Enemy to Paraphrase John Donne, Research Paper
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Although "peace" appears in the speech as often as "United Nations," I am arguing that "United Nations" is the more primary of the two terms here, having precedence over "peace" since I believe that Bush is asking his listeners to focus on the formal authority of the United Nations as the font from which peace can be coaxed. Focusing on peace as the primary term would (I believe) make the speech sound more abstract and less strategic. Bush is not asking his listeners to agree that peace is a good thing.
He is asking them to acknowledge that in this particular place and time, only a unified front from the United Nations is sufficient to guarantee peace. The next reference to peace is again twinned with the idea of international alliance: Invasion has only occurred after "the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf area have exhausted all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful resolution."
About halfway through the speech, Bush begins to shift his use of the term peace; rather, he uses it as a type of bridge. After he has established the connection between the phrase "United Nations" and the related term "diplomatic," he begins to pair the word "peace" with its opposites. In this way, "peace" is one of the words clustered around the central term United Nations, but it also exists at the center of another cluster. One of the limitations of cluster criticism as Burke describes it is that each of the key terms is seen as essentially isolated, like a sun with its revolving planets.
But one can perform a cluster critique that is more complicated, more dimensional. Each key term has its own orbiting planets, true, and most of these have moons orbiting them. But sometimes the moons of one planet shift to another planet, and sometimes even the planets shift their loyalty and migrate at least temporarily to another solar system. In this way, "peace" as a word can be analyzed as a part of the way in which Bush supports the centrality of the United Nations in the invasion but also as a way in which peaceful and civilized nations are different from nations like Iraq.
The speech highlights the difference in ethos and action between the peaceful and the belligerent: "And while the world waited, while the world talked peace and withdrawal, Saddam Hussein dug in and moved massive forces into Kuwait." The next several references to peace are all like this in the form of contrasts:
1) Iraq created crisis while the United States pursued peace.
2) "While the world waited, Saddam Hussein met every overture of peace with open contempt."
3) The next reference to peace presents us with the most dramatic contrast: "While the world prayed for peace, Saddam prepared for war."
In the above passages from the speech, peace is put forth as a force in and of itself. It is not a by-product of diplomacy, it is not something that the United Nations works to bring about. It is not something secondary, rather it is the primary force behind the U.S. Invasion. (This is, of course, ironic, but calls to war are often cloaked in the robes of peace.) This shifting use of the word "peace" continues in the rest of the speech as Bush reconnects it with to the sense of peace-through-strength, as something that arises through an alliance of nations. To this end, Bush talks of "an order in which a credible United Nations can use its peace-keeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the U.N.'s founders" and, near the end of the speech, he says it is his hope that "somehow the Iraqi people can, even now, convince their dictator that he must lay down his arms, leave Kuwait, and let Iraq itself rejoin the family of peace-loving nations."
Just and Unjust Wars
This is one "cluster," one that centers on the term "United Nations" and is linked to "diplomatic," "sanctions," "peace, and "peaceful." These latter two are also part of another cluster, one that is defined by opposition to war and belligerence. This is the next cluster that I will examine: The cluster that centers on the words that describe the brutality of the Iraqi invasion -- in contrast to what is painted with both irony and sincerity -- with the peacefulness of the American and Allied invasion. Although usually a cluster criticism begins with a focus on a single word, I think
that it is appropriate in this case to include the range of essentially interchangeable words that Bush is using to depict Hussein and Iraq as tyrannical -- for these words are essentially interchangeable. They are all meant to portray Hussein as both brutal and less than human.
Hussein has "raped, pillaged, and plundered" an innocent nation. He is "intransigent" and "arrogant." His tactics have included "stalling and threatening and defying the United Nations." He also "brutally assaulted" Kuwait. When terms describing belligerent actions on the part of the United States and its allies, such words are mitigated. For example, the United States is pursuing "not the conquest of Iraq [but] the liberation of Kuwait."
Related to the cluster of verbs and adjectives that describe the brutality of Hussein, there is also a set of terms that seem to be more neutral, more along the lines of "just the facts, ma'am." Bush cites Iraq's "nuclear bomb potential," its "chemical weapons facilities," Hussein's "artillery and tanks" will be destroyed. Bush promises that Allied operations "are designed to best protect the lives of all the coalition forces by targeting Saddam's vast military arsenal." A few sentences later in the speech, Bush repeats these terms almost verbatim, pushing the factual claims of the justification for war to the central of this cluster: "While the world waited, Saddam sought to add to the chemical weapons arsenal he now possesses an infinitely more dangerous weapon of mass destruction -- a nuclear weapon."
Given the history that would follow in the Middle East, it is striking how Bush emphasizes the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It would, of course, be exactly the same claim that George W. Bush would make as president when he spoke to the American people about the need to invade Iraq in the Second Gulf War. Stating that one's enemy is brutal is an important claim in justifying any act of war, since clearly brutality is a bad thing. But it is also true that brutality alone is generally not considered to be a sufficient reason for a declaration of hostilities.
Thus Bush is supplementing his claim that Hussein -- or "Saddam" as he continually calls him, as if he were a child to be called only by his first name -- is a tyrant by factual claims that Iraq's possession of terrible weapons is legitimate, internationally recognized reason to invade another country that has not directly threatened the invading nation.
A New World Order
One of the most striking phrases in the entire speech is Bush's use of the phrase "new world order." This phrase can in some sense be seen simply to refer to any dramatic shift in the structure of a government -- the American Revolution, for example, brought about a "new world order." But while the phrase can be used in a straightforward, literal sense, it is more often used to refer to something fairly sinister, a takeover of a country by a sort of shadow global government, usually of a far-left nature. The phrase also has historically anti-Semitic connotations.
Bush is clearly concerned in this speech about casting the current invasion as different in every possible way from U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Bush makes this point both in terms of specific words and phrases that he uses and in the content of the end of the speech. He opens the speech by reassuring Americans that this is not a "ground war." While this is on one level simply a true statement (although grounds troops would be sent in later), it was also a statement that this would be expose the United States to the degree of casualties that the war in Vietnam had.
Bush explicitly states that this war will not be like Vietnam because in this conflict the armed forces will be supported in ways that they were not in Vietnam. This is not a continuation, nor a re-emergence, of the Cold War, he states -- although (as noted above), this was not in fact the case. And -- in another very telling choice of words, this is not going to be a return to the law of the "jungle." For anyone old enough to remember the war in Vietnam, the use of the phrase jungle warfare would immediately call up images of American soldiers dying in the jungles of Southeast Asia:
I've told the American people before that this will not be another Vietnam, and I repeat this here tonight. Our troops will have the best…
Sources Used in Documents:
Bergen, Peter L. Holy War Inc.. Simon & Schuster. 2001. A Rhetoric of Motives.
Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. UC Press, 1963.
Foss, Sonja K. "Cluster Criticism." Rhetorical Criticism: Exploration and Practice. New York:
Waveland Pr Inc. 2005.
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