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 Selling a war

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Caro
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PostSubject: Selling a war   Wed 07 May 2014, 05:08

In Am Awfully Big Adventure, the book I am reading of WWI veterans' oral histories, one of them, talking of how Passchendaele was seen in retrospect, said, "It's very obvious that to get a democracy to go into war you've really got to sell then the story, and we were sold the story, there's no question, in the First World War. We just went over there with faith and hope."  (He and others had become disillusioned with their leaders after Passchendaele especially.) Earlier in the book, too, people said how eagerly this war was embraced by everyone.

I was thinking about this and wondering if it applied always and perhaps also without a democratic model.  The second world war, yes, and Iraq in America though maybe not elsewhere so much, The Vietnam War's story was sold around the Pacific but perhaps not to Britons.  Korea?  I don't know much about the reasons for us hopping off to Korea.  I don't suppose the 'rebellion' of Maori needed to be sold, since it would have a very small-scale operation and just needing a few mercenaries, I suppose. And later the colonial forces, who certainly were happy to go along with the idea that Maori needed to be taught a lesson so they shared their land more quickly.

The democracy he was speaking about would have only meant wars in the last 250 years or so (and considerably later than that if you mean voting by all people over a certain age).  But wouldn't there have had to be some acceptance of the 'story' for monarchs like King Richard I and Henry V and Napoleon and the Dutch Parliaments etc.  Further back to Greece and Rome - how did they fund their wars and gather their soldiers together?  Could they just bulldoze their ideas through, or did it require at least some acceptance of the attitudes and reasons the rules had?  

Not on this subject so much but there are lots of interesting wee snippets in these comments.  The next man says, "I got hit with half a pineapple. (When I wrote home and told my mother, she went to the lady next door and said, "I can't make it out. What are they doing throwing fruit at one another." You know what a pineapple is - one of those little bombs of theirs."

The one who enlisted aged 15 always sounds a little harder than some of the others, able to cope with dead bodies [though many of them mentioned just stepping over dead men or valuing horses more, etc] and managing the harsh conditions.  He said, "The others - I've seen them laying gasping and panting and scratching up the dirt with their fingernails on their face and crawling around semi-delirious, but I've no recollection of them crying out and calling for mother or 'Please God' or cursing the bloddy Germans and that sort of thing. In books they talk about the 'screams of the wounded' and that sort of thing. I never heard them. Either that or New Zealanders don't scream."
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Selling a war   Fri 09 May 2014, 10:21

Mmm - getting a good war going; interesting. Having been in there at the start of three, the early days in each are memorable. Tho very young indeed but with a most useful good memory, WW2 started in a pall of gloom and I was frightened by the reflective tension of people close to us who had sharp memory of the first one. Shelters were prepared, food stored and a bed made for me in the cellar. Later, the pall lifted and a gung-ho mood of defiance seemed to swell that lasted to the end whatever the many setbacks. In truth I think many felt a bit flat as peace set in and rather coming off a great surfing wave  

My next  two wars were in the subcontinent and they were quite different. Within hours of one of them starting I saw with astonishment at the hairdressers, women knitting khaki balaclavas and socks. Over night it seemed that camouflage cloth was being used  for read made wear in the bazaars - and a German friend who had survived Berlin, was organising bandage wrapping groups. This was what one did in the war, I was told by all - with an air of excitement that bonded people in a way that I have not seen otherwise. A few air raids tempered that somewhat but it was chilling. One war ended not long after it began so little of realities was carried over to the next. But when  that one began to bite deeper with evacuation flights and  more raids so then the mood changed. Mercifully tha did last long either but just long enough for a few truths to sink in that maybe it was best avoided. The problem with having huge standing armies is that some of the top brass gets a bit restless for action. Sadly involvement in politics, self- interest and corruption set in.

Funding during war  is less of an issue than it is during peace, of course. I shall start a new thread now.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Selling a war   Sun 18 May 2014, 13:01

Hmmm, selling a war…..

Any head of state, be they medieval monarch or modern PM, only has to sell it to those who are going to have to stump up the cash to pay for it.

For bellicose monarchs, keen to flex their subjects’ military muscles in pursuit of furthering their kingly foreign policy, such as Henrys V or VIII, selling the war meant getting Parliament to vote the required taxes. Parliament was not of course a standing governmental body but was often only called when the State - that is the King - needed extra ready cash, such as for a war. So even before nineteenth century extensions to the franchise, there were still people who needed to be "sold the war" – the Commons' members and all those who elected them: landowners, gentlemen, merchants, universities, guilds, and churchmen.

And the reaction of Parliament could be fickle. I am not intimately acquainted with all the details but I do recall Henry VIII (or rather Wolsey, his chancellor) had relatively little trouble raising a vast sum through taxation for his "Great Enterprise of France" of 1513. But in contrast Henry had a very difficult time getting Parliament to vote through the money for him to try and repeat the fiasco with a second invasion of France in 1544. And then much more interestingly, he even had trouble raising yet further funds to actually defend the realm, when the suitably irked French decided to bring the war onto England’s home turf. This posed a very real foreign threat to the lives and livelihoods of numerous voting land-owners, merchants, burgesses, farmers, ship-builders and iron-founders etc,  in the south-east and London. But the taxes and other measures, that Parliament did eventually and reluctantly pass in that invasion-scare summer of 1545, were bitterly resented by those that had to pay. And also by the general populace who as a consequence saw the currency debased and the prices of basic commodities soar ... in addition to suffering military conscription, their carts and horses commandeered, and all the usual fears of rapine and destruction to their lives and livlihoods. With hindsight I guess one might say that "they" had not been sold the war, and they felt grievance. In a few cases such grievences, even blame, seem to have been directed at the over-reaching ambitions of the King, but rarely so, and usually only in private correspondence. To explicitly criticize the King, even when he had through his own stupid arrogance bankrupted the entire country, was of course treason.

On the other hand during the 18th century Britain was more securely ensconced behind its "moat defensive" and "wooden walls", and so I think the threat of actual invasion – and all that means in terms of rapine, death, destruction, penury and general misery – was highly unlikely. Accordingly those that had to pay for any foriegn wars that the King or his government might choose to undertake, were generally much more amenable to the idea. Wars still needed to be paid for and so taxation still had to be introduced whether on windows, tea, hair powder or that appalling new innovation income tax! All these taxes had to be passed by Parliament who still needed to be "sold the war", but I think many of those either in Parliament, or the many more that elected members to Parliament, would have been able to appreciate the wider picture. Generally for land-owners, merchants, entrepreneurs, the newly emerging industrialists, and anyone with some wealth – ie the electorate – war was not bad, in that it was not bad for business. In times of war corn prices rose benefiting landowners, trade might be disrupted but one could just raise the price of one’s much sought-after commodities, and for the industrialists, war represented massive government orders and profits! As in 20th century USA, war was generally good for business in 18th century Britain, so I don’t think many voters needed to be "sold" war. Indeed many despaired when peace was finally declared in 1815!

However as always those that paid the ultimate cost of war - through death or severe injury, being widowed or orphaned – mostly never had any say in the matter at all, having never had a vote nor ever directly having paid any tax. But at the same time even for many of them, war was still seen as an opportunity to make a living, if one so volunteered – there being no universal conscription. And of course the circular link between representation and taxation, and thus the need to "sell war" to the tax-paying electorate, came to a head with the American demands for Independence: "no taxation without representation", an' all that.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Selling a war   Mon 30 Jun 2014, 22:03

Caro,

found the thread back and bump it as a reminder to answer the question: "How to sell a war in a democracy?"

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Selling a war   Mon 04 Aug 2014, 22:36

@PaulRyckier wrote:
Caro,

found the thread back and bump it as a reminder to answer the question: "How to sell a war in a democracy?"

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.

Caro,

I started today doing research for "selling a war in a democracy...
I wanted to start with the example of WWI in Britain (while I saw last times a lot in actuality...) and wanted to give some general guidelines how and when and under which conditions one can succeed to sell a war in a so-called "democracy"...

But get stuck in reading a lot of modern considerations...
http://www.vlib.us/wwi/resources/archives/texts/t050209/films.html
http://www.globalissues.org/article/157/war-propaganda-and-the-media#PropagandawhenPreparingorJustifyingWar
but anti-republican site?
http://www.globalissues.org/about
and:
http://ejc.sagepub.com/content/23/2/153
and:
http://books.google.be/books/about/Propaganda_and_Democracy.html?id=Xv9cXHL9f18C&redir_esc=y
from that book:
http://goo.gl/tLaTDp
and:
http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/ww1.postwar.html
from: http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/index.html

My thoughts will be for tomorrow...nearing midnight overhere...

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Selling a war   Tue 05 Aug 2014, 22:23

Caro,

the whole evening stuck into reading about WWI propaganda, which isn't fully applicable for your question (will post it on another thread)
Therefore and still with the Belgian neutrality as example some thoughts:

From what I read it is impossible in a democracy to sell a war to the public, and in a certain sense even in a dictatorship. One has to be able to point to a real or constructed reason to mobilize the general opinion against the targeted ennemy.
For Britain in WWI it was the agression of neutral Belgium by Germany (perhaps the real reason was the balance of power in continental Europe and the occupation of the port of Antwerp, but that wasn't seen as powerful enough for the general public) and thus the "rape of Belgium" by the barbarian Hun was a welcome subject to use to motivate the public...(some parallels about weapons of mass destruction in the UK springs also to mind)

In fact it was nearly in every war the same? Korea the Tonkin incident..or was that Vietnam...? Fill in for the other wars...
In any case there had to be constructed or to be happening a real event which would be considered as a reason to go to war against an ennemy...?




http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/memoryofwar/the-rape-of-belgium-revisited/


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_propaganda_during_World_War_I

Kind regards and with esteem, Paul.
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