Afghanistan’s Altercation: Media influence in Western conflict interventions

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Is the pen still mightier than the sword in the globalised era of mass communication? To find an answer to this question this paper looks into the critical decision-making process of international military interventions. The case analysed is the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. The decision-making process from 2013 until 2018 of two contributing nations, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, are analysed. The dynamics between the policy-maker, the media and the conflict context itself are thoroughly examined and the findings reflect back on the classical media theories. In the end it turned out that media did not have a direct influence on the policy-making process, but nonetheless several discoveries were made about the relationship between media and policy-makers. Moreover, it turned out that several classical views on media and media influence could not be confirmed in this research. On the contrary, some key assumptions on media coverage in a conflict context did not fit with the reality in Afghanistan. Moreover, it became apparent that there were differences among the Netherlands and the United Kingdom as well. Though relatively similar in culture and democratic traditions, their unique aspects in decision-making and media traditions did have their impact on the policy-process. Concluding research gives new insight in many aspects of the complicated game between media, conflict and politics. Yet, in the end it must be concluded that sword nor the pen won the battle in Afghanistan.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen