How did the U.S. government lead its people to war?

A Mechanism for War

The Bush administration devised a carefully-constructed mechanism to lead the U.S. to war with Iraq. 

First, they manufactured a problem, declaring that Iraq was a grave danger to the United States: 

•   Arguing that Iraq was a threat to America and to the peace of the world, through its alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorist networks.
•   Asserting there was a grave and growing danger from Iraq, thus there was an
urgency to act.
•   Cultivating widespread anxiety by propagating fear stories about enemies seeking
to do the American people great harm.
•   Demonizing Hussein as someone so evil and irrational that there was a moral imperative for action.

Next, they had to dismiss other policy options that could have avoided war:

•   Arguing that containment – an effective strategy during the Cold War – couldn’t work with Iraq.
•   Attacking the efficacy of U.N. weapons inspections (which, ironically, had successfully disarmed Iraq from 1991-1998).
•   Declaring that there would be no negotiations or discussions with Iraq.

Finally, they stated that “we have no choice” – the U.S. did not want war but was being forced to act:

•   It is Saddam’s choice to go to war.  The U.S. argued that Hussein must disarm.  If he did not comply by turning over his weapons of mass destruction, he was choosing war.
•   If the U.N. refuses to act, then the U.S would have to act.
•   They argued that war is our last option, even though the U.S. actively blocked every other viable policy.  In this way, the U.S. made war the only option.

 

Subjected to this sustained campaign, the majority of Americans came to support the war, which began on March 19, 2003.

 

[continue on to the first section: Manufacturing a Problem]

 

 

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