Ideologies of intervention: Analyzing NATO propaganda leaflets using articulation theory




Tripe, Halli Beth

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This thesis examines propaganda leaflets dropped by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Kosovo in 1999 and Libya in 2011. Using Stuart Hall's articulation theory (1986) as a theoretical and methodological framework, this thesis analyzes the textual and visual messages communicated by NATO's propaganda leaflets, with a particular focus on the ideological components of those messages. Three major themes were found in the leaflets dropped by NATO in Kosovo: appeals to family values, the use of war imagery, and the demonization of Slobodan Milosevic. In the leaflets dropped in Libya, four major themes were found: messages aimed at soldiers, rhetorical appeals to family, the use of war imagery, and the use of nationalist imagery. The similarities and differences between the messages employed by NATO in both conflicts are analyzed. The most significant similarity between the messages on the leaflets disseminated in Kosovo and Libya was the use of war imagery. The potential international implications of the ideological assumptions espoused in the NATO propaganda leaflets are discussed. This thesis argues that the expansion of NATO, and particularly NATO's ideological justifications for military intervention as espoused in the leaflets dropped in Kosovo and Libya, threatens to undermine Westphalian sovereignty, and signals the rebirth of imperialism on humanitarian or ideological grounds.


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articulation theory, NATO, propaganda