volume1 issue1 english abstract 33 52 .pdf

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Global Media Journal
Arabian Edition
Fall/Winter 2010
Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 33-52


T a h a | 33

Clinton’s rhetoric on Somalia:
A Burkian reading from a diplomatic perspective
By Mustafa Taha
American University of Sharjah

This paper examines Clinton’s rhetorical strategy on Somalia, particularly his Oct. 8, 1993,
speech. The paper uses Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic pentad to unveil Clinton’s motives. Clinton
reasoned that the U.S. forces were in Somalia to save Somalis from the specters of anarchy and
starvation. But the transformation of the U.S. mission from a humanitarian endeavor to nationbuilding caused many problems for the Clinton administration. On Oct. 3, 1993, the failed U.S.
attempt to arrest Aidid, a faction leader, resulted in the downing of two Blackhawk helicopters
and the killing of 18 U.S. soldiers. In response to an eroding public support and the Republican
demands for terminating the U.S. intervention in Somalia, Clinton pulled the U.S. troops out of
the country in March 1994. This paper suggests that in his speech Clinton did not spell out all the
facts because he did not want to draw more criticism.
Key words: International relations, U.S. presidents, public diplomacy, Somalia, Kenneth
Burke, presidential rhetoric, nation-building

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