President Bush's Address to the Nation on U.S. Policy in Iraq: A Critical Discourse Analysis Approach
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Issue 2:1

Ibrahim A. El-Hussari

President Bush's Address to the Nation on U.S. Policy in Iraq: A Critical Discourse Analysis Approach

The reasons for selecting this political speech are simple. Firstly, it was delivered in the wake of the latest U.S. Senate Elections, the result of which gave the Democrats a slim majority in Congress for the first time since the Presidential Election of 2000.

Secondly, the over-all situation in Iraq had been deteriorating drastically since the Fall of Baghdad in April 2003. Besides trillions of dollars budgeted to spend on the invasion and meet the aftermath obligations, the invasion had claimed by then heavy losses in life and property, not only on the part of the Iraqi civilians and military personnel, but also on the part of the Coalition Forces, especially the American troops.

Thirdly, the speech was delivered in the wake of the issuance of the Iraq Study Group Report, prepared over a significant span of time by a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State, James Baker, and former Congressman, Lee Hamilton, to advise the American Administration on a solution. And lastly, perhaps, the speech came to redress the rift increasingly widening between the U.S. Administration and its allies in the Coalition Forces due to the public pressures exerted on quite a number of governments that participated in the invasion of Iraq - some of which opted for a military withdrawal from Iraq, for there was no time-line drawn for a pullout of forces as the mandate thereof is open-ended.

This written text is transcribed from the televised public speech in which President Bush addressed the American people on U.S. policy in Iraq over the past four years of the invasion. The timing of the speech is significant as it occurs in the wake of the Republicans losing their majority in the new Senate and Congress as a whole, thus campaigning to keep the President's agendas and maintain power relations with Congress and beyond.

The speech is also a response to the Baker-Hamilton Report, produced by the bipartisan panel making up the Iraq Study Group. Further, the speech is a text in conflict-resolution strategy planned by the President and his advisers. The language-based process of constructing a version of reality most suitable to the Bush Administration is remarkably subtle and comprehensive. Discourse carries the ideological assumptions under which the issues alluded to are known and ordered in the context it is used. This means that the content of the political language used in the speech contains the very rationale by which it is to be framed, defined, understood and acted upon. In common parlance, this is likely to bring about the consent of the audience targeted. Looking at the text as a whole, Henry and Tator (2002) recommend analyzing what sort of perspective is being presented - what angle or point of view.

2019 - Volume 13 Issue 2