How do you get a nation ready for war? What arguments do you use, or, rather, what appeals? I contend that it cannot be done by logos alone (the ideal Aristotle and his modern counterpart Edward P. J. Corbett would have us embrace). No. We humans are passionate creatures…even conservatives.
Steve Chapman criticizes the State of the Union address and President Bush for making an emotional (pathos) argument for war with Iraq. Would that cool reason should prevail. But cool reason does not get a people fired up for war. It may certainly cool them to the prospect.
Should we be fired up for war? Should we fight Iraq? I do not know. I leave such questions to the war bloggers. My interest in this is the rhetoric of war as it appears in the Bush 2003 SOTU. If his goal is to prepare us for war, if his goal is to persuade us that war is right, then he is doing the time-honored thing to make that case: appealing to our emotions.
Is it working? I think it’s too soon to tell, although flat poll numbers suggest that Americans this time around were looking for an argument far more like what Chapman desires.
The thinking seems to be–and I agree–that Bush needed to use facts to outline his argument for war. If this sentiment is indeed pervasive, it may indicate an as yet unarticulated rejection of war. If no facts are forthcoming, then all that’s left are emotional appeals. And if we are crying for facts, then we may be crying for peace. (via Thinking It Through)