Friday, October 06, 2006

incestuous amplification

We all know that politics is increasingly driven by public relations campaigns and that Bush and his administration are masters of spin. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's recently released book “The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq” argues that America has been defeated by its own PR machine—a phenomenon that in military lingo is referred to as “incestuous amplification.”

Incestuous amplification! Doesn’t that just about sum it all up? I imagine it works on a personal level too. It’s what was at play each time Foley convinced himself that he was just being friendly with those pages. And it’s the force at work when his defenders say the pervy IMs were just the booze talking.

Aside from giving us a concept that sums up a lot of our collective and individual delusion, Rampton and Stauber have written a compelling account of the strategies used by the GOP and administration officials to manufacture consent for the war, demonstrating precisely how the Bush administation has aimed its propaganda not at the enemy but at the American people. And they remind us that this practice violates long-standing American political traditions dating back to the Smith-Mundt Act passed in 1948, which basically prohibits propaganda meant for the rest of the world from being circulated within the US. These days though, administartion officials clearly feel that they first and foremost need to focus on gaining support at home by any means necessary.

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