Despite the assurances of being readily accessible and free to all, information remains critically guarded by the nation’s elite (U.S. Department of Defense, 2010). Public opinion has been significantly influenced by manipulations and misrepresentations of facts. News has become an elastic commodity subject to the forces of demand and supply, and as such, it remains a profitable business both to the political and military elites. News companies are motivated by ratings, hence their manipulation of public opinion. It is critical for the business aspect of information dissemination to attract a significant command of the public attention. Foreign policy is characterized by profit-oriented objectives; therefore, the manipulation of public opinion towards a designate political agenda is unavoidable. This is characterized by misinformation to steer public attention away from any perspective that may impair the underlying political agenda.
The interaction of news, entertainment and business, has critically affected the integrity of the public opinion. Public opinion is characterized by the provided information rather than the facts of the information presented. The public is easily distracted from any sensitive news item, as soon as an exciting and attention commanding news item is presented (Bennett, 2011). Being aware of this fact, the political elite are constantly in cahoots with the military elite to divert the public’s scrutiny from critical facts that influence foreign policy or military initiatives. The desire for excitable news with an entertaining aspect to it has made it easy for the politicians and military protagonists to manipulate public opinion.
The diversion of public interest in key information aspects is characterized by significant bias in political information dissemination (Levinson, 1997). While the public is distracted, the military and politicians are quick to fathom a news item that is persistently addressed by vicious media campaigns and slogans. These campaigns ensure that the core issues are steered away from public scrutiny. The media like other businesses are profit-oriented; therefore, bias in reporting to suit political affiliations and business interests will prevail. Foreign policy and military initiative are critical to the security and economic significance of any state. However, public scrutiny and opinion as control factors cannot be relied upon, given the nature and extent of information disseminated.
The advent of news media has made it possible for the manipulation of facts to suite the political elite. It would be easier to build support for a war given the available information systems in place. The need for objective media coverage would significantly contribute to public misinformation. The media consider authoritative endorsement of information as a sign of information certification. However, critical evidence to support the claims made by any authoritative figure is constantly ignored; subject to the sources authority on the subject matter (Bennett, 2011). Though the authoritative source of information may be certifiable, the media fails to characterize the information provided to the underlying agenda of the source.
The public is characterized by a desire for scintillating news items; therefore, it is easy to lie and deceive the public on principle issues and policies (Levinson, 1997). The advanced technological information-gathering tools and techniques at the government’s disposal would play a crucial role to this end. The public displays a heightened sensitivity to security issues; hence, any military initiative aimed ostensibly at protecting the public’s security and freedom would be applauded. However, the media are the critical factor in the implementation of an interactive media campaign where politically biased journalists are identified and recruited for the campaigns. The personalization of the media campaigns would be essential to alienate the public towards supporting the military campaigns.
The new media are characterized by the need to personalize issues rather than focus on the inherent political and economic relevance or consequences thereto. Therefore, the exploitation of this aspect of the media would make the public identify with the subject matter. The dramatization of televised scenes would ensure the critical nature of the impending crisis. The public is prone to manipulation in the advent of a crisis (Bennett, 2011). The use of crisis as a strategy would ensure full media coverage and attention. This ensures that distractions from the agenda are removed, thus commanding the full public attention to the crisis. The ability to assert authority while maintaining order would be critical. National security demands prompt and precise action towards any threats, hence the public’s belief in the president’s ability to protect and preserve security would be instrumental in building support for the war.
The film “Wag the Dog” is symbolic to the real world politics. The political implications to the president in lieu of his indiscretions with a younger woman are catastrophic to his reputation, political career and legacy (Levinson, 1997). Therefore, the creation of the “make believe war” to distract the public’s interest in the affair is critical. The public opinion symbolic to the dog is subjected to manipulation by the political class as per “Wag the Dog” film. The similarities of the film’s theme to the real world are indisputable. The public is illustrated as a predictable force when given a news item to be occupied with while the politicians pursue their agenda behind the scenes.
The principles underlying the creation of a “make believe war” in the film represent the continuous campaigns on the fight against terror. Terrorism has created a basis for military campaigns in foreign countries like Iraq and Afghanistan (Aday 2005). The political information presented to the public is the danger posed by terrorism while asserting the need for war on terrorism. However, the agenda for these campaigns is re-election platforms and economic looting of the affected countries, significantly those with a resistant approach to the west (Aday, 2005). The claims of weapons of mass destruction in countries like Iraq and financing terrorist attacks on the US are vivid examples of make believe wars.
The film significantly illustrates the hypocrisy of the political class in its manipulation of the public opinion. It is evident that the public needs an agenda or issue to champion (Levinson, 1997). While the politicians do not wish to be the center of the public’s scrutiny and criticism, their actions to distract the public from the truth result in economic and social drawbacks. The characteristic identity of politicians in reality and the contemporary society illustrated by the film is political preservation irrespective of the costs to the public.
Democracy dictates equitable opportunity to make decisions on issues affecting people directly or indirectly in light of fully disclosed information and facts. However, democracy is constantly challenged by the biased dissemination of information. The news sources in the media today are critically limited, making it difficult to represent factual news (Bennett, 2011). The news is constantly based on information from sources purported to be authoritative on the subject under review. The availability of verifiable news sources supported by evidentiary documentation of facts is crucial in a democratic environment.
Therefore, the available news fails to demonstrate the government’s goals and objectivity in its actions on behalf of its citizens. The government’s failure to substantiate the claims of terrorist affiliations of given countries is detrimental to democracy. Though terrorism presents a security issue to public safety, it is essential that substantiated facts be provided to the public. However, the public has been fed information provided on the basis of the politicians’ version of events, while statements from authoritative military and intelligence personnel are issued. The information provided on this basis does not substantiate the government’s agenda or goals in the war campaigns on terrorism.
In a democracy information should be provided covering all aspects and implications of the war on terror. The government should faithfully outline the goals and objectives of any campaign against terrorism. However, the failure to provide adequate news to the public creates an alienated public (Aday, 2005). The loss of life, economic implications to the tax payers and the burden of the world’s condemnation on alleged inhumane acts by the government’s agents on foreign soil are issues that face the public. These issues are conditional on the government’s failure to provide information while involving the public in critical decision-making, in the pursuit of its goals and activities with respect to the war on terror.
The film uses the media as a propaganda tool to divert public attention from the real issues. The creation of "make believe war" and its presentation on television are symbolic to the misuse of the media by the political elite to misinform the public (Levinson, 1997). The media’s divergence form the real issue, while capturing the public’s attention characterizes the public’s hunger for information and news. The politicians’ ability to capitalize on the public’s opinion based on misinformation and deception determines their political careers.
The tailoring and structuring of the "make believe war" in the film is critical in passing the intended information to the public, while diverting attention from the real issues. The film is satirical to the war in the US significantly. The war on terror in the US was conceived to further political ambitions, while diverting the public’s attention from the economic crisis and political failures of politicians. The claims of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist affiliations were excuses to invade foreign soils rich in natural resources. The economic pilferage and diversion aspects of the war; while claiming economic and political reconstruction of the affected countries were characteristic to the media’s contribution in concealing the actual truth and rationale behind the war (Aday, 2005).