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Justifications for the Iraq War: An Analysis of the Government's Public Case for War, 2001 to 2003

Hampton, Lance Gabriel (2008) Justifications for the Iraq War: An Analysis of the Government's Public Case for War, 2001 to 2003. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation involves a content analysis of public discussion by government officials involved in the debate over the use of force against Iraq. Elite participants in government made public announcements to justify policy positions to constituents, educate interested participants inside government and external to the process, and persuade fellow decision-makers in government that the decision to use force against Iraq was the correct decision. Government officials' public statements regarding the potential use of force against Iraq comprise the "policy primeval soup" from which the policy of an invasion emerged. This analysis examines how U.S. political elites publicly discussed the use of force against Iraq from when President Bush took office on January 19, 2001 to March 19, 2003, the day the invasion of Iraq began. This research identifies aspects of the debate over which groups of officials most disagreed in the public discourse and how the degree of consensus or divergence changed over time.Results demonstrate that there was little consensus between parties and branches of government in how force was justified against Iraq. As the amount of discussion regarding Iraq increased in late 2002, this degree of consensus decreased. Though Congress authorized President Bush to use force against Iraq in October 2002, Republicans and Democrats in Congress differed significantly in how they discussed the use of force. These differences were smaller than the differences between Congress as a whole and the Executive branch. Nonetheless, the evidence collected here demonstrates that Congress was not acquiescent. While the prevailing interpretation in congressional-executive relations is that Congress passively supports the Executive branch in foreign military endeavors, this research demonstrates that Congress was involved in the debate about Iraq and increased that involvement as the time for the Iraq Resolution vote approached, increasingly growing more hawkish. At the same time, the story of the Iraq war debate was more nuanced than the typical argument would suggest, namely that Congress tends to follow the Executive branch's foreign policy. While the Executive branch exhorted war with Iraq more so than the Legislative branch, there may have been some enablement of this message from congressional Democrats.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hampton, Lance Gabriellgh2@pitt.eduLGH2
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairNolan, Janne Ejnolan@pitt.eduJNOLAN
Committee MemberMitchell, Gordon Rgordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Committee MemberWeinberg, Lee Sweinberg@pitt.eduWEINBERG
Committee MemberKeller, William Wbkeller@pitt.eduBKELLER
Date: 5 May 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 18 April 2008
Approval Date: 5 May 2008
Submission Date: 20 April 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bush; consensus; Iraq; deliberation; war
Other ID:, etd-04202008-172040
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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