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Enemy Addiction

Outsider Threats, Security Frames, and Target Audiences in Contemporary US Security Policy

Perceptions of insecurity are a key source of violent conflict and international instability. This project investigates the US preoccupation with security threats after the Cold War ended, and how the discursive redefinition of the post-Cold War landscape in terms of danger and uncertainty has locked the US into perpetuating expensive security practices - even in times of severe economic crisis.


Project Aims

The project aims to understand - through the lens of policy language - how perceptions of insecurity are created and maintained, and how depictions of enmity based on a dualistic conceptions of 'us' versus 'them' fosters distrust, conflict, and the use of military force. It has three core objectives

  1. Communicating outside a narrow academic community the importance of how political agents 'speak' security
  2. Move the study of discourse in International Security toward problem-driven multidisciplinary research designs
  3. Engage end-users as co-producers of knowledge on the societal implications of security policy language

Public Engagement

Engagement with non-academic audiences for 'Enemy additiction' takes place under the umbrella brand SISAW (Speaking International Security at Warwick) that is linked to this project. It has three core components:

(1) Bringing International Security to the Classroom
(2) Journalists as Co-Producers of Knowledge
(3) Engaging the Wider Public

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  • 06/2015. 'Human Security Benchmarks: Governing Human Wellbeing at a Distance'. Review of International Studies-sponsored panel on 'Global Benchmarking', BISA 40th Anniversary Conference, London, June 16-19.
  • 05/2015. 'Is Economic Security Bunk?'. New Directions in International Political Economy - CSGR Warwick 50th Anniversary Conference, University of Warwick, 13-15 May.
  • 02/2015. ‘Turn, Turn, Turn in IR Theory: Practice, Performativity, and Emotion as Pathways to Inclusiveness?’. Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), New Orleans, 18-22 February.
  • 01/2015. 'The Discourse of Human Security'. Roundtable: From Human Security to R2P, University of Warwick, 7 January.
  • 11/2014. ‘Resilient Defenses: Three Persistent Myths about US Military Budgets’. ISAC-ISSS Joint Annual Conference on Security Studies, University of Texas, Austin, 14-16 November.
  • 11/2014. ‘Uncertainty in International Security’. ISAC-ISSS Joint Annual Conference on Security Studies, University of Texas, Austin, 14-16 November.
  • 09/2014. ‘Discursive Authority: Language as Leverage in US Security Policymaking’. BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group annual conference, London School of Economics, 17-19 September.
  • 04/2014. ‘Narratives of Enmity
. The Power of Words in US Security Policy’. British Association for American Studies (BAAS) annual conference, University of Birmingham, 10-13 April.


Principal Investigator:
Dr Alexandra Homolar

ESRC Reference: ES/K008684/1

Duration: 12/2013-12/2016

Amount Awarded: £238,640