ERIC Number: ED490428
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Apr
The "Madman" Rhetoric of Richard Nixon: An Alternative Means to Establish Geopolitical Ethos
Scott, David K.
Online Submission, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Communication Association (Kansas City, MO, Apr 6-10, 2005)
In a geopolitical context, the means of establishing deterrence is premised on the military capability of a country and the perceived willingness of a leader to use force as a means to achieve policy goals. A key function of rhetoric is to establish the personal ethos of a leader regarding their willingness to use force. During the Cold War the rhetorical context of geopolitical discourse was premised on a rational choice model of decision-making based on a strategic calculation of the relative strength of each country. This paper argues that rhetorical strategies need to change relative to the strategic situation facing each leader. Further, the rhetorical burden of building and maintaining strategic credibility inversely increases relative to a country's military power. This paper explores Richard Nixon's innovative rhetorical strategy of cultivating irrationality and uncertainty as a means to maintain and enhance "deterrent credibility" during a period of national decline.
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A