"In defending democracy, we must not forget the need to observe the values that make democracy worth defending".1
Britain's Lord Chief Justice Woolf, cited in the Dominion Post, 2 November 2002. On 11 September 2001, four hijacked passenger planes crashed in the United States. Two of the planes were deliberately piloted into highly populated buildings in New York City, one hit the American Defence Department (the Pentagon) in Washington D.C., and the fourth crashed near the small town of Shanksville, Somerset County, Pennsylvania. This thesis will examine how these events were constructed in mainstream Western discourse, and how these constructions helped shape the environment in which subsequent world affairs emerged. A principal focus of the study is the largely unquestioned resort to violent, military action in the wake of 11 September 2001, and it will be shown how the key constructions worked in conjunction with each other to support this development. The second central issue examined is the response of the New Zealand government. What would be the position of New Zealand's Labour-led government, with its tradition of an independent, moral foreign policy and a commitment to a rules-based international order in the wake of the events? My choice of this topic, and this particular approach, stems from my witnessing the extreme convergence of opinion that followed these events, both in the mainstream media and in general conversations with fellow New Zealanders. The clearly developing plans for aggressive retaliation, along with claims that 'the world had changed', led me to be concerned about the implications for human rights.