Questions of deception

Contested understandings of the polls on WMD, political leaders and governments in Australia, Britain and the United States

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6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The weapons of mass destruction (WMD) Saddam Hussein was said to possess were central to the justification the Australian Prime Minister gave for Australia's decision to go to war in Iraq. When no WMD materialised, poll data suggested that the public felt misled. But the same data suggested that support for both the government and the Prime Minister was unaffected. Among critics of the war, this generated a moral panic about Australian democracy and the Australian public - its commitment to the end justifying the means, its failure to receive a lead from the Labor Party, its widespread apathy. It also led to an intense debate about why the charge of not telling the truth had weakened public support for Blair and Bush but not for Howard. This article explores the concerns expressed by critics of the war in the face of polling that suggested that Australians were prepared to support a government and its leader that had misled them - deliberately or otherwise. It raises questions about the contrasts drawn between polled opinion in Australia, Britain and the United States. And it argues that the differences in the pattern of opinion across the three countries were not marked and that what had cost governments support were views about how the war was going, not the failure to find WMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-64
Number of pages24
JournalAustralian Journal of International Affairs
Volume61
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

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