Strategies of deterrence and frames of containment
in Conspiracy theory and American foreign policy
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This chapter examines the widespread concern expressed by foreign policy commentators about the link between anti-Americanism and Arab-Muslim conspiracy theories in the wake of 9/11. It shows that this Arab-Muslim paranoia narrative helped disqualify criticism of American power and limit interpretations of 9/11. When ‘anti-Americanism’ was connected to ‘conspiracy theory’, readers were directed away from the substance of specific claims and towards the deeper pathologies of the people making them. In this sense, the Arab-Muslim paranoia narrative after 9/11 was involved in an ongoing process of boundary maintenance. One way to grasp this dynamic is to consider the concerns of foreign policy commentators after 9/11 as part of a wider conspiracy discourse, where multiple conspiracy narratives vied for standing and significance.

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