Making the case for war

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Largely because of his personal credibility, Secretary of State Colin Powell was chosen to present the Bush Administration’s case for military action against Iraq. The scene resembled Adlai Stevenson’s speech during the Cuban missile crisis. Although he presented other arguments as well, Powell focused on the danger that Iraq might be developing weapons of mass destruction. Powell’s case was well organized, incorporating subordinative, multiple, and coordinative arguments strategically, and the inferences from premises to conclusions were reasonable. In retrospect, the flaw in the speech was in the accuracy of the evidence, a concept which scholars of argument have undertheorized.


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