Propaganda that looks like propaganda is third-rate propaganda.

WE are innocent.
THEY are guilty.

WE tell the truth, inform.
THEY lie, use propaganda.

WE defend ourselves.
THEY are agressors.

WE respect our agreements and treaties and abide by international law.
THEY are liars, cheaters, thieves, and opportunists who break treaties.

WE are Peace Keepers. Our use of force is a police action to protect law and order.
THEY are violent, gangsters, a criminal band.

WE stand for justice and civil rights.
THEY brutalize, repress, tyrranize both their own and their neighbours'.

OUR leaders govern with the consent of the people.
THEIR leaders are usurpers with no popular support who will eventually be overthrown.

The enemy commits torture, atrocity, and murder because he is a sadist who enjoys killing.
We use surgical or strategic violence only because we are forced to by the enemy.

Killing is justified so long as one does not take pleasure in it and it is done in a clean manner - preferably from an antiseptic distance - the saturation bombing and free-fire zones in Vietnam were legitimate, the face-to-face slaughter in My Lai was a war crime.

As a popular passion producer, experience indicates that there is nothing quite like the atrocity story.

This is a war, as I see it, against barbarism....
We are fighting against a nation which, in the fashion of centuries ago, drags the inhabitants of conquered lands into slavery; which carries off women and girls for even worse purposes; which is in its mad desire to conquer mankind and trample them underfoot has stopped at no wrong, has regarded no treaty...What we want most of all by this victory which we shall help to win is to secure the world's peace, broad based on freedom and democracy
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge
to the American Senate, April 4, 1917

Propaganda in America is far more successful than anyone ever thinks it is. Its achievement is what is not spoken, not talked about, not even thought. Even its invisibility is strength, it's impossible to counterattack unaction.

For puposes of making your war look just, the most reliable device is the self-defense thesis.

In general, you should seem to prove what people already want to believe, and to justify what they already want to do.

This list is from the novel American Hero by Larry Beinhart, 1993, Ballantine Books, New York

Beinhart tells the story of how the President of the United States hires a movie producer to stage a war for him. The above is a destillate from a few sources that serve as a blueprint for this planned war.

What is most striking about the book is that although it is very specific about the story (it is G.H.W.Bush and the Gulf War) the analysis of propaganda fits wherever you choose to apply it. Half of the lines in the summary about propaganda is from before World War II, btw.

At its best, American Hero is reminiscent of Noam Chomsky's work because it offers an alternative way to look at things we think to be facts. Beinhart goes a long way towards convincing his readers, quoting from official US documents to support his proposal.

The novel was duly turned into the film Wag the Dog and declawed properly in the Hollywood version.

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