How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt for Wars of Choice

42 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2016

Date Written: September 13, 2016


With the end of the U.S-Soviet Cold War in 1991 a fundamental shift occurred in global behavior of the United States with respect to “wars of choice” unconnected to vital national security interests. Parallel with that shift, American media increasingly have operated uncritically in conjunction with the bipartisan Washington political establishment to “sell” such wars to the American public. Among the key features of such cooperation discernable in successive conflicts are deficiency of geographic and historical knowledge as the American norm (the less people know the more likely they are to believe what they are told, with the least informed most persuaded of the need to “do something”); reliance on government sources, “ventriloquism,” and “information incest” (unknown to the public, much media “information” comes from government sources); centralized corporate ownership (official policy imperatives interface with ratings dollars for six giant corporate conglomerates); “para-journalism,” “infotainment,” and “atrocity porn” as a war trigger (atrocities appear seemingly on cue and then receive saturation coverage); demonization “Hitler” memes and “weaponization” of media (compromise and negotiation have no role in confronting absolute evil: war is the default option); America and the “international community,” the “Free World,” and American “exceptionalism” and “leadership”; disregarding “alternative” media, American samizdat (accurate information is available in “alternative” media, but the major still decide if it exists or not); “we never make mistakes,” “stay the course,” and “MoveOn-ism” (U.S. policy has no rearview mirror; authors of past blunders are not discredited, while those who said “tolya so” are ignored). In turn, media themselves are an integral part of a multifaceted, hybrid public-private entity with broad range and depth. Variously known as the Establishment, the Oligarchy, or the Deep State, this entity includes elements within all three branches of the U.S. government (especially in the military, intelligence, and financial sectors), private business (the financial industry, government contractors, information technology), think tanks, NGOs, the “Demintern,” both political parties and campaign operatives, and an army of lobbyists and PR professionals. Looking into the future in light of 2016 anti-Establishment challenges from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the shortcomings of Barack Obama’s policies in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine on top of those of George W. Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan, shrinkage of the American Middle Class, and increasing public skepticism of the “MSM” in favor of digital “alternative media,” both the Washington-based oligarchy and its media component show signs of losing their grip. The possibility exists for a peaceful evolution to a less warlike posture (impacting media as well) that would refocus on America’s domestic needs. Alternatively, the existing order could risk a major war in a desperate bid to save its wealth, power, and privileges – with unforeseeable consequences for America and the world.

Suggested Citation

Jatras, James, How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt for Wars of Choice (September 13, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics