This paper discusses groupthink a psychological phenomenon with reference the attack on Iraq. It argues that what happened in Iraq was a case of groupthink. Outline
Attack on Iraq and Groupthink
On July 9, 2004 the US Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the United States’ justification for the Iraq war, reported an erroneous “groupthink” was to blame. Groupthink is described as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action”. In other words, retreat into a system allowed “socially designed flaws” to rear within the group’s members. And that was what occurred when American and its allies went on war with Iraq. In 1972, Irving L. Janis published his ground-breaking work “Victims of groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes” which scrutinized how things go wrong when rebellious voices are drowned out, discounted or dismissed out of hand. From the Bay of Pigs, the boom of the Vietnam War, the Challenger shuttle disaster and the notion of the strong Soviet state, 20th century American history is full of cases of usual wisdom being flawed. The “groupthink” that occurred with attack on Iraq is far from an innocent error, and critics charge that the Senate Intelligence Committee reports’ tries to couch blame as mere unclear thinking. The fact is that this psychological experience perhaps translates to a broad failure to appreciate the reality of circumstance, the nature or implications of actions, the very disparity between right and wrong. And as a hard core of believers and leaders is characteristically central to such a phenomenon’s workings, their authority radiates broadly outward through their immediate groups and those they relate with. The attack on Iraq meets...
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