chapter  8
Militarized patriotism and the success of threat inflation
Pages 18

In the fall of 2002 dire warnings by the Bush Administration about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were consistently combined with suggestions that a substantial link existed between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and even between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks. It is now well known that the Bush Administration intentionally inflated the Iraqi threat as it worked to mobilize public and congressional support for an invasion of Iraq (Danner 2006; Cirincione Matthews and Perkovich with Orton 2004). Debate continues over why the administration’s obvious threat inflation efforts were so successful. In this chapter I argue that the key political fight that determined the success of the Bush Administration’s push for an invasion of Iraq was the debate in Congress over the Iraq War Resolution which passed in the House and Senate on October 10-11, 2002, and was signed into law by President Bush on October 16, 2002. After this legislative victory, where the Administration succeeded in pushing through a “blank check” resolution that authorized the president to use the armed forces of the United States “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate,” all supporters of this resolution had to then fall into line and either justify why they supported this extreme resolution or be silent. Leaders who supported the resolution could no longer stand in opposition and question the president or the intelligence, and those who had opposed generally went silent as well since they knew they had lost and they could gain little to nothing by standing in opposition to an increasingly popular war. Thus, after this resolution passed, the debate in the “marketplace of ideas” was for all intents and purposes over – the leaders of the political opposition had signed on to allowing the President to wage war in Iraq at his discretion, leaving only outsiders with no real political clout or leverage to criticize.