Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq

Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq

Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq

Tough Sell: Fighting the Media War in Iraq


Like the War on Terror, the Media War rages on. More than ever, America's ability to fight and win against ISIS requires that we understand how best to communicate about war in the digital age. Tom Basile takes readers behind the scenes during his time as a civilian advisor in Iraq during the Iraq War, describing his mission and the struggle to communicate about the war as it became more deadly and less popular at home.

The U.S.-led coalition wasn't merely engaged in a fight to build a more tolerant, participatory society against incredible odds. It was also in a constant clash with forces that influenced public perception about the mission. During those difficult years, it became clear that warfare was now, more than ever, a blend of policy, politics, and journalism.

Basile critiques the media's reporting and assesses the Bush administration's home-front communications strategy to argue that if policymakers do not effectively articulate their strategy, manage their message, and counter misinformation, they will find themselves unable to execute that policy, placing the United States at great risk. Tough Sell blends Basile's personal story with lessons from the media war in Iraq that can improve our ability to communicate about and prosecute the War on Terror.


Ambassador john R. bolton

Those who define today’s “conventional wisdom” in Washington would have us believe that the second U.S.-Iraqi war was a failure. So pervasive is this mindset that, as a presidential candidate, even Jeb Bush, former president George W. Bush’s own brother, fled in horror from the prospect of defending the 2003 decision to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein. and from this conventional wisdom about Iraq, supplemented by cherry-picked data from publicopinion polls, flows the further conventional wisdom that, in the years ahead, the American public will simply not abide similar U.S. nationalsecurity policies.

Notwithstanding its pervasiveness, this conventional wisdom about Iraq is wrong. It is wrong in its factual description of what actually happened in Iraq, wrong about the appropriate conclusions to draw from that experience, wrong about American public opinion (and correspondingly wrong about how to shape that opinion), and wrong about the international policies necessary to protect American citizens and interests in a time of growing uncertainty and indeed growing chaos.

This is not to say that mistakes—indeed, serious mistakes—were not made in Iraq both before and after the invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Of course there were mistakes, large and small, primarily the assessment of Iraq’s capabilities in weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Without rearguing this issue, which has and will fill volumes for years to come, Saddam’s wmd threat was not well explained before the invasion. Neither was it understood well, let alone explained well, once the evidence available failed to meet the expectations raised before . . .

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