The Just War Tradition and the War on Terror : A Discourse Analysis of the American response to September 11, 2001

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to assess the applicability of the Just War Tradition to a declaration of war on terrorism. The specific content that the paper will be analysing is the U.S. decision to declare war on terror in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. I will be focusing on three conditions used to justify preemptive attacks, which are essential to the Just War Tradition. (i.e. the scope of the self, the existence of evidence, and military intervention as a last resort). The method used, will be discourse analysis, focusing on how the United States justified their decision to go to war on terror. This study suggests that the U.S. justification was built upon their knowledge and use of the principles of the JWT. The findings shows that the conditions of a justified preemptive attack can be applied to the U.S. justification to declare war on terror. However, when the three conditions are applied, some important questions and implications arise. The main interpretation of the findings is that problems arise when the scope of the self is defined too widely. This, in combination with further implications, indicates that there is a need for a more structured framework in which terrorism can be analysed.

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