Deconstructing Security Discourse in Past National Security Strategies

24 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2013

Date Written: May 6, 2006


In this paper, I deconstruct the the Truman, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II United States National Security Strategy documents, to reveal central key assumptions and functions of national security discourse. I infer and unveil national security as a tool for identity construction of “us” and “them,” which works through narrations and speech acts that disguise the actual goals of the discourse. Deconstructing the directives in previous NSS documents recounts a tale of otherization of differences, marginalization of ethnic minorities, women and critical human security issues, and the politicization of security. Thus, I conclude that war is not only waged on the battlefield, but also through the dominant telling of historical narratives, through discourses that conceal the use of force and relations of power. National security discourse — including the rhetoric of democracy, American values and free markets — functions as a polemical device that is employed increasingly to achieve political ends and as a result, has little to do with actual human security.

Keywords: NSS, national security, critical security studies, CSS, discourse studies

Suggested Citation

Lal, Prerna P, Deconstructing Security Discourse in Past National Security Strategies (May 6, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Prerna P Lal (Contact Author)

Lal Legal, APLC ( email )

2001 Addison Street
Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704


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