety mainly between the Soviet Union and the United States. Because of

the appearance of “no harm, no foul” within this non contact war, civilian organizations

began to publish their own banknotes as a form of Pathos propaganda to, as () says,

“attack the philosophy and beliefs” of other nations , which in turn, the idea ended up being

backed by american military forces.

The underlying effects intended from this use of propaganda by american

foreign policy during wars was the attempt to demonize the enemy, stir up political fervor

and build up support for the war effort. To “demonize the enemy” is to use the

psychological process whereby the enemy becomes viewed as less than human and

thus not deserving of moral consideration. To “stir up political fervor” means to build

up intense feelings within the nation to motivate its population to support their policy’s effort

in the war, which returns back to the pathos of propaganda.

Propaganda can be a difficult thing to truly understand. To many Americans,

propaganda has a negative connotation as being a deceitful and manipulative practice;

that “other nations” and organizations do, while seemingly we ourself merely persuade,

educate, or inform. It is easy for many Americans to see propaganda as such because the

nation’s foreign policy strives towards a form of...
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