The Hidden Grand Narrative of Western Military Policy: A Linguistic Analysis of American Strategic Communication

Saara Jantunen 1  and Aki-Mauri Huhtinen 2
  • 1 MA, Department of Leadership and Military Pedagogy, National Defence University, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2 Professor, Department of Leadership and Military Pedagogy, National Defence University, Helsinki, Finland


Strategic communication has replaced information warfare. As Art of War has been replaced by science, the representations of war and the role of the military have changed. Both war and military forces are now associated with binary roles: destruction vs. humanity, killing vs. liberating. The logic behind ‘bombing for peace’ is encoded in the Grand Military Narrative. This narrative is hidden in American (and NATO) strategies such as Effects Based Operations, which rely heavily on technology. As people aim to rationalize the world with technology, they fail to take into account the uncertainty it brings. In warfare, that uncertainty is verbalized as “friendly fire”, “collateral damage” or simply as “accident”. Success and failure are up to technology. Technology is no longer a tool, but an ideology and an actor that not only ‘enables’ the military to take action, but legitimizes it.

This article aims to contribute to military studies by analyzing, in the spirit of critical discourse analysis, American ‘Grand Military Narrative’ and he standard and trends of rhetoric it creates. The article focuses on pinpointing some of the linguistic choices and discourses that define the so-called ‘techno-speak’, the product of modern techno-ideology. These discourses result in representations of techno-centered binary values, which steer military strategy and foreign policy.

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