Security, Democracy, and the Rhetoric of Counter-Terrorism

Richard Dean Wells Jackson

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The “war on terrorism” is both a series of institutional practices and an accompanying set of political narratives. Employing the methodology of critical discourse analysis, the study suggests that the language of the “war on terrorism” is not simply a neutral or objective reflection of policy debates and the realities of terrorism and counterterrorism; rather, it is a very carefully and deliberately constructed public discourse that is specifically designed to make the war seem reasonable, responsible, and inherently “good.” More importantly, as it is currently constructed, the language and practice of the “war on terrorism” poses severe challenges to the democratic state, including destabilizing the moral community, weakening democratic values and civic culture, undermining the legitimacy of democratic institutions, and preventing the articulation of potentially more effective counter-terrorism approaches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-71
Number of pages25
JournalDemocracy and Security
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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