- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee; First Printing edition (July 28, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1585422762
- ISBN-13: 978-1585422760
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,769,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq Paperback – July 28, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
As government officials and observers battle over whether or not the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence reports of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to justify war, there should be a ready audience for this new book by the authors of Believe Us, We're Experts! Professional debunkers of media manipulation, Rampton and Stauber unmask the impact of "information warriors and perception managers" (as one PR consultant described himself) on Bush's attempt to turn public opinion in favor of war on Iraq. The authors deconstruct the PR campaign to promote the U.S. in the wake of September 11: the State Department's hiring of ad exec Charlotte Beers ("the queen of Madison Avenue") to direct the campaign; how PR execs and lobbyists helped construct the government's anti-Iraq message; the administration's alleged misinformation and distortion of facts and reliance on rumor to influence public opinion. Anyone skeptical of the reasons for the war against Iraq will find their suspicions enhanced here.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"The authors brilliantly expose an interconnected web linking some of the country's largest public relations and advertising firms, the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House." San Francisco Chronicle
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This book discusses the techniques and modern history of propaganda and advertising as it was applied to justify the current conflict in Iraq. It does so however from a general non-scientific viewpoint, and thus does not attempt to give a scientific understanding of why populations are sometimes taken by sloganeering, propaganda, and other forms of media hype. If the book made connections with current research in neuroscience, it would have been a lot more interesting. As it stands it should be thought of as a "first approximation" to a full understanding of the efficacy of advertising and propaganda techniques. Such an understanding would be very helpful to those who are not only curious about the effects of the media on the human brain, but also want to discover countermeasures to these effects.
Some of the virtues of the book include its description of the extent to which the horror of the 9/11 attacks was exploited by many different groups, and not just those in government. The current administration of course was the worse culprit and took full advantage of the anxiety felt by most everyone after 9/11 in order to launch a brutal, illegal, and immoral war in Iraq. The authors give many more examples of political and interest groups who squeezed every drop they could out of the 9/11 disaster. The tactics of deception used were independent of the beliefs and ideologies of the respective groups. Both Democrats and Republicans had absolutely no qualms about using the 9/11 nightmare to propagate with gusto their political memes.
When reading the book, it is amazing to see the amount of money that was spent by public relations and advertising firms hired specifically to take advantage of the fears of the "general public." The authors correctly advise against letting fear rule our lives, and this book actually assists in encouraging a strong sense of skepticism toward the media and the government. In every waking hour of our lives we must critically examine all news stories, speeches, and political and commercial advertisements so as not to be inadvertently influenced by their content. Neuroscience teaches us that the human brain is susceptible to deceptive information if conscious effort is not made to examine it carefully and deliberately, but it is also able to differentiate between what is plausible and what is implausible. A focused, skeptical public can definitely serve as countervailing power to the lies and rubbish that proceed from cynical and amoral advertising agencies and government institutions.
This book helps cut through the rhetoric and makes it clear that we are no longer in a situation that can be defined as Republicans vs. Democrats, or Conservative vs. Liberal values. What is made clear is that the highest offices in our country have been hijacked by criminals, idealogical extremists and terrorists. It's a shame that most Republicans will dismiss this as so much "liberal propaganda"; it's their party that's been hijacked and if they ever face the truth, I suspect they'll be mighty cheesed off.
Where is Osama? Does anyone really care anymore now that we got the boogeyman?
This kind is a terrible thing to taste.
Rampton and Stauber begin the book by discussing the role U.S. propaganda has played in the Middle East from the post-WW II era to today. The authors contend that America's self-professed image of promoting democracy has clashed severely with the reality of its support for petty dictators and monarchs who, in return for U.S. support, ensured a steady supply of oil. The authors insist that this is the reason why the post-9/11 "branding" campaign to favorably influence Arabic opinion of America failed miserably.
On the other hand, selling the Iraq war to the American public has been much more successful. The authors discuss the role that PR professionals, the CIA and conservative groups played in the anti-Saddam media blitz that was heaped upon the U.S. citizenry. Perhaps not surprisingly, we learn that many of these players could profit handsomely when Iraq's oil reserves become privatized.
Rampton and Stauber examine the increasingly close relationship between the U.S. military and the media. The authors debunk the infamous 'incubator babies' story from the Gulf War era but show how such misinformation can be used to successfully influence public opinion. Likewise, claims that a Saddam-Al Qaeda connection may exist and that Saddam may possess weapons of mass destruction were known to be false, but the repetition of these lies by authority figures implied truth and persuaded many people of their validity.
In possibly the most important section of the book, Rampton and Stauber remind us that most of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi Arabian. The authors contend that deep financial ties between the Bush administration and Saudi Arabia has compromised U.S. response to the terror crisis. We learn that the Kingdom funds anti-American Wahhabism in order to channel street-level resentment of elitist privlege away from the Saudi monarchy and towards the U.S. government. This duplicity is deeply disturbing and is a sad testament to how badly American foreign policy has been compromised as a result of its selling out to big oil.
The authors go on to discuss the use of doublespeak, fear and the corporate ownership of media in shaping public discourse. Interestingly, we discover that people who watch TV the most actually know less about important topics than others. No doubt this phenomenon has something to do with the deployment of Pentagon "combat camera" crews and "embedded" TV reporters who overwhelmingly presented a pro-U.S. bias with little critical context or analysis. On the other hand, images played to foreign audiences more often depicted the brutal realities of war: the dead and injured Iraqi people, their devastated homeland, and the contradictions of U.S. policy.
In the end, "Weapons of Mass Deception" warns us about the dangers posed to democracy when leaders and citizens believe their own propaganda. I strongly encourage everyone to read this outstanding book.