The Use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in the First Strike and The War Begins in the Post

The Washington Post and The New York Times introduce the world to the War on Iraq in March of 2003 with editorials they produced named “First Strike” and “the War Begins”. Mr. Bush stated in the Post “…..now that conflict has come… this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will not accept no outcome but victory.”(First Strike 2003) The Times mentions “…the experience of this new, unwanted war will be unknowable except among those there for the fighting.”(The War Begins 2003) Although both editorials depict valid points, I am partial to the view of the Post’s.

One of the techniques used in the editorials to persuade the reader, is ethos. The review by the Post significantly refers to statements made by President Bush during the invasion of Iraq. The editorial also declares that the president warned the war may be “longer and more difficult than some may have predicted.”(First Strike 2003) The editorial provided by the Post uses much more ethos than the Times, which only referred to the president once, stating “A war with two missions: disarming Iraq and then transforming it into a free and hopeful society.”(The War Begins 2003) the Post also illustrated other key points the president made in the first days of this war such as possible terrorist attacks on the home front. Using an authority figure, in this case, the President of the United States signifies to a certain degree that the sentence is credible; therefore, it is more believable to the reader. While in these terms the highest form of power, from this viewpoint, is our president.

Another form of rhetoric used in the Posts’ argument is logos. One of the sentences that uses this technique within the editorial: “It will also free the long-suffering Iraqi people, who have endured the cruelest and most murderous dictatorships of the past half century.”(First Strike 2003) This signifies the anguish the Iraqi citizens face each day and with that said any person with logical reasoning, would want to do something to change their situation. Also, a mention in the

second paragraph “Even after Iraqi forces are defeated, U.S commanders will face a daunting task to maintain security in a country riven with ethnic divisions and long-repressed fury at Sadam Hussein’s brutal apparat”. (First Strike 2003) This uses the logos strategy to explain what will happen during the war itself and even afterwards, preparing the American people and most importantly its military.

Last, but certainly not least, the method used in both editorials is the one of pathos. This way of persuasion establishes emotion in the reader, creating rational or irrational thinking. One comment in particular that depicts the technique made by the Post states “Yet, even if the operation does not go smoothly or fast, it must go forward. Saddam has threatened his neighbors, and the United States, with war and weapons of mass destruction for two decades; he has violated the cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf War and defied multiple disarmament orders from the United Nations Security Council.” (First Strike 2003) This statement is terrifying, it leaves the reader with a feeling of fear. This is true what Hussein has done but the way it is addressed to the reader submits a sense of concern. Typically when people are in this particular state they tend to become vulnerable, making them prone to believe whatever it is that the writer is trying to persuade. Also, the Times makes a valid point, while using pathos that states “The lives wagered in this operation belong to young Americans and Iraqis of all ages.” (The War Begins 2003) This form of pathos is one that uses sadness to get the reader’s attention.

In conclusion, both editorials propose an amount of ethos, logos and pathos. These devices are used to lightly push the reader to one side or the other. Also, these editorials did well declaring the significance that this war will be to each one of our lives’, as well as those on the front line of battle, especially the Post. I also believe the Post does a better job addressing the importance of the war but also the impact it will have on those of us with family and friends that are putting their lives at risk for our beloved country. Obviously, the costs are extremely high, “for

both young Americans and Iraqi people of all ages,” (Washington Post 2003) if everything goes as

planned, greater rewards are hopeful.

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