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

Rhetoric and Spin

“Peace" and "Freedom”

In his public appearances, Bush repeatedly proclaimed that he was seeking peace and freedom, even though he was on the path to military action and war. 

For example, in his press conference on March 6, 2003, just 13 days before the commencement of military action against Iraq, President Bush used the word “peace” 18 times




The themes of peace and freedom were part of a broader effort by the Bush administration to position itself and the country as acting with the best of intentions, with goals ranging from protecting the security of the United States to liberating the oppressed people of Iraq.  President Bush often repeated the declaration that “freedom is not America’s gift to the world, freedom is a God-given gift to the world,” implicitly offering assurance to the American people that if the United States went to war it would do so with virtuous aims, not aggressive aims, in accordance with God’s will.

Notably, the invasion of Iraq was given the name “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”



BUSH: This government will continue to lead the world toward more peace. And we hope to resolve all the situations in which we find ourselves in a peaceful way. That’s my commitment, to try to do so, peacefully.

CHENEY: President Bush has often spoken of how America can keep the peace by redefining war on our terms.

BUSH: We understand history has called us into action. And we’re not going to miss this opportunity to make the world more peaceful and more free.

BUSH: America’s interests in security and America’s belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq.

BUSH: America will seize every opportunity in pursuit of peace, and the end of the present regime in Iraq would create such an opportunity.

BUSH: We will make this an age of progress and liberty. Free people will set the course of history, and free people will keep the peace of the world.

BUSH: If you want to keep the peace, you’ve got to have the authorization to use force.

White House Press Conference on March 6, 2003, where President Bush uses the word “peace” 18 times.  [link to source]

BUSH: . . . we have arrived at an important moment in confronting the threat posed to our nation and to peace by Saddam Hussein and his weapons of terror.

Saddam Hussein has a long history of reckless aggression and terrible crimes. He possesses weapons of terror. He provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists -- terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace-loving countries. Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people.

Across the world and in every part of America, people of goodwill are hoping and praying for peace. Our goal is peace -- for our nation, for our friends and allies, for the people of the Middle East. People of goodwill must also recognize that allowing a dangerous dictator to defy the world and harbor weapons of mass murder and terror is not peace at all; it is pretense. The cause of peace will be advanced only when the terrorists lose a wealthy patron and protector, and when the dictator is fully and finally disarmed.

Tonight I thank the men and women of our armed services and their families. I know their deployment so far from home is causing hardship for many military families. Our nation is deeply grateful to all who serve in uniform. We appreciate your commitment, your idealism, and your sacrifice. We support you, and we know that if peace must be defended, you are ready.

I'm hopeful that he does disarm. But, in the name of peace and the security of our people, if he won't do so voluntarily, we will disarm him. And other nations will join him -- join us in disarming him.

I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat to the American people. I believe he's a threat to the neighborhood in which he lives. And I've got a good evidence to believe that. He has weapons of mass destruction, and he has used weapons of mass destruction, in his neighborhood and on his own people. He's invaded countries in his neighborhood. He tortures his own people. He's a murderer. He has trained and financed al Qaeda-type organizations before, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. I take the threat seriously, and I'll deal with the threat. I hope it can be done peacefully.

So, in the name of security and peace, if we have to -- if we have to -- we'll disarm him.

. . .we live in a dangerous world. We live in new circumstances in our country. And I hope people remember the -- I know they remember the tragedy of September the 11th, but I hope they understand the lesson of September the 11th. The lesson is, is that we're vulnerable to attack, wherever it may occur, and we must take threats which gather overseas very seriously. We don't have to deal with them all militarily. But we must deal with them. And in the case of Iraq, it is now time for him to disarm. For the sake of peace, if we have to use our troops, we will.

My faith sustains me because I pray daily. I pray for guidance and wisdom and strength. If we were to commit our troops -- if we were to commit our troops -- I would pray for their safety, and I would pray for the safety of innocent Iraqi lives, as well.

One thing that's really great about our country, April, is there are thousands of people who pray for me that I'll never see and be able to thank. But it's a humbling experience to think that people I will never have met have lifted me and my family up in prayer. And for that I'm grateful. That's -- it's been -- it's been a comforting feeling to know that is true. I pray for peace, April. I pray for peace.

I think of the risks, calculated the cost of inaction versus the cost of action. And I'm firmly convinced, if we have to, we will act, in the name of peace and in the name of freedom.

So more time, more inspectors, more process, in our judgment, is not going to affect the peace of the world. So whatever is resolved is going to have some finality to it, so that Saddam Hussein will take us seriously.

I want to remind you that it's his choice to make as to whether or not we go to war. It's Saddam's choice. He's the person that can make the choice of war and peace. Thus far, he's made the wrong choice. If we have to, for the sake of the security of the American people, for the sake of peace in the world, and for freedom to the Iraqi people, we will disarm Saddam Hussein. And by we, it's more than America. A lot of nations will join us.

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