How does nationalist selfishness creep into cosmopolitan protection?

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This article investigates how selfish justifications enter cosmopolitan rationales in the political plane of the discourse. It makes sense of the ways in which selfish ideas are allowed to meddle in and merge with morally-based cosmopolitan norms. The article commits to the ontological and epistemological premises of critical discourse analysis, and focuses on US presidential papers since 1989. It substantiates the claims it makes by using computer-assisted discursive process tracing method as a supporting tool for qualitative analysis of texts. The computerized analysis of discursive entanglements reveals that cosmopolitan protective operations are in fact mainly framed in nationalistic frame. The roots of such nationalistic selfish arguments for international protective military operations can be traced in the realist and hegemonic fallacies that emphasize the naturality of national selfishness and the need for global hegemony. Furthermore, the article shows how the entanglement of discourse strands on “protection” and “innocent victimhood” as well as the entanglement between “crime prevention” and “terrorism prevention” make selfish internationalist arguments legitimate in the US political debate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-76
Number of pages35
JournalGlobal Responsibility to Protect
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • New Wars
  • Protection of civilians
  • battle deaths
  • discourse analysis


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