Argumentation and fallacy in newspaper op / ed coverage of the prelude to the invasion of Iraq
This study examines how the pre-war debate of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq was discursively constructed in pro- and anti-war newspaper op/ed argumentation. Drawing on insights from argumentation theory, and using these within a framework of Critical Discourse Analysis, we explore fallacious arguments within the ‘justification discourse’ used in the pro-war opinion/editorials (op/eds). We argue that the type of arguments marshalled by the pro-war op/ed commentators uncritically bolstered the set of U.S. official ‘truth claims’ and ‘presuppositions’. Conversely, anti-war op/ed debaters dismissed the Bush administration’s ‘neo-imperialistic’ reasoning and called into question the logic of militarist ‘humanitarianism’ by arguing that brute force and daylight ‘plunder,’ found in the language of a ‘noble ideal,’ were part of a long Western colonialist tradition that glorified the West as the ‘civiliser’ of distant cultural others.
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