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Selling War in a Media AgeThe Presidency and Public Opinion in the American Century$
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Kenneth Osgood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034669

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034669.001.0001

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Cementing and Dissolving Consensus

Cementing and Dissolving Consensus

Presidential Rhetoric during the Cold War, 1947–1969

(p.93) 4 Cementing and Dissolving Consensus
Selling War in a Media Age
Andrew L. Johns, Kenneth Osgood
University Press of Florida

From the earliest days of the conflict until the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. presidents and their advisors worked to “sell” the Cold War to the American public with sustained rhetorical and propaganda campaigns that exerted a profound impact on both domestic and foreign affairs. This chapter examines what these presidents said publicly about the nature of the Cold War. This chapter cites that as undeclared conflicts, military interventions, and policy decisions in a hostile international environment became the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy, presidents from Truman to Nixon felt compelled to seek popular support and utilized a variety of rhetorical strategies to justify U.S. positions in international affairs. This chapter tries to conclude that simply having a war or international crisis does not make the politics of war any easier. Presidents have had varying degrees of success in selling war, and they recognize that doing so poses tremendous challenges in the media age.

Keywords:   Cold War, U.S. foreign policy, presidential rhetoric, presidential efforts, propaganda, conflicts

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