In public diplomacy, states are often called upon to defend themselves rhetorically when they are blamed by foreign actors for untoward action. Why do states engage in rhetorical defense and how do they go about it? To answer this question, the author employs social accounts theory to theorize the motivation and structure of rhetorical defense. Following a discussion of social accounts, he analyzes the tactics of blame avoidance and argues that they are constructed from validity claims of truth, rightness, and sincerity, as stipulated by Habermas in his theory of communicative action. This structure of rhetorical defense as accounts is then examined in a case study of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's defense of his government's actions in the 2010 Turkish flotilla incident. The empirical study suggests that rhetorical defense is indeed composed of validity claims, but more specifically that these revolve mostly around norm-in-context claims, namely arguments that seek to establish a fit between norms and situations.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Author(s).
- Turkish flotilla incident
- crisis communication
- public diplomacy
- rhetorical defense
- social accounts
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations