Rhetoric in Hostile Diplomatic Situations: A Case Study of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’ s Rhetoric During his 2007 US visit

Jeremy Fyke, Marquette University

Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, Vol. 4, No. 4 (September 2008): 317-330. DOI.


This paper examines heads-of-state visits as a form of public diplomacy, using Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's September 2007 visit to the United States as illustrative of such efforts in a hostile diplomatic situation. We analyse three communicative events — the forum at Columbia University, his interview with the National Press Club, and UN General Assembly address — treating his discourse as constitutive of a rhetorical act. Using and extending Mor's (2007) self-presentation framework, our analysis reveals that, when confronted with a competitive and exigent rhetorical situation, Ahmadinejad employed a range of strategies (blame avoidance, blame imposition, credit gain) and concomitant tactics to defend himself, his actions, and his policies. Implications of this case study for international relations and public diplomacy efforts are discussed.