Justification: Leaders provide good reasons to go to war. This requirement for leadership is to justify military action for an international and a domestic audience. Resort to military force must be legitimate according to "Just War Doctrine." This rhetoric calls upon our argumentative analysis.
Motivation: Leaders must motivate dedication to fight, die, sacrifice in order to win the war. This is primarily a domestic audience. Leaders use all their rhetorical resources to motivate support for the military action. The community must adopt a rhetoric that textures the discourse of the community in a way that reinforces the motivation of everyone to support the war. This rhetoric calls upon the total breadth of our rhetorical analysis.
We will look at justification later; now look at motivation.
Warmaking of whatever intensity requires public commitment. Total war particularly requires public commitment. That commitment comes when leadership develops a strong motivational rhetoric. There are three realms of motivation:
War requires supreme sacrifice. In war, people willingly forfeit life itself for purposes defined by the community. A rhetoric sufficient to fight wars must provide motivation for troops who enter battle with their lives as the price.
Families must have a rhetoric that motivates their sacrifice. They will sacrifice sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and spouses. Their lives may be changed forever. And, they will make economic sacrifices for the war. This is a rhetoric employed by the public. The public needs a rhetoric that explains the "worthiness" of the sacrifices individuals and families will make.
This is required in all wars.
Today, the motivations which drive armies stretch from a greater cause such as freedom and liberty all the way through a commitment to the "profession" of arms. All wars require a rhetoric to motivate their soldiery.
A leader must marshal rhetoric to motivate the national commitment. Typically, this motivation is provided by the leader in a pattern of "mass communication" on the occasion of the rituals of war.
The rhetoric constructs the war as a national act, motivating the concentrated focus by the public on the objectives of the war. Connects to patriotism and "love of country.
Note that This motivation provides the rhetoric for the "greater cause" of the personal motivation. A leader's rhetoric nationalizes the personal motivation.
Required in all wars, but particularly important in total war which distorts the whole society.
Coordination of the War Effort. Language must structure the community to perform the day to day activities necessary to the war's success. For example, leadership in time of war loses much of its democratic quality. Military chain of commands much more typically characterize the community with concentrations of power in particular people. That requires an altered language which diminishes criticism, open debate, and emphasizes the necessity of unquestionly following leadership. We also need to develop a way of talking about the importance of sacrifice that allows us to bury the dead as heroes, thus motivating the sacrifice of these and others.
Made more difficult as support for war diminishes over time. War lengthens, deaths mount, costs increase. War fatique sets in. Political sacrifice is required as politicians must divert resources away from constitutent needs to the war. And, democracy suffers the erosion of individual rights and the loss of democratic debate as patriotism demands support for the war.
Requires that day-to-day events of war be converted into intensified support. Wins must be converted to celebrations of heroism and sense of victory. Defeats must be converted into rededication for war.
Rituals of war provide rhetorical opportunities. Funerals, anniversaries of battles, ongoing commentary on how the war is going.
This is a broader rhetoric throughout the community. In other words, many rhetors are involved including leaders (leading rituals), religious leaders (funerals), and the mass media.
If we study the rhetoric with which we go to war it has a particular pattern. All of the following must develop, and they tend to develop in the order indicated.
The War opens with a "Declaration of War." American Presidents are required by the Constitution, the War Powers Act, and by the success of the venture to request Congressional approval for war. Generally, Presidents have found that getting such support is one rhetorical strategy required for effective war. And generally, they appeal for that support in a speech -- either to Congress or the American public through the mass media -- which establishes the justification for the war and provides the "official" rhetorical motivation that will spread throught the public.
A propaganda campaign maintains the commitment. In this century, propaganda campaigns are a feature of warfare. Although the term "propaganda" is often used as a pejorative for the rhetoric of the enemy, the rhetorical strategies which characterize such campaigns are used by all combatants. Militaries oppose democratic and open communications in time of war because of the threat open communication offers to secrecy; the failure to maintain secrecy threatens their troops and their power. Propaganda campaigns diffuse the justification for the war through the people of the community and provide ways of maintaining the strength of the commitment.
A day-to-day rhetoric of war coordinates the community's war effort. A complex web of activities such as victory gardens, war production, economic controls, and so forth develop a vocabulary and a motivational framework that turns the normal life of the community toward productive contribution to the war.
American leaders have typical ways in which they motivate war.
Presidents weave these themes and strategies into a rhetoric which justifies the commitment of the nation to war.
With World War II as our object of study, arguably the most necessary of 20th century wars, we want to look at: