I am no more than the words you are now reading.

“this word now designates the most fleeting of images. But this is not all: Because it is in dream that men, at last reduced to silence, commune with the signification of things and allow themselves to be touched by enigmatic, insistent words that come from elsewhere.”— Michel Foucalt, Ceci n’est pas une pipeShare this:

via I am no more than the words you are now reading..

How did the Blair administration Justify taking Britain to a Global War On Terror… Mid term report.

Mid-term progress report

 

How did the Blair administration justify its involvement in the global war on terror between 2001 and 2003?

The Aim of the Project

The aim of this project is to demonstrate how discursive strategies and practices facilitated a politics of fear. The ‘othering’ of the Middle East, and perceived necessity to align Britain with the United States, ultimately aided justifications by the Blair administration for going to war.

At the time of going to war with Afghanistan on 7th October 2001, Britain had not been a victim of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. The criminality of the terrorist attacks of nine eleven was largely ignored and instead nine eleven (as it came to be known) became synonymous as the catalyst for the wars that followed.

These wars have not resulted in mitigating the threat of terrorism, nor have they secured peace, democracy and freedom for citizens on either side of the conflict. The United States, and by association Great Britain are no longer commonly viewed as the promoters of human rights, the upholders of the rule of law, or the representatives of freedom and democracy. Instead, ten years of military action appears to have increased tension, fuelling anti-western sentiments.

The concept of a Global War on Terror suggests that war will be used where terrorism is the perceived threat. In light of growing tensions, it is therefore important to highlight how unstable justifications are when communicated through a discourse of fear.

The question, ‘how did the Blair administration justify its involvement in the global war on terror between 2001 and 2003?’ will help to provoke an enquiry of ontological presuppositions innate in the language used to justify war. This will raise further questions, such as how war was constructed as the only possible course of action when alternatives existed (Doty, 1993)?

Methodology

In order to explain the relevance of discourse as a means of influence, discourse analysis will help to demonstrate the precarious nature of presuppositions contained within a language of supposed certainty. This will demonstrate how particular word groupings help to change the meanings of words as a result of the context in which they appear (Foucault, 1972, p. 7). Additionally content analysis will be utilized as a method for quantifying the use of particular words and phrases within the specified discourse.

By combining both discourse analysis and discursive content analysis and therein connecting post positivist analysis with empirical methodology, a symposium is proposed (Herreraand and Braumoeller, 2004, p. 15). To put it another way, it would be of little use for the purpose of the task at hand to simply show the regularity of particular discursive structures without unpacking the connotations and inferences behind the discourse used. The view of the author therefore is that the language is not simply used to describe the world, but rather gives meaning to it through discourse. That is not to reject in its entirety, empirical methodology, rather it is to suggest that once the language used is understood more fully through its deconstruction, empirical methods expose the regularity of particular discursive practices.

Literature survey

The emotive and provocative title ‘Civilization the west and the rest’ by British conservative historian Niall Ferguson, is a perfect example of the ‘them’ versus ‘us’ rhetoric which has been used throughout history in order to suggest an incompatibility between people. Both ‘the west’ and ‘the rest’ are major generalisations which imply a superiority of ‘the west’ since ‘the rest’ are presented as undefined others, insignificant left overs. Such innate bias within language is often overlooked or even accepted as given, and yet contains innate inferences which influence subconscious understanding. Additionally it is demonstrative of the hierarchical structure contained within language and works to expose how historical knowledge is biased. In  turn this poses epistemological questions of what can be known (Ferguson, 2011).  

 ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order’ by Samuel Huntington (Huntington, 1997) came just a few years after the end of the cold war when the main enemy of the west had diminished. Huntington suggested an imminent change in international relations from ideological tensions as the causal factor of conflict to monolithic cultural differences. His prescription to keep incompatible cultures divided has caused a great deal of controversy.

The Author of ‘Orientalism’, Edward Said, suggests Huntingtons prescription was aimed at legitimizing acts of western aggression. Originally published in 1979, ‘Orientalism’ for Edward Said is a misrepresentation made by western colonialists about the orient which wraps the new the ‘Middle East’ in air of mysticism grouping together diverse cultures under one hegemonic heading, creating an ‘otherness’ which plays into the them versus us rhetoric. Likewise, he suggests that ‘the West’ is also a major generalised construction for the purpose of identifying the ‘other’. He asserts that both generalisations are fictitious and open to manipulation by nationalists. Such Euphemisms have facilitated ‘the clash of civilizations’ which Said sees as continuing today and is observable in the unstable relationships between East and West. As such, where simplistic constructs are created, innately imbued with a ‘them’ versus ‘us’ ontology, historical knowledge of the powerful is taken as given where lesser histories are ignored. Therefore ‘we’ construct the Middle East as ‘we’ see fit. This history is not intended to understand others but rather is a historical narrative intended to divide. Edward Said poses the question of whether modern imperialism ever actually ended or if it has continued since Napoleons invasion of Egypt in the eighteen hundreds (Said, 1979).

Complimentary to Said’s suggestions, Tariq Ali’s book ‘The Clash of Fundamentalisms’, provides a history of the so called Middle East’ from the vantage point of being from, as well as working and specialising in, the so called Middle East. This history reveals the complexity of cultures so often homogenised into simplicities such as, Muslim World, Middle East and Arab world. It is relevant in three distinct capacities. First; it demonstrates the part that Western Nations have played in the oppression of peoples of Middle Eastern states. The Middle East itself is a western construct, evident in the perspective from which this geographical location is viewed as the ‘Middle East’. Second; from such a historical perspective it is easier to relate to the reasons for anti western sentiment, exposing the possible motivations of terrorist acts against the west which is largely absent from the current dominant western discourse. And finally; the book exhibits the diversity of traditions, religions, cultures and nationalities of the people of the Middle East which is so often generalised in so called western discourse as is ‘the west’ (Ali, 2003).

Roxanne Doty’s article ‘Foreign policy as social construction: A post-positivist analysis of US counterinsurgency policy in the Philippines’ demonstrated how the US administration used language, rhetoric and metaphors to dehumanise the Filipino people, and went on to construct a counterinsurgency policy as the only possible course of action available to policy makers in the Philippines’ through discursive practices. The model used by Doty was concise and explanatory and will be utilized to demonstrate similarities within the discourse around the global war on terror.

Alexander Wendt’s article, ‘Anarchy is What States Make of it: The social construction of Power Politics’, is informative to the subject matter by way of demonstrating how states are not the most important actors in international relations as neo realists and neo liberals presume. This is evident in that the terrorist threat is not a state. Additionally, by focusing on identities and interests, change becomes a possibility. Wendt’s analysis exhibits the limitations of state centric theories and the inadequacy of rational choice in social science (Wendt, 1992, p. 391 – 425).

‘The Discourse of Terrorism’ by Aditi Bhatia reveals how stereotypes are framed through the emotionalisation of facts communicated through discourse. This validates the “relationship between discourse, power and ideology” (Bhatia, 2005, p. 279). Similarly Richard Jackson’s ‘Constructing Enemies: Islamic Terrorism in Political and Academic Discourse’ proposes the need for a change in narrative, void of assumptions, labels and categories which assisted terrorism’s acceleration into “the most important security issue of our time” (Jackson, 2007, p394). 

 

From Roxanne Doty to Edward Said through, Tariq Ali and Neom Chomsky, Samuel Huntington and Niall Ferguson, the imperial heritage of Britain and the United States is explicitly referred to. For some, the imperial generalisations are used and for others it is analysed. In this sense, such books are complimentary and evidential.

 

In sum, these authors and their various books, articles, lectures and speeches, provide both evidence and analysis of the discourse of ‘them’ versus ‘us’. Some provide a history which has been marginalised by the west, and for good reason. These marginalised historical perspectives give the terrorists motive. It will help to deconstruct generalisations by demonstrating the ambiguity of western understandings of so called Eastern cultures and the historical perspective. As a result, this content will reveal a weakness in the dominant discourse, providing grounds for criticism. 

 

The available literature is vast in quantity and diverse in quality. Some of the articles in particular make for very difficult reading and are less explicit ontologically than others. As a complex and contested concept to define, discourse itself is referred to in a number of ways and it has sometimes been difficult to pinpoint the exact interpretations. That said, there are a number of articles, in particular by Herrera and Braumoeller, which include excerpts from analysts of both content analysis and discourse analysis who discuss the possibility of a symposium between the two methodologies. This piece has been very helpful in guiding my own research which will, in addition to the books and articles mentioned above, consist of detailed evaluations of the discourse used by Tony Blair which has been easily accessible from the website No10.gov.uk.

 

Three main questions.

Why did nine eleven happen?

  1. Colonialism, post colonialism and US Imperialism.
  2. The haves and the have not’s.
  3. Globalisation and its effects.

The first chapter will set the scene by focusing on the historical context and economic conditions which provided the backdrop for nine eleven and the subsequent global war on terror.

I have read some relevant articles and books, taken notes and started my first draft.

Why does the global war on terror need justification?

  1. War and Terrorism, the Paradox.
  2. Assumptions and inconsistencies’.
  3. Growing Animosity.

Chapter two will evaluate the meanings of war and terrorism, questioning whether they are historically and/or culturally contingent. This will be  followed by a deconstruction of the ontological presuppositions made by the Blair administration, before finally assessing the consequences of the global war on terror.

I have researched relevant texts and the first draft has been written. 

 How did discourse legitimise war?

  1. Words, phrases, concepts and ideas.
  2. Labels, stereotypes and simplifications.
  3. The construction of fear.

A table of content demonstrating the regularity of words, phrases, concepts and ideas from relevant texts of Tony Blair will be presented at the beginning of chapter three. The effects of labels, stereotypes and simplifications will be considered before finally scrutinizing if and how the fear which flows from generalisations, stereotypes and othering aided the agenda for those who wanted to go to war.

I have collected the relevant texts of Tony Blair between 2001 and 2003, and started to analyse the usage and recurrence of particular words and phrases. I have also read extensively about identity constructing and discourse analysis and deconstruction. I have comprehensive notes and have started my first draft.

In sum, these three chapters will seek to show how discourse became a very powerful and strategic tool which facilitated Blair’s justifications for going to war.

 

Self-critical reflection (200 words approx.)

My initial essay plan demonstrated to both myself and my mentor that the task I had set myself was far too wide in scope. I found it very difficult to narrow down my focus because I wanted to understand the whole subject. It took me some time to decide what to omit and what to keep in, and in hindsight this was time wasted. Once I had narrowed down my focus, drawing up an essay plan was much simpler.

Another sticking point was my lack of ability to break down the subject matter into easy manageable units. I found that as soon as I started to write I would have long sentences, which would try to include too much material. On speaking to my mentor and deciding on an essay plan I managed to separate the chapters into subheadings and the essay plan became easier to manage. I now intend to write three separate plans for each of the chapters in order that they are easier to manage.

By the start I have next term I hope to have completed drafts for all of the chapters, and to have an abstract. I am hoping that once I start to write I will find where my research is insufficient and be able to rectify it as I go.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Ali, T. (2003). ‘The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity’, Verso Publications, London and New York.

Doty, Roxanne. 1993. ‘Foreign policy as social construction: A post-positivist analysis of US counterinsurgency policy in the Philippines,’ International Studies Quarterly, 37(3): 297- 320

 

Ferguson, N. (2011). ‘Civilization: The West and the Rest’, Penguin Press, London.

 

Foucault, M. (1972). ‘The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language’, New York: Pantheon Books (p. 1 – 62).

 

Foucault, M. (1980). Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews & Other Writings’, 1972-1977, edited by Colin Gordon, New York: Pantheon Books.

 

Herrera, Y. M. and Braumoeller, B. F. (2004). ‘Symposium: Discourse and Content Analysis’, qualitative methods

 

Huntington, S. (1997). ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order’, Touchstone and Rockefeller publications, New York.

Neuendorf, K. A. (2002). The content analysis guidebook’, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

 

Said, E. (1979). ‘Orientalism’, Random House Publications, New York.

Weldes, J (1999). Constructing National Interests’.University of Minnesota Press

 

Wendt, A. (19920. ‘Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics’, International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2. (Spring, 1992), pp. 391-425. [Online], available at http://ic.ucsc.edu/~rlipsch/Pol272/Wendt.Anarch.pdf

 

 

 

Additional  References.

Ahmad, E. (1998). “Terrorism, Theirs and Ours”. [online], available at http://www.tni.org/article/terrorism-theirs-and-ours, sourced 29, 05, 2012.

Anderson, J. (2009). ‘Dialectical Historicism: Charting the Ebb and Flow of Meaning-Making Systems’ [online], available at, http://www.mindgeysers.com/research_files/dialectical%20historicism.pdf, sourced 29.09.2012

BBC News Online. (Friday, 5 March, 2004). “Blair terror speech in full”,[online], available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/3536131.stm, sourced 29.05.2012.

Chilcot Enquiry. (2012). Iraq Enquiry. [online], available at http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/

Clapp, R. (2012). ‘An Introduction to Dialectical Materialism’, [online], available at, http://www.marxism.org.uk/pack/dialetics.html, sourced 11.10.2012.

Dannreuther, R. (2007). “International Security; The Contemporary Agenda”, Polity Press

Drone attacks in Pakistan are counterproductive, says report; US academics’ report says drones kill large numbers of civilians and increase recruitment by militant groups” (Bowcott, 2012).

Elshtain, J.B. (2003). “Just War Against Terror”. New York:

Furedi  Frank. (2005). ‘Politics of Fear’, [online], Available at, http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=O0yxceBrZN4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=politics+of+fear&ots=cfy41n04XI&sig=PZTrWQg9kytzHKNjRMr_PeyEJGY, Continuum International Publishing Group, sourced 30. 09. 2012.

Furedi  Frank. (2005). ‘Politics of Fear’, [online], Available at, http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=O0yxceBrZN4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=politics+of+fear&ots=cfy41n04XI&sig=PZTrWQg9kytzHKNjRMr_PeyEJGY, Continuum International Publishing Group, sourced 30. 09. 2012.

Golder, B. And Williams G. (2004). “What is ‘Terrorism’? Problems of Legal Definition.” UNSW Law Journal Volume 27(2) pp. 270-295,

Hinsley, F, (1980). ‘Power and the Pursuit of Peace: Theory and Practice in the History of Relations between States’. Cambridge University Press, pp. 62 – 65

Howard, R. D. & Sawyer, R. L. (2006). “Terrorism and Counterterrorism; Understanding the new security environment”, McGraw-Hill Companies. ISBN 0-07-352771-8.

Lapid, Y. (1989). ‘The Third Debate: On the prospects of International Theory in a Post Positivist Era’, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 33, No 3, Blackwell Publishing,  pp. 235 – 254.

Norton Taylor, R. The Guardian, (2012). ‘Talk to terrorists – generals and spies agree’, [online], available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/defence-and-security-blog/2012/sep/12/terrorism-taliban-talks, sourced, 29, 09, 2012.

Orend, Brian, “War”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/war/&gt;.

Rosenburg, M. J. (2012). ‘Diplomacy Not Terrorism: The U.S. Should Vote “Yes” For a Palestinian State’, [online], available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/diplomacy-not-terrorism_b_932070.html, sourced 29, 09, 2012.

Said, E. (2011), The Myth of the “Clash of Civilzations”. [Online], Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPS-pONiEG8&feature=related, sourced 29.09.2012.

Said, E. (2011), The Myth of the “Clash of Civilzations”. [Online], Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPS-pONiEG8&feature=related, sourced 29.09.2012.

The Guardian, (October 2001). “Tony Blair’s speech (part one), Part one of the speech by prime minister, Tony Blair, at the Labour Party conference”, [online], available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/oct/02/labourconference.labour6, sourced 29.05.2012.

Wendt, A, (1992). “Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics” International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring, 1992), pp. 391-425Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2706858 .Accessed: 29/05/2012

Viera, J, D. (1988). “Journal of Film and Video”, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Fall 1988), pp. 28-36, Published by: University of Illinois Press, Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20687837

 

Howard, R. D. & Sawyer, R. L. (2006). “Terrorism and Counterterrorism; Understanding the new security environment”, McGraw-Hill Companies. ISBN 0-07-352771-8.

 

Dannreuther, R. (2007). “International Security; The Contemporary Agenda”, Polity Press

Golder, B. And Williams G. (2004). “What is ‘Terrorism’? Problems of Legal Definition.” UNSW Law Journal Volume 27(2) pp. 270-295,

Ahmad, E. (1998). “Terrorism, Theirs and Ours”. [online], available at http://www.tni.org/article/terrorism-theirs-and-ours, sourced 29, 05, 2012.

Münkler, H. (2004). ‘Kant’s ‘perpetual peace’: utopia or political guide: Open Democracy’.[Online]. Available at http://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-iraqwarphiloshophy/article_1921.jsp. Sourced 24:11:2011.

Norton Taylor, R. The Guardian, (2012). ‘Talk to terrorists – generals and spies agree’, [online], available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/defence-and-security-blog/2012/sep/12/terrorism-taliban-talks, sourced, 29, 09, 2012.

Rosenburg, M. J. (2012). ‘Diplomacy Not Terrorism: The U.S. Should Vote “Yes” For a Palestinian State’, [online], available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/diplomacy-not-terrorism_b_932070.html, sourced 29, 09, 2012.

Chilcot Enquiry. (2012). Iraq Enquiry. [online], available at http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/

Drone attacks in Pakistan are counterproductive, says report; US academics’ report says drones kill large numbers of civilians and increase recruitment by militant groups” (Bowcott, 2012).

Furedi  Frank. (2005). ‘Politics of Fear’, [online], Available at, http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=O0yxceBrZN4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=politics+of+fear&ots=cfy41n04XI&sig=PZTrWQg9kytzHKNjRMr_PeyEJGY, Continuum International Publishing Group, sourced 30. 09. 2012.

Said, E. (2011), The Myth of the “Clash of Civilzations”. [Online], Available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPS-pONiEG8&feature=related, sourced 29.09.2012.

Iraq Inquiry. (2012).’About the Inquiry’, [online], available at http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/about.aspx, sourced 03.10.2012.

Bin-laden, O. (1998). ‘PBS Newshour; Al Qaeda’s Second Fatwa’, [online], available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military/jan-june98/fatwa_1998.html, sourced 02.10.2012

Bush, G. W. (2002). ‘President Delivers State of the Union Address’, [online], available at http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/01/print/20020129-11.html, sourced, 09.10.2012

Johson, C. (2006). Nemesis: The last days of the American Republic. Henry Holt and Company, , available from Itunes.

Eqbal Ahman, (1998). ‘Terrorism ours and Theirs’, Berkely, [online], available at, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXt1s38SzpA, sourced 03, 10, 2012-10-03

Said, E. (2011). ‘The clash of civilizations myth’. [online], available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPS-pONiEG8&feature=related, sourced 02.10.2012

Clapp, R. (2012). ‘An Introduction to Dialectical Materialism’, [online], available at, http://www.marxism.org.uk/pack/dialetics.html, sourced 11.10.2012.

Anderson, J. (2009). ‘Dialectical Historicism: Charting the Ebb and Flow of Meaning-Making Systems’ [online], available at, http://www.mindgeysers.com/research_files/dialectical%20historicism.pdf, sourced 29.09.2012

jenniedarch:

About me.

Originally posted on jenniedarch:

This is supposed to be the easiest thing to write about. Well we will see? 

I once thought that growing up on a rough British council estate had made me streetwise and tough, only to realise later in life that it  disadvantaged my opportunities in life compared to fellow Brits. In comparison to most people in the world I am advantaged. I now where very strong glasses!

As a comedienne still performing a script I wrote many moons ago before the privilege of an education (which I am still, and hope always to be engaged in) I am frustrated with my profession.  It sounds like the best job in the world to some, and many assumptions spring to mind when somebody says “I’m a comedienne”…..That was probably one of my reasons for trying to be funny. Its a way of tickeling an ego which will never giggle! The life of show business, for me at least, was…

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jenniedarch:

Bristolian drug epidemic. A personal account.

Originally posted on jenniedarch:

Walking the old streets of my youth, memories tear my heart in two. There are the memories of laughter and fun, and there are the memories of a once normal life surrounded by alcohol and drugs, violence and crime, love and hatred. The people I see are not those I remember, even the ones I know have seen things I can’t imagine and felt things that the children I knew didn’t deserve.

The community of families shared a space and time where children played and grown ups too, where money was tight but hard work paid off, and where the culture of a close knit community oozed from every pore of the council chimney pots. And so the children grew in freedom, with safety in numbers and parents busy making a better future.

Balls and rackets, bats and Frisbee’s, the park bustled with children at play, children innocent and bushy tailed, children with dreams…

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