E2: Why do we look toward 'the future' when we talk about national security? (w/ Patricia Dunmire)

Prior to World War II, American political leaders tended to talk about national security by framing the U.S. as a “sanctuary” for democratic ideals that needed to be protected. After the war, this dominant framing shifted to focus on the U.S. as a “powerhouse” for democracy, in which the nation’s responsibility was to go on the offensive and spread American ideals throughout the world. In this week’s episode, Calvin and Alex speak with Kent State English Professor Patricia Dunmire about the ways that U.S. politicians and others in government have made arguments about national security throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – what “security” means, who should have it, and what actions are deemed necessary to “maintain” and “promote” that security in the future.

We also introduce a new segment called "re:verberations," in which Ryan Mitchell speaks with guests at re:verb's launch party to get their thoughts on the power of language in society and politics.

Cover Image: Commemorative "challenge coin" bearing the US National Security Agency (NSA) slogan: "Defending our nation, securing the future." (image source)


Publications by Dr. Patricia Dunmire on national security and the rhetoric of futurity:

Dunmire, P. L. (2005). Preempting the future: rhetoric and ideology of the future in political discourse. Discourse & Society, 16(4), 481-513.

Dunmire, P. L. (2010). Knowing and controlling the future: A review of futurology. Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, 32(3), 240-263.

Dunmire, P.L. (2011). Projecting the future through political discourse: The case of the Bush doctrine. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Dunmire, P. L. (2015). Beyond space and time: Temporal and geographical configurations in US national security discourse. Critical Discourse Studies, 12(3), 297-312.


Other works & concepts mentioned in this episode:

Fairclough, N. (2003). Representations of social events [chapter mentioning “space-time”]. Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London/New York: Routledge, 134-155.

John Kelly’s response to questioning about US troops in Niger:


Kennan’s “long telegram”

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_F._Kennan#The_%22Long_Telegram%22

Document: https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//coldwar/documents/episode-1/kennan.htm

Luce, H. (1999/1941). The American century. Diplomatic History, 23(2), 159-171.

NSC Resolution 68

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSC_68

Document: https://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/coldwar/documents/pdf/10-1.pdf

The Overton Window: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

Teleology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology


Further Reading:

Engels, J., & Saas, W. O. (2013). On acquiescence and ends-less war: An inquiry into the new war rhetoric. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 99(2), 225-232.

Goode, L. & Godhe, M. (2017). Beyond capitalist realism – why we need critical future studies. Culture Unbound, 9, 1-22.

On the Nov. 2017 Virginia election results: https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/07/politics/5-takeaways-election-virginia-governor-trump/index.html