Friday, November 13, 2009

"In Harm's Way" by Martin Bell [11]

Chapter 11: Something Must Be Done

An interesting meditation on the influence TV coverage has on government policy; too much, according to Bell, and he believes that governments should control policy in serious issues like war. "But, in Bosnia, they left it to us."

Bell witnessed firsthand how the Bosnian government, the Bosnian Serb republic, and the Croatian forces all tried to use the media to their advantage; he notes how often Radovan Karadzic responded to what he perceived as unfair coverage. All sides in the conflict understood that in the modern age, the satellite dish was a weapon.

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I apologize for letting this review drag on so long. I will pick up the pace after this weekend.

2 comments:

sarah correia said...

"""All sides in the conflict understood that in the modern age, the satellite dish was a weapon."""

Nowadays in our globalized world, everybody, but literally everybody has a notion of how important is to pass a certain message through the media.

Kirk, don't worry about the rhythm of the blog...

Owen said...

Kirk, I'm not clear precisely what Bell is saying here. I guess he's talking about the UK government not making its policy on Bosnia adequately clear, so that it was left to the public to filter media reports and work out what the issues were and how to deal with them.

I think the message that the public received about UK government policy was fairly clear - this was a specific local problem that was intractable because of traditional inter-community antagonisms and it had to be contained in order to avoid regional destabilisation, hence support for the arms embargo.

The problem is that Bell feels that there should have been a more interventionist policy and he feels uncomfortable that it was left to the media to articulate outrage at what they saw happening on the ground without any strategic overview or guarantee of objectivity.

Government policy had been established, the question was whether it was legitimate for public opinion to be informed in a way that would cause that policy to be changed.