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Title: The US problem with non-state armed troops : US identity and an evolution of an "un-American" style of warfare
Author: Warren, Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 2801
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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US engagement and support of non-state armed groups is a regular and accepted facet of US foreign and security policy-making. Such groups are a central aspect of US war-fighting options. However, the US has a problem with non-state armed groups. This problem has nothing to do with whether these groups are effective in securing perceived US interests. Rather, non-state armed groups are a problem for US identity. The US knows that it opposes terrorism and subversive violence. Such methods of warfare are not how the US fights wars. Terrorist violence is a war-fighting method of weak actors and uncivilised groups who have evil intentions. The US is the opposite of such groups - an exemplary conductor of warfare in the defence of noble ideals such as freedom, liberty, and democracy. Where then, do the non-state armed groups that have become so central to US war-fighting fit into the opposition between the US and terrorist violence? How do non-state armed groups, so often associated with terrorism, become part of an “American way of war” which is supposed to oppose terrorist violence? The thesis does not ignore these actors as unproblematic amongst US war-fighting options, or simply cast US engagement and support of non-state armed groups as a simple case of “state terrorism”. Rather, the thesis argues the US engagement and support of non-state armed groups is a complex discursive interaction which manages the tensions between the US need to engage with non-state armed groups and its opposition to terrorism and subversive violence. Working with the conceptual tool of the US “security imaginary”, and applying the Discourse Theory of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the thesis tracks the discursive emergence of US engagement and support of non-state armed groups in the post-1945 era, which has seen it go from being a marginal and highly covert activity to the prominent tool of US security that it is today. Ultimately, the engagement and support of non-state armed groups has implications for how the US understands its own identity and the supposed “American way of war”.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available