War Propaganda and the United States

By Harold Lavine; James Wechsler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
FINLAND VS. RUSSIA

I

GUNS Still speak more authoritatively than words, and God is not necessarily on the side of the heaviest typewriter battalions. So Russia has demonstrated and Finland has learned. When evenly matched armies clash, the propaganda artillery may help to resolve a stalemate; it did in 1918, it may do so again. But when 4,000,000 people combat 180,000,000, Baron Munchausen plus Baron Mannerheim are not enough. In the Finnish War Joseph Stalin virtually conceded the propaganda war by default, although Soviet sympathizers in the United States and elsewhere tried to cover his retreat. The Soviets lost every major engagement on the propaganda front -- here and in Finland. But they won the war.

Propagandists are not miracle men. The Finnish cause in the United States was espoused by personalities as diverse as President Roosevelt and ex-President Hoover, Father Coughlin and Elsie the Cow; at Finnish benefits Broadway stars contributed songs and Dorothy Lamour her sarong; the American Institute of Public Opinion reported that 88 per cent of America was rooting for Finland, only 1 per cent for Russia. Rarely, if ever, has a propaganda drive been waged under more favorable conditions. But while the Finns needed guns and troops, Joseph Stalin needed only a publicity man. It was a race against time: could the Finns convert a hoard of moral support into tangible military assets? Given additional time, they might have been able to do so. But they lost the race.

Although the war in Finland ended on March 12, its echoes did not subside. These echoes promised to become

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War Propaganda and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Illustrations v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Introduction vii
  • War Propaganda and the United States 1
  • Chapter II - The Greatest Neutral 39
  • Chapter III - "The British Are Coming!" 113
  • Chapter IV - Inside the Word Factories 153
  • Chapter V - England Expects 171
  • Chapter VI - Expeditionary Force 217
  • Chapter VII - Germany Hopes 240
  • Chapter VIII - Modern Improvements 265
  • Chapter IX - Finland Vs. Russia 282
  • Chapter X - Midstream 325
  • Index 357
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