To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II

To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II

To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II

To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II

Synopsis

Between 1942 and 1945, the British government conducted a propaganda campaign in the United States to create popular consensus for a postwar Anglo-American partnership. Anticipating an Allied victory, British officials feared American cooperation would end with the war. Susan A. Brewer provides the first study of Britain's attempts to influence an American public skeptical of postwar international commitment, even as the United States was replacing Britain as the leading world power. Brewer discusses the concerns and strategies of the British propagandists--journalists, professors, and businessmen--who collaborated with the generally sympathetic American media. She examines the narratives they used to link American and British interests on such controversial issues as the future of the empire and economic recovery. In analyzing the barriers to Britain's success, she considers the legacy of World War I, and the difficulty of conducting propaganda in a democracy. Propaganda did not prevent the transition of global leadership from the British Empire to the United States, Brewer asserts, but it did make that transition work in Britain's interest.

Excerpt

So in order to commend ourselves to the U.S. public through publicity we have to demonstrate with grim repetition how great a contribution Britain has made in the fight against the common enemy. . . . We have to proclaim the [r]enaissance of Britain in this war.

In this respect, publicity can be a servant of highest value to policy. For if we do not correct, through publicity, the illusion of many Americans that this country is doomed to be a satellite power, a poor relation, a sort of Uncle James who worked hard in his day, but is now past it, poor old fellow, and must be pensioned off, then our Government will have a tough time.

--ROBIN CRUIKSHANK, MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, 1943

During the Second World War, while the Allies clashed with Axis forces in Africa, Asia, and Europe, a small British army campaigned on the battlefield of American public opinion. Recruits discreetly conducted reconnaissance missions. Officials in London debated strategy and tactics and dispatched orders to their representatives across the Atlantic. The troops, who before the war had been journalists, business executives, professors, and writers, carried out operations from New York to Los Angeles, from St. Paul to Houston. Their mission was the creation of a "special relationship" or informal partnership between Britain and the United States. The weapon was propaganda.

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