BIOTECH RECRUITED TO HOMELAND DEFENCE
The following pieces from PR WATCH's excellent 'Spin of the day' show how the war on Iraq is being spun in the interests of the current US administration. As one of the items notes:
'According to Weber Shandwick Worldwide chairman Jack Leslie, who has served as a PR consultant to the White House since 9/11, the Bush administration deliberately waited until Labor Day (and election season) to get the pro-war PR campaign rolling. "Better this than a lot of domestic issues that could be at the forefront," Leslie said. "Not to suggest that this is all [a diversion], but surely they would rather have a debate around Iraq than other issues."
This is reminiscent of Bush's National Security Advisor's claim that disputes like 'Frankenfoods' and the environment paled into insignificance when people are trying to kill you because you love freedom!
If the administration is clearly aware of some of the opportunities afforded it by the war on terror, then so too are the biotech supporters and there are some obvious parallels between the PR Blitz on Saddam and the mix of hype and hate being used to promote genetic engineering and damn the critics. Consider these recent comments on Vandana Shiva from one of the contributors to Prakash's AgBioView e-mailing list:
"Ms. Shiva seems to fit Time's cover pretty well; over the last few issues there have been two covers with Saddam and one of Arafat. Of course they probably don't have the capacity to kill as many people as she does if someone is ignorant enough to look to someone that can't tell the difference in weeds and rice for ag policy. "
A UK bio-scientist recently wrote to us to complain that, "biotech has been recruited to homeland defence (as I personally experienced in a recent visit there), along with the oil lobby, imperial expansion & support for Sharon - they are all lumped together in such a way that the Bush dogma of "either with us or against us" is in danger of invading science & really damaging a community that I care about a great deal."
Waging War on Iraq to Win the Elections
"Senior Republican Party officials say the prospect of at least two more weeks of Congressional debate on Iraq is allowing their party to run out the clock on the fall election, blocking Democrats as they try to seize on the faltering economy and other domestic concerns as campaign issues. ... The emerging dynamic has produced growing if quiet optimism among Republicans that they will be able to turn back the Democratic drive to take control of the House. ... Scott Reed, a Republican consultant, said: 'The secret to the election now is to beat the clock. Every week, you can hear the ripping noise of another page of the calendar coming off the wall. Another week has gone by. And there's only six more to go.' ... The significance of the war debate, Republicans say, is that, by crowding out the issues Democrats wanted to talk about, it changed a race that had appeared to be shifting toward the Democrats in midsummer." Source: New York Times, September 21, 2002
Selling the War
"The reasons for a new attack on Iraq have been presented in a series of press-friendly promotional moments that have been long on promises and short on facts," says Moveon.org. "Timing has been a critical factor -- it is no coincidence, for example, that the climax of the push has come immediately after the anniversary of Sept. 11, despite the fact that there is still no proven link between Iraq and the terrorist attacks of last year." To help counter the Bush administration's planned $200 million PR blitz, Moveon.org has produced a useful bulletin explaining the marketing campaign and offering lessons in PR from previous wars.
US Plans PR Blitz on Saddam
"The Bush Administration is to launch a multimillion-dollar PR blitz against Saddam Hussein, using advertising techniques to persuade crucial target groups that the Iraqi leader must be ousted," reports Tim Reid. "The campaign will consist of dossiers of evidence detailing Saddam's breaches of UN resolutions, and will be launched this week at American and foreign audiences, particularly in Arab nations sceptical of US policy in the region. ... The campaign, which will initially receive over $200 million (£130 million), will be overseen by the Office of Global Communications, whose existence will not be formally announced until next month." Details about the massive PR blitz that brought us the first war in the Persian Gulf are available in an online excerpt from our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You.
Source: Times (UK), September 17, 2002
Bush's Calculated Pursuit of Validation
"If nothing else, the Bush administration has succeeded in making 'Should we attack Iraq?' the most-considered political question in the US today," observes PR Week. Other questions pushed to the background include "How do we punish corporate criminals?" "How do we balance civil liberties with national security?" "Where is Osama bin Laden?" and "What about the economy?" According to Weber Shandwick Worldwide chairman Jack Leslie, who has served as a PR consultant to the White House since 9/11, the Bush administration deliberately waited until Labor Day (and election season) to get the pro-war PR campaign rolling. "Better this than a lot of domestic issues that could be at the forefront," Leslie said. "Not to suggest that this is all [a diversion], but surely they would rather have a debate around Iraq than other issues." Source: PR Week, September 16, 2002
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