The Use of the War Metaphor During the Pandemic: A War for Whom and By What Means?: The US as a Case Study


  • Amna Ben Amara Cultural Studies: University of Sousse, Tunisia



War Metaphors, Traditional Security, Covid-19 pandemic, Political Discourse, Human Security


War metaphors have been at the apex of political speeches. The effectiveness of these metaphors is mainly emanated from their emotional undertone which can influence and even direct action. However, the context in which these metaphors are communicated is highly important, as it may lead to positive as well as negative effects, depending on the situation. These nuanced outcomes of war metaphors entail that these tropes are highly complex and dynamic. In this regard, the aim of this research paper is to unravel the complexity of Trump’s metaphorical warfare in dealing with COVID-19 and its role in unraveling the country’s human security deficit. This study met its research objectives through combining the different strands of Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the explanation dimension of Charteris-Blacks’ Critical Metaphor Analysis. The article shows that the use of the war metaphor during the pandemic did not reinforce the sense of solidarity among the people, but rather exacerbated panic and fear of an invisible enemy. This is particularly relevant given the argument that the pandemic transcends the traditional definitions of fear and threat that political leaders have been propagating throughout history, as the enemies in this case may be one’s relatives, friends and even family. Even the weapons are unprecedented. Thus, it is this ambiguity that further fueled insecurity and atomization among the public and forged them to tolerate political decisions that repress their freedoms and personal spaces.