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

Rhetoric and Spin

Enemy Motives

The Bush administration stated that America’s enemies were motivated by a hatred for “our way of life.”  In taking this stance, Bush officials avoided discussing tangible issues raised by America’s adversaries that related to specific U.S. policies, such as America’s virtually unconditional support for questionable Israeli policies; U.S. troops occupying Middle Eastern holy lands (especially Saudi Arabia); America’s financial and military support of Middle East dictators; and the human suffering caused by U.S.-supported international sanctions imposed against Iraq after the Gulf War of 1991.

The use of hyperbole and grand generalizations –  “they’re to wipe out our way of life,” “they hate what we stand for” – oversimplifies a complex reality.  The United States cast itself in the role of an innocent victim, defending itself against vicious enemies who simply hate America and its freedoms.

Moreover, Iraq and al-Qaeda were often accused of having similar motives with regard to the United States, yet again blurring the distinction between the two.  In reality, their motives and goals had little in common.




GENERAL MYERS:  One of the things we learned from September 11th was that the intent of the terrorists, and those who would supply them with weapons of mass destruction, is very, very clear. They’re to wipe out our way of life.


From a March 6, 2003 press conference, two weeks before the invasion of Iraq:
BUSH:  ...There’s an enemy which hates America. They hate what we stand for. We love freedom, and we’re not changing...

[continue to the next section: Caves and Shadows]

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