Culture, identity and hegemony: Continuity and (the lack of) change in US counterterrorism policy from Bush to Obama
- 2.1k Downloads
This article explores the social and political construction of US counterterrorism policy since the onset of the war on terrorism. The first part of the article focuses on the period of the Bush administration. It explores the cultural grammar expressed in the language of the war on terror, as well as administration attempts to ‘sell’ the policy to the American public. In addition, it explores the ways in which the war on terror has been institutionalised in counterterrorism practices and institutions, and how it has been normalised and embedded in American popular culture and linked by the national identity narratives surrounding ‘9/11’ and the negative ideograph of ‘terrorism’, to American identity. Section two of the article explores the discourse and practice of the war on terrorism in the initial period of the Obama administration. It questions the extent to which counterterrorism policy can be rewritten, given the degree to which it accords with the deep cultural grammar of American identity and is now a well-established ideograph, the extent to which it has been institutionalised in American political practice and embedded in American culture and the ways in which it is rooted in the political-economic interests of the American polity and empire. Finally, the article briefly reflects on questions of change and identity in the construction of US foreign policy.
Keywordswar on terrorism US foreign policy Obama Bush identity 9/11
For helpful comments and suggestions, the author is grateful to Inderjeet Parmar, Stuart Croft, Matt McDonald, Stephen Burman, Daniel McCarthy, J. Simon Rolfe, Andrew Priest and Nicholas J. Wheeler. The author benefited from the opportunity to present earlier versions of this article at the 2009 European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference, Potsdam Universität, Germany and the International Politics Research Seminar, Aberystwyth University. All remaining errors belong solely to the author.
- Callinicos, A. (2003) The New Mandarins of American Power. Cambridge, UK: Polity.Google Scholar
- Campbell, D. (1998) Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, Revised edn. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Cox, M. (2004) Empire, imperialism and the bush doctrine. Review of International Studies 30 (4): 585–608.Google Scholar
- Foucault, M. (2002) Truth and power. In: J. Faubion (ed.) Power: Essential Works of Foucault Vol. 3, Translated by R. Hurley et al, London: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Hughes, R. (2003) Myths America Lives By. Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
- Jackson, R. (2005) Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
- Jackson, R. (2006) Genealogy, ideology, and counter-terrorism: Writing wars on terrorism from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush Jr. Studies in Language & Capitalism 1: 163–193.Google Scholar
- Jackson, R. (2007) Playing the politics of fear: Writing the terrorist threat in the war on terrorism. In: G. Kassimeris (ed.) Playing Politics With Terrorism: A User's Guide. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 176–202.Google Scholar
- Jackson, R. and McDonald, M. (2009) Constructivism, US foreign policy and the “war on terrorism”. In: I. Parmar, L.B. Miller and M. Ledwidge (eds.) New Directions in US Foreign Policy. London: Routledge, pp. 18–31.Google Scholar
- Mahajan, R. (2003) Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and beyond. New York: Seven Stories Press.Google Scholar
- Mueller, J. (2006). Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
- Obama, P.B. (20 November 2006) A way forward in Iraq. Remarks Chicago Council on Global Affairs, http://obamaspeeches.com, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (15 July 2008) A new strategy for a new world. Washington, DC, http://www.asksam.com/ebooks/releases.asp?file=Obama-Speeches.ask&dn=A%20New%20Strategy%20for%20a%20New%20World, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (16 July 2008) Summit on confronting new threats. West Lafayette, IN, http://www.asksam.com/ebooks/releases.asp?file=Obama-Speeches.ask&dn=Summit%20on20Confronting%20New%20Threats, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (22 October 2008) Remarks of senator Barack Obama: National security. Richmond, VA, http://www.barackobama.com/2008/10/22/remarks_of_senator_barack_obam_144.php, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (20 January 2009) Obama inaugural address, http://obamaspeeches.com, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (9 February 2009) Transcript: Obama press conference. The White House, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/10/politics/100days/main4789627.shtml?tag=contentMain, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (24 February 2009) Transcript: President Obama's speech to a joint session of congress, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/02/24/politics/main4826494.shtml?tag=contentMain, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (27 March 2009) Remarks by the president on a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Room 450, Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the White House Office of the Press Secretary, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-a-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (20 April 2009) Remarks by the president to CIA employees. CIA Headquarters, Langley, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-to-CIA-employees-at-CIA-headquarters/, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (29 April 2009) Text: Obama press conference on 100 Days. Washington, DC, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/04/30/politics/main4980232.shtml?tag=contentMain, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (21 May 2009) Remarks by the president on national security. National Archives, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-Memorial-Day/, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Obama, P.B. (25 May 2009) Remarks by the president on memorial day. Arlington National Cemetery, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-National-Security-5-21-09/, accessed 14 July 2009.
- Pilkington, Ed. (2010) America's secret army: How the “war on terror” created a new industry. The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/19/us-spies-triple-since-2001, accessed 20 July 2010.
- Rose, D. (2004) Guantánamo: America's War on Human Rights. London: New Press.Google Scholar
- Stokes, D. (2004) America's other War: Terrorizing Colombia. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- Valentine, D. (1990) The Phoenix Program. Lincoln, UK: iUniverse.com.Google Scholar
- Wills, D. (2003) The First War on Terrorism: Counter-terrorism Policy during the Reagan Administration. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Winkler, C. (2006) In the Name of Terrorism: Presidents on Political Violence in the Post-World War II Era. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Zulaika, J. (1984) Basque Violence: Metaphor and Sacrament. Reno, NA: University of Nevada Press.Google Scholar