Justifying War: The case for Iraq
Before the 2003 Iraq war, the political leadership of the United States and United Kingdom had to sell the case for war to their people and the world. This was attempted through a number of key speeches that employed rhetorical justifications for the war. Two prominent justifications used during this period involved the employment of security and humanitarian narratives. The security narrative focused on claims regarding Iraq’s undermining of international law, their possession of weapons of mass destruction and their threat to the world. The humanitarian narrative revolved around claims about human suffering in Iraq and the need to liberate its people. While it is widely assumed that security is the dominant casus belli in the post 9/11 world, there is much evidence to suggest that the humanitarian justifications that played a critical role in the military interventions of the 1990s were still important after 9/11. Based on an extensive content analysis of speeches by the US and UK political leadership during the year leading up to war, this research project will quantify the relative importance of each narrative and identify the main frames that were employed in their construction. It will then analyse what these results mean in the context of ongoing debates within the ‘responsibility to protect (R2P)’ movement over the extent of pre-war humanitarian justifications for the 2003 Iraq invasion.