WMD, WMD, WMD: securitisation through ritualized incantation of ambiguous phrases

Oren, I. and Solomon, T. (2015) WMD, WMD, WMD: securitisation through ritualized incantation of ambiguous phrases. Review of International Studies, 41(2), pp. 313-336. (doi: 10.1017/S0260210514000205)

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We seek to reinvigorate and clarify the Copenhagen School's insight that ‘security’ is not ‘a sign that refers to something more real; the utterance [‘security’] itself is the act’. We conceptualise the utterances of securitising actors as consisting not in arguments so much as in repetitive spouting of ambiguous phrases (WMD, rogue states, ethnic cleansing). We further propose that audience acceptance consists not in persuasion so much as in joining the securitising actors in a ritualised chanting of the securitising phrase. Rather than being performed to, the audience participates in the performance in the manner in which a crowd at a rock concert sings along with the artists. We illustrate our argument with a discussion of how the ritualised chanting of the phrase ‘weapons of mass destruction’ during the run-up to the Iraq War ultimately produced the grave Iraqi threat that it purportedly described.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Solomon, Dr Ty
Authors: Oren, I., and Solomon, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Review of International Studies
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-9044
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Review of International Studies 41(2):313-336
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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