2020 / 12 / 22
Date of speech delivery: 7 October 2002, Cincinnati -union- Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio
From the very beginning of this extraordinarily long speech, the speaker makes use of his privileged position as the President of the US mega-power to propagate his own political agenda by framing what he considers to be important and in need of further action. In this capacity, he assumes the unique position of determining what the narrative must be at the time (i.e. Iraq s grave threat to peace ), and of deciding what should exactly be done with it (i.e. America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat ). So, the macro-rhetorical frame introduced here is the allegation that the then-Iraqi regime poses a grave threat to peace to the extent that justifies America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat .
Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace and America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.
The threat comes from Iraq. It arises -dir-ectly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions, its history of aggression and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. The entire world has witnessed Iraq s eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.
In his designation of the presumed threat from Iraq, President G. W. Bush combines the use of highly loaded words ( a grave threat to peace ) to present a bogus dilemma (the regime s drive toward an arsenal of terror ) with the invocation of past history ( its history of aggression ) which had nothing to do with the then-current events at the time of his speech. However, the speaker offers no concrete evidence justifying his claim that the largely disarmed Iraqi regime, with its outdated weaponry was at that time actually engaged in threatening the peace of the Middle East. In fact, the day-to-day recorded events during the previous year of 2002 attest to the opposite fact: the Iraqi regime was totally unable to effectively defend its own small country against forty-six US and British bombing attacks conducted against its home territory throughout that year (). So, mere common sense tells that a regime standing too weak to effectively practice legitimate self-defense in protecting its own people on its territory cannot be seriously designated as posing a grave threat to peace that necessitates America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat as the speaker argues. In fact, the historical records of American military actions show the opposite argument to be true in this connection at that time: the American Bush Administration overwhelmingly proved itself to be the gravest threat to world peace through its aggression and invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. This circular argument combines apriorism with bogus dilemma, plus emotional appeals to arouse both fear ( grave threat ) and national pride ( America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat ) by pairing the demonization of the then Iraqi regime with the glorification of the unmatched American war machine.
Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq s eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.
In (2), the speaker avoids telling his addressees which specific statute explicitly governs this "condition for ending the Persian Gulf War" (i.e. United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, adopted on 3 April 1991), nor does he tell which institution is responsible for its implementation (i.e. United Nations Security Council, not the US administration). This hedging is immediately followed by apriorism in unilaterally pre-determining that Iraq actually (possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people). The facts are that the Security Council was the only international body in charge of affirming´-or-dismissing these accusations on the basis of the results obtained by its inspection teams working inside Iraq since 1991 in fulfillment of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspection regime created to ensure Iraq s compliance with the international policies related to the production and use of weapons of mass destruction after the Gulf war. So, instead of testing the validity of the President s argument here against the verifiable facts arrived at by UNSCOM, he begins with certain allegations from the start (a priori) for the purpose of using them as a basis for fallaciously justifying his preconceived decision to wage war against Iraq in order to render it palatable to the public opinion. Then, he also appeals to irrelevant past events that happened fourteen years before the date of this speech ( i.e. 1987-8) (‘and practices terror against its own people’) combined with the rhetorical fallacy of every schoolboy knows (‘The entire world has witnessed Iraq s eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith’) for the sake of regime demonization.
We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September 11, 2001, America felt its vulnerability — even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.
Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons, and diseases, and gases, and atomic weapons.
In excerpt (3), again, President D.W. Bush cites a particular historical event (‘September 11, 2001 attack at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City’) that has had totally nothing to do with Iraq. In this instance, the aim of the addresser is to appeal to popular attitude, for the sake of arousing fear and stirring national feelings instead of presenting relevant material (i.e. no argument is advanced). Then this sensitive event of September 11, 2001 is immediately juxtaposed with that of Saddam Hussein in order to arbitrarily establish a false connection between the two through constant repetition (argumentum ad Nauseam) of Saddam’s ‘threat to peace-;- threat to America and the world with horrible poisons, and diseases, and gases, and atomic weapons’. Within this same argument frame, the arguer is keen to resort to the ‘dictator’ designation of Saddam (ad hominem, loaded word) to make his argument more likely to be accepted. All this rhetoric is combined with making a falsely sweeping generalization about ‘Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council’ (argumentum ad numeram) who allegedly agree with the speaker at the time, though he avoids seeking the issuance of their prior formal agreement in authorizing his war plan against Iraq. That is why the American President is delivering this speech here to a formal partisan rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, and not to ‘the Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council’ to thoroughly discuss this dossier and conclude how to address it on the basis of mere facts.
First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries´-or-regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone — because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place.
Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant, who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility towards the United States.
By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique.
As a former chief weapons inspector for the U.N. has said, “The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime itself: Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction.”
Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today — and we do– does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?
In the paragraphs above, the speaker seeks to justify his intent of singling out Iraq for his next war. He argues that Iraq represents a unique case because its ‘weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant, who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people’. However, the fact is the speaker knew quite well that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction at the time of this speech due to the disarming work of UNSCOM inspection teams on its territories throughout the period of 1991-1999. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter had already declared in June 1999:
When you ask the question, "Does Iraq possess militarily viable biological´-or-chemical weapons?" the answer is "NO!" It is a resounding "NO". Can Iraq produce today chemical weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Can Iraq produce biological weapons on a meaningful scale? No! Ballistic missiles? No! It is "no" across the board. So from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has been disarmed. Iraq today possesses no meaningful weapons of mass destruction capability (Arons, 1999).
It is quite clear that President G.W. Bush resorts here to false accusations in order to mislead his addressees by manufacturing a bogus dilemma: “Iraq’s WMS”, which he knew quite well at the time that they are no longer existent in Iraq, though such weapons are possessed by the US allies’ in the Middle East, especially Israel, for example.
Then, the US President argues that: ‘This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility towards the United States’. Besides this irrelevant reference to past events, the details of the statement above fit to the letter the official policy advocated and practiced by Israel (1967 up to the present) against the occupied Gaza, West Bank territories, and its Arab neighbor states-;- let alone the US administrations’ massive bombing of Iraq (1991- 2002) which caused the destruction of much of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure. Such ‘unrelenting’ unilateral bombing provide concrete proof indexing which side actually “holds unrelenting hostilities against” the other: the US against Iraq,´-or-the vice versa. By falsely -convert-ing recorded historical facts, the speaker wants to make the US appear to be subject to Iraq’s unrelenting hostility rather than the exact opposite, which was actually the case. The victim is blamed, whereas the aggressor exults in his pre-determined act of war.
In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq’s military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount.
This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and is capable of killing millions.
We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, and VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed´-or-injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September 11.
In (5), President George W. Bush conceals the fact that the seed stock of anthrax spores was supplied to Iraq by the United States itself during 1980s (Blum, 1998: 18). In addition, the US administration extended its full support to the Iraqi regime throughout the long period of Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988) by supplying it with ‘agricultural credits’, military intelligence, and diplomatic cover in the UN. Moreover, in 1982, the United States removed Iraq from an official list of nations found to be sponsoring terrorism, and in 1984, the U.S. -restore-d diplomatic relations with Iraq. In other words, all the accusations the speaker levels against the Iraqi regime are not only irrelevant past events, but they took place with the full support of the-then US administrations at the time when the speaker’s father - G.H.W. Bush - was serving as the US Vice-President (1981-1989). It is worth noticing here that President G.W. Bush resorts to using the present participle tense form “has produced..” instead of the past tense to gloss over such irrelevance of past events, to represent the past as present, and to dis-inform his addressees by concealing the fact that UNSCOM inspection teams have already destroyed not only such weapons, but also the facilities used in their production.
Again, the speaker’s allusion in the closing paragraph of this example to the attacks of September 11 aims at mixing a combination of irrelevant past events plus ex-post-facto statistics in the creation of a bogus dilemma through reiteration (argumentum ad nauseam) to arise public emotions. False premises are used for fear mongering
And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it has used to produce chemical and biological weapons.
Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has´-or-makes is a -dir-ect violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons, despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.
The ‘surveillance photos’ mentioned by the speaker here – and later reiterated by his Secretary of State Collin Powell in his UN presentation on February, 2003 – was located in Khurmal, which was at that time an area outside the Iraqi regime’s control, being part of the no-fly-zone over Iraqi Kurdistan unilaterally imposed by the US administration itself and its allies. At that time, this area was actually controlled by Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish dissident group opposed to the Iraqi regime (Chang and Mehan, 2008: 455). In this example, the speaker resorts to the RF of ‘Thatcher s blame’ since the validity of the evidence is totally irrelevant to him: the guilt has already been pre-determined on the grounds of propagating disinformation. Such a disinformation move is augmented through the insertion of the NP ‘U.N. demands’ as an international authority, while concealing the fact that the U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 also “calls for Iraqi disarmament as part of a region-wide disarmament effort which the United States has refused to enforce´-or-even support” (). Moreover, earlier in December 1998, the U.N. Special Commission itself had to withdraw its inspectors from Iraq shortly before President Clinton’s decision to launch a four-day bombing of Iraq (Operation Desert Fox) in an obvious attempt to distract his impeachment by the House of the Senates, which took place in the last day of this attack: 19 December (Hitchens, 1999). These events highlight the fact that the speaker’s citing of the ‘U.N demands’ in this conjunction is actually an act of blaming the victims via argumentum ad Verecundiam.
Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles — far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations — in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical´-or-biological weapons across broad areas. We re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren t required for a chemical´-or-biological attack-;- all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist´-or-Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.
As far as the possession of ballistic missiles is concerned, we have seen in (98) how the former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter had already declared in June 1999 that the UN inspectors had left none in Iraq without destruction. This bare fact shows that the speaker uses the RF of shifting the burden of proof wherewith an assertion is put forward without justification, on the basis that the audience must disprove it if it is to be rejected.
In this respect, the Security Council resolution No. 687 singles out Iraq to ‘unconditionally accept the destruction, removal´-or-rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers and related major parts, and repair and production facilities’ (para. 8 (b) of resolution 687 (1991)). However, in this speech, the American President arbitrarily and misleadingly replaces this UN stipulated range of ‘150 kilometers’ with that of ‘a likely range of hundreds of miles’ to manufacture a bogus dilemma. Moreover, he admits that ‘more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work’ in countries situated around Iraq without telling his addressees what exactly those great numbers of ‘service members’ were tasked to do in stationing them there. Nor does he care to explain how a small country like Iraq could pose a threat to the US while surrounded by all those American troops with their unmatched war machine. Here, the speaker, in his attempt to market the idea of how the Iraqi regime poses a threat to America, shifts the ground he was maintaining, while still claiming continuity in his argument since his explicit reference to all those troops situated in close proximity to the Iraqi boarders attests to the fact that it was the US that is threatening Iraq, not the vice versa.
On the other hand, if the Iraqi ballistic missiles were really threatening Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia – all being sovereign states, two of which are known to possess nuclear weapons – why then would we be hearing the US President flashing alarm for such a threat rather the heads of governments in those countries? And why would they refrain from reporting this alleged threat to the UN Security Council, which is their duty to do so? Given the fact that the US President cannot assume the role of an authorized attorney on behalf of these sovereign states, which have officially declared no worries about this alleged Iraqi threat, then the speaker’s argument here proves the opposite of his allegations: that no such a threat is actually there, which is one example of Ignoratio elenchi (Irrelevant conclusion).
As for Iraqi remotely piloted UAVs targeting the US territories thousands of miles away with WMD, Johnston has written under the title “Iraqi Drones Not For WMD” to the CBS news channel on August 28, 2003 reporting:
Huddled over a fleet of abandoned Iraqi drones, U.S. weapons experts in Baghdad came to one conclusion: Despite the Bush administration s public assertions, these unmanned aerial vehicles weren t designed to dispense biological´-or-chemical weapons.
The evidence gathered this summer matched the dissenting views of Air Force intelligence analysts who argued in a national intelligence assessment of Iraq before the war that the remotely piloted planes were unarmed reconnaissance drones.
So, given that this particular American Air Force intelligence analysis was available at that time to the Bush administration, how come that President Bush voices concern here that Iraq is exploring ways of using those “unarmed reconnaissance drones” for “missions targeting the United States” ?
Last, but not least, the speaker explains that ‘sophisticated delivery systems aren t required for a chemical´-or-biological attack-;- all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist´-or-Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it’. This is quite true. However, the speaker does not tell his audience how this required ‘one terrorist´-or-Iraqi intelligence operative’ could miraculously emerge from an unmanned flying vehicle, magically remote-controlled from at least some 9637 kilometers afar, which is the distance from Baghdad to New York? Herein lies the manufacture of another bogus threat.
In all of this extract, the analyst can clearly see many examples of apriorism: instead of the President’s testing his arguments against the established facts, he starts out with certain allegations from the first for the purpose of using them as the basis in the manufacture of false rhetoric.
‘And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein s links to international terrorist groups. Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed´-or-injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace.
We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq.
These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We have learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb making, poisons, and deadly gases.”
In this last extract, the speaker reuses the strategy of breeding fear into his audience with loaded words (‘terror-terrorist’ = 8 times-;- kill-killing = thrice-;- attack = twice-;- all used in linkage with such weapons as chemical, biological, bomb making, poison-;- deadly gases..). Within this frame, he arbitrarily relates the Iraqi regime to terrorist attacks that took place more than a decade before the date of his speech, and by claiming that Iraq has provided terrorist groups with “safe haven”. He begins with the invocation of the name of the already deceased Abu Nidal, who died on August 16, 2002, i.e. forty-two days before the delivery of this speech. However, this notorious terrorist was suspected to have been a spy and an asset to the US and its allies in the Middle East. Under the title “Abu Nidal: A Palestinian-born patriot turned psychopath, his murderous terrorist career discredited his people and aided only Israel”, the English writer and journalist, David Hirst, wrote in The Guardian On 20 August, 2002: “Whether he was literally Israel s man´-or-not, one thing is sure: no terrorist - except Begin himself - rendered Israel greater services”. In 2008, another English writer and journalist, Robert Fisk, wrote in The Independent under the title “Abu Nidal, notorious Palestinian mercenary, was a US spy ”. In this article, Fisk attests that he has got access to a confidential report written in September 2002, for Saddam Hussein s "presidency intelligence office" by Iraq s "Special Intelligence Unit M4”, which states that Abu Nidal had been interrogated by them in his Baghdad home ‘as a suspected spy for Kuwait and Egypt, and in-dir-ectly for the United States’ to procure links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. After confessing these accusations to the Iraqi authorities, and before his arrest, Abu Nidal requested to change his clothing, entered his bedroom, and shot himself. He was buried on 29 August 2002 in Baghdad.
As for Abu Abbas, a member of the PLO Executive, he was one of the backers of Oslo peace accords (1993, 1995) between Israel and the PLO. In addition, he openly condemned terrorism, and Israel allowed him to freely return to Gaza in 1995. In 1999, Israeli courts confirmed his immunity. In 2002, “he castigated the September 11 2001 New York atrocity and pointedly damned al-Qaida” (Joffe, 2004).
So, in the case of the two Palestinians, Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas, the US President cites past crimes that had occurred outside the US territories in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not an imminent Iraqi threat to America, as his main argument purport to prove. These two names are used as a red herring to mislead his audience in circular arguments.
Then, the speaker is also careful to twice use of the plural first person pronoun form ‘we’ in the clause “we know” – instead of the singular ‘I’ – in an attempt to unite his identity with the whole of the US government as well as with that of his addressees, and to imply that the subsequent stretch of a text is undeniably common knowledge, which is an unaccepted enthymeme. This stretch reads: ‘We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.’ Besides offering no proof to this argument, the speaker fails to inform his addressees with the common knowledge that al Qaeda was created with Saudi money by the American CIA in 1980s, not by Iraq. In 2005, Former British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told the British House of Commons that the word al-Qaeda itself should be translated as "the database" since it originally referred to the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen militants who were recruited and trained with the CIA help to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan (Cook, 2005).
Then, the speaker claims that ‘Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad’. Here, President Bush is referring to Ansar al-Islam, a group of al-Qaeda-like Islamic insurgents established under the leadership of Mulla Krekar in 2001. Their presence and operations were restricted to the no-fly-zone in Kurdistan, which was then controlled by the USA and its Kurdish allies-;- i.e. in a region outside the control of Saddam’s regime. The Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq, issued in 2004, concluded that Saddam "was aware of Ansar al-Islam and al-Qaeda presence in northeastern Iraq, but the groups presence was considered a threat to the regime and the Iraqi government attempted intelligence collection operations against them. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) stated that information from senior Ansar al-Islam detainees revealed that the group viewed Saddam s regime as apostate, and denied any relationship with it."
In March–April 2003, Mullah Krekar declared to Al-Hayat newspaper that he had had contacts with the American government prior to 11 September 2001, and that he possessed "irrefutable evidence against the Americans and I am prepared to supply it … if [the U.S.] tries to implicate me in an affair linked to terrorism" (Ram, 2003).
As for providing medical treatment, even to convicted criminals, this is not a crime-;- on the contrary: it is the duty of doctors to provide their patients with medical treatment, otherwise they are in breach of that duty. This accusation is not only a trivial objection, but also a lawless one violating the legal right of every person to get proper healthcare.
In a nutshell, this extract of Bush’s speech is laden with false accusations, bogus dilemmas, and circulus in probando formulated within illicit processes in order to market his preconceived intent to invade Iraq.
References (See my previous article, too)
Arons, Nicholas (June 24, 1999). "Interview with Scott Ritter". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on April 25, 2000. Retrieved 30/3/2019.
Lauren Johnston, Iraqi Drones Not For WMD, CBS News, August 28, 2003. @ https://www.cbsnews.com/news/iraqi-drones-not-for-wmd/, retrieved July, 21, 2019.
Scott Ritter (21 October 2005). "Scott Ritter on the Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam Hussein". Democracynow.org. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
Christopher Hitchens (1999) No One Left to Lie To. New York: Verso Books.
http://accuracy.org/1029-detailed-analysis-of-october-7-2002-speech-by-bush-on-iraq/ By journalist.
Hirst, David (20 August, 2002) “Abu Nidal: A Palestinian-born patriot turned psychopath, his murderous terrorist career discredited his people and aided only Israel” The Guardian.
Fisk, Robert (25 October 2008). "Abu Nidal, notorious Palestinian mercenary, was a US spy ", The Independent.
Joffe, Lawrence (11 March, 2004) “Abu Abbas: Palestinian guerrilla leader who presided over the notorious Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking 19 years ago”. The Guardian.
Robin Cook (July 8, 2005). "Robin Cook: The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
Senate Intelligence Committee Report p.92-93. Archived September 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
Ram, Sunil (April 2003). "The Enemy of My Enemy: The odd link between Ansar al-Islam, Iraq and Iran". Retrieved 6 February 2019.