The Other Air Force: U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media Since 9/11

The Other Air Force: U.S. Efforts to Reshape Middle Eastern Media Since 9/11

by Matt Sienkiewicz Ph.D


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Winner of the 2019 Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award

As it seeks to win the hearts and minds of citizens in the Muslim world, the United States has poured millions of dollars into local television and radio programming, hoping to generate pro-American currents on Middle Eastern airwaves. However, as this fascinating new book shows, the Middle Eastern media producers who rely on these funds are hardly puppets on an American string, but instead contribute their own political and creative agendas while working within U.S. restrictions.  
The Other Air Force gives readers a unique inside look at television and radio production in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, from the isolated villages of the Afghan Panjshir Valley to the congested streets of Ramallah. Communications scholar Matt Sienkiewicz explores how the U.S. takes a “soft-psy” approach to its media efforts combining “soft” methods of encouraging entertainment programming, such as adaptations of The Voice and The Apprentice with more militaristic “psy-ops” approaches to information control. Drawing from years of field research and interviews with everyone from millionaire executives to underpaid but ever resourceful cameramen, Sienkiewicz considers the perspectives of the Afghan and Palestinian media workers trying to forge viable broadcasting businesses without straying outside American-set boundaries for acceptable content.   
As it carefully examines the interplay of U.S. military and economic might with the capacity for local ingenuity and resistance, the book also analyzes the intriguingly complex programming that emerges from this tension. Combining eyewitness reportage with cutting-edge scholarship, The Other Air Force reveals the remarkable creative output that can emerge even from the world’s tensest conflict zones.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813577982
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 10/01/2016
Series: War Culture
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 17 - 18 Years

About the Author

MATT SIENKIEWICZ is an assistant professor of communication and international studies at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. He is the coeditor of Saturday Night Live and American TV and has produced a number of documentaries, including Live from Bethlehem..

Table of Contents


Introduction: Soft-Psy Media as U.S. Strategy

Chapter 1: Shopping for Grocers: The Origins of Middle Eastern Soft-Psy Media

Chapter 2: Our Men in Kabul and Bethlehem: Saad Mohseni and Raed Othman

Chapter 3: Kind of Con Men: Self-Interest, Soft-Psy Media, and Resistance

Chapter 4: Soft-Psy Media Under Cover: The Question of Gender

Chapter 5: Mediating Mediations: Meta-Media, the Middle East, and Soft-Psy Strategy

Conclusion: The Trajectory of Soft-Psy Media from 9/11 to Today


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