Panama and Haiti Interventions Essay

Total Length: 978 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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The public opinion differences in support for the Haiti and Panama interventions were that the latter was viewed by the people (prompted by the media) simplistically, as a mission of good guys (the U.S.) fighting bad guys (Noriega); on Haiti, the public (again prompted by the mainstream media) was the reverse—intervention was unnecessary and was just a case of Clinton trying to get the spotlight off his own back. This paper will compare and contrast the way the government handled the two interventions and discuss the media’s role in the interventions and how a “rally ‘round the flag effect” occurred for the Panama intervention—but not for the Haiti intervention.

In the Panama intervention under Bush, the media depicted the soldiers as effectively bringing Christmas and Santa Claus to the Panamanians (Milburn Panama Video 1, n.d.). The propaganda campaign made it appear as though Noriega was a ruthless dictator who was keeping presents and joy from the children. The Panamanians were shown celebrating the birth of Christ and singing Panamanian Christmas songs in the streets. The “rally ‘round the flag effect” was clearly being implemented by the media in conjunction with the U.S. government throughout the Panama intervention. The government of Noriega was overthrown, the Panama Canal re-opened, and the people liberated. The conditions of the “rally ‘round the flag effect” were all in play for the Panama invasion: there was increased support for the president (the halo effect), a methodological approach to the promulgation of news; the government was in control of the media’s propagation efforts; there was a clear crisis situation portrayed on the news; and the situation was remote from the public’s everyday experience.
These conditions were met in the Panama intervention—but not in the Haiti intervention. The limits, of course, are that it is time limited and has to take place outside the scope of everyday life for Americans. That is why the Panama intervention had to be quickly conducted and end with a happy “just-in-time-for-Christmas” ending.

The Haiti intervention was different, from the media standpoint alone. For example, the tone of Tom Brokaw on NBC during the U.S. intervention in Haiti under Clinton was completely different: skeptical, sly, and mocking with a smirk spread across his face as he reported that Americans were wondering why Clinton felt he needed to send the army into Haiti and that Haitians, for their part, showed no signs of being frightened—all of this indicated that Brokaw along with the rest of the mainstream media was not going to support the intervention. As Edelman (“Rally ‘round the Flag Effect,” n.d.) notes, the “President must have control over information with which to arouse” the public if he wishes to win the public’s support for foreign intervention (slide 9). In the case of the Haitian intervention, Clinton did not….....

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Milburn Haiti Video 1. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Millburn Panama Video 1. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Rally ‘round the Flag Effect. (n.d.). PowerPoint Presentation.

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