Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Eureka! The missing link

This must be the feeling that the archaeologists who found "Homo Florensis" in Indonesia must have felt. The dim at first, but then rapidly growing enlightenment, exploding in an entire, warm feeling of rediscovery and reaffirmation.

I have just found the article that promises to link my two areas of study, Rhetoric and Intelligence. It is a very nice emotion that reminds me that being an academician in spe is really quite exiting.

Well, down to the nitty gritty:

Since I started my studies in rhetoric I have realised that I felt an urge to try to tie Rhetorical theory and International Relations theory together. It seems very obvious in so many ways that these two disciplines should have great overlaps.

I had located one of the obstacles that I will need to tackle, namely the very dominant trend in IR, realism. Realism is basically the theoretical assumption that power is the all-dominating trait of how states act together. Protecting and strengthening the "national interest" is all-important. War is just the extreme, but logical extent of this.

This kind of collides with Rhetoric?s assumption that human society is very much based on our ability to engage in dialogue - that is: a kind of corporation. The symbolic interaction between us is shaped by nothing but human endeavour.

A while ago I found Robert Alexander Kraig's article "The Tragic Science: The Uses of Jimmy Carter in Foreign Policy Realism" (Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2002, pp. 1-30) - but it went in the drawer.

When finally pulling it out from there and reading it, I found that I had hit a stream of exactly what I had been looking for: Rhetoric combined with International Relations theory. It might only be a small trickle, with just two books on the subject so far, but it is a very good start. Now at least I know that I am not alone out there.

Kraig's article is an intriguing rhetorical analysis of the Realist's worldview, as it is expressed in the realist studies of Jimmy Carter's presidency (Carter started out with a rather idealistic view on a world order based on human rights, but soon turned back to a realist behaviour). He shows how it fits into the genre of tragedy and explain what consequences this have for realist theory. Very readable!

It might not offer a post-realist rhetorical IR theory in itself, but it lays a very good foundation for further work on war, intelligence and rhetoric.

Oh. Happiness is a warm theory.


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