chapter  9
15 Pages

Foreign policy-making, war and the disembedding of cosmopolitan elite networks: The case of Iraq 2003

This chapter focuses on the media and communication surrounding foreign policy-making and war. In contrast to the usual territory covered here, the concern is with how political leaders develop alternative interpretive frameworks to the public on foreign affairs and conflict. It thus investigates the role of media and communication in separating elite foreign and military policy-making networks from national parliaments and general publics. After a limited review of the literature on war reporting, the chapter sketches

out a basic theory of political cultural ‘embedding’ and ‘disembedding’. It is argued that social and communicative differences create ‘layers of cultural embedding and disembedding’ as political actors step between the local, national and international spheres. This encourages globally-linked, political elite networks to become radically ‘disentangled’, first from wider publics, but also from nationally-based political networks. The discussion is followed by an extended case study, illustrating these ideas, and focusing on the US and UK in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This attempts to explain the large disparities in opinion and understanding that occurred between transnational political and diplomatic networks, state parliamentary spheres, and wider national publics. As argued, at each of these levels, the audiences involved were informed by quite different information systems and social relations and, accordingly, had quite distinct understandings of and responses to the issues.