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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Bosnia and the Revival of US Hegemony
The primary concern of us policy-makers, Democrats and Republicans, since the Second World War has been ‘world leadership’. Where necessary and possible domestic issues have been subordinated to the overarching goal of constructing and sustaining us hegemony over allies, confrontation with adversaries and domination of clients. . . . read more
Whither the 'Peace Process'?
Since the signing of the September 1993 Oslo I agreement, the Israel-Palestine ‘peace process’ has been punctuated by a series of dramatic developments. The purpose of this article is to assess their significance. I will first examine the September 1995 Oslo II agreement, the definitive document for the . . . read more
The Return of the Great Powers
On the surface, the situation in the Balkans may look rather optimistic at the moment: the Croats and Muslims have ceased fighting; some sense of normality has been restored to Sarajevo; and the crisis around Gorazde has been defused. In a broader context of European security, however, it . . . read more
Painting Desert Storm
John Keane’s exhibition of paintings, Gulf, depicting the Desert Storm campaign, aroused controversy because, faced by the righteous exercise of Western military might, it failed to demonstrate the standard mixture of endorsement and high-minded awe, rather making unaccountable suggestions about the operation of financial and media interests in . . . read more
Domestic Incentives for the Gulf War
Why did the United States fight the Gulf War? What factors entered into George Bush’s decision to avoid a negotiated solution? The timing of that decision goes some way to answering these questions, and two conflicting theories have been offered: first, that Bush wanted war from the beginning, . . . read more
The Gulf War, Iraq and Western Liberalism
The states of the North Atlantic have, since the days of Palmerston, frequently hoisted the flag of liberalism on their way to war. But rarely since 1945 have the principles of right, law and justice been invoked as strongly as in the call to arms for Desert Storm. . . . read more
Realpolitik in the Gulf
On the morning before Yom Kippur late this past September, I found myself standing at the western end of the White House, watching as the colour guard paraded the flag of the United States (and the republic for which it stands) along with that of the Emirate of . . . read more
Why is the United States at War with Iraq?
Why is the United States at war with Iraq? It is a lot easier to say what are not the reasons for us intervention in the Gulf than to provide a fully satisfactory account of its presence there. According to the Bush administration, the usa is . . . read more
Liberal Militarism and the British State
The British contribution to the Gulf war, the Cold War rhetoric of Margaret Thatcher, and the fresh memory of the Falklands war remind us of the military propensities of the British state. Yet Britain has not had conscription since the fifties, its generals keep out of political life, . . . read more
The Ends of Cold War
The events of the latter half of 1989 represent an earthquake in world politics. They have restated, in a dramatic form, the most neglected facet of political life, one spurned in east as much as in west, namely the capacity of the mass of the population to take . . . read more
After the Cold War
East Europeans always emphasize the power of words. This has been the essence of much of Havel’s political writings. The way we describe the world, the words we use, shape how we see the world and how we decide to act. Words and history—a collection of words used . . . read more
The signing of an inf Treaty at the Washington Summit of December 1987 has brought to a symbolic (if illusory) close a dramatic episode in postwar history. It will not, it seems, mark a decisive reversal in the nuclear arms race. Compensatory adjustments, on the nato . . . read more
The Peace Movement at Coventry
‘For years, elements in the Communist apparatus sought to interfere in the affairs of the Western peace movement, while some Western politicians sought to turn “dissidents” in Communist countries into their fellow-travellers. Then suddenly the psychodrama entered a different phase. The antagonists relaxed; new speech-writers were hired. To . . . read more
The Roots and Contradictions of Modern Militarism
I define militarism as a set of attitudes and social practices which regards war and the preparation for war as a normal and desirable social activity. This is a broader definition than is common among scholars. It qualifies people other than John Wayne as militarists. But in an . . . read more
Nuclear War Planning and Strategies of Nuclear Coercion
In March 1954 a us Navy captain, William Brigham Moore, travelled to Nebraska to the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command. He and some thirty fellow officers were there to be briefed on that Command’s plans for nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Some at least of . . . read more
How the French Left Learned to Love the Bomb
The election of a Socialist, François Mitterrand, as President of the French Republic on 10 May 1981 aroused hopes in a European left that by the end of the seventies had to console itself as best it could. Mitterrand himself was, indeed, a Fourth Republic war-horse, a patriotic . . . read more
The Peace Movement and Socialism
In 1980, confronting a new upsurge of militarism, a number of us joined forces to launch an appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament. This began with a warning: ‘We are entering the most dangerous decade in history’, it said. There is a good deal of new evidence to show . . . read more
The Threat of War and the Struggle for Socialism
Several times during the last three years the threat of a third world war seemed to loom large. Impressionist commentators did not hesitate to draw this conclusion. In fact a panic wave arose. The powerful and promising anti-war movement, which is growing today in the imperialist countries, was . . . read more
The Freeze Movement Versus Reagan
Although of very recent origin, the ‘freeze’ movement in the United States has already stimulated the first successful rebellion against a major weapons programme in American history. Prior to December 1982, when Congress turned down Reagan’s request for the immediate manufacture of the mx missile, no modern . . . read more
The SPD and the Peace Movement
In our dialogue with the spd do their members accept that such phenomena as the arms race, the dire impoverishment of half mankind and the global ecological crisis, all of which are linked by a multiplicity of factors that may well have their roots in a common . . . read more
The Peace Movement and European Socialism
A movement for peace and disarmament has exploded in Europe in these last months that has stupefied even those—like ourselves—who believed from the start in the possibility of building one, and worked to bring it about. There are many reasons for that stupor. First of all, there is . . . read more
The USSR and the Arms Race
In face of what Edward Thompson has called the ‘present war crisis’, we welcome the invitation from our comrades in the peace movements and anti-nuclear campaigns of Western Europe to join in a cooperative project of dialogue and action. We want to reassure them that despite the barriers . . . read more
The Politics of Nuclear Disarmament
Since Autumn 1979 there has been a vigorous renewal of campaigning against the nuclear arms race. Its immediate occasion was the nato decision to deploy Cruise missiles in Western Europe, with further effects from the failure of the United States to ratify the Salt II agreement. But . . . read more
22 June 1941
Eight months have passed since the fateful date of 22 June 1941 when Hitler began his march on Russia. From that day the two most powerful armies in the world have been locked in epic combat from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Although the German Panzer divisions . . . read more
Presentation of Deutscher
The essay which follows is the first that Isaac Deutscher wrote in Polish (under the pseudonym ‘Ignacy Niemczycki’) after leaving the country of his birth in 1939. It appeared in February 1942 in the Polish literary weekly WiadomoŚci Polskie (Polish News) which was published in London by a . . . read more
Notes on Exterminism, the Last Stage of Civilization
Comrades, we need a cogent theoretical and class analysis of the present war crisis. Yes. But to structure an analysis in a consecutive rational manner may be, at the same time, to impose a consequential rationality upon the object of analysis. What if the object is irrational? What . . . read more
The War and Revolution in Afghanistan
The dramatic events in Afghanistan at the end of 1979, with the intervention of Russian forces and the fall of President Hafizullah Amin, come within two years of the uprising of April 1978, through which the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan gained state power. Whilst no-one can predict . . . read more
Introduction to 'British Troops in Oman'
The war in the southern, Dhofar, province of the Sultanate of Oman has now been in progress for over ten years. Following the Portuguese retreat from Africa and the defeat of us imperialism in Indochina it is the only revolutionary war of any significant military dimensions taking . . . read more
Victory in Indochina
The ultimate victory of the Indochinese revolution has profound significance for the global order that emerged from the Second World War. After so much heroism and sacrifice the Vietnamese revolutionary movement has at last achieved the goal of which it was deprived by the way that war . . . read more
On the PFLP and the September Crisis
The Popular Front is best known in the non-Arab world for its hijackings in September 1970. A lot of criticisms of the hijackings have been made. Some of these are bourgeois criticisms. But there are two others which I would like to pose here. The first criticism has . . . read more
Introduction to Sartre article
It is now no longer only liberals like Mary McCarthy who discuss the American occupation of Vietnam in terms of genocide: even such a hitherto faithful supporter of the State Department as Theodore Draper, prised loose by the war from his long-held certainties, wrote in his recent book . . . read more
The word ‘genocide’ has not been in existence for very long: it was coined by the jurist Lemkin between the two world wars. The thing is as old as mankind and so far no society has existed whose structure has prevented it from committing this crime. In any . . . read more
From Petrograd to Saigon
The staggering blows that the National Liberation Front has now dealt the American military expedition in Vietnam have changed history. When some half a million American troops with enormous technological superiority are no longer capable of keeping even the us Embassy in Saigon safe, the most rabid . . . read more
Militarism in Africa
During the past three years, action initiated or prosecuted by the military has determined the overthrow of no less than eleven African Heads of State, and has seriously endangered four further régimes. Eight of the successor régimes are headed by military men. Over the last six months, coups . . . read more
Cold War Origins
Those hasty, impetuous souls who urged President Roosevelt to take a tougher line against the wartime claims of the Soviet Union were faced with a number of obstacles. There was Roosevelt’s strong belief that co-operation was not impossible, the desire to sustain the alliance against the Axis and . . . read more
Common Men in Vietnam
Since the author has been four years in Vietnam for ap, Malcolm Browne’s The New Face of War might be a book of substance. The outlook is engaging: ‘Vietnam’, he says; ‘is a beautiful and sometimes noble little country, which I have come to love. As a . . . read more
Vietnam and the Dynamics of Guerrilla War
Three things have won conventional wars in this century; greater reserves of manpower, greater industrial potential and a reasonably functioning system of civilian administration. The strategy of the United States in the past two decades has been based on the hope that the second of these (in which . . . read more
The Cypriot Labyrinth
The communal fighting which broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots on December 21st, 1963, seems, at the moment of writing, to have reached a stalemate. Of the 104,000 Turks, some 60,000 are crowded, either into their own quarter of Nicosia, or in the strip of land running . . . read more
The Myths of Counter-Insurgency
More myths and fantasies seem to have arisen in regard to guerrilla warfare than about any other aspect of contemporary history. For many revolutionaries it has assumed a positively romantic aura, particularly since the bearded ones of the 26th of July Movement swept with dash and verve out . . . read more
The demand for an increase in the manpower and equipment of Western conventional forces in the European sector is now strong. Macnamara has been demanding that all nato countries should increase their conventional contribution in order to raise the nuclear threshold and provide the basis for a . . . read more
Cut Off from the Sun
Kennedy came into office denouncing the missile gap. The only gap turned out to be that between the bogies created by Kennedy’s campaign team and reality. It was quickly realised that America had, and would retain in any forseeable future, an overwhelming superiority in nuclear strike power. read more
The SAC admitted that for ‘four minutes’ on last November 24th, during the height of the Berlin crisis, it seemed as if the United States might be under a nuclear attack. The SAC issued a global alert to all its stations when a key electronic-system failed in . . . read more
The Last Quarter of an Hour
Peace, it seems, is coming in Algeria. But with it, one may fear, a frightful showdown between the French civilian and military extremists and the French government—which, in turn, may make the actual implementation of peace more difficult. And it isn’t even a clear showdown, with clean lines . . . read more