Begründungen für den Irakkrieg
Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq
Eine gründliche Untersuchung der Sprache der Bush-Adnministration, des Kongresses und der Medien
An in-depth look at the words of the Bush administration, Congress, and the media
Eine studentische Abschlussarbeit zur Erlangung eines Bachelor-Grades für Politische Wissenschaft an der University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign brachte Erstaunliches über die Vorbereitung des Irakkriegs zu Tage: Nicht drei
Begründungen wurden von offizieller Seite sowie von den Medien ins Feld geführt, um den Krieg zu rechtfertigen (geläufig sind uns noch die drei "Gründe": "Krieg gegen Terror". Besitz von Massenvernichtungswaffen, mangelnde Inspektionen), sondern es waren nicht weniger als 27 solcher Art.
Devon Largio legte vor kurzem ihre 212 Seiten umfassende Arbeit vor und erhielt von ihrem betreuenden Professor, Scott Althaus, höchstes Lob. Es sei das erste Mal, dass der Weg, den die US-Administration zum Irakkrieg beschritten hat, während der "entscheidenden Perioden" der öffentlichen Debatte "systematisch" dokumentiert wurde (zit. n. Andrea Lynn: Bush administration has used 27 rationales for war in Iraq, study says, in: news bureau (Zeitung der University of Illinois, Mai 2004). Dabei werden nicht nur die Begründungen für den Krieg aufgedeckt, sondern auch gezeigt, wann jeweils welche Arten von Begründungen in den Vordergrund des Interesses rückten.
Largio legt eine empirische Analyse vor. Zunächst teilt sie die Vorkriegszeit in drei verschiedene Phasen ein. Die erste Phase dauert vom September 2001 bis zum Dezember desselben Jahres, die zweite Phase vom Januar 2002 (Ende Januar 2002 gab Bush den berühmten Bericht zur Lage der Nation, in dem er die "Achse des Bösen" identifizierte) bis April 2002. Die dritte Untersuchungsphase dauerte vom 12. September 2002 (an dem Tag sprach Bush vor der UN-Generalversammlung) bis zum 11. Oktober 2002 (Annahme der Kriegsermächtigungsresolution durch den US-Kongress).
Ausgewertet wurden insgesamt rund 1.500 Dokumente, darunter Reden, Interviews und Artikel von führenden Politikern der US-Administration (Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Perle) sowie von Kongressabgeordneten, Kongressberichte und Beiträge aus der New York Times und von The Associated Press.
In der Hierarchie der 27 meist gebrauchten Begründungen für den Krieg lagen die folgenden acht ganz vorn (die sog. "Hauptgründe"):
Krieg gegen den internationalen Terrorismus,
Verhinderung der Weitergabe von Massenvernichtungswaffen,
mangelhafte oder fehlende Waffen-Inspektionen,
Beseitigung des Regimes von Saddam Hussein,
das schlichte Argument: "Saddam Hussein ist böse",
Befreiung des irakischen Volkes,
Bruch von Vereinbarungen bzw. Versprechungen und
Irak stelle eine Bedrohung dar ("imminent threat").
Die zweitwichtigsten Begründungen für den Krieg waren:
"Weil wir dazu in der Lage sind",
wir müssen die unerledigte Aufgabe ("unfinished business") zu Ende bringen,
der Irak müsse entwaffnet werden,
Verbindung zu Al Kaida und
mehr Sicherheit für die Welt.
Die übrigen Begründungen bewegten sich auf folgenden Ebenen:
Krieg ums Öl,
Irak sei eine Bedrohung für die Regioon,
"um der Geschichte Willen",
Bewahrung des Friedens,
Irak bedrohe die Freiheit,
die Einmaligkeit des Irak,
die Bedeutung der Vereinten Nationen,
Verpflichtung gegenüber den Kindern,
Vorteile für den Nahen Osten erzielen,
Belebung der Wirtschaft,
Irak als Beispiel,
weil Saddam Hussein die USA hasst und
die Verletzung des Völkerrechts durch den Irak.
Die acht zuerst genannten "Gründe" für den Krieg haben sich in allen drei Untersuchungsphasen als die wichtigsten herausgestellt. Viele von den übrigen "Gründen" tauchten irgendwann einmal auf und verschwanden auch wieder aus der Diskussion
Manche Ergebnisse der Arbeit von Devon Largio sind nun nicht gerade neu. Etwa die Einsicht, dass der Krieg gegen Irak als Teil des "Kriegs gegen den Terror" schon sehr früh nach dem 11. September geplant wurde. Interessant sind aber die empirischen Befunde ihrer quantitativen Analyse. So zeigte sie, wie seit Oktober/November neben dem Schlüsselwort "Osama bin Laden" schon die neuen Schlüsselbegriffe "Saddam Hussein" und "Irak" Verwendung fanden, bis sie - etwa ab Januar/Februar 2002 die Oberhand erhielten. Dabei fungierten abwechselnd Vertreter der US-Administration und die Medien als "Stichwortgeber". Den Medien, so scheint es, kommt allerdings das zweifelhafte Hauptverdienst zu, die Diskussion um den Irak initiiert zu haben, noch bevor die Politiker dieses Feld entdeckt hätten (wenngleich die Bush-Administration nach Largio durchaus die Mehrzahl der 27 "Begründungen für den Krieg" erfunden hat). Das heißt indessen nicht, dass die US-Führung in Wirklichkeit erst von den Medien auf den Irak als nächstmöglichen Kriegsgegner gestoßen worden wäre. Sie hat den Irak nur noch nicht öffentlich kommuniziert!
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir - in englischer Sprache - eine Zusammenfassung, die Einleitung und den Schlussteil der Bachelor-Arbeit von Devon Largio. Die ganze Arbeit kann (als pdf-Datei) hier heruntergeladen werden: Devon M. Largio: Thesis for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq: The Words of the Bush Administration,
Congress, and the Media from September 12, 2001 to October 11, 2002
by Devon M. Largio
Thesis for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
For the first time, a research project took an in-depth look at the words of the Bush
administration, Congress, and the media and mapped out the road to war on Iraq and the
rationales for that war. This research examined, over three separate phases of time from
September 2001 to October 2002, the words of President Bush, certain Bush administration
officials and four Congressional senators, the Congressional Record, and articles from the New
York Times in order to find out why the U.S. went to war with Iraq. Though not all of the
statements for some officials could be found, this project analyzed every statement from
President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, and
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (more than 150 remarks and interviews containing
the topic "Iraq") during the months chosen for review.
The results showed that twenty-seven rationales for the war on Iraq were used at one time
or another, twenty-three of which can be attributed to the administration. Five rationales were
prominent in all three phases: the war on terror, the desire to prevent the proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction, the lack of inspections, the desire to remove the Hussein regime, and the
fact that Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator. One rationale surfaced initially and gained favor
over time: the interest in liberating the people of Iraq. One other rationale emerged later and
became very important to official sources and the media: the imminent threat that Iraq posed,
though the words "imminent threat" did not appear in official statements of the administration
but became the catch-phrase in the media and the public. The other twenty rationales can be
classified as secondary and remaining rationales. Thus, the war on Iraq was broad and its
rationales encompassed a wide array of topics and concerns, from terrorism to oil, from
protecting peace and freedom to finishing unfinished business.
Following the described campaign, the war on Iraq began in March of 2003. President
Bush declared the war on Iraq a victory only a couple of months after combat operations
commenced. However, troops still fight and die daily in Iraq, more than a year after the initial
invasion. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, the imminent threat was not quite
so imminent, and the streets of Iraqi cities are violent and chaotic places. Yet, Saddam Hussein
no longer despotically rules the nation, and Iraq no longer poses a threat to the world. The
question remains, why did we go to war with Iraq? There has been a lot of speculation around
this question but few definitive answers, until now. A look back in time reveals how the results
of the war line up with the given rationales.
In the weeks and months that followed the events of September 11, 2001, the nation
watched, listened, and read as the Bush administration declared a war on terror and the media
began frenzied coverage of the military efforts in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden
and al Qaeda. But in the midst of all of the chaos, speculation about the suspects at the heart of
the attacks started to shift, though ever so slightly, into the direction of a familiar foe to the
United States, and particularly to the Bush family: Saddam Hussein. Now, more than two years
after the horror of 9-11, a war with Iraq has been fought and, supposedly, won. Saddam's
regime has been ousted and a new-found freedom awaits the Iraqi people. But how did we get
here, to the point of final confrontation with an enemy once challenged and long despised? This
paper charted the rationales for the war on Iraq over the time following 9-11 up until Congress
passed the war resolution in October 2002 by examining the statements made by the President
and his administration, by Congress, and by the media in three separate phases of time
(September 12, 2001 to December 2001, 2002 State of the Union to April 2002, and September
12, 2002 to October 11, 2002).
A number of questions were asked and answered in order to fully develop this topic.
When did the focus of the administration, Congress, and the media shift from Osama bin Laden
to Saddam Hussein and Iraq? What were the administration and Congress saying about Iraq and
Saddam Hussein in the year following the terrorist attacks on the United States? What were the
reasons behind the invasion and did they change over time? Adding another dimension to the
paper, how did media coverage affect these rationales and opinions on Iraq? Overall, what was
the path to war with Iraq in the earliest phases of the war?
The change of focus from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein came at different times
for each source examined here. President Bush began to mention more about Saddam Hussein in
April of 2002. The media switched to focusing on Saddam Hussein in July of 2002. And,
finally, Congress mentioned Saddam Hussein more in April then switched back to Osama bin
Laden and eventually settled into a pattern of discussion on Saddam Hussein in September of
2002. Yet, as much of the research that follows looks at the response to the search term "Iraq," a
comparison was made between the usage of Saddam Hussein and the usage of Iraq by the
various people and sources studied here. The results show that, though Iraq appears more
frequently, the trends remain the same for President Bush and the media. Yet, these higher
numbers do alter the changeover from Osama bin Laden to Iraq. For example, Congress moves
to examining the topic of Iraq in greater number by January of 2002, an earlier and more stable
change than the change to a focus on Saddam Hussein. Additionally, the change to Iraq from
Osama occurs in January of 2002 for the President and in February of 2002 for the media.
The Bush administration, and the President himself, established the majority of the
rationales for the war and all of those rationales that make up the most prominent reasons for
war. Initially, the media introduced Iraq to officials and they responded accordingly; by Phase
Two, the officials were introducing Iraq, and by Phase Three almost all of their public statements
were about Iraq. This changing focus of the administration lines up with the statistics cited
earlier in the paper that showed February 2002 as the month in which President Bush began
addressing Saddam Hussein and Iraq more than Osama bin Laden, at least numerically, with a
solid change made by April of 2002. Additionally, much of what the administration said was
covered in the news and quickly appeared in the words of members of Congress and in the
Congressional Record. Again, the statistics can be brought to bear on the rationales. The
statistics show Congress changing its focus in early 2002, focusing on Iraq by January of 2002,
and pretty solidly set on Saddam Hussein and Iraq by the summer. In the rationale analysis,
Congressmen and the Congressional Record brought up the war more often and talked more
openly about the prospect of war, without prodding from the media, in Phases Two and Three.
Looking at the media, in Phase One much of the discussion around Iraq was initiated by
questions from reporters, with the exception of Senator John McCain who brought up the topic
of Iraq on multiple occasions. Yet, by Phase Two, most of the officials were talking about Iraq
without much prodding and certainly by Phase Three there was no need to ask questions and
introduce the topic first. Overall, the media highlighted all of the identified main and secondary
rationales, meaning that it did follow the lead of the administration.
Moving to those rationales, twenty-seven rationales for the war were used at one time or
another, and, of the sixteen rationales that emerged before the final phase of research, thirteen
appeared in later phases. Thus, the campaign for the war on Iraq was broad and there seemed to
be a great deal of continuity between the phases. To further explain this idea, five rationales
were prominent in all three phases: war on terror, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction, lack of inspections, removal of the Hussein regime, and Saddam Hussein is
evil. In addition to those five, another rationale was used very prominently throughout the
phases: liberation of the Iraqi people. It was a popular rationale for Don Rumsfeld, as he
mentioned the reason in all three phases, and eventually appeared in many other officials'
statements, as well. Yet, a lot of new ideas arose over time, some of which came to be favored
among the sources used here. For example, the broken promises rationale emerged in Phase
Two and was used only by President Bush. Yet, by Phase Three, every member of the
administration mentioned in this work, John McCain, the Congressional Record, and the media
were using the rationale, too. Another example is the imminent threat rationale, emerging in
Phase Three with President Bush's speech to the United Nations. This rationale was then
adopted by Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Daschle, Lott, and the Congressional Record.
Interestingly, Daschle was the only official to use the words "imminent threat," though he only
used them once; no administration official actually said "imminent threat." The secondary
rationales were: because we can, unfinished business, disarmament, connection to al Qaeda, and
safety of the world. And the remaining rationales were: revenge, war for oil, threat to the region,
for the sake of history, preservation of peace, threat to freedom, the uniqueness of Iraq, the
relevance of the U.N., commitment to the children, gaining favor with the Middle East,
stimulation of the economy, setting Iraq as an example, because Saddam Hussein hates the U.S.,
and Iraq's violation of international law.
Finally, the question of the road to war with Iraq has received some answers. The
rationales discussed in great detail in the essay provide a sense as to the direction in which the
administration, Congress, and the media were headed well before the fighting actually began.
Yet, many of these reasons have been questioned in light of the outcome of the war, since nearly
one year ago, President Bush declared victory in Iraq while American troops still fight and die
there daily, thousands of miles from home. So, where do all of these rationales stand today?
Although this paper cannot answer that question definitively, it can provide some insight into the
thinking of the powers-that-be during the earliest stages of war preparation and give the
American people a chance to answer these questions for themselves.
Extracts (p. 156 to 159)
(...) To break it down once again, the primary rationales for the war with Iraq were: war on
terror, the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the lack of inspections,
the removal of the Hussein regime, Saddam Hussein is evil, liberation of the Iraqis, broken
promises, and imminent threat. The secondary rationales were: because we can, unfinished
business, disarmament, connection to al Qaeda, and safety of the world. And the remaining
rationales were: revenge, war for oil, threat to the region, for the sake of history, preservation of
peace, threat to freedom, the uniqueness of Iraq, the relevance of the U.N., commitment to the
children, gaining favor with the Middle East, stimulation of the economy, setting Iraq as an
example, because Saddam Hussein hates the U.S., and Iraq's violation of international law.
Finally, the question of the road to war with Iraq has received some answers. The
rationales discussed in great detail above provide a sense as to the direction in which the
administration, Congress, and the media were headed well before the fighting actually began. It
can be easily determined who established the majority of the rationales and who supported them
throughout the three phases. It is not hard to see which of the rationales received the most
attention and which died quickly after being mentioned once or twice. It has been noted that the
main rationales highlighted early on in the game remained the main points of the debate through
to the day that the resolution authorizing force passed in both houses of Congress. This
empirical information can be scrutinized in some respects, in as much as the research methods
are imperfect and the meanings drawn from the various remarks and articles can be somewhat
subjective. However, it must be said that the data speaks for itself.
What is not quite so easy is determining what effect these rationales have on the war
now, in 2004. Again, the main rationales highlighted in Phase One remained the main rationales
through Phase Three. As a reminder, those main or primary rationales for the war on Iraq were
war on terror, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, lack of inspections,
removal of the Hussein regime, Saddam Hussein is evil, liberation of the Iraqi people, broken
promises, and imminent threat. Yet, many of these reasons have been questioned in light of the
outcome of the war, since nearly one year ago, President Bush declared victory in Iraq while
American troops still fight and die there daily, thousands of miles from home. So, where do all
of these rationales stand today?
Without a doubt, the war on terror is the strongest reason for invading Iraq. Wanting to
protect the people of this country and prevent another disaster like that of 9-11 is a hard
motivation with which to argue, though whether invading Iraq was an answer to the problem of
terrorism is up for debate. Wanting to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction is a valid
claim, as well. Unfortunately, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, making
the need to invade and remove the weapons a questionable move. To be fair, just because no
weapons have been found yet does not preclude there being weapons hidden somewhere in Iraq.
Yet, now the administration talks about "weapons programs" as opposed to claiming that Iraq
actually had weapons of mass destruction; however, administration members can be found
stating that Iraq did have the weapons, some even saying that the knowledge was "certain." So,
if there are no weapons, then where is the imminent threat? Only one of the officials actually
used the words "imminent threat" in his remarks; but trying to say that that was not the meaning
of the other officials' words seems trivial and picky, like the controversy over what "is" meant
during the Clinton scandal. The media or some other source may have coined the term
"imminent threat" but that should not remove the administration and Congress from blame if, in
fact, the threat from Iraq was not as pressing as they made it out to be. Though President Bush
and his advisers may not have said that the threat was imminent, they did not dispel the myth and
they certainly did not make remarks to the contrary; rather, they made comments about a "grave
and gathering danger," the need to stop the gun from firing, and the impossibility of knowing the
true magnitude of the Iraqi threat. Whether or not that meant imminent, one cannot say. Yet,
one can infer from these comments that America should have been seriously concerned about
Iraq and should have done something immediately to halt the impending doom that was sure to
come our way if Saddam Hussein was not stopped. So the U.S. pushed for inspections and got
them; then the U.S. chose not to believe the inspectors. Thus, the lack of inspections rationale
seems to be a moot point on two levels. First, the inspections took place, and, second, the U.S.
ignored their results, whether for good reason or not, rendering them useless. It seems worth
stating here that even Colin Powell recently admitted to a mistake in identifying weapons sites in
Iraq. The fact that Iraq had broken promises to the U.N. seems to be a good line of reasoning,
but then why did the U.N. not get involved? Was a U.S. invasion the only way to right the
wrongs of Iraq? On a positive note, the Iraqi people have been liberated and the Hussein regime
has been destroyed. The Iraqis no longer face an oppressive dictator and can begin to rebuild
their society in the spirit of freedom, liberty, and justice. Yet, there is chaos in the streets and
rebel groups continue to battle the allies. Additionally, Iraqi citizens have never known
democracy; can they learn it now? And what about the fact that many people saw the regime
change as a violation of international law and the U.N. Charter, which states that nations may
only attack other nations in self-defense? Was this self-defense? Finally, we are left with the
fact that Saddam Hussein is, or was, evil, which has never been questioned, not even by those
people who were opposed to the war.
This is not to say that these are not good enough, well-supported reasons for the war to
have been launched nor is it to say that the America people would not have supported such a
war. And, as always, hindsight is twenty-twenty. However, there are questions surrounding
nearly every major rationale for the war. People may wonder, why are our men and women over
there? Why did we go to war? Were we misled? In this important year, an election year, these
questions and concerns deserve answers. And though this paper cannot answer these questions
definitively, it can provide some insight into the thinking of the powers-that-be during the
earliest stages of war preparation and give the American people a chance to answer these
questions for themselves.
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