The strategic manipulation of American official propaganda during the Vietnam War, 1965-1966, and British opinion on the war
This thesis examines the American official propaganda campaign on the Vietnam war, and its impact on both the British Government, America's main non-combatant ally, and British public opinion, from the time of the escalation of the war, in February 1965, to mid-1966. Concentrating on Administration statements, the study assesses the Administration's knowledge of events in South Vietnam and its secret planning on the war, compares this knowledge and planning with its propaganda, and evaluates the truth and accuracy of Administration propaganda. An assessment is also made of U.S. propaganda techniques and the utility of American official propaganda themes. The thesis then examines the information on the war that was available to the British public on a daily basis in the British press. The role of the press during the war is assessed both as an information medium, and as an audience for American official propaganda - an audience which then disseminated its own analyses of the war and U.S. propaganda. The British Labour Government's reaction and opinion on the war is traced in relation to its own policy of support for its U.S. ally, and the domestic political difficulties that this policy caused. British public opinion on the war during this period is evaluated through public opinion polls, and press accounts of opposition to the war, including accounts of demonstrations. The theme of this thesis is that when the war began escalating in February 1965, the British Government, the public, and much of the press, supported 135. involvement in Vietnam. But by mid-1966, the British Government had dissociated from the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam's oil storage depots, henceforth offering qualified support to its ally; the British public no longer supported U.S. action in Vietnam; and sections of the British press opposed U.S. involvement. The British Government's dissociation was a blow to the U.S. Administration, and thus the American official propaganda campaign had failed to retain the desired degree of support from its British ally.