Bush and Blair 9-11 Speeches: Analysis of Rhetorical Devices

Bush and Blair 9-11 Speeches: Analysis of Rhetorical Devices

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President Bush and Prime Minister Blair delivered speeches shortly after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia, which occurred on September 11, 2001. The Former President George W Bush utilized pathos, anaphora, and personification in his speech to convey an optimistic tone. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, addressing the same topic, utilized mild invective and parallel structure to express an affirmative tone.
Throughout the speech, the Former President George W Bush strives to empower Americans by instructing them to remain resolute, but to “go back to [their] lives and routines”. He uses the personal pronoun we and the common pronoun us repeatedly to indicate that the people of the United States, who either saw the event on television or experienced this event firsthand, were and still are involved in this national tragedy. He implements this emotional appeal into his speech to involve all Americans--people living in the United States of America, regardless of their ethnicity, race, or culture, and to acknowledge that the American people have endured this together, and that they will continue to advance after this event with stronger resolve, stronger than ever. In addition, he implements personification to motivate and empower the American people. “Our nation, this generation, will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future” (Bush, 2001). “This generation”, again a synonym for the American people, with its unwavering resolve, will fight for its freedom persistently. He intimates that the future of America and of democratic freedom is in the hands of the American people: that the American people have the power to control their fate. The next sentence leads into America’s “philanthropically” democratic nature: “We will rally the world to this cause, by our efforts and by our courage” (Bush, 2001). This statement has been followed up by action only a few years later, when the United States intervened in the Iraqi War, Libyan Revolution, and even more civil wars to ensure the freedom of citizens from dictatorships, which in Islāmic nations, were militant groups, like the Hamas and Taliban. Lastly, the president utilized anaphora, specifically a tripartite structure, by affirming that the American people “will not tire”, “will not falter”, and “will not fail”. He implies that the American people will relentlessly fight for the worldwide establishment of peace and democratic institutions, a promise which America has kept even in the face of its own national crisis.

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By utilizing emotionally powerful rhetorical strategies in his speech, he not only made the speech more memorable and indelible from the minds of Americans, but he also provided comfort to traumatized Americans after the national calamity.
In contrast, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair took a different approach in his speech. He attempted to console the bereaved and devastated by assuring them that severe punitive action would be taken. He utilized mild invective and parallel structure to provide consolation to not only Americans, but also terror-stricken citizens worldwide affected by the terrorist attacks. By mentioning “the fanatic” he alluded to the terrorists, whom he generalized as believers of the Islāmic faith, who claimed to be proponents of jihad, “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty” (Merriam Webster, 2012). He maintained that the “destruction of the machinery of terrorism” (Blair, 2001) would increase the “chance of a better future” for everyone. He wanted to reassure people that their safety would not be compromised because he would take immediate action by punishing the terrorists and eradicating terrorism from the roots to prevent any such aggression from occurring in the future. In addition, Blair utilized parallel structure when he stated that “We were with you at the first” and “We will stay with you to the last” (Blair, 2001). The first of the two statements was an allusion to the coalition of Allied Powers during World War I and World War II, in which Britain, United States, and many other nations were involved in a pro-democracy struggle against the Axis Powers, which advocated highly centralized governments with no involvement by its citizens. He intimated that the United Kingdom would stand by America’s side until democracy was achieved globally and tyrannical governments were overthrown. This statement was reassuringly directed at Americans specifically, in contrast with the focus of the entire speech, which was aimed at people worldwide.
Similarly, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair strived to augment awareness of terrorism as a global threat [to democracy], empower people, and reassure the bereaved through expressive oratory. However, Prime Minister Blair utilized mildly incendiary language to foment American patriotism and promote anti-terrorist views. In contrast, President Bush used milder, yet more passionate language than Blair’s to empower and uplift the American people, to instruct them to remember the life-changing event of September 11, 2001, and to encourage them to uphold the values of democracy.
In response to the terrorist attacks launched on the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and the World Trade Centers in New York on September 11, 2001, Former United States President George W Bush delivered an optimistic speech evoking pathos, and utilizing anaphora and personification. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair responded to the terrorist attacks a few weeks later, with mild diatribe and parallelism to affirm his opinion of the catastrophe.

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