Foreign Policy

  • Judi Atkins
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This chapter examines the Coalition’s case for humanitarian intervention in Libya (2011) and Syria (2013). It shows that, in both parliamentary debates, Cameron and Clegg employed identification through antithesis to distinguish their approach from the 2003 Iraq war. Buttressing this strategy were appeals for ideological and instrumental identification, which, respectively, were founded on the principle of humanitarian intervention and conceptions of the ‘national interest’. While MPs overwhelmingly supported the mission in Libya, they refused to back military action against Syria. Here, the Coalition’s case for intervention resembled that of Blair in several important respects, notably the bypassing of the UN. This prevented the partners from creating a clear contrast between Iraq and Syria, and so undermined their efforts to foster identification through antithesis.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judi Atkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Coventry UniversityCoventryUK

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