Phrasing the Enemy: The Evolution of Counterterrorism Language and Policy Across the Transatlantic Alliance After 9/11

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In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, George W. Bush launched both a metaphorical and real war on terror. As Bush’s war had global implications, one key objective in his rhetoric throughout his presidency was to convince the international community — and, specific to this thesis, his European allies— to join his cause. Success in this regard would mean that his allies join his efforts in the Middle East and also create counterterrorism policies at home that align with Bush’s conception of the war on terror. As reflected in Bush’s language, Bush’s policy decisions are guided by a key unifying theme: that the fight against terrorism is a higher calling, an effort sanctioned by God, goodness, and abstract values of liberty and freedom. To Bush, this fight against terrorism answers to a higher order and thus transcends the traditional rules and relationships that govern domestic and international society. These rules are simply roadblocks to his pursuit of a higher form of justice.
Europe does not understand terrorism this way, and Bush ultimately fails to convince them. European conceptions of terrorism are firmly rooted in a respect for traditional rules and norms of international society, and Bush’s stylistic attempts at multilateralism cannot alter this foundation. However, a profound tension emerges within the European policies implemented after 9/11, as European policies converge around that intensive American spirit, taking on the more unbounded, self-justifying character of American counterterrorism while still being formally restricted within the auspices of established legal frameworks.


Type of resource text
Date created May 22, 2015


Author Dayton, Kelsey
Advisor Crenshaw, Martha


Subject terrorism
Subject rhetoric
Subject transatlantic
Subject alliance
Subject Europe
Subject Bush
Subject counterterrorism
Subject CISAC
Subject Center for International Security and Cooperation
Genre Thesis

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Dayton, Kelsey. (2015). Phrasing the Enemy: The Evolution of Counterterrorism Language and Policy Across the Transatlantic Alliance After 9/11. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


Stanford University, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Interschool Honors Program in International Security Studies, Theses

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