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Reviewed by:
  • Metaphorical World Politics
  • Kelly A. Clancy
Metaphorical World Politics. Edited by Francis A. Beer and Christ’l De Landtsheer . East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2004; pp ix + 342. $29.95.

American political discourse is replete with metaphorical depictions of foreign policy. Metaphors such as containment, the Cold War, isolationism, balance of power, globalization, and New World Order contextualize the way policy makers constitute the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world. In Metaphorical World Politics, Francis Beer and Christ'l De Landtsheer present an edited collection of essays that explore the way in which metaphors mediate relationships between countries. Metaphorical World Politics provides historical index of the metaphors that have guided and shaped American foreign policy in the public arena for the past 50 years.

A major strength of the book is the blend of rhetorical and international relations theory: the introduction argues that "the power of metaphor is the power to understand and impose political order. Metaphors reflect, interpret, [End Page 142] and construct politics" (30). The theoretical foundation provides room for authors to use different methodologies to explore the way metaphors frame political discourse. The book is organized thematically into three sections that examine major venues for metaphors: democracy, war and peace, and globalization. The first section explores metaphors of democracy, particularly emergent metaphors during the Cold War. Richard B. Gregg's "Embodied Meaning in American Public Discourse during the Cold War" explores the metaphors surrounding the spread of communism and containment. Gregg argues that metaphors reveal embodied meaning; rhetors during the Cold War used metaphors that described the body in order to convey emotionalism and the personal threat communism posed to individual American citizens. Communism threatened the mind and body—both the "body politic" of the American public, as well as individual citizens. Robert L. Ivie's "Democracy, War, and Decivilizing Metaphors of American Insecurity" provides a cross-section of presidential rhetoric that uses decivilizing metaphors, metaphors of insanity, and metaphors of depravity to persuade the public to support wars. Ivie argues that the metaphors become literalized and provide an orienting schema that guides American understanding of foreign policy.

The second section, Metaphorical War and Peace, begins with Dale A. Herbeck's article "Sports Metaphors and Public Policy: The Football Theme in Desert Storm Discourse." He analyzes football imagery used by the media and politicians to frame Desert Storm. Herbeck concludes that the football mentality placed Americans within the role of spectators at a game, thereby stifling dissent because there was no antecedent metaphor for protest or deliberation within the football context; when was the last time people protested at a football game? Additionally, the game metaphor reframed the war from one of American invasion to a metaphor of a fair fight, with worthy opponents who wanted to test their strength. Beer and Robert Boynton examine a Senate Subcommittee Hearing about U.S. foreign policy toward Cambodia. Path metaphors create the logical structure used to frame foreign policy decisionmaking. Through conceptualizing political options as divergent "paths," political leaders are able to visualize competing choices. The articles provide a sense of the vast purview of metaphors: both the strategic use of metaphors as a tool to persuade and pacify the public, as well as the functional role of metaphors in framing political decision making.

"The Power of Metaphors and Metaphors of Power: The United States in the Cold War and After," by Keith L. Shimko, explores the transition of metaphors from the Cold War to the present, reexploring many of the metaphors previously discussed in the Ivie and Gregg essays in the first section. "Metaphors of US Global Leadership: The Psychological Dynamics of Metaphorical Thinking during the Carter Years," by Jerel A. Rosati and Steven [End Page 143] J. Campbell, is a discussion of the intersection of metaphor, psychology, and politics during Jimmy Carter's presidency. Carter's idealism was reflected in the metaphor "global community" at the beginning of his presidency, but then shifted to "arc of crisis" as his foreign policy crisis worsened, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Finally, Timothy W. Luke's "Megametaphorics: Rereading Globalization and Virtualization as Rhetorics of World Politics" argues that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5238
Print ISSN
1094-8392
Pages
pp. 142-144
Launched on MUSE
2007-04-23
Open Access
No
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