I finally caught up with Philip Bobbitt’s 2009 book, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century, a follow up to his masterful 2003 work, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History, which traced the evolution of warfare from the Italian city-state up to what he calls the modern market state and which I have previously reviewed.
Terror and Consent picks up with the development of the market state, which Bobbitt says has superseded the nation state in the conduct of war just as it has done so in the development of the globalization of markets. He applies this concept in a provocative analysis of the West’s battle against terror, and he boldly advances the notion that the primary driving force of terrorism is not Islam (a point on which I disagree to an extent in a way that deserves longer explanation) but rather the emergence of market states, producing a form of globalization of warfare in which weapons of mass destruction will be commodified.
Bobbitt quotes Henry Kissinger, who praises the Bush administration for recognizing the global threat posed by terrorism, but was critical of that administration for having not been able to “operationalize a response or develop a language to discuss it”. On the other hand, I believe that, properly defined and implemented, nationalism coupled with universal democracy was the object of Bush’s version of neo-conservatism, which failed both in definition and implementation, but should be revisited and revised. To me, this is the task that Bobbitt sets out to accomplish, and his approach is well-informed by history, law, and military strategy. If you’re interested in where all of this is leading, this is a very good read.