Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's Weapons of Mass Deception claims to expose the propaganda tactics employed by the Bush administration in preparation for, and throughout, the war on Iraq.
Those who found themselves agreeing with Greg Pallast's superb The Best Democracy Money Can Buy won't be at all surprised to read further claims of the huge disparity between the lip-service paid to American ideals of freedom and democracy by the current administration and the cynical, self-serving and hypocritical actuality of American foreign policy under that administration. The authors ask why the administration continually insinuated--despite evidence to the contrary--that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda while ignoring the evidence showing clear financial links between the Saudis and Osama bin Laden?
The answer, the authors persuasively suggest, is that the administration was knowingly and successfully using familiar strategies of war propaganda to manipulate the public mind and to build support for the war. It is no accident, they suggest, that a majority of Americans were, and remain, misinformed about crucial political, economic, military, and historical facts: "through a steady drumbeat of allegations and insinuations from the Bush administration, pro-war think-tanks and commentators--statements that were often false or misleading and whose purpose was to create the impression that Iraq posed an imminent peril."
But the book doesn't just make claims about greed, cynicism, superficiality and hypocrisy at the highest levels of government but points the finger at an American press that, they say, parrots the pronouncements of the powerful and encourages people to be stupid with pseudo-news that works on an emotional level and works also to silence and discredit "traitorous" opposition to the government line. In fact, the authors suggest, the mass media, public relations, advertising and terrorism all have in common a one-sided approach to communications, which they describe as a "propaganda model" because it often manipulates us on a primitive level, appealing to emotional symbolism. This short, clearly written, succinct, analytically sharp, persuasive and depressing book is well worth the read. --Larry Brown