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Title:Words of War: Presidential Rationales for Military Action From World War II to Iraq
Author(s):Coe, Kevin M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Scott Althaus
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Political Science, General
Abstract:This study analyzes rationales for war, focusing on three questions: What rationales have U.S. presidents used to justify war and to what extent have they relied on these rationales?; To what extent have television news media echoed these rationales?; Do rationales for war present in news coverage influence public support for war? To address the first question, a typology of presidential rationales is developed through synthesis of the extant literature and textual analysis of presidential communications. Six rationales for war are identified: eliminating a threat, confronting evil, advancing freedom, promoting peace, honoring the troops, and keeping the (religious) faith. Computer content analysis of the population of modern presidents' (Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush) spoken, public wartime communications reveals substantial variation in the extent to which presidents have relied on these six rationales, and further shows that this variation is due more to the context in which presidents spoke than to their individual characteristics. To address the second question, computer content analysis is used to compare President Bush's use of rationales in the year leading up to the 2004 presidential election to the rationales present in a sample of nightly television news programs from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox News. Results show that President Bush had little ability to get his rationales echoed in news coverage. The third question is addressed through a series of logistic regression analyses using the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey. Results show that rationales for war present in television news in the year leading up to the 2004 presidential election had almost no substantive impact on public support for the Iraq War.
Issue Date:2008
Description:261 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3337741
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2008

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