Review: Weapons of Mass Deception–The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq

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5.0 out of 5 stars Book Cover Cartoon Undermines Really Solid Contents

August 30, 2003

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber

Do not be deceived by the cover of this book, whose cartoon may suggest that this is light reading or comic level stuff. It is not. This book is a professionally-prepared, well-documented catalog of the “platform of lies” that the incumbent (2000-2004) US Administration has pressed upon the public in the course of executing six wars (two public) and two occupations, both of which are going *very* badly, at great expense.

I have to give very high marks to the authors and their employer, the Center for Media & Democracy, for this book represents a “must read” for every voter.

Among the highlights (please note that all references to the US government actually refer to the political administration, which is abusing the good faith and loyalty of the millions of loyal Armed Services members as well as the civil service):

1) Documentation of US government manipulation of images coming out of Iraq

2) Documentation of how US government emphasis on manipulating the truth for the US public has actually left it unable to listen and hear and understand the truth as spoken by the Iraqi and Afghan people.

3) Documentation of the clear and present need to restore the US Information Agency (USIA) as an independent organization with a considerably expanded budget–in the age of information America is losing the mindwar, the culture war, because it is overspending on a heavy metal military and underspending on information power–what Joe Nye calls “soft power.”

4) Documentation of what the author's call America's “astonishing historical amnesia,” assuming they can go into the Middle East without reference to the history of British and US imperialism, including the deposition of the legitimate rulers of Iran and the continuing acceptance of Israeli disrespect for UN resolutions.

5) Documentation of why Charlotte Beers failed America, in two parts:

a) She did not know how to, was incapable of listening to, Arab voices. According to the New York Times, cited by the book, those who spoke to her “came away shaking their heads, saying American officials do not appreciate [their circumstances and views].

b) The product she was selling, the US “brand”, is simply too defective, too unilateralist, too arrogant, too brutal, too harmful to multi-cultural and multi-national interests, to survive in the marketplace of the real world. This is “unsafe at any speed” writ very large, very global, very angry.

6) Documentation of the blatant (and expensive) manner in which the US government manipulated the message to the US public (if CIA had done this they would have been in violation of the law–when Hill & Knowlton does it is called “public relations” even though everything is a complete fabrication and a betrayal of the public trust). The authors excel at one point in contrasting how Washington listens to a handful of talking heads on the Middle East, while ignoring “the 1,400 full time faculty members who specialize in Middle East studies at American Universities.”

7) Documentation of US government plans, under the abusive grip on power of the neo-conservatives, to carry out future “over-whelming, non-surgical, nonproportional military force” actions against the governments of Iran, Libya, Syria, and Sudan, as recommended by Richard Perle and his colleagues.

8) Documentation, over the course of the book, of both specific lies told to the US public and the world by the US government, and of the vast underlying insinuations, not quite the truth, misleading, and generally deceptive statements of all the senior political appointees, and especially Dick Cheney. The authors essentially compare George Bush and his team to Orwellian vision of governments controlling the people through doublespeak, and they label this US government as being intellectual dishonest, through and through.

9) Documentation (continuing from 8) of how this government's manipulation of the truth can be compared with Hitler's. They quote Goering to make this point: “but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in every country.” Sound familiar? Remember Bush (and Clinton) saying that dissent is treason? People, we have a problem here.

There are many other important points documented in this non-fiction work–it is NOT humorous nor should the cover suggest it is told in comic fashion–but I will end with the ultimate point of it all: the author's document, on the pages leading up to page 195, that the US public is hearing and seeing and reading perhaps one tenth (1/10th) of the truth as it is available to European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and other audiences where the media is not under political and corporate control to the extent that exists in the USA. At the end of this book, I was reaffirmed in my view that real patriotism, real national unity, comes from tough love and the full truth, nothing but the truth. Against that criteria, and as documented by the authors of this book, George Bush Junior, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and all of their politically-appointed minions are liars who have betrayed the public trust and deserve to be impeached before or after they are thrown out of office in 2004. This is a non-fiction work of vital importance to the future of the Republic.

Other Relevant Books (See also my list on impeachment):
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back
The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead

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