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Solomon - War Made Easy (2005) - Synopsis

Solomon - War Made Easy (2005) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of Norman Solomon, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). Discussed at Digging Deeper on March 20, 2008.
Synopsis of Norman Solomon, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). Discussed at Digging Deeper on March 20, 2008.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on Jun 07, 2009
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper: March 17, 2008
Norman Solomon,
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep SpinningUs to Death
(John Wiley & Sons, 2005)Prologue: Building Agendas for War.
U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republicin 1965 is an example of falsepropaganda used to justify a war (1-9).Also Panama in 1989 (9-21). AlsoGrenada in 1983 (21-22). Rhetoricalanalysis of what is essentially anadvertising campaign (22-26). "Thefollowing chapters probe and scrutinizekey 'perception management' techniquesthat have played huge roles in thepromotion of American wars duringrecent decades (26).
Ch. 1: America is a Fair and NobleSuperpower.
"[I]t is routine to ascribelofty motivations to U.S. foreign policy"(29; 26-31). Historical details that areinconsistent with this message, like theU.S. use of U.N. inspections for spying,drop out of the narrative (31-33).
Ch. 2: Our Leaders Will DoEverything They Can to Avoid War.
"[P]residents are at pains to proclaimthat they despise war," relying on theimplicit trust of the people in thepresident (35; 35-41). Contraryinformation, like Appendix B in the 1999Rambouillet negotiations, is suppressed(41-44). "[P]antomimes of diplomacy"can be used to justify war, like AdlaiStevenson's 1964 and Colin Powell's2003 presentations to the U.N. SecurityCouncil (44-47). Media display apreference for war over diplomacy, aswith Iraq—1998 and 2003 compared (47-53).
Ch. 3: Our Leaders Would Never TellUs Outright Lies.
"Our leaders neverlie to us—unless you mean lying byomission, lying with statistics, lying viaunsupported claims, or lying withpurposeful obfuscation, misleadingstatements, and successions of littlewhite lies" (57; 55-61).
Ch. 4: This Guy Is a Modern-DayHitler.
Comparing U.S. enemies toHitler, while ignoring the U.S.'s part inthe evils condemned, has been
derigueur 
since the end of World War II (63-73).
Ch. 5: This Is about Human Rights.
Manipulation and hypocrisy characterizeU.S. assertions that wars are motivatedby human rights abuses and atrocities(75-86)
Ch. 6: This Is Not at All about Oil orCorporate Profits.
The links betweenbusiness and war are "evaded ordownplayed in standard political journalism" (90; 87-95).
Ch. 7: They Are the Aggressors, NotUs.
"The inversion of victimizer andvictim is common in wartime mediacoverage" (97-102).
Ch. 8: If This War Is Wrong, CongressWill Stop It.
The August 1964 Gulf of  Tonkin Resolution (103-09)Congressional abdication of authority iscommon (109-11).
Ch. 9: If This War Is Wrong, theMedia Will Tell Us.
The military-industrial complex influences the media(113-15). Reporters are generallysupportive of U.S. foreign policy andwillingly cooperates (115-20). NATObombing of Yugoslavia and Iraq in 2003(120-26). The media is easily influencedby the administration (126-32). "To anotable degree, reporters seem to awaitsignals from politicians and high-levelappointees to widen the range of discourse" (130).
 
Ch. 10: Media Coverage Brings Warinto Our Living Rooms.
Edward JayEpstein, in
Between Fact and Fiction
(1975), and Daniel C. Hallin, in
The"Uncensored War": The Media and Vietnam
(1989), have debunked themyth that TV coverage caused discontentwith the Vietnam War (133-42). Mediapresent a fantasy version of war (142-44). The effect of graphic images isoverestimated (144-46). The militaryalso manipulates information (146-50). The embedding of reporters was asuccessful means of "dominat[ing] theinformation environment" (153; 150-54).
Ch. 11: Opposing the War MeansSiding with the Enemy.
Manyrhetorical dismissals of critics areavailable: lack of patriotism and anti-Americanism, naïveté, ignorance, etc.,etc., but substance is often neglectedaltogether in reporting on opponents of war (155-65). Barbara Ehrenreich, in
Blood Rites: Origins and History of thePassions of War 
(1997), argues thatdeeply ingrained militarism of U.S.society has enfeebled present-dayantiwar movements (165-66)
Ch. 12: This Is a Necessary Battle inthe War on Terrorism.
The notion of a"war on terrorism" is propagandistic in itsessence, forcing a choice of sides (168-76).
Ch. 13: What the U.S. GovernmentNeeds Most Is Better PR.
Government and military deliberately usea public relations approach (177-83).
Ch. 14: The Pentagon Fights Wars asHumanely as Possible.
Horrors arepresented abstractly (with an emphasison technology), and war is presented ashumanitarian in as many ways aspossible (185-202). E.g. Fallujah (194-97).
Ch. 15: Our Soldiers Are Heroes,Theirs Are Inhuman.
"Boilerplatepsychological mechanisms seem frozenin time," opposing the heroic to theheinous (203-09).
Ch. 16: America Needs to Resolve toKick the “Vietnam Syndrome.”
Theway the discussion of the "VietnamSyndrome" is framed reveals an effort tolegitimate war (211-19).
Ch. 17: Withdrawal Would CrippleU.S. Credibility.
The credibilityargument enables the government topresent war as the least bad option, andto promote war even to those whooriginally opposed it (221-31).
Afterword.
Epigraphs from JoeMcDonald,
King Lear 
, Hermann Goering,and Daniel Ellsberg (233-34). "For theWhite House and its domestic allies inthe realms of government, media, thinktanks, and the like, the political problemof war undergoes a shift after thePentagon goes into action in earnest.Beforehand, it's about making the warseem necessary and practical; if the wardoes not come to a quick, satisfactoryresolution, the challenge becomes moremanagerial so that continuation of thewar will seem easier" (235-36). Ourmedia system "mostly keeps us in thedark" (236). "There remains a kind of spectator relationship to military actionsbeing implemented in our names" (236).But the public retains the power to"define the limits and possibilities of conscience" (237).
Notes.
53 pp., chapter by chapter,often detailed and with quotations.
Acknowledgments.
Associates,friends, and family.
Index.
12 pp.
[About the Author.
 
N
ORMAN
S
OLOMON
,born in 1951, recently described his early

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