IS290-1 News Media



4 News Articles and Links, Analyzed for Metaphor


“What metaphor does is limit what we notice, highlight what we do see, and provide part of the inferential structure that we reason with.  Because of the pervasiveness of metaphor in thought, we cannot always stick to discussions of reality in purely literal terms. There is no way to avoid metaphorical thought, especially in complex matters like foreign policy.  I am therefore not objecting to the use of metaphor in itself in foreign policy discourse.  My objections are, first, to the ignorance of the presence of metaphor in foreign policy deliberations, second to the failure to look systematically at what our metaphors hide, and third, to the failure to think imaginatively about what new metaphors might be more benign.

 ~George Lakoff, Metaphor and War:  The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf (2 parts), November 1991.




Lakoff’s work provided the basis for looking at the articles from my Assignment 5 but using the script methods used in my Assignment 3, where we tasked with Inverting the Pyramid (description of the original class assignment).  The assignment asked us to review domestic and foreign stories to find a script or schema that would be able to pick out details of a event in order to summarize or aggregate multiple news stories about the event.  I used the script applier mechanism to work out how a system would pick out the details of a story and summarize them.  The object of metaphor extraction is to determine how a system might go through the same stories to find the metaphor or metaphors implicit in each one. 


I started by reviewing and summarizing George Lakoff’s analyses on metaphors around the Gulf War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  I wanted to compare the various metaphors he described in order to pick out which metaphors were most used in terrorist news stories, and then manually pull the metaphor from the story.  I then looked at ways a system could pull the same information, so that in addition to the basic script of the story created in Assignment 3, the metaphors would be obvious.


The metaphors, summarized in the link above, which seemed most useful in terrorist stories, are as follows:


1.      War is politics pursued by other means

2.      State-as-person system

3.      Ruler can stand for the state as well as the state-as-person (only for illegitimate rulers)

4.      Fairy tale of the Just War

5.      Rational Actor model

6.     Risk Metaphors

7.     Strict Father Morality

8.     Buildings as metaphors

9.     Control is up; standing is both time and strength

10.                Causal Commerce System


Terrorism/Middle East Article Metaphor script:

1.    information/story framed

2.    metaphor laid out

3.    target/terrorists/action named using metaphor

4.    information/evidence given to support metaphor


In addition to the metaphor scripts, I also looked at metaphor descriptors that could be used to find metaphors because of the specific word choices made by writers of news articles.  This list of words was developed with stories about the Middle East and terrorism in mind, directly from the articles below.  The idea is that this system would look for stories with this subject matter and then match words that point to metaphors used in describing the actions and actors, using words that often are used to imply a metaphorical way of looking at the story.  Obviously, a much greater list would be necessary for a system to find the metaphors, but I wanted to make an attempt to find those words that would be necessary for the specific stories analyzed below.






ARTICLE 1:  From The Dawn, Pakistan

February 12, 2002


Metaphors used:

1.      Strict Father scenario (irresponsible leaders must be punished)

2.      Immoral/evil people are animals (bin Laden, Mulla Omar are hunted)

3.      Fairy tale of the just war (Victim, hero and perpetrator are identified)

4.      Rational Actor Model (countries and individuals act in their own best interests)


(terrorism- metaphor script $alert

      ‘((ptrans (Actor ?Hero) (Object ?terrorists) (to ?hunt down))

        (mtrans (Actor ?Victim) (Object (root out (animals)



        (mtrans (Actor ?Perpetrator) (Object (what they did) (target)

   (civilized world)


        ((verify) (Actor? Hero) (Object ?civilized world)   (object ?terrorists)   (object ?action))))

        (atrans (Actor ?Perpetrator) (Object (part-and-parcel) (?Al-Qaeda)

(for ?what they did)

(to ?warning))

        (ptrans (Actor ?Hero) (Object ?Pakistan) (to?stood with)

(Object ?United States) (to?support))))




US to continue hunt for Osama, Omar


By Our Correspondent

NEW YORK, Feb 27: The United States would continue to hunt down Osama bin Laden, Taliban leader Mulla Omar and their "henchmen" throughout the world.

Reiterating that the US war on terrorism would continue until Al Qaeda is rooted out, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said: "It's hard to predict" whether there can be any closure without the arrest or death of bin Laden. He was briefing news correspondents in New York on Tuesday following President Bush's visit to China, Japan and South Korea.

Reeker, when asked to comment on reports that on Osama bin Laden is still alive in Afghanistan, said: "I cannot verify the variety of reports other than what the president had said that we would continue to hunt for him and Mulla Mohammed Omar but also their henchmen, the Taliban, who were part and parcel of Al-Qaeda for what they did to our country and many others in the civilized world."

He said the campaign "won't end and certainly I cannot predict when it would end." Asked about the fallout of President Musharraf's campaign to rid the country of radical elements, Reeker said following Musharraf's address (of Jan 12) "silent majority of Pakistanis have stood up with him, the dire warnings were misplaced."

"The silent majority of Pakistanis has not only stood up not only with us, the United States, in the aftermath of Sept 11 but with the civilized world also seeing what is best for Pakistan."

© The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2002


ARTICLE 2:  From the Tribune, India


Metaphors used:

1.              War is politics pursued by other means  (sort of reverse reference, in that the US is confused and doesnt know where to direct this metaphor next)

2.              State-as-person system  (US, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, N. Korea)

3.              Ruler can stand for the state as well as the state-as-person (only for illegitimate rulers)  (Hussein)

4.             Fairy tale of the Just War (US is the self-defender)

5.             Strict Father Morality  (other countries are irresponsible children to be disciplined)


(terrorism- metaphor script $alert

      ‘((ptrans (Actor ?Hero) (Object ?axis-of-evil states) (to ?deal with)

        (mtrans (Actor ?Victim) (Object (move to (anti-terror campaign)



        (mtrans (Actor ?Perpetrator) (Object (is/are) (shadowy war)

   (shadowy people)


        ((missle) (Actor? Hero) (Object ?attack)   (object ?Al-Qaeda suspects)   (object ?action))))

        (atrans (Actor ?Residents) (Object (killed) (?innocents)

(for ?what they did)

(to ?warning))

        (ptrans (Actor ?Hero) (Object ?Pakistan) (to?stood with)

(Object ?United States) (to?support))))




USA fighting ‘fog of confusion’

Washington, February 12
The USA has admitted it was battling a fog of confusion in post-war Afghanistan but signaled it could soon move into the next phase of its anti-terror campaigndealing withaxis of evil’’ states.

Pentagon officials, responding to reports that US forces have targeted wrong people in mopping up Al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants, said yesterday the truth was hard to establish in Afghanistan.

“To say that... conditions in Afghanistan are confusing is an understatement, you know,’’ said spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, who addressed a briefing with Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem.

Stufflebeem added: “It’s a shadow war. These are shadowy people who don’t want to be found.’’

But the officials said they were confident the latest attack about which questions had been raised, a missile fired at a group of Al-Qaeda suspects by a remote controlled drone, had been on target.

The Washington Post yesterday quoted residents of the area as saying three innocent peasants had been killed in the missile strike a week ago, not Al-Qaeda leaders as US officials reported at the time.

Mr Clarke and Admiral Stufflebeem said an investigation into another US attack three weeks ago on Afghans believed, possibly mistakenly, to be Al-Qaeda or Taliban was being expanded to look at charges that some detainees had been beaten while in US custody.

At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer suggested President George W. Bush wanted quick action against his “axis of evil’’ nationsIran, Iraq and North Korea. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein hit back at Washington. “The American behavior and conduct imply clear tyranny and evil hostility against people,’’ Iraqi television quoted him as saying at a meeting. Reuters

ARTICLE 3: From the Tehran Times


Metaphors used:

1.    State-as-person system (Iran, Germany, Austria, Afghanistan, US)

2.    Risk Metaphors  (countering bad influences in the region)

3.   Strict Father Morality (Iran, Germany and Austria have responsibility for security, to stand up to US monopoly)

4.   Control is up; standing is both time and strength  (Iran and EU work to make stability, security, take responsibility)

5.   Rational Actor Model (each country is working in its own best interests)


Because this article is written from the Iranian point of view, the metaphor script and metaphors used are directed from that point of view.


(middle east- metaphor script $status

      ‘((ptrans (Actor ?Iran) (Object ?comprehensive talks) (to ?held)

        (mtrans (Actor ?Germany) (Object (focused (US unilateralism)

   (Middle East)

   (German-Iranian ties)


       (ptrans (Actor ?Iran) (Object ?comprehensive talks) (?held)

        (mtrans (Actor ?Austria) (Object (similar talks)


        (mtrans (Actor ?EU) (Object (have) (extensive relations)

   (appropriate groundwork)


        (ptrans) (Actor? Iran) (Object ?maintaining)   (object ?appropriate groundwork)  (object ?action))))

        (atrans (Actor ?US) (Object (blind support) (?Zionist regime)

(for ?suppression)

(of ?Palestinians))

       (ptrans (Actor ?Iran) (Object ?peace and security) (intervene)

        (atrans (Actor ?other major players) (Object (fair and peaceful solution) (seek)


        (ptrans (Actor ?cooperation) (Object ?regional security) (maintaining)

(Object ?unilateralist and monopolistic US Policies) (countering))))


Iran, EU Opposed to U.S. Hegemony

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who arrived in Berlin Tuesday for a two-day visit, held comprehensive talks with German Parliament Speaker Wolfgang Thierse which focused on German-Iranian ties, Afghanistan, the Middle East issue, and other global developments such as U.S. unilateralism.

In addition, one day prior to Kharrazi's talks with Thierse, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Euro-American Affairs Ali Ahani held similar talks with the Austrian Parliament speaker and acting foreign minister.

Germany and Austria are two countries that have extensive relations with Iran at the bilateral level as well as within the framework of cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Islamic Republic. In fact, the close views of Iran, Germany and Austria on the Middle East issue and developments in Afghanistan have prepared an appropriate groundwork for cooperation in maintaining regional security and stability and in other areas such as fighting terrorism and drug trafficking.

As far as the Mideast issue is concerned, the blind U.S. support for the Zionist regime's suppression of Palestinians has escalated the crisis in the region. Therefore, it is the responsibility of other major players on the international arena to intervene and seek a fair and peaceful solution to the issue.

With regard to Afghanistan, maintaining peace and security in that country requires contributions from all countries to support Afghanistan's interim government, regardless of political considerations.

Considering the efforts made by Iran at the Bonn Conference to help form the interim government in Afghanistan, it is clear that Tehran and Berlin hold similar positions on the above issue.

Therefore, in the light of the considerable progress made in the comprehensive dialogue between the Islamic Republic and the European Union, Kharrazi's negotiations with German officials and Ahani's visit to Austria indicate that Iran and the EU have opted for continued consultations and cooperation on major regional and international issues. This cooperation aims to secure several objectives, the most important ones being maintaining regional security and countering unilateralist and monopolistic U.S. policies on the international scene.



ARTICLE 4: From the NY Times

Metaphors used:

1.      War is politics pursued by other means  (Israeli/Palestinian conflict)

2.      State-as-person system (US, Israel, etc.)

3.      Ruler can stand for the state as well as the state-as-person (Arafat)

4.     Rational Actor model  (US and others work in their own best interests)

5.     Risk Metaphors (calculations of strength and power)

6.     Strict Father Morality (Arafat is to be controlled or disavowed)

7.     Control is up; standing is both time and strength (US strength can straighten out Middle East)

8.     Causal Commerce System (force Arafat to crack down on violence or risk isolation, isolation will follow not being responsible)



(middle east- metaphor script $status

      ‘((ptrans (Actor ?Washington) (Object ?crucial) (to ?has been)

        (mtrans (Actor ?American Presidents) (Object (have played (powerful role)

   (Middle East)



        (mtrans (Actor ?Peace) (Object (has seemed (closest)




‘((ptrans (Actor ?Washington) (Object ?squarely) (stand)

                              (Object (to? Isolate and pressure (with Mr. Sharon)

   (Mr. Arafat)

   (to crack down on violence)



February 24, 2002

Who Will Step In?



An old Middle East hand once likened the conflict there to riding a bicycle: If you're moving, however slowly, you don't fall down. But if you try to stand still, you fall.

After 17 months of intifada, suicide bombings, smuggled arms, unsparing Israeli reprisals and bloody stalemate, there is an inescapable sense that the bicycle is inches from the ground. And, as it always has at such times, the world is looking to America for forward momentum.

Washington's involvement has always been the crucial element in any breakthrough in the Middle East. From Harry S. Truman's swift recognition of the new state of Israel, through Jimmy Carter's Camp David summitry in the 1970's and Bill Clinton's handshake deal in the 1990's, American presidents have played a powerful role in molding the shape of Middle East negotiations. Peace has always seemed closest when America is most involved. Though this downward spiral of violence has generated doubts about any hope for a solution, a wide array of voices — representing many lands and views — are now suggesting that renewed American involvement is the key.

But what should the Bush administration do and, more important, can it accomplish what it desires?

"I think we have got to start with a pretty frank recognition that whatever we have been trying for the past year has not worked," said William B. Quandt, a national security official in the Nixon and Carter administrations. "We've kind of gone through a cycle of what you might call benign neglect — it's up to them to get their act together."

A sampling of opinion from academic experts and current and former government officials produced a variety of possible ideas for American action. Send in a new high-level American envoy, with the stature of, say, former Secretary of State James A. Baker. Press for a 10-day cooling off period in which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel would ease the siege of Palestinian areas long enough to see if Yasir Arafat would crack down on violenceor face a cutoff of relations with the United States.

Howard Teicher, a former National Security Council official in the Reagan administration, said there are dangers for the administration in getting more involved. For example, American efforts could alienate Arab nations when their cooperation is vital. Mr. Bush would also risk political and diplomatic capital to broker an agreement in a region where American success has never been assured.

But the alternatives are worse. "The fundamental weakness of our policy now," Mr. Teicher said, "is that in saying, `It's up to Sharon and it's up to Arafat,' we're leaving it up to the extremists. That's what America did with Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists. We waited until 3,000 Americans were killed before we did anything. In the cold-war era, our fundamental vital interest was to prevent a dispute in the Middle East from becoming a U.S.- Soviet conflict. There could be some very high costs imposed on us by not continuing our efforts."

In fact, Shibley Telhami, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, just published a statistical study of 20 years of daily analysis of how Israelis and Palestinians react to each other. He said that from 1995 to 2000, when the peace process was progressing — with American leadership — terror declined every year in the Middle East. By 1999, it had the lowest level of incidents of any region on the globe, except North America.

"When breaks in the violence happen, it's usually because you have some extremely courageous leader, like Sadat or Rabin — people who give their own lives," Professor Telhami said. "But you can't depend on that. It's more likely if you have some external pressure."

Indeed, progress over the last decade has come only through American pressure. In 1991, the first President Bush convened the Madrid peace conference in fulfillment of a commitment to Arab nations who joined the international coalition that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The Madrid conference, and the Oslo accords that followed in 1993, significantly advanced the negotiating terms for a final settlement on a homeland for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza. But the momentum of Madrid and Oslo foundered for many reasons, including government changes in Israel and a rising tide of extremism among Palestinians.

YET Washington can play a role, and there could even be an opening. Last week, the C.I.A. brokered secret talks between top-ranking Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss political and security issues. Seeking to lessen the tension, Israeli officials said Friday that the government was considering releasing Mr. Arafat, the Palestinian leader, from the West Bank city of Ramallah, where it trapped him for more than two months.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, returning from a trip to Asia with President Bush, told reporters on Friday that he was concerned about the growing level of violence and planned to "spend a good part of the weekend re-engaging both sides." He said he saw promise in a recent peace overture by the ruling crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

But no one pretends the road back will be smooth. Vice President Dick Cheney plans a Middle East trip next month that the administration said will not focus on peacemaking but on broader American relationships in the region as the war on terrorism expands. The notion that the two can even be separated is controversial.

"He's going on the reigning theory that you can have a solution to the United States relationship to terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction without dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," said Stephen Cohen, a visiting professor at Princeton University. "This trip is going to test that assumption."

President Bush took office last year wary of deep involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not least because it was a priority for his predecessor, Bill Clinton, and one that ended in disappointment with the collapse of negotiations at Camp David.

Last fall, the administration began to take a more forward-leaning approach, with Mr. Bush's pledge of support for a Palestinian state and the dispatch of a special envoy, Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine general, to help negotiate a cease-fire and resumption of peace talks.

FOR the last two months, especially since Israel's seizure of a 50-ton boatload of Iranian- supplied arms that it said were bound for the Palestinian Authority, Washington has had a single strategy: stand squarely with Mr. Sharon to isolate and pressure Mr. Arafat to crack down on violence.

Yet the violence has only grown worse, and the administration withdrew General Zinni and has declined to send him back until it goes down again. "This is now Algeria," said Judith Kipper, director of the Middle East Forum at the Council on Foreign Relations here. "Each side is going to continue to escalate. Neither side can get the other to submit."

She added: "They've both been very good at saying no to us. But in the end, we're the big guys. We need to say we're sending Zinni back; and he's going to work with you to have an immediate cease-fire. And for those who do not cooperate, here are the consequences for you: whether it's public criticism, cutoff of contacts, no more phone calls, all the way up to whatever instruments the United States has at its command."

Many analysts said the administration should do all it can to explore the suggestion by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that his kingdom would be prepared to fully normalize relations with Israel in exchange for full Israeli withdrawal from the territories it occupied at the end of the 1967 war, with suggestions of flexibility on other questions, including control of holy sites in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials have so far offered muted reaction, but the idea has been greeted with overwhelming support in the Arab world. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, which has traditionally seen itself as the principal Arab peace broker in the region, is due in Washington next week, and officials say he may well try to signal a willingness to up the ante.

And President Bush could then enter into the traditional role of an American president — by getting directly involved in seeking peace in the Middle East.


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