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2003 Us Invasion Of Iraq And The Application Of Groupthink Theory

1163 words - 5 pages

The 2003 US invasion of Iraq will remain a disputed topic in history. The subject of “should we or shouldn’t we have gone to war” is still a popular discussion because of how controversial the decision was and how we continue to experience the ripple effect as a result to the invasion by the number of people who are still dying in warfare. The decision to for the US to invade Iraq can be of example to how political systems and even nations can fail under the pressures of Groupthink Theory, whether or not you personally believe we should or shouldn’t have gone to war. Irving Janis defined groupthink as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when there are deeply involved in a cohesive ...view middle of the document...

Some people might argue not invading Iraq would have been considered ignoring noticeable danger, but the other end of the spectrum could argue that the US was ignoring noticeable danger by not considering every possible outcome of the invasion instead of assuming they were correct in assessing that Iraq had WMD.
This leads me to my second symptom, illusion of unanimity, as well as the third symptom, pressure for conformity. The thought of Iraq having WMD wasn’t a positive feeling for the US, especially after the events that occurred on September 11 and the relational ties of Iraq with terrorism. Our country was in a state of unity and patriotism flowed thick through the veins of Americans. Retaliation wasn’t far from people’s minds when considering the lives that were lost and how the 9/11 attacks affected the stability and overall security of our country. Wanting to go to war was a decision that was moderately pitched by the government to the public as being patriotic and supporting our country in a time of need and unity. Since everyone was in favor of supporting our country that meant everyone was in support of the war, right? This statement explains the symptom of illusion of unanimity, in which members falsely assume that everyone agrees with the group’s decision, and silence is taken as known agreement (Janis & Mann, 1977). People weren’t initially inclined to be opposed to the war because it could be perceived, by the media and as well by the country, as not being patriotic and wanting to achieve justice. Essentially, those who kept silent and didn’t voice oppositions were viewed as supporters of the war. This can also tie in with pressure for conformity, which is defined as pressure experienced by other group members to conform to the groups beliefs and those who disagree are viewed as disloyal (Janis & Mann, 1977). As previously stated, those who opposed the war could have been viewed as unpatriotic by the public.
This pressure of conformity can also lead to the next symptoms, self-censorship which is defined as members choosing to withhold their opposing views, and excessive stereotyping, which is when groups construct negative stereotypes of rivals outside of the group (Janis & Mann, 1977). Even the media was victim to conformity, self-censorship, and excessive stereotyping. On September 22, 2001, renowned journalist Dan Rather stated in an interview in regarding the war, “Journalists are...

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