Diletta Latini

Diletta Latini
Address: Centre for the Study of Political Change, CIRCaP
Department of History, Law, Political and Social Science
University of Siena
Via Mattioli, 10
I-53100 Siena
E-Mail: Latini3@unisi.it


The Transatlantic Rift over the Use of Force in Iraq: the Media Debates and public opinion

In the recent Iraqi crisis, the issue of the use of force led progressively to strong disagreements among the European political leaders, in particular to a serious rift across the Atlantic, which contrasted significantly with an increasing homogeneity in the strategic preferences of the European publics: the rejection of a military intervention against the Iraqi regime. This research project aims at providing more insights into the role that media played in promoting across the United States and Europe the significant rift over the efficacy and the legitimacy of the use of force in Iraq and into the role that media played with respect to the public perception and support of the United States and Europe as security actors. If foreign policy makers take into account the public’s preferences in their political and strategic choices and the public responds to the news media, studying the nature and the degree of the media’s influence on public opinion becomes crucial. Beyond the statements of support or opposition to the use of force that were clearly expressed in the handling of the Iraq crisis in the months preceding the war, it is thus worth asking: What kind of coverage of the Iraqi issue and what image of the war was given in countries where public opinion turned against or in support of the use of force? Is it true that the crisis might be viewed in a different way depending on which media citizens decided to follow? To what extent the anti-war and anti-American climate was the product of news that privileged certain assumptions and narratives over others? However, while it is clear that public opinion and media may influence the decision-making process in the domain of foreign and security policy, their specific strategic role is not always systematic, but dynamic. This research project, then, will also evaluate across the most crucial stages of the Iraqi crisis the willingness and the ability of the American, French, and Italian decision-makers to 'shape' the beliefs of the public through their official discourse and the use of media, and the role of media and public opinion in acting as a 'constraint' or rather as a 'resource' in the strategic preferences and choices of the decision-makers. In particular, the interplay of the elite beliefs with media discourse and public opinion will be evaluated in the light of three critical factors: policy certainty, executive cohesion, and elite consensus.







Diletta Latini has a degree in Political Sciences from the University of Florence with a thesis on the concept of strategic culture and a Master in European Studies (University of Florence). In 2005 she received her PhD in Comparative and European Politics at the University of Siena with a dissertation entitled “Democracies and War. External Pressures and Domestic Counterbalances to the Use of Force”. During her doctoral research, she made an internship at the Defence Committee of the Assembly of Western European Union (WEU) in Paris. Since January 2007, she spent three months as visiting fellow at the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI) in Paris and subsequently she worked for three months at the European Institute for International Relations (IERI) in Brussels. At the University of Siena she has worked as teaching assistant at the undergraduate level for the class of International Relations.

Her main areas of expertise are: • decision-making • American, French and Italian security and defence policy • public opinion and the use of force • media and foreign policy • transatlantic relations • European security and identity

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