chapter  10
Public Opinion and National Security Policy: Relationships and Impacts
Pages 20

There are four possible interpretations of the relationship between public opinion and national security policy.1 One is that public opinion is controlling-, policy obeys the dictates of popular opinion, as stated in the extreme versions of democratic theory and mythology. The second is that public opinion is controlled: policymakers basically shape and manipulate opinion; the democratic mythology is false, and ruling elites persuade the populace to support whatever the leaders wish to do. A third is that the two are mutually irrelevant; leaders neither obey nor control public opinion; policy and opinion go their separate ways. The fourth is that opinion and policy interact-. each influences the other, depending on the political and social context.