‘Call to arms’ is the battlefield for the conflict for power and legitimacy between different ideologies, with language playing a vital role. Nowadays, the most recent examples are the speeches of various political figures on the War on Terror, due to the rising threat of terrorism worldwide. Analysing ‘call to arms’, the War on Terror, in different genres has received considerable academic interests in the last decade. However, most of these academic endeavours present themselves to understand the dynamics of such discursive constructs and strategies used either by western, American in particular or European discourse producers.
It is against this backdrop that this thesis investigates the American and Iraqi ‘call to arms’ discourse instantiated in highly formalised institutional genre. The study presents a critical analysis of how persuasion has been produced and discursively realised in two different socio-political discourses. The study examines four specific speeches: two by American Presidents, namely, George W Bush and Barack Obama, and the remaining two were delivered by two Iraqi Prime Ministers, Nouri Al-Maliki and Haider Al-Abadi.
The thesis incorporates some of the widely applied CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis) analytical categories used in the DHA (Discourse-Historical Approach), including referential, predicational, perspectivization, argumentative strategies (Topoi) and the strategies of intensification and mitigation (Resigil & Wodak, 2001), and legitimation studies from Van Leeuwen (2007) and Reyes (2011), along with some elements from the socio-semantic approach of van Leeuwen on the representation of social actors (van Leeuwen, 1996).
The thesis emphasises specific linguistic ways in which language represents an instrument of control and a manifestation of symbolic power in discourse of war. It first develops an analytical approach that derives from Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and legitimisation studies to account for how ‘call to arms’ can be produced and discursively realised in situ. This particular work expands, and further proposes, some key discursive constructs and strategies of persuasion political figures employ in the discourse of going to war.
The analysis of the data demonstrates that the American ‘call to arms’ rhetoric is not dissimilar to the Iraqi ‘call to arms’ rhetoric.