The 'War on Terror' Narrative
University Press 2011
Many entries in our lexicon have an interesting history, but it’s very seldom the case that the currency of a phrase has global repercussions. In his book The ‘War on Terror’ Narrative (Oxford University Press, 2011), Adam Hodges makes a compelling case that the expression “War on Terror” became part of a political narrative that was sufficiently powerful to gain public support for at least two major wars. Hodges traces the characterisation of America’s “War on Terror” from George Bush’s first speeches after 9/11 all the way to the end his Presidency. He explores how the narrative grew to encompass Iraq as well as Afghanistan, and how systematically it was presented to the public. He considers how the pre-eminence of this narrative marginalised alternative world-views and shaped political debate, as well as influencing the public’s perception of reality. At the same time, his book is a theoretically sophisticated work of applied discourse analysis and a compelling exploration of the role of language in domestic politics and international relations. In this interview, Hodges discusses the trajectory of the narrative, its reception among the public and the political classes, and the potential role of discourse analysts in contributing to a better public understanding of political actions.