The commentariat and discourse failure: language and atrocity in Cool Britannia

Jones, David Martin and Smith, L. R. (2006) The commentariat and discourse failure: language and atrocity in Cool Britannia. International Affairs, 82 6: 1077-1100. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2346.2006.00589.x

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Author Jones, David Martin
Smith, L. R.
Title The commentariat and discourse failure: language and atrocity in Cool Britannia
Journal name International Affairs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0020-5850
Publication date 2006
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2006.00589.x
Volume 82
Issue 6
Start page 1077
End page 1100
Total pages 24
Editor Caroline Soper
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subject CX
360105 International Relations
750701 Understanding international relations
Abstract Recent terrorist events in the UK, such as the security alerts at British airports in August 2006 and the London bombings of July 2005 gained extensive media and academic analysis. This study contends, however, that much of the commentary demonstrated a wide degree of failure among government agencies, academic and analytic experts and the wider media, about the nature of the threat and continues to distort comprehension of the extant danger. The principal failure, this argument maintains, was, and continues to be, one of an asymmetry of comprehension that mistakes the still relatively limited means of violent jihadist radicals with limited political ends. The misapprehension often stems from the language that surrounds the idea of 'terrorism', which increasingly restricts debate to an intellectually redundant search for the 'root causes' that give rise to the politics of complacency. In recent times this outlook has consistently underestimated the level of the threat to the security of the UK. This article argues that a more realistic appreciation of the current security condition requires abandoning the prevailing view that the domestic threat is best prosecuted as a criminal conspiracy. It demands instead a total strategy to deal with a totalizing threat. The empirical evidence demonstrates the existence of a physical threat, not merely the political fear of threat. The implementation of a coherent set of social policies for confronting the threat at home recognizes that securing state borders and maintaining internal stability are the first tasks of government. Fundamentally, this requires a return to an understanding of the Hobbesian conditions for sovereignty, which, despite the delusions of post-Cold War cosmopolitan multiculturalism, never went away.
Keyword International Relations
Q-Index Code C1
Additional Notes International Affairs: Volume 83 Issue 1, Pages 165 - 186 Responses: Pedagogy or pedantry? A rejoinder to our critics

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 8 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 09:48:03 EST