Discursive illusions in the American National Strategy for Combating Terrorism

Aditi Bhatia

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Social realities are often negotiated and determined by elite groups of society, including political and religious leaders, the mass media, and even professional experts, who give meaning to complex, multifaceted constructs such as terrorism consistent with their individual socio-political agendas. The Bush Administration's National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (NSCT) (2003) defines what we the public and media understand by the term terrorism; who are terrorists; what constitutes terrorism; how we can fight terrorism, etc. In order to convince audiences that the version of reality that the NSCT is representing is the objective truth, particular themes such as the construction of religion, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), orientalism, and attack vs. self-defence, typically realised through the use of rhetorical resources such as category work, appeals to historicity, negative other-presentation, and the use of metaphor, are utilised. Metaphors are used to construct new and alternate realities. They allow a subjective conceptualisation of reality to appear more convincing through the invocation of emotions and ideologies. Drawing on a detailed analysis of NSCT, the paper investigates how metaphors are combined with other features of language and rhetoric to achieve the themes mentioned above enabling the discourse of illusion to take effect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-227
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Discourse of illusion
  • Membership categorisation analysis
  • Metaphor
  • National Strategy for Combating Terrorism
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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