chapter  2
Brushfires and firefighters: international affairs and the news media
Pages 41

Just as the mass media became integral to the everyday domestic workings of the modern state during the course of this century, so also have they come to play an ever-increasing role in the external relations between states. Much has already been written by historians about that increasing role, from the AngloGerman press ‘wars’ in the build-up to the First World War to the role of newspapers, the cinema and radio in the programme of ‘moral rearmament’ prior to the Second World War.1 A growing amount of literature also now exists about how the media came to be deployed as a psychological weapon, at home and abroad, first between 1939 and 1945 and then subsequently during the Cold War. Today, however, if a statesman wants to make a public statement or send a message across the world, he has the option of doing so on CNN rather than through traditional diplomatic channels. As a result, the burning issues of the day appear to be reported ‘as they happen’, while international affairs are conducted in the full glare of global publicity for a world-wide audience. Such conditions are conducive to improvisation, inconsistencies and U-turns. But, to paraphrase Raymond Chandler, when you make a U-turn, you also make a lot of enemas.