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Popular Manipulation

by more rational Saturday, Mar. 06, 2004 at 2:22 PM

I found this two-year-old article while web surfing. It's a recipe on how to sell a war to the American people, written by opinion poll researcher, Alan F. Kay. Note that it was written before the second Iraq war.

[Follow the link for the entire article. This is just the main highlight. My comments are interspersed.]

[First, the article explained that Americans are strongly opposed to foreign aid, and also want the military budget cut. It also castigated the media and elites for not countering this popular viewpoint, and supporting military and foreign aid spending.]

Sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America, polling by research firm, Greenberg, et al, sought to find out why there is such a strong desire to cut foreign aid and under the new circumstances whether foreign aid could be made more acceptable.

The Greenberg findings were similar to what my colleagues and I found in surveys 10-14 years ago. In the order of percent favorable, the reasons for wanting to cut foreign aid were: (1) money should be spent for needs in the U.S.; (2) aid does not end up with those who need it; (3) lack of monitoring of how aid is spent; (4) aid goes to corrupt governments; (5) too much bureaucracy and red tape; (6) our allies should give more before we do; (7) it is not the U.S.'s responsibility: (8) aid contributes to dependency and debt; (9) aid is not tied to specific programs. The public's attitude is sometimes justified.

["Sometimes justified"? How about the possibility that the public is aware of the problems, and might have the capacity to grasp what foreign aid is really about?]

The Greenberg poll found that support for aid rose when people were asked to consider the non-military aspects: humanitarian and disaster aid, strengthening democracy and human rights, peacekeeping, UN and its agencies, environmental protection, increasing trade, peace corps, education and training, health care, and nation building. Well crafted questions could produce a majority in favor of some reasonable versions of foreign aid. It will take time during which specific aid projects are repeatedly justified in the media to produce a majority for its support.

[In other words, one possible use of manipulated polls is to produce numbers to justify existing patterns of government policy that have the objectionable characteristics enumerated as reasons to decrease or reform foreign aid.]

Regarding military intervention, much research has shown that a large majority of the U.S. public favors military intervention only if it meets all these criteria:

* Named and identified leader(s) are rogues guilty of one or more of these heinous crimes: (a) international terrorism or drug trafficking, (b) gross violations of human rights, (c) acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

 

* Non-military means: diplomacy, peace building, negotiations, have been tried, given a real chance to succeed, and have not stopped the rogue behavior.

 

* A key group of countries and UN resolutions support the proposed military intervention.

 

* A high-minded goal is portrayed as part of the purpose of the intervention.

Surprisingly, the U.S. public is not averse to taking considerable casualties and costs of an intervention, if all the above conditions are met. The elite and media view that the U.S. public will not accept casualties is false.

[This was written in the summer of 2002, several months before the commencement of the invasion of Iraq. Bush had two of the four bullet points covered, partially had one, but missed one completely. He must have been dozing off during the powerpoint presentation; W should have gotten the notes from Colin Powell, who was wide awake, and already went through this before. If you're going to lie to the people, you need to pay attention to the professional liars who research the science of chicanery and deception at our fine universities.]

[your's rudely, more rational]

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