The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber
U.S. publisher: Tarcher/Penguin. July 28, 2003
Bookstore price: $11.95 U.S. / $17.99 Canada
United Kingdom publisher: Constable & Robinson
Bookstore price: £6.99
Australian Publisher: Hodder Headline Australia
Bookstore price: AU $19.95
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"No more bed-time stories ... these guys are here to wake you up."
"A major contribution for those who want to take control of their own future, not be passive subjects of manipulation and control."
It was a day for the history books. On April 9th, 2003, millions of Americans sat glued to their television sets as U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens joined together to topple the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's Firdos Square. Like the fall of the Berlin wall, the fall of Saddam's statue appeared to be one of those iconic moments that proved - spontaneously and undeniably - that democracy would always triumph over totalitarianism, that freedom was the great equalizer. "If you don't have goose bumps now," said Fox News anchor David Asman as the extraordinary footage rolled, "you will never have them in your life."
"Jubilant Iraqis Swarm the Streets of Capital," read the New York Times headline.
Or did they?
In their eye-opening new exposé, Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq, Rampton and Stauber take no prisoners as they reveal - headline by headline, news show by news show, press conference by press conference - the deliberate, aggressive, and highly successful public relations campaign that sold the Iraqi war to the American public. April 9th seemed to confirm what Washington and pro-war pundits had been saying for months: that the Iraqi people would eventually come to see America as their liberator, not their enemy. Yet the American media chose to focus on headlines such as "Iraqis Celebrate in Baghdad" (Washington Post) rather than on a Reuters long-shot photo of Firdos Square showing it to be nearly empty, or the Muslim cleric who was assassinated by an angry crowd in Najaf for being too friendly to the Americans, or the 20,000 Iraqis in Nasiriyah rallying to oppose the U.S. military presence.
We've always known what good PR and advertising could do for a new line of sneakers, cosmetics, or weight-loss products. In Weapons of Mass Deception, Rampton and Stauber show us a brave new shocking world where savvy marketers, "information warriors," and "perception managers" can sell an entire war to consumers. Indeed, Washington successfully brought together the world's top ad agencies and media empires to create "Operation: Iraqi Freedom" - a product no decent, patriotic citizen could possibly object to. With meticulous research and documentation, Rampton and Stauber deconstruct this and other "true lies" behind the war:
- Top Bush officials advocated the invasion of Iraq even before he took office, but waited until September 2002 to inform the public, through what the White House termed a "product launch."
- White House officials used repetition and misinformation - the "big lie" tactic - to create the false impression that Iraq was behind the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, especially in the case of the alleged meeting in Prague five months earlier between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence officials.
- The "big lie" tactic was also employed in the first Iraq war when a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah told the horrific - but fabricated - story of Iraqi soldiers wrenching hundreds of premature Kuwaiti babies from their incubators and leaving them to die. Her testimony was printed in a press kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a PR front group created by Hill and Knowlton, then the world's largest PR firm.
- In order to achieve "third party authenticity" in the Muslim world, a group called the Council of American Muslims for Understanding launched its own web site, called OpenDialogue.com. However, its chairman admitted that the idea began with the State Department, and that the group was funded by the U.S. government.
- Forged documents were used to "prove" that Iraq possessed huge stockpiles of banned weapons.
- A secretive PR firm working for the Pentagon helped create the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which became one of the driving forces behind the decision to go to war.
Weapons of Mass Deception is the first book to expose the aggressive public relations campaign used to sell the American public on the war with Iraq. It is a must-read for those who want to know how and why they bought this war.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: Liberation Day
CHAPTER 1: Branding America
CHAPTER 2: War Is Sell
CHAPTER 3: True Lies
CHAPTER 4: Doublespeak
CHAPTER 5: The Uses of Fear
CHAPTER 6: The Air War
CHAPTER 7: As Others See Us
quasi43 replied on Permalink
say, wouldnt it be something if we just continued bush league justice one more year? we could class action, treason(the oil thing is totally easy to figure out-its all subcontractors). just like anything, follow the $. same in N.O., get cheney in jail. antonio gonzales on jose padilla who is, even if found guilty, still entitled due process. and what about all those unsanctioned felons running around over in iraq giving orders to U.S. troops? Whomsoever sanctioned this particular violation of the war powers act is directly culpable for treason. now how do we get them to make restitution to iraq? gotta sieze funds quick. then there is the coersion of a cabinet member in his incapacitated state-jeez, i cant even begin to remember all the felony level crimes they got under their belts so far,but i told my wife on 9-119by the way, who voted to give bush a million a head for the people in the buildings? who told him he could have that say on the life earnings of so many americans? in this world, only the guilty offer such sums so quickly,but just as the grassy knoll we will never know that one. one thing is sure. even 100 years ago, theyd never have lived without at least being ridden out of town on a rail-probably tarred and feathered, and their ill gotten gains seized.
Julie Saltz replied on Permalink
Its so crazy to hear officials say "we thought there was weapons of mass destruction". The United States has most advanced technology in the world. How can officials make statement like that and then say oops we made a mistake.
liajames replied on Permalink
Hey great stuff, thank you for sharing this useful information and i will let know my friends as well.flower
JohnDay replied on Permalink
Just goes to show
Looking back on this, it made me realize how Bush would go about doing things. Hiding things from the public etc.
The problems that were caused back then are now creating negative ripples even today.
Glad he's out of power.
Survivalist and Instructor
of gelert horizon 8
Jerms from the 'Nati replied on Permalink
We need to hear from Iraq War veterans
I've been meaning to buy a copy of this book for some time. I'm heading to the bookstore tomorrow for a copy. I want to know why my sister's friend had to have part of his face blown off, including an eye, from an improvised explosive device during his tour of duty in Iraq. I hope that, if and when they are ready, more Iraq War veterans will tell their stories, whether they agree with the war or not; and hopefully to hear stories from the Iraqi people, too.
Thanks for your work, PRwatch.org