Waging peace: transformations of the warrior myth by US military veterans

Robert L. Ivie, Oscar Giner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: The mythic authority of the warrior, ancient and contemporary, is examined as a rhetorical formation of US war culture subject to transformation in the discourse of military veterans advocating for peace. The incongruity of veteran soldiers opposed to militarism is a point of cultural tension that reveals a resource for altering the language of war from within. The dissenting voices of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War articulate a composite theme further developed by veteran Paul Chappell into a guiding image of waging peace. Located in its larger mythic context, the prophetic voice of the dissenting veteran redirects attention to the evil of war (its essence of destruction and death), distorted images of so-called enemies (recognizing innocent victims of warfare), a history of militarism, racism, and structural injustice (looking inward instead of projecting outward), and nonviolent advocacy, democratic decision-making, and diplomacy (reconciling rather than suppressing differences). The transformative trope of ‘waging peace’ prompts a paradigm shift that converts the military idiom and channels the warrior ethos into a vehicle of positive peacemaking. It serves as a cultural innovation that prefigures the possibility of change, a partial transcendence (in Kenneth Burke’s formulation) with a contemplative effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-213
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Multicultural Discourses
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2016


  • Warrior myth
  • transformation
  • veterans for peace
  • waging peace
  • war culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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