ArticlePDF Available

State Sovereignty After 9/11: Disorganised Hypocrisy



This article examines the implications of the 9/11 attacks and the US-led 'global war on terror' for debates about state sovereignty. To support its attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration put forth a 'selective sovereignty' thesis that would legitimise intervention in states that are accused of supporting terrorists.This new rationale for intervention was paradoxically justified as a means of ensuring a 'well-ordered world of sovereign states', which had been imperilled by transnational terrorist networks. This article argues that the 'selective sovereignty' thesis exaggerates the challenge posed by terrorist organisations to Westphalian sovereignty, and understates the US's own unprincipled violation of its core norm of non-intervention. A related argument of this article is that on the face of it, the 'selective sovereignty' approach fits the notion of 'organised hypocrisy' put forward by Stephen Krasner, which refers to 'the presence of long-standing norms (in this case non-intervention) that are frequently violated' for the sake of some 'higher principles' - violations that are generally tolerated by the international community. But the higher principles evoked by the US to justify its war on Iraq, such as the human rights of the Iraqis, and democracy promotion in the Middle East, are now clearly seen to have been a façade to mask the geopolitical and ideological underpinnings of the invasion. In this sense, the war on terror has revived national security and naked self-interest as the principal rationale for intervention, notwithstanding the self-serving efforts by some Bush administration officials to 'graft' the 'selective sovereignty' thesis on to the evolving humanitarian intervention principle.This policy frame- work is hypocrisy for sure, but as the international response to the war on Iraq (including the lack of UN authorisation for the war and the transatlantic discord it generated) demonstrates, it should be viewed more as a case of 'disorganised hypocrisy'.
State Sovereignty After 9/11: Disorganised
Amitav Acharya
Nanyang Technological University
This article examines the implications of the 9/11 attacks and the US-led ‘global war on terror’ for
debates about state sovereignty. To support its attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration
put forth a ‘selective sovereignty’ thesis that would legitimise intervention in states that are accused of
supporting terrorists.This new rationale for intervention was paradoxically justified as a means of ensuring
a ‘well-ordered world of sovereign states’, which had been imperilled by transnational terrorist networks.
This article argues that the ‘selective sovereignty’ thesis exaggerates the challenge posed by terrorist
organisations to Westphalian sovereignty, and understates the US’s own unprincipled violation
of its core norm of non-intervention. A related argument of this article is that on the face of it,
the ‘selective sovereignty’ approach fits the notion of ‘organised hypocrisy’ put forward by Stephen
Krasner, which refers to ‘the presence of long-standing norms [in this case non-intervention] that are
frequently violated’ for the sake of some ‘higher principles’ – violations that are generally tolerated by
the international community. But the higher principles evoked by the US to justify its war on Iraq, such
as the human rights of the Iraqis, and democracy promotion in the Middle East,are now clearly seen to
have been a façade to mask the geopolitical and ideological underpinnings of the invasion. In this sense,
the war on terror has revived national security and naked self-interest as the principal rationale for
intervention, notwithstanding the self-serving efforts by some Bush administration officials to ‘graft’ the
‘selective sovereignty’ thesis on to the evolving humanitarian intervention principle. This policy frame-
work is hypocrisy for sure,but as the international response to the war on Iraq (including the lack of UN
authorisation for the war and the transatlantic discord it generated) demonstrates, it should be viewed
more as a case of ‘disorganised hypocrisy’.
Theoretical Argument
The 9/11 terrorist attacks have introduced a new complexity to the debate about
sovereignty in world politics. Before 9/11, this debate revolved around two main
issues. The first was the impact of globalisation on the nation state framework,
including questions about whether sovereignty is being eroded by transnational
economic linkages, such as trade, production networks and financial flows. The
other centred on the doctrine of humanitarian intervention, and the normative
question about whether the non-intervention principle should be relaxed or
bypassed to allow military action against genocide or state failure.1The principal
challengers to sovereignty in these debates were multinational corporations,
‘activists beyond borders’ and, to a lesser extent, multilateral organisations.
While the above debates about the place of sovereignty in the emerging world
order are by no means settled, they have been joined in the post-9/11 era by
debates about sovereignty from a new source: the ‘war on terror’ waged by the
world’s most powerful state and its allies against their ‘severest’ foe, transnational
terrorist networks led by al Qa’eda.2This challenge differs from the pre-9/11
doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00664.x
POLITICAL STUDIES: 2007 VOL 55, 274–296
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
(although still ongoing) challenges in two respects. First, it has returned the
rationale for limiting sovereignty to the overriding importance of national security,
rather than human security or welfare,which were central to the globalisation and
humanitarian intervention debates.Although one has to be mindful that terrorism
is not the same as aggression, and that the source of the terrorist threat is not
another state or alliance but a transnational network of non-state actors, the
response of the states to the terrorism has been framed overwhelmingly as a threat
to state security and international order. Hence the securitising metaphor: the
‘war on terror’. Second, the post-9/11 challenge to sovereignty is organised and
led by a hegemonic state (although it is also backed by a number of other states
allied with the hegemon) which is seeking simultaneously to safeguard and limit
Westphalian sovereignty to suit its particularistic interests. Indeed, the attempt by
the US to limit sovereignty is being justified in the name of protecting it, or
safeguarding the system of sovereign states.
To elaborate, the war on terror is justified as protecting ‘national security’ from a
transnational menace which challenges it by its very mode of organisation and
operation and its presumed political agenda, including an alleged aspiration to
restore the pre-Westphalian caliphate. But in so doing, the leading state waging
this war and its supporters also exempt themselves from the norms of the
Westphalian order, and approve instruments that could be profoundly subversive
of that order.It is this paradoxical framing of the war on terror and its implications
for the condition of state sovereignty in the post-9/11 world that constitute the
focus of this essay.
A good starting point for examining the paradox of Westphalian sovereignty in
the age of terror is the theoretical framing of sovereignty as ‘organised hypoc-
risy’ by political scientist and senior Bush administration official Stephen
Krasner (Krasner, 1999).3The essence of this concept revolves around an appar-
ent puzzle: ‘the presence of long-standing norms that are frequently violated’
(Krasner, 1999). Although previous studies of sovereignty tended to separate
two categories of challenges – voluntary efforts such as the European integra-
tion process or coercive efforts such as interventions of a geopolitical or
humanitarian variety, Krasner’s notion attempts to place both types of challenge
under the same umbrella, regarding them as manifestations of organised hypoc-
risy. The key aspect of organised hypocrisy is that the violators justify their acts
in the name of other, alternative or higher sets of norms. As Krasner states,
organised hypocrisy occurs when the rules of sovereignty are ‘worked around’,
and when ‘the workarounds, which have been things like claims about human
rights, minority rights, religious toleration, have always evoked alternative
norms’ (Krasner interview with Kreisler, 2003). Moreover, these transgressions
occur without much protest: ‘there are very clear rules about how sovereignty
works, and they were violated frequently, much more frequently than people
had imagined ... Yet people were not screaming and yelling about hypocrisy,
nor were they trying to find new rules’ (Krasner interview with Kreisler, 2003).
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
The organised hypocrisy formulation does seem to capture some aspects of the
war on terror,which includes, but is not limited to, the war in Iraq. First, as a host
of observers and writers, from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (BBC, 2004) to
Krasner himself (who served twice in the George W. Bush administration)4have
noted, the US occupation of Iraq did breach Westphalian sovereignty. Annan
termed the US invasion ‘illegal’, while Krasner said rather unambiguously: ‘We
didn’t just go and say,“We’re going to reconstruct these countries and then allow
them to choose their own form of government”. We said, “We are going to
transform these countries” ’. This to him is ‘a total violation of Westphalian-
Vattelian sovereignty’ (Krasner interview with Kreisler, 2003). Second, the war in
Iraq was justified by the US in the name of alternative principles, e.g. human
rights and international stability, two of the four alternative norms which Krasner
identifies (the other two being religious toleration and minority rights) as the
basis for violating sovereignty.
But in this article I raise three objections to applying the organised hypocrisy
concept to describe and analyse the condition of state sovereignty in the post-
9/11 era. First, the ‘limits to sovereignty’ thesis put forward by the US and allies
like the UK and Australia, and related policy instruments such as pre-emption and
regime change, are not so much transgressions of state sovereignty as instruments
to preserve and protect a‘well-ordered system of sovereign states’.In other words,
the question is not whether sovereignty is at stake,but whose sovereignty. Second,
while the war on terror, including the invasion of Iraq, has been justified for the
sake of higher principles – especially the human rights of the Iraqis – these are
now understood to have been a façade to mask the geopolitical and ideological
underpinnings of the invasion. The real justification is not about a ‘higher’
principle, but the conventional requirements of ‘national security’, and an inter-
national order conducive to the protection and promotion of the national
security interests of the most powerful states.And even so, those at the forefront
of the global war on terror vastly exaggerate the capacity of their adversary to
subvert the Westphalian order and hence undermine their national security. The
ability, or even the intention, of terror groups to inflict such damage is limited by
their divergent and varied objectives,their lack of physical capacity fundamentally
to disrupt international security, and the need of at least some of these groups for
state-like institutions and territorial organisation to realise their professed political
objectives. And their actions have provoked retaliatory measures which have
strengthened the national security state domestically vis-à-vis the civil society and
externally in relation to the agents of and mechanisms of globalisation.
Third, while violations of sovereignty have occurred through history, and the war
on terror may thus simply be seen as the most recent manifestation of what has
been a long-standing and familiar story in world politics, it is simply wrong to
lump all sorts of challenges to state sovereignty under the single overarching rubric
of organised hypocrisy. Krasner accepts that Westphalian-Vattelian sovereignty can
be compromised either coercively (such as the United States in Germany or Japan
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
after the Second World War), or voluntarily, as in the European Union and
though the European Human Rights regime. But violations undertaken in the
name of a narrowly defined conception of national security, which is what
America’s Bush Doctrine is really about, do not have the same moral weight or
legitimacy as collective violations of Westphalian sovereignty by the international
community for the sake of preventing genocide or protecting lives. Similarly,
voluntary surrenders of sovereignty by a group of states for the sake of long-term
pacification and community building, such as the EU’s integration agenda, can
hardly be treated in the same breath as violations of others’ sovereignty by a
hegemon committed unilaterally to fulfilment of an imperial (neo-conservative)
ideology. Humanitarian intervention, of the type outlined in the R2P report
(International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, 2001), may be
considered a form of organised hypocrisy, but the norm it invokes as justification
does not have moral equivalence with the strategic and national security justifi-
cations advanced by the US in support of pre-emption or regime change.
In other words, the rationale for violations of sovereignty and the mode of the
violations differ. More importantly, these variations do matter. This leads to a
fundamental problem with labelling post-9/11 sovereignty as organised hypoc-
risy: how ‘organised’ is the ‘organised hypocrisy’ in the war on terror? To qualify
actions undertaken by the Bush administration such as the invasion of Iraq and
the doctrine of pre-emption as ‘organised’ would accord them a legitimacy that
they simply do not enjoy. At the very least, the degree of complicity in the
organisation of hypocrisy varies between those who joined the coalition of the
willing and those who did not.The most powerful state bears a disproportionate
share of the responsibility for the organisation of these particular acts of hypocrisy.
The idea that sovereignty is open to interpretation and construction, which lies
at the heart of the organised hypocrisy thesis, is hardly new in itself. A good
deal of the constructivist literature on sovereignty grapples with this question
(see, for example, Bartelson, 1995; Biersteker and Weber, 1996; Onuf, 1991;
Weber, 1995; Wendt, 1999). What is distinctive about the Krasner thesis,
however, is not that such interpretations and constructions occur, but that they
occur without evoking much protest or challenge (people do not scream and
yell, or try to find new rules). This assertion, however, is open to serious
question.The US pronouncements about limits to sovereignty after 9/11 are far
from being accepted or tolerated by the majority of the international com-
munity, including many of its allies in Western Europe. And people are trying to
find new rules; not to replace sovereignty per se, as the Grundnorm of international
politics, but in order to reframe it as ‘responsibility to protect’ people through-
out the world. Governments as well as civil society organisations are indeed
‘screaming and yelling’, even though this may not be reaching the ears of senior
US officials.The term ‘organised hypocrisy’ obscures real divisions and struggles
over the meaning of sovereignty in the international community, and variations
in the ways in which different actors or groups of states violate the norms of
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Westphalian sovereignty. The more appropriate term for describing the war on
terror’s reshaping of the concept and practice of state sovereignty is not orga-
nised hypocrisy, but disorganised hypocrisy. Disorganised hypocrisy occurs
when the leading state, backed by a small number of like-minded allies (often
in disregard of their own domestic opinion), unilaterally changes (or attempts
to change) the rules of sovereignty (or any other meta-norm) by falsely basing
the change on previous and legitimate attempts at limiting sovereignty, and
when such transgressions are contested by others in the international commu-
nity who are themselves striving, through alternative arguments and modes of
action, for a consensus on how to limit state sovereignty in a more legitimate
and multilateral manner. A review of the war on terror conducted by the US
attests to the relevance of my reformulation.
Selective Sovereignty: The Responsibility to Attack
In order to ascertain whether the war on terror fits the representation of
sovereignty as ‘disorganised hypocrisy’, we need to examine whether actions
undertaken in the name of the war on terror constitute a violation of sovereignty
and if so,under what pretext or in the name of which other, higher principles are
such violations justified. From the perspective of the US post-9/11, there is little
doubt about the US argument that the war on terror constituted a turning point
requiring limitations to the traditional notion of sovereignty. President Bush’s
speech immediately after 9/11 warned:
we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in
every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with
the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support
terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime (Bush, 2001).
This speech, presaging the US attack on the Taliban in December 2001 in
retaliation against the Taliban’s sheltering of Osama bin Laden and other terrorist
leaders and groups, was the basis of the administration’s ‘limits to sovereignty’
thesis, put forward by Richard Haas, the director of Policy Planning in the US
State Department:
Sovereignty entails obligations. One is not to massacre your own people.Another
is not to support terrorism in any way. If a government fails to meet these
obligations, then it forfeits some of the normal advantages of sovereignty,including
the right to be left alone inside your own territory. Other governments, including
the United States, gain the right to intervene. In the case of terrorism, this can even
lead to a right of preventive, or peremptory, self-defense.You essentially can act in
anticipation if you have grounds to think it’s a question of when, and not if, you’re
going to be attacked (Lemann, 2002).
Haas’s words should not be construed as the philosophical musings of a lone
administration intellectual heading the think tank-like Policy Planning office of
the State Department led by Colin Powell, whose own influence over issues
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
related to the war on terror was eclipsed by Dick Cheney’s White House or
Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. Indeed, more than four years after 9/11, Douglas
Feith, Haas’s counterpart in the Pentagon as Under Secretary of Defense for
Policy, would argue in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations (now
headed by Richard Haas):
The United States strengthens its national security when it promotes a well-
ordered world of sovereign states: a world in which states respect one another’s
rights to choose how they want to live; a world in which states do not commit
aggression and have governments that can and do control their own territory; a
world in which states have governments that are responsible and obey, as it were,
the rules of the road. The importance of promoting a well-ordered world of
sovereign states was brought home to Americans by 9/11, when terrorists enjoying
safe haven in remote Afghanistan exploited ‘globalization’ and the free and open
nature of various Western countries to attack us disastrously here at home. Sover-
eignty means not just a country’s right to command respect for its independence,
but also the duty to take responsibility for what occurs on one’s territory, and, in
particular, to do what it takes to prevent one’s territory from being used as a base
for attacks against others (Feith, 2005).
Two aspects of the‘limits to sovereignty’thesis stand out.The first is its conscious
linking or equating of the war on terror with the earlier discourse about
humanitarian intervention. And from a more long-term perspective, it adds
terrorism to the list of causes, including acute human rights violations, that could
justify disregarding the Westphalian norm of non-intervention. The second is
its extension of the mode of intervention from reactive to preventive. Together,
they constitute a significant broadening of the framework of intervention.
The invasion of Iraq, which after Afghanistan was the next stage in the war on
terror, produced an additional rationale for, and broadening of, the ‘limits to
sovereignty’ thesis. This came a year after 9/11 in the form of the National
Security Strategy of the United States, otherwise known as the Bush Doctrine.
John Lewis Gaddis has described the Bush Doctrine, including its emphasis on
regime change and pre-emption, as ‘a grand strategy of transformation’ (Gaddis,
2002). Already indicated in statements like Haas’s comments cited earlier, the
Doctrine called for using force, pre-emptively if necessary, to deal with regimes
which pose a threat to US strategic interests, not just by sponsoring or shel-
tering terrorists but also by acquiring or seeking to acquire weapons of mass
destruction. Postmodern terrorists, ever so elusive and willing to commit
suicide, are ‘undeterrable non-state enemies’, ill-suited for deterrence and con-
tainment which work only against a clear and identifiable adversary (Record,
2003). ‘If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long’
(O’Hanlon et al., 2002).
The resulting Bush Doctrine was not a lone American crusade.Although the US
as the world’s sole superpower was at its forefront,it was also endorsed, to varying
degrees, by a number of other countries, especially Australia (Acharya, 2005).
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
What are the conditions or provocations that would justify limiting sovereignty?
The war on terror has identified several immediate and long-term reasons,
ranging from the removal of terrorist sanctuaries to the threat posed by the
weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and their sponsoring states,
and the protection of human rights from abusive regimes which are also sponsors
of terrorism and proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.5Interestingly, the
Bush administration’s promotion of democracy in the Middle East is not seen as
a violation of sovereignty because it could be undertaken without resort to force.
‘Respect for sovereignty’ did not ‘require us to ignore the depredations of
tyrannical regimes’, since ‘one can ... encourage countries to adopt democracy
without offending the principle of sovereignty’ (Feith, 2005). This is notwith-
standing the fact that the ideology behind the Iraq invasion, promoted by the
neo-conservatives, is not shy of sanctioning the use of military power to realise
and maintain US pre-eminence, and places the promotion of democracy at its
To be sure, an expanded agenda of intervention is nothing new in world politics.
The debate about humanitarian intervention has been going on for decades. In
1992, an International HeraldTribune editorial noted:‘In just a few years the idea has
been established that countries which fail to care decently for their citizens dilute
their claim to sovereignty and forfeit invulnerability to outside political-military
intervention’ (International Herald Tribune, 1992, p. 6). Some writers had taken it
much further, adding ecological and proliferation issues to the agenda of inter-
vention. Laurence Martin, then President of the Royal Institute of International
Affairs, had argued that despite the end of the Cold War, there would ‘remain
substantial motives for the greater powers ... to interest themselves in the third
world’, because of the dangers of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,
migration caused by demographic pressures and ‘moral concern for the welfare of
fellow men’.To this, he would add ‘the current wave of enthusiasm for democracy
and the market, lest failure should engender new authoritarian and potentially
aggressive tendencies’ (Martin, 1992, p. 21).Alan Henrikson has suggested ‘three
classes of purpose warranting possible intervention’:
intervention to prevent or stop the wide-spread violation of human rights
(‘humanitarian intervention’); intervention to halt the imminent and continued use
of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, and nuclear
weapons, perhaps borne by ballistic missiles (‘security intervention’); and interven-
tion to block or contain the release of materials causing severe and wide damage
to the climate, landscape, or seascape (‘environmental intervention’) (Henrikson,
1992, pp. 70–1).
Yet the war on terror’s challenge to sovereignty assumes a special significance
that could not have been foreseen by the post-Cold War ideas about interven-
tion. First, it links different types of reasons for intervention within its ‘axis of
evil’ formulation, bringing together sponsorship of terrorism, weapons of mass
destruction and abuse of human rights as reasons for intervention. Second, this
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
consolidated agenda for intervention is spearheaded by the world’s most pow-
erful state, thereby upsetting the balance between what Hedley Bull had called
the Cold War era balance between the ‘interveners’ and the ‘intervened
Moreover, as noted, the war on terror, unlike the logic of humanitarian inter-
vention, is not aimed at eroding (in however principled a manner) the Westpha-
lian system, but at strengthening it.7Fighting terrorism through intervention is
just as important to national security, and the sanctity of the Westphalian order, as
fighting conventional aggression to preserve territorial integrity, which had
historically been the most important concern for protecting the Westphalian
order.This is because while the war on terror may involve some transgressions of
sovereignty of states which are part of or similar to the ‘axis of evil’ members, from
the perspective of those waging the war on terror, the threat to Westphalia posed
by the US and the coalition of the willing is nothing compared to the threat to
sovereignty posed by terrorist organisations and networks.
Westphalia and Caliphobia
This brings us to the next challenge to framing the war on terror as organised
hypocrisy. This concerns the possible justification for the war on terror for the sake
of a ‘higher principle’. Given that the protection of human rights and promotion
of democracy were not offered as the only or most important justifications for the
war, even by the Bush administration (it was weapons of mass destruction and
alleged Iraqi support for al-Qa’eda),8the question of higher principles has to do
with the preservation of the Westphalian system, or as administration officials
would put it,‘promoting a well-ordered world of sovereign states’.
In redefining sovereignty in the wake of 9/11, the US initially targeted two
categories of actors: failed states which offer, either deliberately or due to a lack
of capacity to control their borders, sanctuary to terrorists; and regimes which
export terrorism and acquire weapons of mass destruction.This basically reflected
the administration’s rationalisation of its attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, respec-
tively. As the insurgency in Iraq worsened, it came up with another target – this
time a non-state actor, but with the aspiration to restore a pre-Westpahlian state:
the caliphate.9
Thus, speaking at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced
International Studies on 5 December 2005, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
warned: ‘Iraq would serve as the new base of a new Islamic caliphate to extend
throughout the Middle East and which would threaten legitimate governments
around the world ... This is their plan. They have said so’ (US Department of
Defense, 2005). Eric Edelman, the new Under Secretary of Defense for policy
argued: ‘Iraq’s future will either embolden terrorists and expand their reach and
ability to re-establish a caliphate, or it will deal them a crippling blow. For us,
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
failure in Iraq is just not an option. (Council on Foreign Relations, 2005).
General John Abizaid, the top American commander in the Middle East, warned:
‘They will try to re-establish a caliphate throughout the entire Muslim world’
(cited in Bumiller, 2005). And Vice President Dick Cheney reminded:‘They talk
about wanting to re-establish what you could refer to as the seventh-century
caliphate’, to be ‘governed by Shariah law, the most rigid interpretation of the
Koran’ (cited in Bumiller, 2005). (Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser,
has also warned of the caliphate.) Bush himself, although not using the term
‘caliphate’ per se, has warned of ‘a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from
Indonesia to Spain’ (cited in Bumiller, 2005).
But the US is not alone in invoking the caliphate, nor is al-Qa’eda seen as its only
agent. Founded in 2003, the Jemaah Islamiyah ( JI, also spelled Jamaah Islamiyah)
is not only South-East Asia’s ‘principal’ terrorist network, it is also said to be the
‘regional franchise’ of al-Qa’eda, with aspirations for creating a regional Islamic
superstate. In 2002, CNN reported its ‘breathtaking’ plan ‘to create one Islamic
state from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore to parts of the Philippines,Thailand and
Myanmar’ (CNN, 2002). Singapore’s Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke
before the Council on Foreign Relations to warn:
JI’s objective was to create a Daulah Islamiyah, an Islamic state in Southeast Asia.
This was to be centred in Indonesia but would include Malaysia, Southern
Thailand, Southern Philippines, and, inevitably, Singapore and Brunei ... Their
followers want to recreate the Islam of 7thCentury Arabia which they regard as the
golden age.Their ultimate goal is to bring about a Caliphate linking all Muslim
communities (Goh, 2004).10
What is the evidence that terrorist organisations have embarked on such a grand
design? Among other things, US officials cite a letter purportedly written by
Osama bin Laden’s deputy, Aiman al-Zawahiri, to the now-deceased leader of
the Iraqi insurgents,Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.Dated 9 July 2005, the letter outlines
four ‘incremental goals’ of the Iraq insurgency. The main goal during the first
stage is to expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage would involve
establishing an Islamic authority or amirate and developing it ‘until it achieves
the level of a caliphate – over as much territory as you can to spread its power
in Iraq’. The third stage would see the jihad wave extended ‘to the secular
countries neighboring Iraq’, while the fourth stage will ‘coincide with what
came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge
any new Islamic entity’ (Al-Zawahiri, 2005).
The JI’s plans for an Islamic superstate in South-East Asia are even more elabo-
rate.An unprecedented insight into its ideological and organisational make-up is
provided by a document, known as PUPJI, or ‘General Guide for the Struggle of
Jemmah Islamiyah’.11 Released by JI’s Central Leadership Council, it may be one
of the most important documents on the transnational terrorist movement’s ideas
and approaches to an Islamic state, since there is no comparable comprehensive
strategy document recovered for al-Qa’eda.
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Jemaah Islamiyah Structure (2001–2):
mir: leader
Markaz: leadership council
Shura: consultative councils
Mantiqi: geographic divisions
Mantiqi 1 and IV mainly assigned fundraising
Mantiqi II mainly assigned leadership and recruitment
Mantiqi III mainly assigned training
Wakalah and Fiah: sub-groups
Note: Although the mantiqis and wakalahs were originally defined as districts and subdistricts, they were
“actually a territorial command structure of brigades, battalions, companies, platoons, and squads.”1
Source: Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia (Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade, 2004)
1Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous,” Asia Report N°63 page i, Paris: International Crisis Group, 26 August
Markaz Shura
Mantiqi I
Singapore and
Mantiqi II
Mantiqi III
Sabah, Sulawesi and
South Philippines
Mantiqi IV
Australia and Papua
New Guinea
Wakalah Wakalah Wakalah Wakalah
Fiah Fiah Fiah Fiah
According to this document, the goal of the JI’s struggle is to ‘restore the
Islamic Caliphate and the sovereignty of the Syariah all over the world’. The
first part of PUPJI, ‘The Principles for the Methodology to Establish the Reli-
gion’, which consists of principles for understanding the religion, maintains that
‘establishing the religion means establishing the Islamic state and subsequently
the Islamic Caliphate’. This implies that a national or regional Islamic state is a
first step towards an Islamic caliphate, or world state. Principle 4 of Part I
restates the ‘aim in the struggle’ as ‘to guide mankind to submission to Allah,
only by the restoration of the caliphate on earth’. Part III, containing the
Constitution of the JI, states its objective as ‘to ensure that the administration
of Jamaah Islamiyah is organized in order to establish the caliphate in accordance
with the way of the Prophet, which guarantees the implementation of the
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Syariah in a comprehensive way’. And Article 4 of the Constitution defines the
‘aim of the struggle’ as ‘to establish the daulah [state] as a step towards the
restoration of the Caliphate’.
Can we then take this as a manifesto for an Islamic state that would subsume
Westphalian sovereignty? First, the objective of the caliphate or even the national/
regional state is presented very generally and vaguely. PUPJI is basically a docu-
ment about the objectives and organisation of the jamaah (group), not of the
daulah (state) or khilafah (caliphate). Second, while PUPJI mentions ‘coordination
and collaboration with other Islamic states’, under ‘Methodology to Establish the
Religion’, there is no explanation of how this is to be achieved. And the very fact
that it envisages cooperation with other Islamic states implies that it accepts a
plurality of sovereign states, even if they may all be Islamic, at least in the interim,
before the khilafah is established.There is no sense in the PUPJI of how the move
from the daulah to khilafah is to be achieved.
The JI is an offshoot of the Darul Islam (DI),a long-established Indonesian national
group whose goal was the creation of an Islamic state within Indonesia.Only when
this goal proved unattainable, despite the opportunity offered by the chaos
accompanying the toppling of the Suharto regime in 1998, did the DI move
towards its regional aspirations. Indeed, there is growing evidence that internal
disunity in JI has led its Indonesian members to moveaway f rom the goal of a regional
superstate and focus on creating a local Islamic state or Islamic areas within Indonesia
(Jones, 2005; Ross-Harrington, 2005). If an Islamic movement could not achieve
its goals domestically, how could it be in a position to do so regionally, despite the
support from al-Qa’eda, the extent of which remains disputed?
Indeed, the actual motivations and capabilities of terrorist organisations assume
importance in view of the Bush administration’s caliphobia. Most terrorist groups
aspire to a national state, not a supranational polity. They develop transnational
linkages as a matter of tactics, because external aid is necessary to compensate for
their own limited resources, rather than as a strategic ambition. Even the Taliban,
often seen as an extreme form of an Islamic state, was more concerned with
establishing its authority within the internationalised frontiers of Afghanistan
vis-à-vis its main foe, the Northern Alliance, rather than sponsoring a regional or
global caliphate. As one assessment in 1999 put it, while the goal of the Taliban
was to ‘establish an Islamic government in Afghanistan where the shariah law ...
will be the law of the land’, it also ‘believes in non-interference in the affairs of
other countries and similarly desires no outside interference in their countries’
internal affairs’ (Matinuddin, 1999, p. 42). And it was quite willing to cooperate
with the US over oil matters (Rashid, 2001).
The terror warriors in the Bush administration who invoke the spectre of the
caliphate exaggerate the unity of terrorist organisations in challenging the West-
phalian order.‘It’s like saying the Christians will be united under one banner’, said
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
one critic of the Bush administration’s caliphobia, adding: ‘It sounds nice, but
whose banner will it be?’ (Brown, 2005).
On a theoretical level, the radical Islamic ideology supposed to motivate terrorist
organisations does challenge the Westphalian conception of state sovereignty.
Radical Muslim political thinkers like Maulana Maududi, Syed Qutb, Ayatollah
Khomeini and Ali Shariati argued that Islam placed sovereignty in God,while the
modern Western state placed it either in the state or people (popular sovereignty)
(Khan, 1999).Their ideas also challenge the decentralisedWestphalian state system
to the extent that sovereign authority is supposed be ‘universal’; ‘the Muslim
community is seen as one Ummah [people] ... united under one sovereign by
virtue of their faith and submission to the will of God’ (Khan, 1999).
Yet what happens when the champions of Islamic sovereignty and statehood take
the reins of power either through elections or revolution? There is no single
model of a contemporary Islamic state. Entities which have called themselves
Islamic states have differed widely in terms of their institutional structures: Iran
displays clerical supremacy over political institutions; in Saudi Arabia and Sudan
rulers govern in consultation with the clerics without being subordinate; and the
fusion of clerics and government was the key feature of the Taliban regime
(Hassan, 2005). Furthermore, whether there is any such thing as an Islamic state
is a matter of debate among Muslim intellectuals. Asgar Ali Engineer, a pro-
minent Indian Muslim thinker, argues:
The Prophet, in a way, took a revolutionary step, in dissolving tribal bonds and
laying more emphasis on ideological boundaries on one hand, and territorial
boundaries, on the other. However, the Prophet’s aim was not to build a political
community but to build a religious community instead. If Muslims evolved into a
political community it was accidental rather than essential. Hence the Qur’an lays
more emphasis on values,ethic and morality than on any political doctrines. ...The
political system had to evolve over a period of time and in keeping with the needs
and requirements (Engineer, 1999).
Engineer claims that ‘the later emphasis on integral association between religion
and politics is ... totally absent in the Holy Qur’an’ (Engineer, 1999). Indeed, the
leader of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim organisation in the world’s
largest Muslim state, Indonesia, and which is more conservative than the largest
organisation, Nadhlatul Ulama, argues that ‘There is no Islamic state’(Rais, 2000).
What are unmistakable are the differences between various interpretations of the
political aspects of Islam as they relate to the possibility, nature and objectives of
an Islamic state.When it comes to state and sovereignty, Islamic ideology, like any
other religious doctrine, is hardly a homogeneous body of thought.There is little
reason to give more credence to the Bush administration’s portrayal of the
caliphate as the ultimate goal of today’s terrorists than to the interpretation by
scholars of Islam like Engineer regarding the apolitical nature of Islam.As M. A.
Muqtedar Khan argues, ‘sovereignty is a complex concept and any attempt to
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
simplify it can only cause problems’(Khan, 1999).While various strands of Islamic
thinking may well agree that ‘sovereignty belongs to God’,Khan argues that Islam
also delegates sovereignty to ‘human agency’ (Khan, 1999). If human agency
matters, then the foreign policy of Islamic states and their attitude towards state
sovereignty should be expected to vary from state to state, depending on the
leadership and regime in power.
Moreover, there is little evidence that the notion of the caliphate is about to
sweep over the Islamic world.This would not be the first time that a pan-national
ideology has challenged the Westphalian system in the Middle East. In the
post-war period, the Arab state system was imperilled by the idea of a single Arab
nation state. But despite the emotional appeal of pan-Arabism, it was the West-
phalian concept which prevailed in the Arab state system (Barnett, 1995).The idea
of the caliphate may well suffer a similar fate especially because, while pan-
Arabism was backed by state power from Nasser’s Egypt, few states are backing
the caliphate idea and most seem to be fighting it as part of their campaign against
terrorism. According to a poll taken by Shibley Telhami of the University of
Maryland, in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates
and Lebanon, only 6 per cent sympathised with al Qa’eda’s goal of seeking an
Islamic state (cited in Bumiller, 2005).The toppling of Westphalian sovereignty in
the hands of a terrorist group, a scenario painted darkly by the Bush administra-
tion, is thus plain fear-mongering inspired by failure in Iraq.
According to the Bush administration, a terrorist victory in Iraq would spread
chaos to neighbouring states, causing the death of nation states there and thus
paving the way for a caliphate.Yet state death is a relatively rare phenomenon in
international relations (Krasner and Pascual, 2005). Moreover,causes of state death
or failure have had little to do with terrorism.The lesson of Taliban’s Afghanistan
is not that terrorism causes state failure, but that state weakness and failure cause
and aggravate terrorism.Afghanistan was already a failed state before the terrorists
took over. The reality is that few terrorist organisations have the capacity to
challenge the contemporary state system, even though some may come close to
achieving secession, as in Sri Lanka. As Robert Phillips notes, ‘Terrorist acts are
profoundly immoral. In addition, they are not as politically effective as their
practitioners claim’ (Phillips, 1986). International norms have been, and remain,
robustly in favour of the territorial sovereignty that lies at the heart of the
Westphalian system. Indeed, the territorial integrity norm is one of the most
successful legal and political norms of our time, and no combination of the
world’s contemporary terrorist groups is about to challenge the status quo
(Zacher, 2001).
The war on terror has reversed popular thinking about whether globalisation
undermines state sovereignty. States which have been at the forefront of globali-
sation have, since 9/11, reasserted control over global financial flows for the sake
of cutting off the financial lifelines of terrorist organisations ( Janda, undated;
McNeil, 2001). Transborder flows of capital, people and goods are increasingly
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
subject to state surveillance and control, supported by homeland security doc-
trines and mechanisms and growing information and intelligence sharing among
governments, joint border patrols,visa regulations and monitoring of tourism and
travel (Acharya, 2002a).
Moreover, paradoxically for terrorist organisations, instead of helping their cause
of restoring the global caliphate, their actions have actually strengthened the
modern national security state (Acharya, 2004a).As Kofi Annan notes, the war on
terror has helped governments:
to demonize political opponents, to throttle freedom of speech and the press, and
to delegitimize legitimate political grievances. We are seeing too many cases
where States living in tension with their neighbours make opportunistic use of
the fight against terrorism to threaten or justify new military action on long-
running disputes. Similarly, States fighting various forms of unrest or insurgency
are finding it tempting to abandon the slow, difficult, but sometimes necessary
processes of political negotiation, for the deceptively easy option of military
action (Annan, 2002).
This is ironic, especially when one looks at the US portrayal of ‘sovereignty as
freedom’. As Feith put it, ‘Our nation’s most basic interest is to protect the
freedom of the American people – our ability to govern ourselves under the
Constitution.The sovereignty of the United States is another way of referring to
this freedom’ (Feith, 2005). If so, then the setback for civil liberties after 9/11
(Acharya, 2004a) would constitute a setback for US sovereignty, at least in the
sense of popular sovereignty, even as its government goes about defending
national sovereignty and security from transnational terrorists allegedly commit-
ted to recreating the caliphate.
Moreover, while defending its national sovereignty, the US not only limits the
freedom of its own citizens,but also the freedom of other nations.A case in point
is ‘rendition’ (to the US) of ‘illegal enemy combatants’, which after 9/11 has
‘expanded beyond recognition’ (Mayer, 2005).Scott Horton, in a report issued by
New York University Law School and the New York City Bar Association,
estimates the number of people rendered under the programme since 2001 to be
150. To bypass the Geneva Conventions, the Bush administration classified
detainees in the war on terror, including those from Afghanistan, not as civilians
or prisoners of war, since both these categories would be protected by the
Conventions, but as ‘illegal enemy combatants’ (Mayer, 2005). In a replay of its
invocation of humanitarian intervention as a justification for pre-emption
without regard to principles of multilateralism, the administration violated well-
established norms and procedures of rendition, including the requirement for an
extradition treaty, and judicial proceedings in the country where the arrests have
been made during which some evidence to support the charge must be produced
(Mandiberg, 2005).
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Conclusion: Post-9/11 Sovereignty as Disorganised Hypocrisy
The attempt to hang the war on terror and the regime change and democracy
promotion agendas on the prior and evolving justifications for humanitarian
intervention is one of the most remarkable ironies of US foreign policy after
9/11. It also concerns my third objection to the application of the organised
hypocrisy formulation to the war on terror.
The most serious effort to offer a rationale for pre-emption and preventive war by
linking it with the earlier justifications for humanitarian intervention can be found
in a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies on 13 September
2002 by Richard Haas (2002).In that speech, Haas traced the‘departure from the
traditional notion of near-absolute sovereignty’ in three stages. First, Rwanda
triggered and Kosovo upheld the belief that ‘sovereignty should only provide
immunity from intervention if the government upholds basic, minimum standards
of domestic conduct and human rights’. 9/11 was the second stage; it was not a
whole new development, but merely ‘accelerated new thinking that had already
begun about the limits of sovereignty’, and ‘expanded the circumstances in which
most countries condoned external intervention in the affairs of a state’ by adding
terrorism to the list of triggers. The impending action against Iraq, Haas argued,
would constitute ‘a third adjustment’ to this evolving thinking about sovereignty,
whereby classical notions of deterrence and containment had little effect in
countering groups like al-Qa’eda or Saddam Hussein. Hussein, argued Haas, was
‘someone who has repeatedly violated his international obligations and who is
doing everything in his power to develop and conceal weapons of mass destruc-
tion’. In view of his ‘history of violence against his neighbors and his own people
... and his aggressive pursuit of nuclear and other weapons’, and in the ‘new
international environment where terrorism and WMD are intersecting ... a strong
case can be made for preventive military action’ (Haas, 2002).
Scholars of norm diffusion would see such American framing of the war on terror
in terms of an evolving debate about intervention as a form of ‘grafting’(Acharya,
2004b). On the one hand, the US has sought to capitalise on the humanitarianism
debate which was undercutting the rationale for absolute sovereignty. Yet, by so
doing, it also drew attention to the evolving criteria for such intervention which
would render its attack on Iraq illegitimate. Those criteria had been offered,
ironically, a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, in the form of the Report of the
International Commission for Humanitarian Intervention and State Sovereignty
(International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, 2001).12
Among other things, the Report set down specific conditions for intervention,
including ‘right authority’, ‘just cause’,‘right intention’,‘last resort’, ‘proportional
means’ and ‘reasonable prospects’.A brief discussion of these criteria would be in
order here.13
In defining ‘just cause’ the Report excludes intervention to restore democracy or
to stop human rights abuses that do not entail large-scale killing and ethnic
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
cleansing, or intervention by states to protect their nationals in foreign territory.
‘Right intention’ is similarly limited to alleviation of acute human suffering rather
than alteration of boundaries or even supporting claims of self-determination.
Outright overthrow of oppressive regimes is not justified, while destroying their
ability to cause harm to their own people is justified.
From this perspective, the R2P can hardly be construed as a justification for
Bush’s ‘regime change’ agenda. Regime change would be grounds for interven-
tion only if suppression of such demands by a government entails large-scale loss
of life and ethnic cleansing.
In a similar vein, the ‘last resort’ principle is a point marked by the failure of
negotiations to achieve compromise due to the intransigence of one or both
parties accompanied by the prospect of imminent violence.‘Proportional means’
implies a minimalism in terms of the scale, intensity and duration of military
action, all of which must be commensurate with the provocation. This entails
ensuring a minimal impact on the target country’s political system and strict
observance of international humanitarian law. ‘Reasonable prospects’ is defined
not in terms of the defeat of a state, but of a tangible chance of success in stopping
or avoiding the atrocities and suffering that acted as a trigger for the intervention.
Actions that stand no chance of offering protection or which could aggravate an
existing crisis are to be avoided.
The R2P deemed the ‘right authority’ criterion, key to the legitimacy of humani-
tarian intervention, to be important enough to deserve treatment in a separate
chapter. The UN is designated as the most appropriate authority, the chief
‘applicator of legitimacy’ in humanitarian interventions.While acknowledging its
limitations and imperfections, the Report leaves ‘absolutely no doubt’ that the
Security Council remains the best place for authorising humanitarian interven-
tion.The task of the Report is not to seek alternatives to the Council, but to make
that mechanism work better. The Report mandates Council approval in all cases
of intervention while urging it to act promptly to such requests.
While the Bush administration justified its war on terror and related instruments
– regime change, pre-emption and democracy promotion – in terms of ‘how the
concept of sovereignty ha[d] evolved over the years’ (Feith, 2005), it paid scant
attention to the fact that this evolving discourse of sovereignty included consid-
eration of criteria that would legitimise/delegitimise intervention. As Nicholas
Wheeler put it,‘In seeking to frame the Bush Doctrine as a natural development
of the norm of “sovereignty as responsibility”, Haas sidestepped the crucial issue
of who should decide when a state has forfeited its right to be treated as a
legitimate sovereign’, and ‘where authority should be located for deciding when
a state has forfeited its right to be protected by the principle of non-intervention’
(Wheeler, 2002).
The R2P was not a unilateral effort by any one state or grouping of states (such
as the Third World coalition) dominated by those with a vested interested in
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
pushing for or arresting the reform of the international order.Although it drew
heavily from the ‘just war’ principles, if anything it reflected as genuine an
international consensus on the fate of Westphalian sovereignty as was possible. Its
membership was representative of the international community in political,
civilisational and developmental terms. And going by its criteria, the doctrine of
asymmetrical sovereignty fell far short of the criteria for legitimacy for humani-
tarian intervention that was supposed to be the prior rationale for the war on
terror. Moreover, the R2P would justify intervention, even that aimed at prevent-
ing large-scale loss of life and ethnic cleansing and undertaken through a legiti-
mate multilateral framework, only as an‘extreme’,‘extraordinary’ and‘exceptional’
measure.Yet few members of the international community would agree that Iraq
necessitated such a response, especially when the evidence of its weapons of mass
destruction programme and links with al-Qa’eda had not been conclusive.
Indeed, there is a strong case to be made, as Dale T. Snauwaert has argued, that
‘from the perspective of the Just War tradition the [Bush] doctrine’s linkage with
a power-driven, hegemonic foreign policy strategy undermines the moral cred-
ibility of the doctrine, and thus the moral credibility of the United States’
(Snauwaert, 2004). On the Iraq War, among other commentators, Jimmy Carter
has argued that ‘clear alternatives to war’ did exist. Moreover,Carter points to the
lack of legitimate authority for the war. The Security Council’s authorisation
which forms the administration’s stated legal basis of the war was meant to
eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and not ‘achieve regime change and
to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically
divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have
international authority’ (Carter, 2003).
The disjunction between the ‘limits to sovereignty’ thesis integral to the war on
terror and the humanitarian intervention principles was highlighted by UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who refused to see the Bush Doctrine as an
‘extension’ of the humanitarian intervention rationale and challenged the attempt
by Messrs Haas and Feith to link the war on terror with the intervention in
Kosovo. As Annan noted,
The attacks that struck the United States on 11 September 2001 shifted the global
debate – and action – away from military intervention on behalf of others, to
intervention in self-defence; from a Kosovo-like debate about how far – and under
what conditions – the international community would act against a State perceived
to be abusing its own citizens in gross and systematic ways, to considering how far
– and under what conditions – individual States, alone and in concert, would act
to halt terrorism and root out its cells in dozens of countries (Annan, 2002).14
In the chaos that the attack on Iraq generated, the recommendations and signifi-
cance of the R2P Report were temporarily sidelined. But the Report did cast a
shadow over the legitimacy of the Iraq invasion.15 And its recommendations did
get a new lease of life in the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level
Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change in 2004.The Report:
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
endorse[d] the merging norm that there is a collective international responsibil-
ity to protect, exercisable by the Security Council authorizing military inter-
vention as a last resort, in the event of genocide and other large-scale killing,
ethnic cleansing or serious violations of international humanitarian law which
sovereign Governments have proved powerless or unwilling to prevent (UN
Report, 2004, p. 57).
The criteria specified by the Report to justify humanitarian intervention corre-
spond closely to the criteria found in the R2P Report (UN Report, 2004).This
norm of humanitarian intervention was one of the few substantive items from the
High Level Panel Report, along with the Secretary-General’s subsequent report
In Larger Freedom, to survive the UN Summit in September 2005.16
The war on terror and the attack on Iraq have produced an extended crisis in
the global multilateral order. There have been thousands of protests. Anti-
Americanism throughout the world is growing. In Asia, the Bush Doctrine has
caused deep uneasiness about US power and intentions (Pereira, 2003). The
US–Europe fracture over Iraq cannot be seen as the kind of acquiescence that is
supposed to mark the consensual organisation of hypocrisy in the global sover-
eignty regime. Even Francis Fukuyama, who proclaimed the ‘end of history’ after
the end of the Cold War, acknowledged that the US–Europe divisions raise the
question ‘whether the West is really a coherent concept’, since ‘an enormous gulf
has opened up in American and European perceptions about the world, and the
sense of shared values is increasingly frayed’ (Fukuyama, 2002).
Against this backdrop, to assert that the challenge posed by the war on terror
to state sovereignty has not led to people ‘screaming and yelling’ or that it has
not generated efforts to find new rules (not to replace sovereignty, but to
identify legitimate ways of limiting it) would be simply untrue. The rationali-
sation offered in the name of the war on terror is an extension of the logic of
humanitarian intervention as a form of organised hypocrisy, but this overlooks
the fact that different forms of violation of sovereignty may have differing
degrees of legitimacy. The legitimacy of humanitarian intervention cannot be
equated with the legitimacy of the war on terror. Failure to distinguish prin-
cipled and organised departures from Westphalian sovereignty aimed at pro-
tecting human security (as outlined in the R2P Report) from unilateral
breaches of sovereignty aimed at protecting national or coalitional security and
fulfilling an ideology-driven foreign policy agenda, is a critical flaw in Krasner’s
organised hypocrisy thesis. The current state of affairs is more accurately
regarded as ‘disorganised hypocrisy’ since the responsibility for this particular act
of hypocrisy is not evenly distributed, and the actions of the hegemonic power-
led coalition have severely undermined the multilateral system, including the
unity of the so-called ‘West’.
(Accepted: 24 November 2006)
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
About the Author
Amitav Acharya, Professor of International Relations, Nanyang Technological University, Block S4,
Level B4, Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798; email:
The author would like to thank Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan for sharing his expertise on Islamic
conceptions of the state and offering valuable research assistance in preparing this article.
1 See for example, Vernon (1971); Camilleri and Falk (1992); Keohane (2000); Mann (2000); Ostry (1998);
Weiss (1998); Keck and Sikkink (1998); Finnemore (1996; 2004); Hoffman (2001); Wheeler (2000); Lyons and
Mastanduno (1995). For a sceptical appraisal of the erosion of sovereignty thesis, see Jackson (2007) in this issue.
2 Bush administration officials have described ter rorism as the ‘greatest threat to peace in our time’. Cited in Walker
3 Krasner was not the first to note the violations of sovereignty, however. Many others who do so nonetheless argue
that these violations do not constitute ‘obsolescence, irrelevance, or transformation’ (Holsti, 2004, p. 140). See also
Hinsley (1986); James (1986); Jackson (1999); Philpott (2001).
4 As the head of policy planning in the State Department after having served an earlier term in theWhite House staff
where he claims to have written a memo arguing that ‘sovereignty was contingent on responsibility, which has
actually been achieved throughout the history of sovereignties’, which ‘is something that we’ve echoed since
September 11th’ (Krasner interview with Kreisler, 2003).
5 ‘The world has decided that sovereignty should not protect a government per petrating large-scale crimes against
humanity within its own borders. Before us all now hangs the question of how long-standing ideas about
sovereignty can be squared with the dangers of biological or nuclear weapons. Should governments with troubling
records of aggression, support for terrorism, human rights abuses and the like be allowed to invoke sovereign rights
to protect their development of catastrophic weapons that threaten the sovereign rights of others in the world?’
(Feith, 2005).
6 Bull had identified four major constraints onWestern intervention in the Third World: (1) ‘a remarkable growth in
Third World countries of the will and capacity to resist intervention’;(2) ‘a weakening in the Western world of the
will to intervene, by comparison with earlier per iods, or at least of the will to do so forcibly, directly and openly’;
(3) the growing Soviet capacity to project power,which ‘facilitatedThird World resistance to Western intervention’;
and (4) ‘the emergence of a global equilibrium of power unfavourable to intervention’ in the sense that ‘there has
emerged a balance among the interveners which has worked to the advantage of the intervened against’ (Bull, 1984,
pp. 138–44).
7 This apparent contradiction is easily explained by the stimulating thesis presented by Adriana Sinclair and Michael
Byers (2007) in this issue. Analysing American discourses about sovereignty they point out that these debates
combine a statist conception which privileges territorial sovereignty, and political independence of states irrespec-
tive of their regime types, and a popular conception which stresses the rights of the people against abuse by their
own governments. Although seemingly distinct, these conceptions reflect a single and exceptionalist American
conception of sovereignty that seeks to protect the US from external influences while sanctioning intervention
against other states. Strong evidence for this can be found in the Bush administration’s justification of its
‘responsibility to attack’ and ‘selective sovereignty’ formulations, which would preserve a ‘well-ordered world of
sovereign states’ (a self-evidently statist formulation that would protect Amer ican sovereignty as well) on the basis
of the normative arguments about humanitarian intervention (rooted in conceptions of popular sovereignty) which
justify its interventions abroad. (See Sinclair and Byers, 2007).
8 For further discussion of the various justifications for the war, see Acharya (2004a).
9 The caliphate,according to media representation,‘was a period of centralized rule over much of the Muslim world
in ... the seventh and eighth centuries ... an empire that stretched from Spain to Central Asia’ (Brown, 2005).
10 See also: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, ‘MFA Press Statement on the Request for Addition of Jemaah
Islamiah to List of Terrorists Maintained by the UN’, 23 October 2002.
11 Pedoman Umum Perjuangan Al-Jama’ah Al-Islamiyyah (PUPJI, General Guide for the Struggle of Jemaah Islamiyah).
Released by the Central Leadership Council, Jemaah Islamiyah. Translated by the International Center for
Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological
University, Singapore.
12 Hereafter, cited as the Report.
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
13 The following discussion draws heavily from Acharya (2002b).
14 Annan himself was a champion of limited sovereignty. See Annan (1999); Luttwak (1999–2000).
15 See also Thakur (2004a; 2004b).
16 The Resolution of the Summit stated that the world leaders ‘are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and
decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a
case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be
inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes,
ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity’, Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 24 October 2005
60/1, 2005 World Summit Outcome,
N0548760.pdf?OpenElement [Accessed 16 December 2005].
Acharya, A. (2002a) ‘State–Society Relations after September 11’, in K. Booth and T. Dunne (eds), Worlds In
Collision:Terror and Future of Global Order. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 194–204.
Acharya, A. (2002b) ‘Redefining the Dilemmas of Humanitarian Intervention’, Australian Journal of International
Affairs, 56 (3), 373–82.
Acharya, A. (2004a) The Age of Fear: Power Versus Principle in theWar onTerror. New Delhi: Rupa and Co.
Acharya, A. (2004b) ‘How Ideas Spread:Whose Norms Matter? Norm Localization and Institutional Change in
Asian Regionalism’, International Organization, 58 (2), 239–75.
Acharya, A. (2005) ‘The Bush Doctrine and Asian Regional Order:The Perils and Pitfalls of Preemption’, in M.
Gurtov and P. Van Ness (eds), Confronting the Bush Doctrine: Critical Views from the Asia-Pacific. London:
RoutledgeCurzon, pp. 203–26.
Al-Zawahiri, A. (2005) Letter to M.Al-Zarqawi, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, ODNI News Release
No. 2-05 11 October 2005, Available from: [Accessed 22
January 2006].
Annan, K. (1999) ‘Two Concepts of Sovereignty’, The Economist, 18 September 1999, pp. 49–50.
Annan, K. (2002) University Degree Ceremony Address in Netherlands Calls for Attack on Root Causes, NewVision
of International Security, Press Release, SG/SM/8518 21 November 2002 Available from: http:// [Accessed 20 March 2006].
Barnett, M. (1995) ‘Sovereignty, Nationalism, and Regional Order in the Arab States System’, International
Organization, 49 (3), 479–510.
Bartelson, J. (1995) A Genealogy of Sovereignty. Cambridge: Cambr idge University Press.
BBC News (2004) ‘Iraq War Illegal, Says Annan’. Available from:
3661134.stm [Accessed 16 September 2004].
Biersteker, T. and Weber, C. (1996) State Sovereignty as a Social Construct. Cambridge: Cambr idge University
Brown,D. (2005) ‘Rumsfeld War ns of Islamic Superstate if US Leaves Iraq Too Soon’, Knight Ridder Newspapers,
5 December 2005.Available from: [Accessed
30 March 2006].
Bull, H. (1984) ‘Intervention in theThirdWorld’, in H. Bull (ed.),Intervention inWorld Politics. Oxford:Clarendon
Press, pp. 135–56.
Bumiller, E. (2005) ‘White House Letter:Watchword of the day – Beware the Caliphate’, The New YorkTimes,
11 December 2005. Available from: [Accessed
30 March 2006].
Bush, G. W. (2001) Speech before Congress, 2001. Available from:
2001/09/20010920-8.html [Accessed 20 September 2001].
Camilleri, J. A. and Falk, J. (1992) The End of Sovereignty? The Politics of a Shrinking and Fragmenting World.
Aldershot: Edward Elgar.
Carter, J. (2003) ‘An Attack Not Yet Justified’, International Herald Tribune 10 March 2003.
CNN (2002) ‘The Quest for SE Asia’s Islamic “Super” State’. Available from:
WORLD/asiapcf/southeast/07/30/seasia.state/ [Accessed 29 August 2002].
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Council on Foreign Relations (2005) ‘Iraq: The Way Forward – A View from the Pentagon’ [Rush Transcript;
Federal News Service, Inc.], Council on Foreign Relations,Washington, DC, 1, December 2005.Available
from: [Accessed 29 March 2007].
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2004) Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia. Canberra:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Engineer, A. A. (1999) ‘The Concept of Islamic State’. Available from:
[Accessed 20 March 2006].
Feith, D. J. (2005) ‘Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations’, US
Department of Defense: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs, News Transcript, 17
February 2005). Available from:
[Accessed 30 March 2006].
Finnemore, M. (1996) ‘Constructing Norms of Humanitarian Intervention’, in P. J. Katzenstein (ed.), The
Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press,
pp. 153–85.
Finnemore, M. (2004) The Purpose of Intervention. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.
Fukuyama, F. (2002) ‘The West May be Coming Apart’, The Straits Times, 10 August 2002. Accessed online
20 March 2007
Gaddis, J. L. (2002) ‘A Grand Strategy of Transformation’, Foreign Policy, 133, 50–7.
Goh, C.T. (2004) ‘Beyond Madrid: Winning Against Terrorism’, Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations,
Washington, DC,6 May 2004. Available from: [Accessed
20 March 2006].
Haas, R. N. (2002) ‘Reflections a Year after September 11’, Remarks to the International Institute for Strategic
Studies 2002 Annual Conference, 13 September. Available from:
reflections_a_year_after_September_11.html [Accessed 17 February 2006].
Hassan, M. H. (2005) ‘Islam and International Relations’. Memo. Singapore: Institute of Defence and Strategic
Henrikson, A.K. (1992) ‘How Can theVision of a“NewWorld Order”Be Realized?’, The Fletcher Forum ofWorld
Affairs, 16 (1), pp. 70–1.
Hinsley, F. H. (1986) Sovereignty, second edition. Cambridge: Cambr idge University Press.
Hoffman, S. (2001) ‘The Debate about Intervention’, in F. O. Hampson, C.A. Crocker and P. Aall (eds), Turbulent
Peace:The Challenges of Managing International Conflict. HerndonVA:United States Institute of Peace Press, pp.
Holsti, J. (2004) Taming the Sovereigns. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2001) The Responsibility to Protect:Report of the
International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Ottawa: International Development Research
Centre, December.
International Crisis Group (2003) ‘Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous’, Asia
Report No. 63, 26 August. Paris: International Crisis Group.
International Herald Tribune (1992) ‘Humane Intervention’, 27 November.
Jackson, R. (ed.) (1999) Sovereignty at the Millennium. Oxford: Blackwell.
Jackson, R. (2007) ‘Sovereignty and its Presuppositions: Before 9/11 and After’,Political Studies, 55 (2), 297–317.
James, A. (1986) Sovereign Statehood: The Basis of International Society. London: Allen & Unwin.
Janda, K. (undated) ‘Global Terrorism, Domestic Order, and the United States’. Northwestern University. [Accessed 20 March 2006].
Jones, S. (2005) ‘New Developments within Jemaah Islamiyah’. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,
5 July. Available from: (webcast) [Accessed 5 July 2005].
Keck, M. and Sikkink, K. (1998) Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca NY:
Cornell University Press.
Keohane, R. (2000) ‘Sovereignty in International Society’, in D. Held and A. McGrew (eds), The Global
Transformation Reader – An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 147–61.
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Khan, M.A. M. (1999) ‘Sovereignty in Islam as Human Agency’, Ijtihad.Available from:
sovt.htm [Accessed 10 March 2006].
Krasner, S. D. (1999) Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Krasner, S. D. and Pascual, C. (2005) ‘Addressing State Failure’, Foreign Affairs, 84 (4), 153–63.
Kreisler, H. (2003) ‘Sovereignty’, Interview with Stephen D. Krasner in Conversations with History, Institute of
International Studies, UC Berkeley, 31 March. Available from:
Krasner/krasner-con3.html [Accessed 20 March 2006].
Lemann, N. (2002) ‘The Next World Order’, The New Yorker, 1 Apr il. Available from: http:// [Accessed 20 March 2006].
Luttwak, E. (1999–2000) ‘Kofi’s Rule: Humanitarian Intervention and Neocolonialism’, National Interest,
Winter, 57–62.
Lyons, G. M. and Mastanduno, M. (eds) (1995) Beyond Westphalia: State Sovereignty and International Intervention.
Baltimore MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
McNeil D. G. Jr (2001)‘European Union Expands its List of Terrorist Groups, Requiring Sanctions and Arrests’,
New York Times, 29 December, B3.
Mandiberg, S. (2005) ‘Domestic Criminal Law’, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon. Available from: [Accessed 29 March 2007].
Mann, M. (2000) ‘Has Globalization Ended the Rise and Rise of the Nation State?’,in D. Held and A. McGrew
(eds), The Global Transformation Reader – An Introduction to the Globalization Debate. Oxford: Blackwell
Publishers, pp. 472–96.
Martin, L. (1992) ‘National Security in a New World Order’, The World Today, February.
Matinuddin, K. (1999) The Taliban Phenomenon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mayer, J. (2005) ‘Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s “Extraordinary Rendition” Program’,
The New Yorker, 14 February. Available from:
[Accessed 20 March 2007].
Onuf, N. (1991) ‘Sovereignty: Outline of a Conceptual History’, Alternatives, 16, 425–46.
Ostry, S. (1998) ‘Globalization and the Nation State: Erosion from Above’, Timlin Lecture, University of
Saskatchewan, February. Available from: [Accessed
20 March 2006].
O’Hanlon, M. E., Rice, S. E. and Steinberg, J.B. (2002) ‘The New National Secur ity Strategy and Preemption’,
Working Paper, Brookings Institution.Available from:
ohanlon/20021114.pdf [Accessed 13 December 2002].
Pereira, B. (2003) ‘Mahathir Makes a Stinging Attack on West’, The Straits Times,20 June,3.
Phillips, R. L. (1986) ‘The Roots of Ter rorism’. Available from:
asp?title=1032 [Accessed 20 March 2006].
Philpott, D. (2001) Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations. Princeton NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Rais, A. (2000) ‘Negara IslamTidak Ada’ [‘There is no Islamic State’], in N. Majid and M. Roem (eds), Tidak
Ada Negara Islam: Surat-Surat Politik, revised edition. Jakarta: Djambartan, pp. xxii–xxiii.
Rashid, A. (2001) Taliban. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.
Record, J. (2003) ‘The Bush Doctrine and War with Iraq’, Parameters, Spring, 4–21.
Ross-Harrington, J. (2005) ‘Re-examining Jemaah Islamiyah in the Wake of the Zawahiri Letter’, Terrorism
Monitor, 3 (21), 1–3. Available from:
[Accessed 20 March 2007].
Sinclair, A. and Byers, M. (2007) ‘When US Scholars Speak of “Sovereignty”,What do they Mean?’, Political
Studies, 55 (2), 318–40.
Snauwaert, D. T. (2004) ‘The Bush Doctrine and Just War Theory’, OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and
Conflict Resolution, 6.1, 121–35. Available from: [Accessed 20
March 2006].
Thakur, R. (2004a) ‘Developing Countries and the Intervention-Sovereignty Debate’, in R. M. Price and M.
W. Zacher (eds), The United Nations and Global Security. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 193–208.
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
Thakur, R. (2004b) ‘Iraq and the Responsibility to Protect’, Behind the Headlines, 62:1, October, Toronto:
Canadian Institute of International Affairs.
UN Report (2004) ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility’, Report of the Secretary-General’s
High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. New York: United Nations. Available from: http:// [Accessed 20 March 2007].
United Nations World Summit Outcome (2005) Available from:
N05/487/60/PDF/N0548760.pdf?OpenElement [Accessed 16 December 2005].
US Department of Defense (2005) Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) News Transcript.
Available from: [Accessed 20 March
Vernon, R. (1971) Sovereignty at Bay:The Multinational Spread of US Enter prises. New York: Basic Books.
Walker, K. (2004)‘No Apologies for US WMD Policy’, Defense News,Special Issue for the Asia Pacific Security
Conference, Singapore, 22–3 February, p. 1.
Weber, C. (1995) Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State and Symbolic Exchange. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Weiss, L. (1998) The Myth of the Powerless State. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press.
Wendt, A. (1999) Social Theory of International Politics. Cambridge: Cambr idge University Press.
Wheeler, N. (2000) Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Wheeler, N. (2002) ‘The Bush Doctrine: The Responsibilities of Sovereignty or a Revolutionary Challenge to
the Principles of International Order’, Social Science Research Council, November. Available from: [Accessed 1 February 2006.]
Zacher, M. W. (2001) ‘The Territorial Integr ity Norm: International Boundaries and the Use of Force’,
International Organization, 55 (2), 215–50.
© 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Political Studies Association
... 21 Fourth, selective sovereignty of Amitav Acharya that emerged after the events of 9/11 made the country provide a double standard definition of recognition of the sovereignty of other countries, given the emergence of terrorism as one of the new actors in international relations. 22 Furthermore, the concepts of sovereignty can be synthesized as follows: State sovereignty shifts from the originally used definition of the Westphalia treaty which greatly emphasizes the internal aspects of the prerequisites, among others, government-people-territory, into recognition of sovereignty derived from external parties. In this case the national authority needs to spur domestic legitimacy which then turns to the relationship between two dimensions namely horizontal and vertical. ...
Full-text available
International Relations and International Law continue to be accented by epistemic violence by naturalizing a separation between law and morality. What does such positivist juridical ethos make possible when considering that both disciplines reify a secular (immanent) ontology? International Law, Necropolitics, and Arab Lives emphasizes that positivist jurisprudence (re)conquered Arabia by subjugating Arab life to the power of death using extrajudicial techniques of violence seeking the implementation of a "New Middle East" that is no longer "resistant to Latin-European modernity", but amenable to such exclusionary telos. The monograph goes beyond the limited remonstration asserting that the problématique with both disciplines is that they are primarily "Eurocentric". Rather, the epistemic inquiry uncovers that legalizing necropower is necessary for the temporal coherence of secular-modernity since a humanitarian logic masks sovereignty inherently being necropolitical by categorizing Arab-Islamic epistemology as an internal-external enemy from which national(ist) citizenship must be defended. This creates a sense of danger around which to unite "modern" epistemology whilst reinforcing the purity of a particular ontology at the expense of banning and de-humanizing a supposed impure Arab refugee.
Prior Rohingya influxes changed character from August 2017: neo-medievalism arguably imposed a different context. Bangladesh’s generally successful accords with Myanmar and previous Rohingya repatriation resulted from power rivalry, and its unwritten structural derivative, stability. Such a consent hardly existed, as exposed in Russia’s 2014 Crimean crisis. Yet, aggravated by a COVID-19 pandemic quashing great power willingness to preserve structural stability, a normative shift still may be unfolding. Accordingly, prompting this study examines a possible shift from Amitav Acharya’s disorganized hypocrisy to political neo-medievalism under which the contemporary sovereignty-based structure persists, amid rogue impenetrable tendencies due to the absence of any responsible check and balance power. The key finding of this study is precisely that: beyond geopolitics, the lack of structural stability is what sustains the Rohingya crisis.
Full-text available
The formerly uncontested acceptance of sovereign States’ right to wage war has been legally reduced to the right of self-defence against military aggression. The recently adopted definition of the crime of aggression paved the way for criminal proceedings against military aggressions by States before the International Criminal Court. This further taming of state sovereignty in traditional (‘Westphalian’) terms is a consequence of the dynamic process of globalization. Globalization has restricted many traditional functions of the modern State. However, this does not mean that organized violence and war are currently on the decline. On the contrary, in parallel with the de-legitimizing of organized violence and war by States, their re-legitimation in the post East-West conflict era has also proceeded apace. Two main reasons for this are growing pressure by internationally linked terrorist groups, and the emergence of new destructive technologies.
Full-text available
The following legal-historical research is critical of “Islamist” narratives and their desacralized reverberations claiming that Arab-Muslim receptivity to terror is axiomatic to “cultural experiences” figuring subjects conforming to Arab-Islamic philosophical theology. The critique is founded on deconstructing—while adopting a Third World Approach to International Law (TWAIL)—the (im)moral consequences resulting from such rhetoric interpreting the Arab uprising of 2011 from the early days as certainly metamorphosing into an “Islamist Winter”. This secular-humanist hypostasis reminded critics that International Law and International Relations continues to assert that Latin-European philosophical theology furnishes the exclusive temporal coordinates required to attain “modernity” as telos of history and “civil society” as ethos of governance. In addition, the research highlights that such culturalist assertation—separating between law and morality—tolerates secular logic decriminalizing acts patently violating International Law since essentializing Arab-Muslims as temporally positioned “outside law” provides liberal-secular modernity ontological security. Put differently, “culture talk” affirms that since a secular-humanist imaginary of historical evolution stipulates that it is “inevitable” and “natural” that any “non-secular” Arab protests will unavoidably lead to lawlessness, it therefore becomes imperative to suspiciously approach the “Islamist” narrative of 2011 thus deconstructing the formulation of juridical doctrines (i.e., Bethlehem Legal Principles) decriminalizing acts arising from a principle of pre-emption “moralizing” demographic and geographic alterations (i.e., Operation Timber Sycamore) across Arabia. The research concludes that jus gentium continues to be characterized by a temporal inclusive exclusion with its redemptive ramifications—authorized by sovereign power—catalyzing “epistemic violence” resulting in en-masse exodus and slayed bodies across Arabia.
Full-text available
The post-war US global base system was established through bilateral agreements with states where the boundaries between domestic legislation and extra-territoriality were frequently blurred. With references to theories of sovereignty, the article discusses the enforcement of the US-Icelandic defence agreement from 1951 to the present. The focus is on the tension between state sovereignty, involving an unarmed state, and the foreign base rights of a world power. It is shown that during the Cold War, the United States interpreted its military rights broadly, claiming to have the right to interfere in Icelandic internal affairs to thwart a communist coup and to transfer nuclear weapons to Iceland. Conversely, Iceland sought to control the scope of the US presence by putting a limit on the number of troops and lessen its societal impact by curtailing fraternization between US troops and Icelandic civilians. After the Cold War, Iceland’s efforts to keep the base proved unsuccessful, when the United Stated decided to close it down. Yet, since the 2014 Ukrainian crisis, the United States has re-established a rotational military presence in Iceland through the defence agreement, regaining many of the jurisdictional territorial rights, it gave up with the base closing.
In this chapter, the concept of ‘molecularization of threat’ is introduced as the main feature of the post-9/11 era. Two devastating wars in the last twenty years (Afghanistan and Iraq) stemmed as a response to the action of terrorist groups. The War on Terror has become the legitimization for the resort to force at the domestic and international levels. In Syria, the repression exerted by the Assad regime led to civil war and then to the internationalization of the conflict. The War on Terror changed the Mediterranean Sea, turning it from the ‘American lake’ into the logistic rear of American power projection in the Middle East. The Mediterranean has become Europe’s weak link, the porous wall for the migration flows that the European countries refused to manage in a humane, common, and organized way. The ‘securitization of the migration issue’ was a complete failure, contributing to the conflation of the migration issue and the terrorist threat. The European policy toward Islam and Islamist radicalization was another failure, making the EU more vulnerable to the attacks perpetrated by ‘lone wolves’, pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda and ISIS/IS and the main furnace of Jihadist foreign fighters.
In this chapter, I argue how during the last decade, China and Russia have grown in power and influence. In comparison to the unipolar era, the two authoritarian powers are now able to strategically exploit the mistakes of the United States. (1) Putin’s Russia considerably reorganized its military capacity. It was also able to capitalize on Western indecisiveness and division, as seen in Syria (2013) and Crimea (2014), while in the Middle East, it cleverly profited the most from the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program (JCPOA) and started its own triangulation (with Iran and Turkey) as a response to the one between the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. (2) China improved its armed forces qualitatively and quantitatively, with an intense naval rearmament program aimed at the creation of a ‘deep water fleet’. These assertive policies in the Chinese Sea marked the beginning of a political action characterized by greater nationalism. China also increased its soft power with the Belt and Road Initiative, an international economic and financial infrastructure. The US–China relationship seems bound to remain a competitive one, both in (a) security and (b) economic-financial terms.
Full-text available
The concept of sovereignty is central to international relations theory and theories of state formation, and provides the foundation of the conventional separation of modern politics into domestic and international spheres. In this book Jens Bartelson provides a critical analysis and conceptual history of sovereignty, dealing with this separation as reflected in philosophical and political texts during three periods: the Renaissance, the Classical Age, and Modernity. He argues that the concept of sovereignty and its place within political discourse are conditioned by philosophical and historiographical discontinuities between the periods, and that sovereignty should be regarded as a concept contingent upon, rather than fundamental to, political science and its history.
Many analysts claim that international politics has recently entered a new era, following the end of the Cold War and then the events of September 11th. In this book, Kalevi Holsti asks what we mean by 'change' in international politics. How do we identify it? How do we distinguish between significant and unimportant changes? Do we really live in a new era or do we see more continuity than transformation in the texture of international politics? Combining theoretical and empirical argument, Holsti investigates eight major international institutions including the state, sovereignty, territoriality, international law, diplomacy, trade and war. Having identified the types of change these institutions have undergone during the last three centuries, Holsti analyses the sources of those changes and speculates on their consequences. This is a major book, likely to have lasting influence in the study of international politics.
Asian Institute of International Studies - Volume 61 Issue 1 - Eleanor H. Finch
The terrain on which the conceptual and policy contest over “humanitarian intervention” has been fought is essentially normative. It takes the form of norm displacement, shifting from the established norm of nonintervention to a claimed emerging new norm of “humanitarian intervention.” The United Nations lies at the center of this contest both metaphorically and literally. Its Charter encapsulates and articulates the agreed consensus on the prevailing norms that give structure and meaning to the foundations of world order, and the international community comes together physically primarily within the hallowed halls of the UN. It is not surprising, therefore, that the organization should be the epicenter of the interplay between changing norms and shifting state practice.