Marketing the Iraq War: Manifest Content Analysis of US Executive Framing


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Virginia Tech


This thesis explores the manifest content of the U.S. Executive framing effort intended to persuade the U.S. Congress, United Nations Security Council, and the American people that there was no greater threat to US national security than the continuing reign of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Through analysis of individual and group contributions to the three dominant themes created by the executive leadership, namely, the link between the regime of Saddam Hussein and terrorism, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and the status of the regime and Saddam Hussein as an outlaw, I illuminate the process used to gain support for the unprecedented policy of preemptive war. The results of my analysis differ with previous literature on the subject which primarily considers the Bush administration's effort to be a campaign of lies, intended to lead the American people and the international community to believe a threat existed that the Bush Administration knew was not credible. In contrast to that conclusion, my analysis of the framing effort indicates that the marketing campaign for the Iraq War capitalized on world events, timing, the credibility of the particular speaker and their office and the amplifying effect of the media, making a campaign of lies unnecessary and the process they used replicable. Therefore, this analysis may justify heightened scrutiny for comparable policies in the future, even when the statements and argumentation an administration makes are primarily accurate and verifiable.



Iraq, Framing, Saddam, Terrorism, WMD