George W. Bush’s Speech: Rhetorical Analysis

The speech is delivered by former US president George W. Bush on the crisis in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq. It used the regular speech structure of introduction, body, and conclusion without metaphor or jargon. Its main arguments, underlying concepts, or primary thesis were all complicated rhetorical devices. The speech’s primary rhetorical (and political) objective was to outline American policy. The president listed several options, ranking the mobilization of American forces as the most crucial. By defining the four guiding principles of American policy, the second goal—justifying American actions—was substantially (rhetorically) achieved. Finally, the American audience was explicitly mentioned and addressed for the third goal, a request for assistance.

In his preparation for the United Nations audience, the ex-president Bush seems to have used three tools of persuasion as Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. An audience must accept the speaker before they can persuade them to believe anything they have to say. First, Bush promotes Ethos in his speech by using clear and precise vocabulary without adding any jargon that would complicate the speech. His choice of simple and formal language makes him look honest and credible. Second, he uses Pathos, an attempt to persuade the audience by appealing to their emotions. The speaker must evoke an emotion in his or her audience to move them to action while using Pathos to persuade them. For instance, “Above all, our principles and our security are challenged today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions.” The given passage embodies a successful usage of the appeal to emotions. By stating ‘our principles’ and ‘our security, Bush can make the audience feel that the speaker relates to them, which facilitates his speech to be accepted by the audience easier.

Next, Bush uses Logos to persuade his audience using reason and logic. Compelling arguments should provide evidence to support the speaker’s claims or opinions. He states: “We created a United Nations Security Council so that, unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes.” In this statement, he uses facts, logical reasoning, recorded proof, and historical information in order to prove his point.

Several times during his speech, Bush conducted both demographic and situational analyses. First, by noting, “Many nations represented here have joined in the fight against global terror,” he shows that the audience constitutes representatives of different nations worldwide. Further, according to situational analysis, the audience is gathered to hear the then-president’s speech on occasion in the Persian Gulf, which relates not only to the Middle East region but to elsewhere as well. Moreover, the audience is motivated to come for a common goal as the speaker mentions, “… to supply aid where it reaches people and lifts up lives, to extend trade and the prosperity it brings, and to bring medical care where it is desperately needed.”

As I believe the given speech illustrates one of the most influential and quality speeches ever delivered, I would prefer to incorporate similar audience adaptations in my speech. Therefore, I can apply Ethos, Pathos, and Logos per the topic of the speech and concrete audience. In other words, there should be a connection between me and my audience, where the audience can make sense of my sound arguments. Lastly, I can make my speech more effective by appealing to emotions and calling to action.


Eidenmuller, M. E. (2002). George W. Bush Second Address to the United Nations General Assembly. George W. Bush: Speech in 2002 to the United Nations General Assembly (transcript-audio-video). Web.