Former White House press secretary Scott McClellans claim that George W. Bush sold the Iraq war to America by using propaganda, a technique that has been used routinely by every American president who has taken the U.S. public into war for the past seven decades, substantiates the thesis of a new book by two New York University professors.
In Selling War to America: From the Sinking of the Maine to the Global War on Terror (Praeger, Sept. 2007), co-authors Eugene Secunda and Terence P. Moran offer historical analysis of how wars are sold by U.S. administrations and bought by the American people. A majority of Americans are more than willing to buy a war, if it is properly packaged and skillfully marketed, and whenever they can be persuaded that their national honor or security is being challenged.
As long as Americans continue to like war, any president selling a war has a customer base that is already half-sold, the authors conclude. The question is whether Americans can act like the informed, enlightened, and thoughtful citizens necessary for any democracy to flourish or will they continue to be willing buyers of whatever war an administration is selling.
Secunda, an adjunct professor at NYUs Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, is an Army veteran and was a senior executive at J. Walter Thompson.
Terence P. Moran, a retired U.S. marine who still recruits for the Marine Corps., is a professor at NYUs Steinhardt School.
Reporters wishing to speak with Secunda or Moran should contact Tim Farrell, NYUs Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6797. Request for review copies should be directed to Laura Mullen, Greenwood Publications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.226.3571 x3356.