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Media Framing of Geostrategic Outcomes of War in Iraq: The Case of Iran Open Access

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This study explores how the media in the US covered Iran in the context of Iraq War and influenced ability of the public to understand geopolitical consequences of US policies in the War. By toppling Saddam Hussein's government, the US administration chose to break decades' long policy of containment towards Iran, arguably increasing Iranian geopolitical leverage and creating turbulence on a territory critical for the US security and stability in the Middle East. When Iraq War is concerned, the mainstream media rarely seem to examine tactical outcomes in the light of broader, strategic goals. Success is usually seen as diminishment of violence, reduction of US casualties and the creation of a stable government in Iraq. However, such media discourse fails to point out that the US had not gone to Iraq to quell what it terms to be "sectarian violence," or to reduce US casualties, and hence neglects to hold the government accountable for the possible failure of its strategic policy goals. Nor does such discourse raise questions as to what constitutes a stable Iraqi government and the implications thereof for the regional and global security. This study draws conclusions from a content analysis of The New York Times and NBC coverage of Iran from 2001 to 2008 to examine media framing of Iranian geopolitical gains from the War in Iraq. The central implication of this study is that the coverage that neglects to draw public attention to geopolitical implications of the Iraq War, fails to equip the public with the necessary tools for holding the government accountable for what could be defined as a strategic failure of its policies and hence constrains the ability of the public to exert a change in policy.

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