The “spectre of anti-Americanism” in the British public debate over the 2003 invasion of Iraq

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This paper draws upon insights from rhetorical and discursive psychology in order to attend to a particular dimension of the public debate in Britain surrounding the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It is concerned with discourse regarding the relevance of 'anti-Americanism', and the difficulty that circulation of such an accusation fostered for critics of the war. It uses examples drawn from British national press coverage, and the content of parliamentary debates, to describe some of the main responses made by critics of the war to the possibility that their arguments could be undermined if described as anti-American. The three techniques identified are the display of 'pro-American credentials', the discursive separation of the American government and its people, and the differentiation of the self from more extreme elements who are nevertheless on the same side. By focusing upon such responses, the paper attends to a gap in existing literature concerned with the alleged inhibiting effect that accusations of 'anti-Americanism' can have upon dissent, and argues that things are more complex than is often understood by accounts which stress how dissent is decided or regulated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-221
Number of pages21
JournalThe Journal of Language and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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