From Iraq to Syria: The American Standard of Military Interventions in Presidential Speeches

Farah Tekaya


The present study focuses on a challenging phenomenon pervading most societies, namely standards. In relation to language, it can be regarded as the medium whereby standards are reflected in reality. Accordingly, the scope of analysis will be limited to political discourse exemplified in three presidential speeches illustrating the American standard of military intervention. They consist respectively in one speech by George Bush, declaring war on Iraq in March 2003 as well as two by President Obama preparing the Syrian invasion in August and September 2013. Hence, in order to unveil the discursive means whereby American politicians tend to standardize such an issue, a critical discourse analysis (CDA) methodology is selected, namely Van Dijk’s (2004) approach to political discourse. The latter is then based on two main strategies of “positive self-representation” together with “negative other-representation” brought into evidence through a number of discursive tools. Moreover, the latter concludes that the standard of military intervention is conveyed through the techniques of national self-glorification, hyperbole, number game, polarization, lexicalization as well as exemplification. Furthermore, the same strategies have been traced in the speeches by both presidents which can reinforce the standardization not only of the issue but also of the discursive structures communicating it.       


Standards, political discourse, military intervention, critical discourse analysis, positive self-representation, negative other-depiction.

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