Into the Bramble Patch
With Biden pledging to restore the ‘rules-based order’, a redemptive history—describing the triumph of a peaceful new world order over its war-torn forerunner—has taken shape in the field of international legal theory. Tor Krever scrutinizes this narrative through the work of two recent propagators.
Memory and Icons
Fate of the photographic icon of war in the age of embedded journalism and the digital camera: why so few images of the conquest of Iraq are recollected, and so many of the fall of the Twin Towers pre-selected? The importance of counter-narratives for fixing meaning to shots of fighting or suffering, and the latent possibilities of the democratization of image-production today.
On Re-reading Life and Fate
Against conventional comparisons with War and Peace, Fredric Jameson offers a path-breaking formal reading of Vassily Grossman’s great fiction of the Battle of Stalingrad. The war against Hitler as crucible for a new collectivity, in which freedom finds itself, or as grounds of social—and thus narrative—totality.
Costs of America’s imperial project registered in the emotional damage inflicted on its soldiers, and multiplier effects on those around them. Contrasting perspectives—reportage, blockbuster, trauma-group documentary—on men and war, as veterans’ suicides overtake us battlefield casualties.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Repeatedly invoked to choke off emergent nuclear powers in East Asia and the Middle East, the NPT’s actual content has remained largely undiscussed. Norman Dombey itemizes the Treaty’s provisions, and the asymmetrical burdens imposed on signatories, the better to gauge its successes and limitations.
Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War
Reasons for the West’s stalemate in Afghanistan sought neither in lack of troops and imperial treasure, nor in Pakistani obstruction, but in the very nature of the occupation regime. Tariq Ali on the actual results of ‘state-building’ in the Hindu Kush, as a broken country is subjected to the combined predations of NGOs and NATO.
Role of Force in History
Gopal Balakrishnan takes issue with an ambitious attempt to apply evolutionary paradigms to human history, which would locate the wellsprings of conflict in the combative make-up of the species. Azar Gat’s War in Human Civilization as an instance of neo-social darwinism adapted to the multicultural spirit of the age.
Whatever happened to the Anti-War Movement?
Neither rising domestic opposition to the Iraq war, nor discussions of withdrawal in Congress, can be ascribed to pressure from mass mobilizations against the occupation. Alexander Cockburn investigates the disappearance of the anti-war movement: co-opted by the Democrats, captive to the logic of the War on Terror.
War and the City
As Bush pours extra troops into Baghdad, Pentagon strategists plan for the urban future of warfare. Stephen Graham surveys the emerging network of US military training facilities—Potemkin battlefields and slum simulacra designed to replicate the alleyways of the global South.
Spectacle and Terror
After Gopal Balakrishnan’s engagement with Afflicted Powers in NLR 36, Julian Stallabrass turns to the Retort collective’s conception of spectacle and its Islamist antagonists. Does a Debordian optic occlude the oppositional potential of modern technologies?
States of War
Reflections on the challenge of Afflicted Powers, from the Retort collective. How is America’s forward policy since 9/11 best explained, and what does it tell us about the nature of the inter-state system today? Has the age of Great Power rivalry passed, and if so, what kind of geopolitical order is replacing it? Capital, spectacle and war in the vortex of the Middle East.
Arms and Rights
In an era of serial war, Rawls, Habermas and Bobbio as theorists of a perpetual peace. Jurisprudence and force in three parallel philosophical constructions of the present international order, and the unsettled afterthoughts—American, German, Italian—that accompanied them.
The Case for Chechnya
Eager to embrace Putin, Western rulers and pundits continue to connive at the Russian occupation of Chechnya, as Moscow’s second murderous war in the Caucasus enters its sixth year. Traditions of resistance, popular demands for sovereignty and Russia’s brutal military response, in Europe’s forgotten colony.
Relations between Washington and Europe have been under the spotlight since 2001; less so those between the US and Japan. Koizumi’s constitution-breaking dispatch of SDF units to Iraq, and American strategies for containing China and re-arming the East Asian rim.
The American expedition to Baghdad, and world-wide reactions to the new imperium. From mass demonstrations against the war to the diplomatic hypocrisies colluding with it. The UN as framework of blockade and intervention yesterday, and mask of reconstruction tomorrow.
How Ethnic is Ethnic Cleansing?
How ethnic is ‘ethnic cleansing’? From Cyprus to Andalusia, Ireland to Bosnia, Pakistan to Palestine, Jack Goody finds religion—inherently threatened by apostasy or conversion—a stronger marker of communal conflict and mass expulsion than an ill-defined ethnicity.
Che Guevaras in Turbans
“On 7 August 1999, caravans of well-armed and bearded men, wearing camouflage fatigues and Islamic skullcaps or headbands, crossed from Chechnya into the mountains of Daghestan. They were led by the two most famous field commanders of the recent Chechen war of independence—Shamil Basayev and Khattab. Basayev had . . .” read more
The Dark Side of Democracy: The Modern Tradition of Ethnic and Political Cleansing
“The twentieth century’s death-toll through genocide is somewhere over sixty million and still rising. Yet most scholars and laypersons alike have preferred to focus on more salubrious topics. If they think about genocide at all, they view it as an unfortunate interruption of the real structural tendencies of . . .” read more
The Bosnian Protectorate and the Implications for Kosovo
“The international Contact Group proposals for the future of Kosovo, put forward at the Paris/Rambouillet talks, in February 1999—advocating an international Implementations Mission in Kosovo—were based on the provisions of the Dayton Peace Agreement of November 1995, which ended the Bosnian conflict. If nato gets its way, . . .” read more
Kosovo: The War of NATO Expansion
“nato has established a Kosovo protectorate at the cost of great suffering for its people, and in a manner calculated to store up future problems. The bombing by nato generalized and greatly intensified the persecution of the Kosovans and destroyed infrastructure throughout Yugoslavia. There were . . .” read more
Against the Double Blackmail
“The prize-winner in the contest for the greatest blunder of 1998 was a Latin American patriotic terrorist who sent a letter-bomb to a us consulate in order to protest against the Americans interfering in local politics. As a conscientious citizen, he wrote on the envelope his return . . .” read more
The NATO Powers and the Balkan Tragedy
“Western powers usually legitimize military interventions in terms of a proclaimed commitment to some universalist norm or to some goal embodying such a norm. These declared goals can oscillate, but they are important because a central element of their foreign policy, particularly when it involves starting a war, . . .” read more
Springtime for NATO
“When Western leaders assemble in Washington, later this year, to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of nato, how will they assess the Balkan campaign of Spring 1999? The aim of the summit is a new mission statement for nato, transforming it from a defensive alliance into a . . .” read more
Protecting the Kosovars?
“Once again, and led by the United States as usual, a war is being conducted—this time in Europe—against an unprincipled and racist dictator who will almost certainly survive the onslaught, even though thousands of innocents will pay the actual price. The pretext this time is, of course, the . . .” read more
Securing Occupation: The Real Meaning of the Wye River Memorandum
“As a formal document, the Wye River Memorandum breaks no new ground.Its stated purpose is merely to reaffirm and ‘facilitate implementation’ of ‘prior agreements’.Nonetheless, the Memorandum illuminates the process set in motion at Oslo and dispels lingering illusions.In these remarks, I will first sketch the crucial historical background, . . .” read more
US War Crimes in Somalia
“In his foreword to Mogadishu! Heroism and Tragedy, Ross Perot wrote: ‘Read this book carefully. Never forget its contents as you watch the tv docu-dramas of smart bombs going down air shafts, where war is presented in a sterile, sanitized environment. Remember, war is fighting and dying.’ . . .” read more
Tony Blair’s Warfare State
“Armaments have made a re-appearance in British politics. Under-the-counter sales to Sierra Leone have been revealed. The Saudis, major customers for British arms, have released two nurses held for murder. Jonathan Aitken, a former defence procurement minister, has been charged with perjury and other offences, following a libel . . .” read more
Foot Soldiers of the New World Order: The Rise of the Corporate Military
“Mercenaries are outlawed under Article 47 of the Geneva Convention. In December 1994 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 49/150 urging all nations ‘to take the necessary steps and to exercise the utmost vigilance against the menace posed by the activities of mercenaries’. The un International . . .” read more
Rethinking International Relations
“Geopolitics has never found a congenial place within the Marxist tradition, let alone been properly theorized. Consider the exemplary Nicos Poulantzas, originator of the best Marxist works on the state in the 1960s and 1970s. His focus is on class and structure in a domestic setting, as though . . .” read more