August 29, 2002

A look at the rhetoric of war…

The Wall Street Journal believes Bush should get Congressional approval before going to war with Iraq. George Will offers Bush some good rhetorical advice for making the argument. Part of the problem the administration faces is that this situation lacks, as Will suggests, a clear provocation of a kind previously encountered. Iraq presents a new situation. Will shows how to use the circumstances of the present situation to argue for a new kind of provocation.

UPDATE: It seems George Will is a little late with his advice. Cheney’s speech to the VFW on Monday shows that he hits all four of Will’s arguments for provocation. Cheney will deliver a similar, shorter address today to Korean War veterans in San Antonio, Texas.

UPDATE: William Saletan demonstrates why the Cheney/Will rhetoric is illogical. And, yes, in a strict academic sense, the four points Will makes for provocation are illogical, meaning they they fail the test of logical argument. Question: Who ever went to war–or destabalized a regime with war talk–using logic? Attacking pathos with logos, especially when the pathos is propaganda, can be an effective counter-measure.

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