Whether it is a battle related to independence, religion, resources, poverty or a fair government there are long wars fought for these widely sought out fundamental human rights. In the United States, there have been battles for nearly every cause imaginable, and with war, the battlefield is not the only place for riots and hysteria to take place.
Typically, the home front also needs to be capable and have the same mindsets of soldiers on the battlefield, and in order to receive support of the homefront and foreign allies there needs to be a system of media, that misleads or changes the public’s opinion on concurrent or previous war efforts. During war time, propaganda is used for citizens to be either deceived, or misguided to prevent chaos caused by atrocities or demoralization. It is sometimes needed to spread belief, information or to cause conflicts between social classes. This is also related to the fact that deception is sometimes the easiest way to convince others of rights and wrongs. Propaganda was especially used in the battles against the Soviet Union and their allies to convince others that communists were evil.
One of the most famous instances of propaganda being used for altering the outcome of war was during the Vietnam War. After the cold war, the U.S. hardened it’s approach to Soviet Union allies which quickly arose anti-communist propaganda world-wide. The U.S. government had its eyes on North Vietnam, and along with them, the U.S. media was able to broadcast the events at the homefront. Since citizens at the homefront were able to have a first-hand account on the atrocities of war, it quickly led to protests and sometimes mass riots in cities. It raises the question on how did American propaganda effect mainstream media which in turn caused division between U.S. citizens and soldiers? It was also one of the first instances in modern America history where the propaganda meant to control citizens ended up backfiring, causing thousands of human rights movements and vast changes to American way of life.
Since media coverage was one of the main sources of entertainment for citizens in the 1950s-1970s many Americans were greatly influenced by the graphic images of the war. Before the 1960s, images of war for publication was based on the decision of the U.S. government. The decision for broadcasting the Vietnam war was because the government noticed the increase in televised events at the average household, and brought to light the high morale of U.S. soldiers during victory to try and get support from citizens. The main problem that arose was when the media dramatized news stories and made a connection between the people and soldiers. Although it brought a mutually beneficial connection and had its merits in regards to morale, the people noticed the brutal living conditions of their loved ones, and the extreme loss of life “By seeing the war on television, the anti-war advocates argued that the war was unnecessary… Americans were not dying for a noble cause.” (Prologue.blogs.archives.gov) Since this line of reasoning was adopted into many U.S. families with young boys, the nation developed a divide between pro-war forces and those who realized that the war would eventually draft their own children.
An important instance of the media creating a greater divide was when U.S. soldiers had lost a battle in 1963 and was claimed by the media to have lost the battle due to many fearful South Vietnamese. creating a greater divide is when Another reason for the distress of the American people was from the chemical gas weapons used, and the excessive amounts of napalm, flamethrower and cluster bombs that were still in development. With these newly developed war weapons, not only were friendly troops caught in the crossfire, but even citizens from North and South on the sidelines. These powerful American weapons in Vietnam were publically displayed on newspaper and also acted as propaganda by the media to show our dominant military force.
The use of these weapons later became a symbol for anti-war efforts and propaganda that backfired on the American military “… A South Vietnamese plane mistakenly dropped napalm right on his troops and a cluster of civilians” (timesmachine.nytimes.com) Along with this, the photo of children running away from the flames became popularized in the U.S. leading to children’s rights movements taking place. Since citizens now knew that the war included deforestation, loss of life, and most importantly the endangerment of children’s lives, the distinction between families at home and soldiers became much more apparent.
During Vietnam’s brutal war time, much of the focus was to have media bolster democratic views in South Vietnam with political tactics while at the same time, being able to control the U.S. Americans now citizens at the homefront with propaganda. While the South Vietnamese didn’t have trouble with adapting a democratic way of life, the North Vietnamese thought otherwise. The media capitalized on the refusal of North Vietnam for a democratic system, and brought publicity to the risk of communism and why U.S. troops needed to stop it before it could spread to other nearby countries