A call to arms at the end of history: A discourse-historical analysis of George W. Bush's declaration of war on terror

Graham, Philip W., Keenan, Thomas, & Dowd, Anne-Maree (2004) A call to arms at the end of history: A discourse-historical analysis of George W. Bush's declaration of war on terror. Discourse and Society, 15(2-3), pp. 199-221.

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In this paper we take a discourse-historical approach to illustrate the significance of George W. Bush’s (2001) declaration of a "war on terror". We present four exemplary "all to arms" speeches by Pope Urban II (1095), Queen Elizabeth I (1588), Adolf Hitler (1938) and George W. Bush (2001) to exemplify the structure, function, and historical significance of such texts in western societies over the last millennium. We identify four generic features that have endured in such texts throughout this period: (1) an appeal to a legitimate power source that is external to the orator, and which is presented as inherently good; (2) an appeal to the historical importance of the culture in which the discourse is situated; (3) the construction of a thoroughly evil Other; and, (4) an appeal for unification behind the legitimating external power source. We argue further that such texts typically appear in historical contexts characterised by deep crises in political legitimacy.

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62 citations in Scopus
45 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 7267
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, terrorism, social dynamics, political discourse, warfare
DOI: 10.1177/0957926504041017
ISSN: 0957-9265
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Sage Publications
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 08 Aug 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:39

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