Monday, November 03, 2003
By Norman Solomon
Midway through this month, a Wall Street Journal headline captured the flimflam spirit that infuses so much of what passes for mass communications these days: “Despite Slump, Students Flock to Ad Schools.” Many young people can recognize a growth industry, and the business of large-scale deception is booming.
But if Madison Avenue makes us think of subliminal twists and brazen lies, then Pennsylvania Avenue should bring to mind a similar process of creating and perpetuating brand loyalty.
“The Defense Department” is far from truth in labeling. But no player in Washington would suggest renaming it “the War Department,” any more than execs in charge of marketing Camels, Salems and Marlboros would advocate re-branding them with names like Cancer Sticks, Coffin Nails and Killer Leaf.
For wars, brand loyalty is crucial. By the time most people think critically, tragedies are history. And unlike a defective product (or a California governor), wars are not subject to recall.
A successful branding operation preceded the launch of war on Iraq seven months ago. Despite what we might call extensive consumer resistance in the United States, the Bush administration pulled out all the stops to persuade the U.S. public. The war sold politically because enough people failed to see through the mendacity. They bought a bogus story line as truth.
Now, long after the Bush team’s pre-war lies served their purposes, the dead are dead. While no recall can retroactively cancel the war, no remorse can be heard from the perpetrators of the lies and the carnage. And vehicles for war keep gunning their engines without a single repentant glance into rearview mirrors from those in the driver seats...