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  Public Relations and Propaganda

Public relations usually is associated with the influencing of public opinion. Therefore it has subsequently been linked with propaganda. Using one of the many definitions of propaganda "... the manipulation of symbols as a means of influencing attitudes on controversial matters" (Harold D. Lasswell), the terms propaganda and PR seem to be easily interchangeable.

Still many authors explicitly distinguish between public relations, advertising and propaganda. Unlike PR, which is often described as objective and extensive information of the public, advertising and propaganda are associated with manipulative activities. Nevertheless to treat public relations and propaganda as equivalents stands in the tradition of PR. Edward L. Bernays, one of the founders of public relations wrote "The only difference between propaganda and education, really, is the point of view. The advocacy of what we believe in is education. The advocacy of what we don't believe is propaganda."

Also institutions like the German Bundeswehr use the terms publics relations and propaganda synonymously. After a 1990 legislation of the former minister of defense Stoltenberg, the "psychological influence of the enemy" was ceased during peace time and the Academy for Psychological Defense renamed to Academy for Information and Communication, among other things responsible for scientific research in the field of public relations.

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RTMark and Adbusters at the WTO Conference in Seattle
German Bundeswehr
The German contribution to the Western defence system, apart from playing host and contributing to the continued presence of allied troops on its soil, takes the form of its combined arm of defence known as the Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr). Constituting the largest contingent of NATO troops in Europe, the armed forces are divided into an army, navy, and air force. From its inception it was envisioned as a "citizens' " defence force, decisively under civilian control through the Bundestag, and its officers and soldiers trained to be mindful of the role of the military in a democracy. Conscription for males is universal, the military liability beginning at 18 and ending at 45 years of age.