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Did Tony Blair use Hitler's rhetoric to go to war in Iraq?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:38 05 October 2010

ABUSE of rhetoric led Britain to invade Iraq in the same way the Nazis used propaganda to mobilise for war, a leading communications professor argues. Rhetoric manipulates mass consciousness, Prof Nicholas O'Shaughnessy is to argue in a lecture at Queen Mary university college on March 10

By Mike Brooke

ABUSE of rhetoric led Britain to invade Iraq in the same way the Nazis used oral propaganda to mobilise for war, a leading communications professor in East London argues.

Rhetoric is effective in manipulating mass consciousness, its misuse’ having pushed sinister causes throughout history, Prof Nicholas O’Shaughnessy will state in his inaugural lecture at Queen Mary London university college at Mile End on March 10.

“Rhetoric is a remarkable tool of persuasive communication,” he explains. “Good rhetoric resonates. It fizzles in the mind.

“But it is also one of the most frightening things the human race possesses. In the wrong hands, it can also misdirect perceptions, befuddle and corrupt.”

His talk focuses on rhetoric by Tony Blair and George Bush prior to the Iraq invasion.

It will also look at the use of oral propaganda by Hitler in Nazi Germany and the rhetoric of Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders.

“Rhetoric now dominates business, politics, law and government,” he says. “But its abuse is rife.

“It has been driving force behind countless catastrophic events that litter the course of human history.

“The Nazis excelled at rhetoric so much that they dissolved the distinction between politics and presentation, between the regime and the theatre.”

Prof O’Shaughnessy, who lectures at Queen Mary’s School of Business, is author or co-author several books including Propaganda and Politics: Weapons of Mass Seduction. He is currently writing Selling Hitler: Political Marketing of The Third Reich.

His talk is in the Skeel lecture theatre at the People’s Palace at Queen Mary’s, Mile End Road, on March 10, at 6.30pm.

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