Weapons of Mass Deception: the Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq

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Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq - By Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber
As the Bush Administration's rationales for going to war with Iraq continue to unravel, questions are ‘finally’ being asked about how they got into the mess in the first place. How could an invasion of Iraq - based on administration-orchestrated misinformation, disinformation and outright lies - have been sold to the American people? Who did the selling? And what are its ramifications for democratic discourse and/or future American overseas adventures? These are just some of the issues tackled in “Weapons of Mass Deception.” Weapons of Mass Deception, gives a deconstruction of the layers of a complex propaganda machine that transcends administrations and political parties and profoundly shapes our perception of reality. This book is dangerous; Rampton and Stauber see through the spin and the spin around the spin. They run PR Watch (www.prwatch.org), an on-line publication that documents how governments and corporations daily insinuate themselves into our psyches—or try to. In this remarkably equitable, well-documented book, one learns about the people and the motivations behind the multiple messages, repeated phrases, and battles for global hearts and minds that make up a huge part of the War on Terrorism. While most Americans assume that the truth is slippery in the hands of politicians, few realize the role of public relations firms, doublespeak, and branding enumerated in this book. Yet the corporate-style marketing, Disney- designed sets, and Hollywood-influenced messages that work so well to sell products—the buying of which is sold to us as patriotic—aren’t working so well on the global stage. “Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century,” write Rampton and Stauber, “attempts to market the United States [abroad] as ‘brand freedom’ came into conflict with a U.S. tendency to talk rather than listen, combined with U.S. support of undemocratic regimes whose own political objectives contradicted America’s stated principles.” One may be familiar with some of the issues discussed in "Weapons of Mass Deception," but the books drops the veil on a number of stories that have not been covered adequately -- or not reported at all -- by the mainstream media. Of particular interest is the book's focus on the critical role of public relations companies hired by the government to sell the war. For starters, Rampton and Stauber remind readers about the PR campaign masterminded by Hill & Knowlton for the first war in the Gulf. Though the babies-torn-from–incubators story has become infamous within the PR community, few Americans understand how (much less why) their perceptions were managed at that time and how their perceptions about various Islamic states and leaders have been managed ever since. As recently as January 2003, for example, in an opinion poll conducted by Knight-Ridder newspapers, half of the people surveyed still believed that one or more of the September 11 terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens. In fact, none were from Iraq. The Rendon Group's information war

"Weapons of Mass Deception" takes a close look at the Rendon Group, a relatively unknown yet powerful public relations outfit that has had its imprint all over U.S.-Iraqi affairs for more than a decade.

Founded by John Rendon, a former consultant to the campaigns of Democratic Party politicians Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, the company "has worked... during the past decade on behalf of clients including the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency." In 1996, Rendon boasted to an audience of cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy that during the first Gulf War he had been responsible for providing the hand-held American flags and flags of other coalition countries to the people of Kuwait City so they could greet the U.S. Marines when they arrived. "Saddam Hussein was the beloved ally of the senior Bush Administration right up...
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