A HUMANITARIAN TRAGEDY OR A SAFE HAVEN FOR TERRORISTS? Tracing the evolution of US policy discourse on Somalia between the 1990s and 2000s
Voorthuizen, P.C. van
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Both in the 1990s and the 2000s, the United States chose to intervene in Somalia. In the 1990s, the US were involved through the UNOSOM mission to provide humanitarian relief, while the early 2000s were dominated by their fight against terrorism. This bachelor thesis aims to understand how the discourse of US officials on Somalia changed between 1992 and 2007, and whether these changes influenced policy choices. Whereas much literature exists on the discourse of separate time periods, this thesis contributes new insights by comparing the two periods. A selection of speeches and remarks by US officials in 1992-1993 and 2002-2007 are analyzed according to the theory of frame analysis by Benford and Snow, in order to identify the different frames and names used to portray the situation in Somalia and legitimize US involvement. Consequently, three shifts in framing are identified between 1992 and 2007; in June 1993, February 2002 and December 2006. This reveals stark differences in the US perception of Somalia and their own role in resolving the issue at hand. Whilst Somalia is first framed as a victim of humanitarian tragedy, it is later transformed into a terrorist threat. Thus, the thesis illustrates the power of names and frames in constructing a discourse about Somalia, and takes the first step in exploring the possible relation between framing and the development and legitimation of policy. Future research is recommended to investigate the link between framing and policy as soon as covert US policies become declassified.