Conceptualized because of the various ways in which mediums have visualized, recorded and represented aspects of terrorism. The CNN effect established a twenty-four-seven news cycle which entirely covered the first Gulf war. This represents mediatization because the ability of real-time communications technology compels governments to immediately respond based on human suffering portrayed on the television. Mediatization has significantly affected the War on Terror because the perpetual commentary has created mediated responses that have undeniably bled into our everyday engagement with society. It is these responses that feed into and shape the trajectory of the War on Terror.
Reese and Lewis assert that frames are ‘organizing principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully structure the social world.’ In accordance with George Lakoff’s definition of frames as thoroughly political and metaphorical, I recognize the importance of frames operating in the political process as a tool of analysis affecting the way in which the public perceive and interpret political agendas and other content that structure our world and create meaning for us.
The Bush administration in the aftermath of 9/11 demonstrate the affects framing has on the War on Terror. Jason Ralph outlines American Exceptionalism as in a state of a emergency, exceptions to the law are granted to a sovereign power to use for protecting the general public. Bush exercised this to a great extent because he architected the War on Terror by framing a binary discourse which categorized terrorists as the ‘evil other,’ the United States leading enemy. My contention is that under these circumstances the Bush administration used language to purposely construct a fear-infected frame which thereby established a master narrative creating and reflecting new identities. Bush embraced a rhetoric distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ which has serious traction to the War on Terror because this defines the separation between who ‘we’ are and who ‘they’ are. The American Exceptionalism myth proclaims America’s chosen mission is to annihilate evil, coupled with the War on Terror, the concept has become depoliticized as the primary mission for America. Theological language was conveyed which greatly influenced the public’s perception of Bush as a ‘god like’ figure to destroy evil. In this regard, it was articulated that if the nation wanted to defat the enemy, unconditional trust to the president was necessary.
Corey Robin formulates a compelling argument on fear because by claiming the circulation of fear has cemented the knowledge that evil does exist, I can argue that Bush framed the War on Terror by constructing a new enemy. Furthermore, the Bush administration constructed a new environment which Naomi Klein defines as disaster capitalism; using a framework of disaster for their own actions. Brian Mussumi argues that disaster and crises have increasingly corresponded to a growing state security apparatus. Disaster capitalism has generated a network that engages a seamless nexus between civilian emergencies to military solutions, highly distinctive policies which are ineffective solutions to the War on Terror. This is evident with the Anti-Terror doctrine in the United States and Canada which include emergency responses as part of its jurisdiction. I can assert that this culture of fear has constituted a state of permanent emergency which has induced capricious decision making. The Harper administration added four new terrorism offences to the 2012 Canadian Anti-Terrorism act responding to Martin Coutre-Roule, a Canadian who converted to Islam in 2013 and was recruiting ISIS supporters— though this legislation was highly disputed because it was entirely based on punishment. Despite the prevailing criticism and the lack of public documentation on the case of Martin Coutre-Roule, the terrorist attacks in October 2014 enabled the government to re-frame the War on Terror in a highly fearful and politicized climate leaving the public with no choice but to support Bill C51 in 2015. Similar to Bush, Harper personalized the campaign of terror against Canadians by asserting ISIS as the most dangerous enemy the world has ever faced. Harper used ideological discourse to frame the War on Terror which assumed all outsiders as potential terrorists. It is my contention that the ambiguity of the bill was unconsciously institutionalized illegitimately, exacerbating the very tension between national security and liberty. The Canadian Security Intelligence Services mandate was radically adjusted to include illegal measures, and a speech offence which is a highly counterproductive to the national security agenda. It is my proposal that state authorities must channel their focus to protecting its civilians under the national security agenda, rather than harnessing the everyday tools of data collection to root out potential terror threats as an invasion of privacy, and vehemently widening the scope of military presence.
The combination of disaster capitalism and the pre-emptive mode allows for ‘effects without causes.’ The notion of ‘effects without causes’ explains the uncertainty and unpredictability of terrorism, thus making it problematic to cease an attack before it occurs. The Bush administration legitimized pre-emptive warfare for predicting potential threats, though, Marrsumi argues, this shifts the mode of thinking, time and space of decision making. Nonetheless, terrorism becomes heavily linked to the state security apparatus, though in an uncertain decision-making environment, policies are not logically laid out.
It is significant to note the approach the Canadian government took for legislating Bill C51 considering it was passed without adequate evidence. I contend that in a perpetual culture of fear, public authorities can manipulate subjects in society to champion for its policy proposals which in part overlook the lack of sufficient evidence. However, the dilemma policy which Wirtz outlines is compelling because when determining appropriate responses to a threat perceived with limited certainty, policymakers adopt an ‘all or nothing response’ or a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Indication and warning practices are not reliable because these approaches do not generate event predications. The volatile and unforeseeable nature of terrorist threats fuel the the War on Terror, profoundly diffusing the narrative.
In conclusion, modern terrorism is highly dynamic. The world is constantly being saturated with information which the media and powerful officials are employing methods of framing and mediatization to the War on Terror. In turn this has ushered in several competing perspectives, diffusing the concept of the War on Terror, a major challenge for policy makers because terrorist threats are not certain and predicable. I argued that the explosion of new media technologies has magnified an assemblage of networks which the language and frames used to determine terrorism has spurred an environment of fear. I showed how the Bush administration framed the attacks of 9/11 in a way that established a narrative by defining the enemy, the victim, and an alarming setting. Additionally, I showed how similar approaches were used by the Harper administration for justifying Bill C51. I anticipate an increased state of fear amongst North America, and globally, considering the extent of terrorist networks dominating and engaging with our everyday online activities. We must be aware of the manipulating nature of the media and methods of framing in which we perceive and interpret the existing content in the world.