Defence and Consensus: The Domestic Aspects of Western by Christoph Bertram

By Christoph Bertram

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Sample text

Everyone expected such calamities. Moreover, war was widely seen as a means of policy. War reporting, therefore, was nothing more than observing and analysing the use of armed force. The legitimacy of that use was rarely questioned. War correspondents accompanied armies and navies in order simply to tell a story. Three of the bloodiest wars of the last century and early in this were widely reported in the Press, albeit with a considerable measure of compassion for the ordeals of soldiers and victims: the Crimean War, the American Civil War and the Russo-Japanese War.

Detente policies were invoked to justify opposition to conscription, to armed security and to defence expenditures. The democratic left in Europe was particularly impatient with the East-West confrontation and NATO programmes and its many supporters within the media transmitted this impatience to the public, as did many teachers in schools and the proponents of peace research at academic institutions. Social-democratic Governments in Western Europe came under relentless criticism from within their own parties, from trade unions, from their youth organizations and from the churches for their alleged lack of awareness ofthe risks of confrontation and the dangers of war resulting from armaments programmes and the high levels ofmilitary forces.

The Impact ofTelevision The role of television requires special attention. U pwards of 70 per cent of Americans rely on television as their principal source of news but the other 30 per cent include the best educated with the highest income in the population, and thus presumably the most effective in terms ofinfluencing national policy. Furthermore, of all forms of communications, television is probably the least suited for dealing with news and information on the complex questions of defence. Imagine the daunting challenge facing areporter attempting to explain the 'dense pack' basing mode for MX in 90 seconds or two minutes.

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