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5.0 out of 5 stars How the War was Spun, November 18, 2003
This review is from: Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq (Paperback)
In this extremely well researched book, authors Sheldon Rempton and John Stauber argue that the Bush Regime generated public support for the invasion of Iraq by using a calculated public relations campaign and a series of flagrant lies. The authors base their argument on easily verifiable documents from the media, the PR industry, and a variety of respected government and research organizations. Whether or not you agree with the invasion or Iraq it is important that you understand that the Bush Regime felt the only way it could get support for this policy was to lie. There is simply no question, as this book proves, that the Bush Regime deliberately set out to lie to the American people and to the world about why it wanted to invade and occupy Iraq.
The first chapter of this book explains how the Bush Regime set out to change public opinion about the America in the Middle East by running a brand campaign. The regime hired a PR specialist essentially to brand America and to promote that brand in the Middle East the same way one might promote Budweiser or KFC. The problem with Brand promotion strategies, however is that they are more about manipulation and forceful persuasion than about understanding and working with your target audience. Is it any wonder that this policy failed so spectacularly?
The book's second chapter describes the numerous mechanisms of persuasion the Bush Regime employed to convince you and me that the war on Iraq was necessary. These included timing the drive to war like a product launch, publicizing the invasion-friendly views of right-wing think tanks that were recast as foreign policy experts, promoting the CIA funded Iraqi National Congress as liberators. Funny how none of these strategies had anything to do with telling the truth.
As it's title implies, the book's third chapter provides the nuts and bolts of Rempton's and Stauber's argument. Here the authors demonstrate how the Bush Regime falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein had direct ties to al Quaeda (he and bin Laden are sworn enemies), lied about Iraq's weapons capability, and created the false impression that Iraq is a major sponsor of global terrorism. Oddly enough our principal Middle Eastern ally, Saudi Arabia provides much more sponsorship for global terrorism than Iraq. Fifteen of the nineteen September 11th hijackers were Saudi and none were Iraqi. Let me repeat that for you: none were Iraqi.
Perhaps the most important part of this book is it's fifth chapter entitled "The Uses of Fear." Here, the authors argue that the mass media, PR industry and advertising-all of which were used by the Bush Regime to promote the war in Iraq-and terrorism all share a common mindset best described as "the propaganda model." This model, according the authors aims to indoctrinate the audience with a pre-defined set of beliefs rather than to engage in the kind of critical thinking and communication that characterize a democracy. Put another way, the process that the Bush Regime used to persuade you and me that invading Iraq was a really cool thing was anti-democratic in nature. Where democracy is based on the premise that the people are capable of rational self-governance, argue Rempton and Stauber, propagandists regard rationality as an obstacle to efficient indoctrination. In other words, the Bush Regime could not permit a reasonable national discussion to take place about the invasion of Iraq. Instead it needed to indoctrinate us with the same false themes again and again and again, until by virtue of consistent reinforcement they became a truth in themselves. The most distressing part of this process, as the authors point out, is not only how the Bush Regime used fear to promote false concepts to the American people but also how they did so to justify withholding information from us.
The authors also demonstrate that the Bush Regime-largley through corporate cronies-used the air waves both to promote the war and to censor or punish any pubic opposition to it. Pro war rallies were launched by Clear Channel a radio monopoly owned by a long time Bush business partners and campaign contributor.
After reading this book, I hope that people-regardless of their political beliefs-will ask themselves some hard questions about what they know about their government and more importantly, how they know it. Now, more than ever, it is essential for us to distance ourselves from our personal feelings, and especially our sense of fear, in order to take a good hard look at the facts. We may not have the authors' resources or expertise, but we can read this book and others like it and we can verify its source material most of which is publicly accessible. It may not be a fun or easy process, but when we do this, we begin to take control of our lives and to see things as they are instead of how powerful interests want us to see them. This book and others like it do much more than exposing the mendacity of the Bush Regime's drive for war. It shows us how we can begin to think for ourselves and in the process it frees us from indoctrination.
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