This essay performs an ethnography of recent documents of state lethality in the public domain: The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (2002, 2006), The 9/11 Commission Report (2004), and the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq (2005). The analysis first engages an exegesis of Max Weber's sociological theory of the state, a theory that aims to yoke violence and legitimacy to the means and ends of statecraft. Weber's theory is then used to uncover the rhetorical strategies of representing and redeploying grounds for lethal state action in the documents here under investigation. Among the terms of and for violent action, the legitimacy of preemptive war, the redefinition of victory, and the redefinition of the United States as historically reactive and defensive are examined.

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