Critical Criminology

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 227–249

How an Elite-Engineered Moral Panic Led to the U.S. War on Iraq


DOI: 10.1007/s10612-010-9116-6

Cite this article as:
Bonn, S.A. Crit Crim (2011) 19: 227. doi:10.1007/s10612-010-9116-6


Critics argue that the G.W. Bush administration deliberately misled the U.S. public about an Iraqi threat after 9/11 but empirical evidence that presidential deception influenced public support for war has been lacking. An examination of presidential rhetoric concerning Iraq in the U.S. media revealed that it changed in tone after 9/11, consistent with moral panic processes. Logistic regression analysis of public opinion leading up to the war revealed that shifts in support for invasion directly mirrored presidential rhetoric. The findings of this study suggest that the Bush administration engineered a moral panic over Iraq with the support of the media.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentDrew UniversityMadisonUSA