Battle for hearts and minds: Timeline

It may seem hard to understand how the attacks of 11 September 2001 led the US from needing to respond to a threat from al-Qaida to pre-emptive war against Iraq.

    A US soldier distributes sweets to children in Iraq

    Unsurprisingly, many failed to grasp the rationale of the American argument. Therefore, a vigorous global opposition to the war arose.

    In the face of this growing dissatisfaction with the doctrine of preemption and the war it brought, the US government felt compelled to strengthen its argument.

    Quickly, positions were defined and nuances interpreted. Key players recognised the great efforts they would need to make to muster public opinion. Thus, the battle for hearts and minds began.

    What follows are selected extracts from speeches, statements, documents and news reports from key participants, reflecting the diplomatic and public campaigns to win the hearts and minds of Americans, Iraqis and the rest of the world: 

    11 October 2001, the White House, US President George Bush's first official comments mentioning Iraq and Saddam Hussein after September 11: "There's no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people. We know he's been developing weapons of mass destruction… We're watching him very carefully."

    26 October 2001, BBC news - Czechs confirm hijacker meeting: "Czech authorities have officially stated that Muhammad Atta - the man suspected of flying one of the planes into the World Trade Centre - was in Prague earlier this year and met an Iraqi intelligence officer."

    December 2001, PBS television interview, Richard Perle, chairman of the Defence Policy Board: "Does Saddam Hussein, in power in Iraq, in possession of weapons of mass destruction, pose a threat to the United States that is of such a magnitude that we had better take action before he takes action against us? That's the issue."

    29 January 2002, Bush's state of the union speech: "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

    12 September 2002, Bush's speech at the United Nations: "Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause and a great strategic goal."

    24 September 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreword to the Iraq weapons dossier report: "And [this] document discloses that his [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them ... we place at risk the lives and prosperity of our own people."

    16 October 2002, national British newspaper, The Guardian: "Saddam scores 100% in leadership ballot: The Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, topped his personal best election performance by securing 100% of the vote in yesterday's referendum, election officials said today."

    8 November 2002, UN Security Council resolution 1441: "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq's failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA."

    5 February 2003, former British parliamentarian Tony Benn's interview with Saddam Hussein, Baghdad: Saddam says, "This is an opportunity to reach the British people and the forces of peace in the world. There is only one truth and therefore I tell you as I have said on many occasions before that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction whatsoever."

    14 February 2003, Hans Blix's briefing to the UN Security Council: "UNMOVIC is not infrequently asked how much more time it needs… It will require monitoring, which is ongoing, that is, open-ended until the council decides otherwise."

    15 February 2003, London anti-war rally, Jesse Jackson: "War should be necessary as a last resort, and not preemptive…Today, we can stop this war."

    Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
    on state television in March 2003

    5 March 2003, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, speaking at a joint press conference with his German and Russian counterparts: "We will not allow a resolution to pass that authorises resorting to force."

    20 March 2003, Bush's televised address to the American people: "My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world against a grave threat."

    23 March 2003, Aljazeera video footage of captured US soldiers being interviewed: Private First Class Miller: "I was told to come here. I came to fix broken things. I don't want to kill anybody."

    26 March 2003, British soldiers reporting to journalists of an uprising on the streets of Basra, Iraq's second largest city: "We have seen a large crowd on the streets. The Iraqis are firing their own artillery at their own people. There will be carnage."

    1 April 2003, Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saaid al-Sahaf, delivering a televised speech on behalf of the Iraqi president: "Strike at them, fight them. They are aggressors, evil, accursed by God, the exalted. You shall be victorious and they shall be vanquished."

    4 April 2003, from a leaflet reportedly distributed by British troops to the people of Iraq: "... A peaceful, prosperous Iraq which will be run by and for the Iraqi people. Not by America, not by Britain, not by the UN - though all of us will help - but by you the people of Iraq.

    9 April 2003, Sky News live report on the toppling of Saddam's statue in Firdous Square, central Baghdad: "This just in ... US central command says that Iraq has reached the 'tipping point'; Saddam Hussein's reign has ended."

    15 April 2003, first Iraqi self-rule talks held near Nasiriya. Jay Garner, US administrator in charge of reconstruction: "A free Iraq and a democratic Iraq will begin today."

    17 April 2003, European Union statement at the Athens summit: "The people of Iraq now have the chance to shape a new future for their country and to rejoin the international community."

    18 April 2003, The Washington Post - Thousands demonstrate against US: "Tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated against the US occupation of Iraq in central Baghdad today after religious leaders spoke out against America. At one mosque, Shaikh Ahmad al-Kubaisi rejected the troops 'occupation' and said US soldiers should leave the country soon, before Iraqis expel them."

    1 May 2003, Bush’s speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln: "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 - and still goes on."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Lost childhoods: Nigeria's fear of 'witchcraft' ruins young lives

    Many Pentecostal churches in the Niger Delta offer to deliver people from witchcraft and possession - albeit for a fee.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.