The first casualty when war comes is truth.
Senator Hiram Johnson, 1917
ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush launched a campaign to promote war against Iraq. “We will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder,” he declared. The president’s prime-time speech was broadcast from Ellis Island where White House staffers had expertly staged the scene by illuminating the Statue of Liberty in the background. The previous day the attorney general raised the terror alert level to orange and the White House announced that Vice President Richard Cheney had spent the night at a “secure, undisclosed location.” Following the speech, the president’s top advisors appeared on television news shows to describe the immensity of the Iraqi threat. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned, “Imagine a September 11 with weapons of mass destruction.” Americans must go to war, announced officials, to secure their own safety, liberate the Iraqi people, and spread democracy in the Middle East.1
In promoting Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bush administration drew on a long history of government efforts to rally popular support for war. When Americans are called upon to fight, they want to know why Americans must kill and be killed. They expect their leaders to prove that war is right, necessary, and worth the sacrifice. This book explores the official presentation of war aims in six wars: the Philippine War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War. From William McKinley