Date: 26-Jan-2009 From: Ahmed Sahlane <asahlaneyahoo.com> Subject: The Discursive (Re)Construction of the 2003 Iraq War in Western and Arab Opinion/Editorial Argumentation: A critical discourse analytic approach E-mail this message to a friend
Institution: University of Ulster
Program: School of Communication
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009
Author: Ahmed Sahlane
Dissertation Title: The Discursive (Re)Construction of the 2003 Iraq War in Western and Arab Opinion/Editorial Argumentation: A critical discourse analytic approach
Using opinion/editorial (op/ed) pieces from Western and Arab 'quality' newspapers, the present study examined the 'debate' between the advocates and opponents of military action as a plausible solution for the 2003 Iraq conflict. The study problematised the fallacious 'justification discourse' deployed in the pro-war op/eds to build up a 'moral/legal case' for war on Iraq based on adversarial (rather than dialogical) argumentation. The proponents of war deployed 'instrumental rationality' (ends-justify-means reasoning), 'ethical necessity' (Bush's 'Preemption Doctrine') and 'humanitarian virtue' (the bombing of Iraq to 'save' Iraqis from Saddam's tyranny) to justify the pending invasion of Iraq. Their arguments intertextually resonated with the Bush administration's 'war on terror' rhetoric in a way that created a form of indexical association through 'recontextualisation'. The type of arguments marshalled by the pro-war op/ed commentators simply bolstered the set of U.S. official 'truth claims' and presuppositions. The questions about the motives and legality of the war were suspended. Conversely, anti-war op/ed debaters dismissed the Bush administration's 'neo-imperialistic' reasoning and called into question the logic of militarist 'humanitarianism' by demonstrating that brute force and daylight 'plunder,' dressed up in moral grab and in the language of a 'noble ideal,' were part of a long U.S. colonialist tradition that glorified the allegedly virtuous role of the Global Patriarch, whose 'mission civilisatrice' to rescue distant cultural others was a mere war for resources and strategic domination.