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What Should This Fight Be Called? Metaphors of Counterterrorism and Their Implications

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Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Vol. 8, page(s): 97-133

December 2007

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A distinguished panel including psychological scientists, political scientists, and psychiatrists – Arie W. Kruglanski, Martha Crenshaw, Jerrold M. Post, and Jeff Victoroff – assesses the impact of different metaphorical framings (warfare, law enforcement, epidemiology, and prejudice reduction) on the worldwide effort to combat and prevent terrorism. The authors show that the metaphorical “war on terrorism” that has dominated post-9/11 thinking about national security and foreign policy is highly limited, blinding political leaders and other key decision makers to different possibilities both for containing the worldwide spread of terrorist ideologies and also for preventing terrorism by alleviating the social problems giving rise to it. The report includes an editorial by Louise Richardson, Harvard University, who underscores the importance of not reducing counterterrorism to simplistic metaphors that hamper our ability to face inherently complex political and security issues.

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