9781400077014

Terror and Consent

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781400077014

  • ISBN10:

    140007701X

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-05-05
  • Publisher: Anchor

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Summary

Philip Bobbitt follows his magisterialShield of Achilleswith an equally provocative analysis of the West's struggle against terror. Boldly stating that the primary driver of terrorism is not Islam but the emergence of market states (like the U.S. and the E.U.), Bobbitt warns of an era where weapons of mass destruction will be commodified and the wealthiest societies even more vulnerable to destabilizing, demoralizing terror. Unflinching in his analysis, Bobbittaddresses the deepest themes of history, law and strategy.

Author Biography

Philip Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and the Director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University. He is also Senior Fellow at the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas. He has served as Associate Counsel to the President, Legal Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on the Iran-Contra Affair, the Counselor on International Law for the Department of State, and Director for Intelligence Programs, Senior Director for Critical Infrastructure, and Senior Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council. Formerly Senior Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he was a member of the Modern History faculty, he was subsequently Senior Fellow in War Studies at Kings College, London. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in New York, London, and Austin.

Excerpts

The New Masque of Terrorism

Morano: What are you, Friend?

Polly: A young Fellow, who hath been robb’d by the World; and I came on purpose to join you, to rob the World by way of Retaliation. An open War with the whole World is brave and honourable. I hate the clandestine pilfering War that is practis’d among Friends and Neighbors in civil Societies.

—John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera, 2.5.21–221

Warfare and the constitutional order exist in a mutually affecting relationship. Fundamental innovations in war bring about fundamental transformations in the constitutional order of states, while transformations in the constitutional order bring about fundamental changes in the conduct and aims of war. Terrorism has been, by contrast, merely a symptom, not a driver of this phenomenon. As we shall see, this accounts for the odd fact that terrorism surges after the end of the epochal wars by which the constitutional order is changed, after the peace congresses have convened to ratify that change. The difference in the current era is that now terrorists are about to acquire the weapons and strategies previously reserved to states at war, and they thus will acquire also the potential to affect the basic constitutional order.

It is a popular European retort to American policy since September 11 to say that the only thing new about the attacks on that day is that U.S. citizens were the victims. Societies that have endured assaults by the IRA, ETA, the PLO, and the FLN are skeptical about American perceptions of terrorism. It is natural, it is said, that the Americans, being unused to such incidents, should exaggerate their importance and their novelty. Older, wiser societies know how to handle such matters—and it is not with their defense departments. Panic and overreaction are characteristic of a failure to put events in perspective.

In pondering these sometimes phlegmatic, sometimes shrill rebukes, one should bear in mind that approximately one-third of all the international terrorist attacks between 1968 and September 10, 2001, involved American targets. American diplomats, military personnel, and businessmen were murdered on several continents. In this period more American officials died from terrorist attacks than British during the same period of IRA depredations. One should also note that the onslaughts on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, killed more persons than all terrorist attacks on British, French, and German targets since 1988 combined, and indeed casualties were greater than all deaths from transnational terrorism during this period.4 Finally, to miss the distinctiveness, the novelty of 9/11, as it has come to be called, is to misapprehend what has happened to terrorism—its structure, its tactics and weapons, and its targets. When one fully appreciates this point, one sees al Qaeda in a way that reflects its singular deadliness and that redefines terrorism itself.

“Asymmetric warfare” is the use of unconventional means to attack a superior conventional force. It has existed at least since David and Goliath. Similarly the use of terror, associated with particular religious and ethnic groups, has a long history, and bands of holy warriors have killed civilians to achieve political objectives from ancient times. In first-century Judaea, Jewish terrorists struggled against the Roman occupation. One such group, known as the Sicarii (dagger wielders), often attacked Jewish collaborators. Another terrorist group, the Zealots, brazenly slit the throats of Roman officials. By striking in public places, like crowded markets, in daylight, they seemed to underscore the inability of the Empire to ensure security. These groups had several advantages over their Roman occupiers, including especially initiative. They chose when to attack and then melted back into the non-Roman population that was indifferent or

Excerpted from Terror and Consent: The Wars of the Twenty-first Century by Philip Bobbitt
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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