Beyond Space and Time: Temporal and Geographical Configurations in U.S. National Security Discourse

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Critical Discourse Studies

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political discourse, critical discourse analysis, temporality, national security discourse, foreign policy discourse


American Politics | Defense and Security Studies | Discourse and Text Linguistics | International Relations | Peace and Conflict Studies


This article examines the ‘deictic signature’ of the discourse worlds that are projected through representations of the Cold War and post-Cold War global security environments. I focus on the means by which US national security discourse creates ‘threat environments’ through historically specific renderings of the spatial configuration of global society and projections of the future. Specifically, I examine how the ‘powerhouse’ metaphor embedded within Henry Luce's conception of the ‘American Century', as well as the national security approach it implicated have reverberated within national security discourse at two moments of significant historical change: the inception of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. I argue that the discourses marking both of these moments embed and project construals of geopolitical space and temporality which presuppose an atemporal and extraterritorial conception of US ‘national’ security interests. This conception, in turn, provides the rationale for an expansionist security strategy that focuses on shaping global society in ways that accord with US values and interests.