Motivation: To motivate war is a complex rhetorical effect involving emotion, commitment, dedication, intensity, and acceptance of sacrifice. Successful leaders align their public with acceptance of sacrifice and commitment to do all that is needed to achieve victory.
Justification: To justify war is a starkly rational rhetorical process in which (1) reasons must be given for making war (2) grounded in acceptable "Just War" doctrine and (3) supported by the material facts that satisfy the criteria of the doctrine.
The precedent of American ideology. Americans think of themselves as a peace-loving people who go to war only when forced into it by the actions of others. This long historical tradition is based in the ideas of the "Just War Doctrine."
International Law. The texture of international law, embodied in treaties and the Charter of the United Nations, specifies that war is only justified in certain circumstances, informally codified in the "Just War Doctrine." Nations who participate in the international system must acknowledge this restriction.
The argument is clearly demarcated into reasons for war. The reasons are identified to be such and are succinctly and clearly stated.
Circumstances that meet the criteria are clearly and comprehensively identified. The "Just War Doctrine" provides a kind of check list of necessary conditions that have to be met. The argument works its way through all of these criteria.
Proof for the actions of the adversary leading to war is provided. The stronger the proof, the more acceptable the justification.
An informal diplomatic code. The doctrine is not set forth in any document such as the UN Charter, treaties among nations, or any sort of authorized constitution. Indeed, treaties and documents such as the UN Charter draw upon the doctrine. The doctrine itself is an informal diplomatic code.
The doctrine is historically developed. It grew out of the dominance of the Roman Christian Church, was originally formulated by church leaders and imposed through the political power of the Church during the pre-modern period. It has been taken into the texture of modern diplomacy and international relations. The doctrine evolves as the nature of warfare and relations among nations evolves. This evolution is a recognized part of the doctrine, thus permitting revision through an established process.
The doctrine evolves through a texture of debate. Nations propose changes in how they interpret the doctrine, citing new circumstances in the nature of war. Such suggestions are then debated among diplomats, moralists, religious leaders, and others inside and outside of government. The outcome of this debate determines whether the doctrine evolves to accept the proposed change.
Self-defense. The act of war must be a response to an aggressor nation. This requirement constricts just war to self-defense, to protecting the nation against the noxious actions of others. Generally, this also indicates war is made by legitimate authorities of nation-states against other nation states. The war on terror, however, has evolved this point of the doctrine. Few question the war on terror against al Qaeda on this basis.
Threshold of harm. The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain. Minor provocations do not justify war according to the doctrine. War is recognized to be an inherent evil choice, motivated only by the greatest of offenses.
War is a last resort. Nations must explore alternative methods of resolving disputes short of war. Only when other attempts at alternative resolutions have failed is war justified.
Prospect of success. A just war can be entered only when there is a reasonable chance that the party entering the war will succeed in winning the war. In short, lives and treasure are not to be wasted in a war that cannot be won.
Proportionality. This criteria requires a judgment that recognizes the evils of war -- the death, the injury, the suffering, the loss of treasure -- and weighs those evils against the offense that is justifying the war. The offense must be far greater than the evil of war.
The Charter of the United Nations folds the doctrine into its provisions to provide a supporting structure through the Security Council.
Article 51: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Article 48: The action required to carry out the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security shall be taken by all the Members of the United Nations or by some of them, as the Security Council may determine. Such decisions shall be carried out by the Members of the United Nations directly and through their action in the appropriate international agencies of which they are members.
Article 40: In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may, before making the recommendations or deciding upon the measures provided for in Article 39, call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable. Such provisional measures shall be without prejudice to the rights, claims, or position of the parties concerned. The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.
The campaign to justify the Iraq War occurred in five stages
The release of the National Security Strategy of the United States, September 2002. This document is issued periodically by the State Department in compliance with Congressional requirement. The September 2002 release contained a proposed revision of the "Just War Doctrine." Based in a characterization of modern weapons of mass destruction and what was required to protect a nation from their use, the document proposed a right to respond in order "to preempt emerging threats." The NSSUS warned of overgenerous interpretation of this right to make war to preempt but did not elaborate a set of criteria to identify instances when the right could be exercised.
The President's Speech to the United Nations. September 12, 2002. President Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations in which he challenged the UN to support war against Iraq, citing Iraq's violation of UN resolutions. His argument was in general that the UN would cease to be an effective deterrent to rogue states if it did not enforce its own resolutions, and Iraq had blatantly and repeatedly ignored the demands of UN resolutions.
Intervening statements by administration officials. September 2002 through January 2003. Many administration officials, including most prominently Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, offered various versions of the case against Iraq. Their are arguments were often "facts" based, citing secret evidence and in some cases the intelligence of our nation and other countries. Although they did not always follow the structure of justification, they entered reasons and evidence into the public domain.
The President's State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003. The last part of the President's State of the Union Address satisfied the argumentative imperative of presenting a coherent case for war. The speech also promised a laying out of the evidence in support of the arguments in Powell's UN Speech.
Ultimately, after these arguments had failed, the administration emphasized a fourth argument: Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq has denied freedom to his people. He is evil. He has killed his own people. As the war proceeded this argument gained new strength. This was the argument of the neo-Conservatives, the foreign policy conservatives in his administration.
Even if the case against Iraq satisfied the structural requirements for justification, the reasons turned out to be based on weak, false, or missing evidence. Skepticism of the case was immediate in the world diplomatic community and eventually became accepted in the United States. Even Colin Powell apologized for presenting misleading or false information.
Efforts after the invasion of Iraq to support the case by finding weapons of mass destruction failed thus demonstrating in stark terms the errors in the evidence justifying war.