An Independent Policy Forum held on 3/7/08. Peter L. Hays, Associate Director of the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies, and Theresa Hitchens, Director of the Center for Defense Information, discuss the implications that the U.S. takedown of a malfunctioning satellite have for a potential arms race in space.
What happens when government goes unchallenged, and when questions regarding present or proposed policies go unasked? With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, for example, Americans are increasingly wary of foreign conflicts. Yes, American forces are still active in Somalia and are being called for in the Balkans and elsewhere. To understand how government officials may seek to shift public opinion on unpopular programs, John MacArthur has found understanding the precedents set during the war against Saddam Hussein to be most insightful.
In his presentation, Mr. MacArthur will draw upon his widely acclaimed book, Second Front: Censorship and Propoganda in the Gulf War, to scrutinize the government's campaign to tightly control the American media during Operation Desert Storm. With a reporter's critical eye and a historian's sensibility, he will trace decades of press-government regulations during Vietnam, Grenada, and Panama which helped set the stage for restrictions on Gulf War reporting and for a government public-relations triumph.
In his talk, Mr. Macarthur will detail the behind-the-scenes activities during Operation Desert Storm by the U.S. and Kuwaiti governments as well as the media's being co-opted while its rights to observe, question, and report were heavily restricted far beyond and needs to protect American lives. He will demonstrate how, despite a torrent of words and images from the Persian Gulf, Americans were systematically and deliberately kept in the dark about events, politics, and simple facts during the Gulf Crisis.
Drawing upon frank and startling interviews, Mr. MacArthur will discuss how the Pentagon, after locking out the press in Grenada and Panama, pooled, censored, and escorted the media under armed guard in the gulf to a degree seldom seen before in America's wars. As a result. the media may have merely become glorified government stenographers, uncritically accepting such stories as the Kuwaiti babies being snatched from incubators by Iraqui soldiers, the precision of "smart bombs," the exaggerated size and morale of Hussein's forces, and the nature of losses on both sides. In revealing the workings of propoganda, Mr. MacArthur will question the impact and need for such extraordinary government power.