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On April 9, 2003 United States tanks stormed through Baghdad, Iraq. U.S. troops, then, toppled a giant statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in central Baghdad, which sent the Iraqi citizens into jubilee (Rampton 1). The Iraq War, or government's coined 'Operation Iraqi Freedom,' had finally arrived after declaring war on March 19, 2003. The U.S.-British coalition to invade Iraq and dethrone Hussein's dictatorship has been both a beneficial and detrimental political move. A war that originated because of Hussein's reluctance to weapons inspections now has become a messy situation where U.S.-British troops are dying more after major combat has ceased. President George W. Bush declared this war on 'terror' and, as a result, invaded Iraq on the grounds that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction which threatened American and world security. Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with Bush that the world would be safer when Iraq disarmed its WMDs and pledged British troops fully to the American war effort against terrorism. Over one year after invading Iraq, Hussein is captured, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, disturbing photos of abuse of Iraqi detainees, Dr. Kelly's mysterious death, and other nations providing troops are withdrawing?what arises out of all this is a question: Was Iraq worth it? Bush and Blair will both argue that even with all the setbacks, Iraqi citizens are better off now than under the Hussein regime, especially with the forthcoming of democracy. Critics dispute Iraq was invaded for financial reasons. Nevertheless, both Bush and Blair have seen their approval rating dip as the war continues, and it may ultimately hurt their reelection chances and prove that Iraq was too costly.
Propaganda is a crucial element of a proficient government. However, it must be noted that propaganda is not a tool used for good, rather it is a weapon used to inflict biased views. Hence, propaganda is implemented to all facets of a citizen?s life.
Ultimately, the goal of propaganda is to manipulate behavior and behavioral patterns; external rather than internal public opinion is sought. Voting, buying products, selecting entertainment, joining organizations, displaying symbols, fighting for a cause, donating to an organization, and other forms of action responses are sought from the audiences who are addressed by the persuader and propagandist. (Jossett, 45)
To become an ?ideal? citizen, one must do all the aforementioned to provide for one?
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The Bush administration is guilty of implementing propaganda. After September 11, 2001 people were afraid that they would become the next victims of terrorism. Bush perpetuated this fear by making citizens feel that the terrorists threatened not only American, but world peace. The Bush administration pushed for making the defense the number one priority. The Department of Homeland Security was created and the Patriot Act was passed to help Americans feel safe. If anyone dared to speak about how the Patriot Act was unconstitutional or proclaim that Afghanistan was better off before American troops went in, they were quickly deemed unpatriotic and un-American.
The ?evildoers? must be stopped at all costs. Bush ran ads with a huge American flag with the slogan ?These Colors Don?t Run.? This pun implicates that the United States will stand strong after 9/11, but it will also reprimand anyone that harms it. Furthermore, propaganda has made the public believe there is a connection between Hussein and the attacks of 9/11. A poll conducted in late 2003 reveals that 70 percent of people interviewed believe Hussein was directly involved with 9/11 (CBS September). This alliance is very unlikely because Osama bin Laden?s has a strong hatred for the ?infidel? regime of secular Hussein. Bush tried to distance these allegations: ??There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties,? the president said. But he also said, ?We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11? attacks? (CBS September). Nevertheless his claims of ?al Qaeda ties? are lies at worst and exaggerations at best. No substantial proof has been given to link 9/11 with Hussein?s regime and yet people believe that there is a link. Simply by mentioning Iraq and al Queda together with the overarching term ?terrorism,? people start to link them together. Furthermore, propaganda was made bureaucratic when the White House implemented it in the newly created Office of Global Communications (OGC). In September of 2003, the Times of London reported that the OGC would ?spend $200 million for a ?PR blitz against Saddam Hussein? aimed ?at American and foreign audiences, particularly in Arab nations skeptical of US policy in the region.? The campaign would use advertising techniques to persuade crucial target groups that the Iraqi leader must be ousted?? (Rampton 38). The Bush administration realizes the importance of not only physical warfare, but mental as well.
President George W. Bush recently admitted weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq: ?As the chief weapons inspector said, we have not yet found the stockpiles of weapons that we thought were there? (CNN). Did Bush know weapons were in Iraq? One scenario, which the Bush administration?s account holds true, is one where Iraq would be posed as an imminent threat to national security. Military intelligence allegedly had evidence to prove Saddam Hussein in fact harbored and constructed WMDs. According to the Bush administration, Hussein needed to stop manufacturing WMDs for national and global peace. Bush then attacked Iraq to protect America from the looming threat of Hussein?s regime. The other situation, advocated by large amounts of Democrats, is that Bush purposely created a false sense of threat in order to justify his intention to invade Iraq. His reasons were for fiscal implication: to have access to a vast amount of the world?s oil reserves and to stimulate the economy.
On the one hand, Bush believed Iraq did in fact have weapons of mass destruction. In his first State of the Union Address after the attacks of 9/11, Bush pledged the foreclosure of any regime that promoted terrorism through the use of WMDs. With the prompt military success in Afghanistan, Bush?s war on terror would not stop there. The chief executive called the United States to stand firm against the ?axis of evil??North Korea, Iran and Iraq (Milkis 416). The term ?axis? evokes memories of America?s enemy Axis of World War II?Germany, Italy, and Japan. This is misleading because axis implies an alignment of some sort. Iran and Iraq bitterly fought for eight years in the 80s. North Korea is one of the most isolationist states in the world and has shown no signs of collaborating with either Iran or Iraq. Bush believes America?s 21st century ?war on terrorism? is reminiscent of the latter half of the 20th century?s Cold War. In order to destroy terrorism, the president must have extensive use of presidential power around the world. To justify the war with Iraq, Bush claimed not only the strong possibility of the possession of weapons, but also several violations of United Nations resolutions. As a result in October 2002, Congress passed a resolution ?authorizing the president to use military force against Iraq ?as he determines to be necessary?? (Milkis 417). The presidency has a history of implementing aggressive policy when national security is at stake. Bush has placed foreign policy above any domestic agenda prioritizing America?s safety in his role as president. Bush?s assumption that Hussein had weapons was widely believed by his predecessor, another president, Bill Clinton.
On the contrary, Bush exaggerated the claims of the imminent threat of WMDs in Iraq in order to invade. Bush had several incentives to invade this country, primarily a financial one. Many foreign wars are motivated by financial intentions: ?the new international agenda is heavily?some argue predominately?economic? (Maltese 367). By way of technology, booming countries were communicating on an unparalleled level. With a more globalized world, the ?United States grew more economically dependent on other countries, especially suppliers of raw materials, such as oil? (Maltese 359). Iraq has about a tenth of the world?s known oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the Bush administration has been criticized due to Halliburton?s involvement in the renovation projects. Vice President Dick Cheney was the former Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton, one of the world?s largest providers to gas and oil industries, and was rewarded to head the reconstruction of Iraq (CBS May). Additionally, with the economic recession, a war would surely stimulate the economy. Wars have historically functioned as boasters to a depressed economy. For example, World War II helped the United States finally escape the Great Depression. With the current state of the economy slowly recuperating; perhaps it is the nature of market, or perhaps, a more plausible explanation is that the war on terrorism is sparking our economy.
Unlike Americans, the British do not have a 9/11 to arouse fear and anger. Thus, Tony Blair used Saddam Hussein?s weapons of mass destruction as the sole justification of the Iraq War to British citizens. Robin Cook, former leader of the House of Commons, claims that the Prime Minister knew that military intelligence only knew of battlefield weapons and not nuclear weapons. Cook discussed the issue of weapons to Blair on March 5, fifteen days before troops marched toward Baghdad: ?I made it quite plain?that it was obvious from the briefings that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and had only battlefield weapons?I could not have been more blunt? (Watt 1). After British troops went to Iraq, Cook resigned promptly afterward. Blair went into Iraq with the intention to disarm not to dethrone because of the imminent threat to British interests. The Prime Minister was well aware that President Bush was to go to war in any case, yet Blair believed ?it would be more damaging to long-term world peace and security if the Americans alone defeated Saddam Hussein than if they had international support to do so? (Wheatcroft 67). This is why British troops went to Iraq without the second United Nation Security Council resolution, which Parliament was promised by Blair.
Tony Blair is committed to the Iraq War regardless of defections. Blair from the onset knew that this war was unpopular. In a meeting on March 9, 2003 just a few days before invading Iraq, Blair and Bush met to discuss the extent of British involvement. Bush was well aware of the political implications to Blair of dragging Britain into this unpopular war. The British Prime Minister?s determination to the war effort could not be deterred by Bush?s persistence to allow Blair to abandon the cause: ?If it would help, Bush said, he would let Blair drop out of the coalition and they would find some other way for Britain and its 41,000 military personnel in the region around Iraq to participate. ?I said I'm with you. I mean it,? Blair replied? (Woodward 1). Blair?s commitment to the Iraq War has hurt his political reputation. The British political system is organized in such a manner where the winning party is ensured an overall majority in Parliament but unfairly penalizing small parties even with widely distributed support. Party loyalty is the norm in the British system where the Prime Minister maintains cohesion in unparalleled level compared to the American system. On March 18, 2003 the House of Commons had a vote?whether or not to wage war with Iraq. In an unprecedented record?139 Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) defected and voted against the war (White 1). Blair lost political credibility with such a large amount, deserting him when he needed support in an already unpopular war with the public. Blair won a Pyrrhic victory 396 to 217, although he had lost a full third of the Labour vote.
British citizens were already hesitant with Tony Blair dragging them in to an American war, and were furious to find out that the WMD allegation was a fabricated one. With information provided by the British Joint Intelligence Committee, Blair wrote an extensive dossier and delivered it in a very emotional speech on September 24th 2002, tried to convince the House of Commons of the imminent threat that Hussein posed.
The intelligence picture they paint is one accumulated over the past four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative. It concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population; and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability (Blair 2002).
This ?45 minute? claim scared the British Members of Parliament and citizens. Like Bush, Blair pumped fear to its citizens in order to allow the invasion of Iraq. Up to the invasion, people believed the Blair?s September dossier. According to the British Joint Intelligence Committee, this ?45 minute? claim, in actuality, only referred to short-range battlefield weapons, such as mortars. Blair?s assumption that the ?45 minute? claim only referred to WMDs, was only retracted after major combat was won and no WMDs were found (Norton-Taylor 1). The British people had signed on to a war that had no justification. The sole reason why Britain was in the war was to disarm Iraq and after these claims proved to be false, British citizens questioned the motives for invasion in the first place.
The ?45 minute? claim was highly exaggerated by Blair, even though he was fully aware that no such weapons existed. On May 29, 2003 BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan made the following report on the BBC Radio:
"What we?ve been told by one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up that dossier [Blair?s September 2002 speech justifying war on Iraq] was that, actually, the government probably knew that the 45 minute figure was wrong, even before it decided to put it in. What this person says is that, a week before the publication date of the dossier, it was actually rather a bland production . . . Downing Street, our source says, ordered (before publication) for it to be ?sexed up?, to be made more exciting, and ordered more facts to be discovered ... and essentially, the 45 minute point was probably the most important thing that was added? (Moore 1).
Gillagan?s report drew harsh criticisms from the Government who denied these allegations. Gillagan?s source was unnamed and the Government pressed him to reveal the identity that have provided such allegations. The source had been one Dr. David Kelly, Oxford-educated microbiologist, who was the senior scientific advisor to Downing Street. Well respected with several credentials, Dr. Kelly became senior adviser on biological warfare for the United Nations in Iraq in 1994, holding the post until 1999. He was in charge to inspect the WMDs that Iraq possessed. Blair?s Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon ?was anxious to make public that David Kelly could be the source of a BBC story claiming the British government ?sexed up? its dossier on Iraqi weapons? (Archives 1). The British Government released Dr. Kelly?s name in order to find out if he was Gillagan?s source. Once the name was confirmed by BBC that Dr. Kelly had in fact been the source for Gillagan, he was asked to testify before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British Parliament on Tuesday, July 15, 2003 (Moore 1). Dr. Kelly was upset that the Government had released his name and that the BBC had confirmed him as the close source. Three days later Dr. Kelly was found dead near his home with his left wrist slit. The report released stated that he had committed suicide. Had he? But had Dr. Kelly taken his own life, with only year to retirement? Moreover, an educated man such as he was had taken such a simple and painful method to die with several painless drugs at his disposal? Also, Dr. Kelly committed suicide during the day in the woods, a few paces from a popular jogging route. Why would he expose himself to the open where someone can stop him or call an ambulance? Dr. Kelly?s death prompted Gillagan to resign (BBC). Perhaps, Dr. Kelly could not have taken the pressure of having leaked information and being in the media spotlight, or his death was designed to intimidate all those who work for defense intelligence agencies in Britain and the United States.
If the latter is true, the point is made clear?if you talk, you pay with your life. Blair was asked how he could be contradictory when on July 22, 2003 he had the discussed how to name Dr. Kelly officials and yet he had not released a statement that very day about not authorizing the leaking of his name to the public. Tony Blair responded ?I could go into a long and detailed answer, but I won't. Sorry? (ic Newcastle). Blair apologized for not having a direct answer. The British Prime Minister, if firm in his convictions, should have stated that he had not authorized the release of Dr. Kelly?s name in order to discover the source for the BBC. Blair intentionally adverted the question because he had no legitimate answer. Furthermore, less than 23 percent believe Blair was telling the truth about Dr. Kelly?s sudden death. And 46 percent believe that the Government was responsible for Dr. Kelly?s death (ic Newcastle). Almost half of British citizens believe that the Government was involved, which only perpetuates the mistrust people have for Tony Blair.
As a result of the high amount of defections and scandals, people quickly look for a solution; critics of Blair look to the Chancellor of Exchequer, Gordon Brown, as the successor. Recent polls conducted in April 2004 show that Labour is still the party of choice with 38 percent of the electorate but 58 percent of the people surveyed are dissatisfied with him as Prime Minister. Furthermore, 48 percent believe that the war in Iraq was unjustified (ICM April). The Labour faithful still are committed to the party more than the other choices out there, but would rather have a new leader at the helm. In 1994 after Labour leader John Smith died, the party looked for someone to replace him. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were the favorites, but a pact between them resulted in Brown reneging his nomination. The agreement was that they would divide the government work between them?Blair would handle foreign affairs, health and education while Brown would supervise welfare and the economy (Sheldon 206). This deal took place before Labour was in government, and now six years into power it was transparent that Brown?s approach toward his Chancellor position ?was conditioned above all by his own political ambitions? (Sheldon 202). Brown?s intentions have never been questioned and Blair is aware of them. Moreover, Blair realizes that Brown is a well-qualified successor and has even deemed him ?as the most brilliant politician of his generation.
He made it as clear as a Prime Minister can that he expected Brown to succeed him? (Sheldon 206). This ?deal? has left critics to question Blair?s fervor and conventional wisdom. Political scientist Robert Harris has indicated that the ?deal? was the worst political mistake he has ever made: ?What he should have said was: ?Look, Gordon, you want to be leader of the party, and so do I, so why don?t we both stand? Why doesn?t each of us pledge to respect the outcome of the ballot and work loyally for whoever wins?? If he had done that, he would have called Brown?s bluff and established himself as master in his house once and for all? (Qtd. in Wheatcroft 69). However, Blair did not do that, and instead has recognized him as his successor and equal. Blair has vested the management of the economy to Brown, including the critical issue of adopting the European currency, the Euro?which the Prime Minister has always desired over the pound. Brown has been given political leverage and his political ambitions are a personal means to exploit it.
The war effort has been severely affected by the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. Photos were taken of U.S. troops harassing the prisoners by having them get naked and pile on top of one another. A different picture shows a smoking female soldier pointing at the genitals of a naked, hooded male prisoner. This scandal has ?triggered indignation around the world, inflamed public opinion in Iraq and other Muslim nations, and threatened to undermine U.S. policy on a wide front? (Shogren 1). The United States are faced with the decision to defend a war after disturbing pictures of abuse are released even though it was intended to liberate the Iraqi people with the catchy name ?Operation Iraqi Freedom.? This contradiction has caused uproar in the international scene. This war is a virtually U.S.-British coalition with a few countries contributing few troops. Unlike the first Gulf War in 1991, very few of the nations in the 2003 coalition provided supplies, money or troops. Instead, they offered political endorsements or permission to use their airspace for U.S. warplanes (Rampton 116).
Countries that have chosen to help fight in the Iraqi war, have had backlashes by their constituents. In Spain 80 percent opposed the Iraq War, along with 63 percent in Poland, 67 percent in the Czech Republic, 73 percent in Italy, 79 percent in Denmark and 82 percent in Hungary (Rampton 118). These statistics were before the Iraqi scandal emerged. In the United States, ethics are apparently more important than partisanship. The Armed Serves Committee?controlled by Republicans?plan on addressing this issue for weeks to come. Congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution, Thomas E. Mann, said Republicans have a ?strong incentive among congressional Republicans not to damage in any way the president?s political standing. But the vividness of the detainee abuses and the failure of the administration to give senators a heads up has finally broken the logjam in the Senate, where there is a greater sense of institutional responsibility? (Shogren 1). Fellow Republicans turning against Bush in an election year does not help the incumbent?s campaign. Blair has received political heat for the scandal even though U.S. soldiers were the guilty party, not U.K. troops. Blair needs to publicly detach himself from the Bush administration, and more importantly to declare an independent British position on the Middle East and peacekeeping in Iraq in order to be show that the Prime Minister is not Bush?s sycophant because it is undermining his efforts at home. In the course of signs that some cabinet members, most notably the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, are starting to place some distance between themselves and Washington, Blair reached out to critics with two key statements. While he has made it clear he would never abandon Bush, the Prime Minister made it clear that he wanted to withdraw British troops from Iraq as soon as possible?but not before the job was done.
Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are general reasons for the United States and Britain?s decision to invade Iraq, yet oil is rarely mentioned. An estimated thirty percent of the world's oil and natural gas is found in Iraq. With Hussein dethroned, the Iraqi oil industry is up for grabs, and it will depend on the new ?government of Iraq to decide how it will dispense that resource? (ABC). The very government the United States will still have a direct hand in operations after June 30, 2004?the date when occupation authority dissolves from all the nations involved. However, the Bush administration ?will set up ?political consultative processes? that will keep the interim government informed about military plans and actions. [Powell] said the ?various liaison organizations and cells? will also give the Americans ?full insight into any sensitivities that might exist within the Iraqi interim government concerning our military operations?? (Kessler 1). The Americans claim that the since the situation is so dire, 170,000 U.S. troops will remain Iraq until 2006. The United States, who has invested the most resources, troops and money, will be reap the large quantities of oil. However, the United States cannot collect the oil quantities immediately because of the Hussein?s disregard: ?Pipelines are rusty and oil fields are in disrepair. After 20 years of neglect, it will take billions in investments to reap the returns on Iraq's reserves? (ABC). Iraq only produces three percent of the world?s oil supply, even though it can quintuple with investments that will bring the oil fields up to par. Cheney?s old business, Halliburton, has been awarded a contract which grants it construction work in war torn Iraq (CBS May).
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are now left to justify a war with no evidence. Currently, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. After the attacks of 9/11, George W. Bush justified to war on the grounds of stopping terrorism. Whether the public believes President Bush knowingly misled the public or not in regards to the WMD accusations, he led the invasion into Iraq. He justified attacking Iraq because of the presence of WMDs and the violation of UN resolutions, yet other countries are guilty on these grounds--Israel and North Korea to name a few. Yet, Bush did not advocate bombing any of these regimes, which can also be viewed as imminent threats. A bright side amidst all the scandals has been the capture of Saddam Hussein. On December 13, 2003 Hussein was found in a small hole in the ground near Tikrit, Iraq. With the capture of Saddam Hussein, Bush attempts to justify the war against Iraq in the reality of not uncovering one WMD. Bush invaded Iraq either because he believed Hussein?s regime posed a hazard to national security or for economic implications. Either way, Hussein is in custody and the economy is rising, not to mention that the United States has the opportunity to tap into huge amounts of raw oil as a result of the invasion of Iraq.
A reason to invade Iraq was not to acquire oil, but rather to democratize Iraq according to the United States and Great Britain. It is no easy task to implement a cohesive government when there are three different rival ethnicities: Sunni, Kurds and Shia. Iraq was actually carved out by the Britain shortly after World War I. How does Iraq transform itself into a dictatorship to a democracy? The answer is oil: private control of oil wells will bring wealth to the Iraqi people and will allow the economy to blossom. Finally, the Iraqi people can benefit from their fertile land and oil wells.
On the British front, Tony Blair has seen his approval ratings plummet. He was once praised for his ability to be fresh and different?a combination of Labour?s state socialism and Conservative?s market capitalism. The youngest Prime Minister in nearly two centuries at the age of forty-three, Blair now looks fatigued and old. His government has made many strides, but the Iraq War will prove to be his Achilles heel.
The special relationship between Bush and Blair has sparked controversy. Blair is constantly harassed for being a Bush sycophant and not taking charge of his British sovereignty. His approval rating in September 2002 has gone from 47 percent to 38 percent in April of 2004 (ICM September & April). In a war that was completely unpopular and wanted by a majority of British citizens, most Labour MPs and many of his Cabinet colleagues, Blair could have changed his political future by see it soar, rather than plummet: ?Blair is the one man on earth who could possibly have stopped the war in Iraq. It would have been far more difficult for Washington to embark on it if he had publicly voiced the misgivings of his country? (Wheatcroft 64). Blair has also mishandled the Dr. Kelly death. His ?suicide? has questions surrounding it and the finger points back to the Prime Minister who, allegedly, authorized the release of his name. A campaign headed virtually by himself, Bush would have looked as though he had a personal agenda with toppling Hussein?toward the spectacular completion by the son of the mission in which the father had sadly fallen short. With public disapproval mounting, political allies defecting Bush and Blair both pledged to stop terrorism believing that it was the right thing to do?even at the risk of no longer being the President and the Prime Minister.
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