History Extension: Oscar Killick-Dodd

Title of Major Work: Why have authorities lied about their reasons for declaring war?

Oscar said the skill of being able to interpret information is more important than ever before and felt it was important to learn and practise critical thinking.

“I’ve enjoyed learning about how interpretations of John F Kennedy have changed since his death, and why they have changed,” Oscar said.

“It’s very fascinating to see how easily a myth can be created around a figure in history like JFK, and why people would contribute to this.” 

Oscar’s Major Work explores why authorities have lied about their reasons for declaring war. 

“This act of lying in order to justify a declaration of war is called a pretext,” he said.

“There have been many cases of this occurring in the past, however, I only examined the pretexts of the Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War.

“I found that in these three wars, there was never one single reason for why. It was always a combination of different factors which resulted in the creation of a pretext.” 

Oscar’s Synopsis:

Why do authorities lie about the reasons for declaring war?

This essay investigates why authorities have lied about their reasons for declaring war, and will examine the period in which pretexts for war were created. My essay addresses this question through the examination of three specific wars; the Spanish-American War, the Vietnam War and the Iraq War.

Only the creation of each war’s pretexts and events relevant to the creation of the pretext are examined, not pivotal moments which occurred during the war. By examining each of the pretexts, I aim to explore and analyse the potential reasons as to why authorities intentionally promoted a false rhetoric in order to sell war to the public.

My essay is structured in three sections, one for each war’s pretexts. The first pretext discussed is the Spanish-American War. I chose this war as it exemplifies how influential the media can be in selling a war to the public. This example specifically focuses on the role of the media in spreading information far and wide which supports the government’s stance on a war. This section also breaks down possible motives behind the outbreak of the war, and lists defining features of this war’s pretext.

The second pretext is the Vietnam War, chosen because of the political motives behind the creation of the pretext. The pretext is a great example of how political motives can influence decision making, and also shows the lengths governments can go to sell their war to the public.

The third and final pretext discussed is the Iraq War. I chose this war because of the unique combination of political and ideological motives behind the creation of the pretext. The Bush administration created a pretext in order to pursue a war that aided their goal of an America-friendly Middle East, and also so they could re-establish their position as a global power.