Argumentation and Fallacy in newspaper op/ed coverage of the prelude to the invasion of Iraq

John Wilson, Ahmed Sahlane, Ian Somerville

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    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 argumenta- tion. 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 com- mentators uncritically bolstered the set of U.S. official ‘truth claims’ and ‘presup- positions’. Conversely, anti-war op/ed debaters dismissed the Bush administra- tion’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. Keywords: Argumentation, fallacy, CDA, media discourse, Iraq, op/eds
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-31
    JournalJournal of Language and Politics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012


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