Overview Essay: U.S.
Propaganda in the Middle East - The Early Cold War Version
Documentation on Early Cold
U.S. Propaganda Activities in the Middle East
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Security Archive at George
Washington University today published on the World Wide
Web documents concerned with an early Cold War campaign
to win hearts and minds in the Middle East, launched 50
years before current efforts to achieve United States "public
diplomacy" goals in the region.
Soon after the events of September 11, the administration
of George W. Bush announced a wide-ranging campaign to improve
the image of America in Arab countries and in the greater
Muslim world. One year later, its results appear unimpressive:
a recent Pew Research Center poll found increasingly unfavorable
international views of the U.S., "most dramatically,
in Muslim societies."
The documents collected here describe an earlier program
to expand and revitalize American propaganda directed at
the Middle East, and the methods that were utilized, including
graphic displays, manipulation of the news, books, movies,
cartoons, activities directed at schools and universities,
and exchange programs. U.S. propaganda efforts were assisted
by collaborating governments, the news media, academics,
publishers, and private associations. The documents show
that many of the factors that generated resentment of the
U.S. during the 1950s, and that impeded the effectiveness
of U.S. propaganda, have persisted into the 21st century.
Topics discussed in the documents include:
- The objectives, targets, and methodology of U.S. propaganda.
- Propaganda planned to win popular acceptance for the
shah of Iran after he was restored to power by a British-American
- Propaganda seeking to enhance America's image by demonstrating
its "overwhelming and increasing industrial and military
strength," including its nuclear capabilities, to
Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq.
- The U.S. government's identification of religion, including
Saudi Arabia's conservative interpretation of Islam, as
"an important asset in promoting Western objectives,"
including anticommunism, in the Middle East.
Overview Essay: U.S. Propaganda
in the Middle East - The Early Cold War Version