Neo-Imperialism

2010October10-03
December12-19
2011January01-25
April04-03
2012August08-07

Is, can, or should a new "Nomos of the Earth" be a single universalism, or would an arrangement of “Grossraueme,” or Spheres of Influence turn out to be preferable, possibly because more practical?

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08-09

We may need to consider that what Daniel Larison calls “hegemonism” is on some level embedded within the American project itself, its revolutionary liberalism, its Enlightenment universalism, its Jeffersonian “federative” imperialism. A divorce from such pretensions, or even a declaration of their fulfillment and therefore their obsolescence, does not merely require but likely entails, is likely already entailing, a political and economic crisis corresponding to the deeper conceptual or ideological crisis. Even a re-conception of liberal-universalism, a notion of some truer realization of its essence, leaves the fate of American nationalism, and of the American nation, meaning the real lives of its people, or the real meaning of the lives of its people, in question. The transformation to a self-understanding of “one country just like the others” might still be experienced as a greatest loss, spiritual as well as material, by many or in some sense all Americans, even the ones promoting it and perhaps able to look at the world it creates and call it good and necessary.

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08-21
September09-09
09-14
December12-12
2013January01-03
February02-11
March03-15

...a residue or by-product of the same (world-)historical process realized as a nearly entirely dysfunctional passive aggressive national government care-taking the affairs of the passive aggressive polity that it passive-aggressively reflects, represents, and embodies, and that it is expected to preserve and to protect.

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03-18

Larison himself is among those frequently and pointedly making the argument that Larison says no one ever makes.

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03-19

Getting caught up on the terms of the discussion can be misleading when the whole point of the new initiative is that the terms of the old discussion are no longer adequate. That people fall into the old terminology constantly should not be surprising, but the fact that they do is relevant to the main questions only as evidence of their very novelty, and illustration of how difficult it can be to discuss and cope with them at all.

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03-20

If the implacable self-deception of that moment ten years ago produced a shallowly mistaken, embarrassingly unjustifiable, finally tragic assertion of a global regency and its prerogatives, the commensurate and necessary deception of this moment might be of a safe, simply chosen abdication.

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03-26
April04-02

We do not have an in fact unresolved history of war with Syria or Assad as we did with Iraq/Saddam, and we operate from greater confidence in regard to terrorist threats than in the early 2000s. If this confidence is misplaced, it is something that will have to be proved to us before we embark upon some new improved version of a newly vindicated Bush Doctrine.

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04-23

The Republican neo-imperialists believe that the empire needs to be more aggressively defended and wherever possible expanded. The Democratic neo-imperialists believe that the empire needs mainly to be secured, or, if expanded, expanded via collaboration. The citizenry appears somewhat agnostic or passive on the main questions, except when unsettled by events suggestive of a possible un-managed and abrupt rollback that would also entail a downward adjustment in consumption and other disruptions of accustomed expectations - a possibility or set of possibilities that few outside the neo-imperial mainstream seem equipped to analyze concretely.

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May05-08

What the commercials want to tell or remind us is this: The US Navy is the US global-historical role and purpose objectified, American ideology concretely, defined by a presumption that the two meanings of "for good" become the same meaning over time, are always approaching each other via that arc "bending toward justice" that the President likes to recall in his seemingly most heartfelt speeches.

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June06-15
06-17

The United State of America, by process of geographical and historical election, and by related ideological pre-disposition, plays a unique role in the administration of the global state interest, a role seemingly little understood by many whose occupations and pre-occupations are explaining, arguing about, and, in some places, denying it.

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06-18

If any serious attempt to define the American national interest leads us to an overdetermining or geographically, political-economically, and ideologically mutually conditioning internationalism or transnational impetus, borne out in the great events and ideas and seemingly inexorable material processes of the last two centuries, resulting in the state of the world as we know it, then nation-state Realism in relationship to America turns itself inside out or upside down.

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September09-08

The President has put before Congress a vote on the international system in its America-centric or Neo-Imperial form, with his office, as it has developed, and the norm against mass annihilation of people, as interdependent critical features of that system, subject to simultaneous yay or nay.

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09-09

Even worse, for the committedly anti-committal majority, which seems to include the President himself, the proposal of minimal means is burdened not only by threateningly maximal moral and historical justification, but by multiple additional independently intimidating justifications, each seemingly more disqualifyingly persuasive than the last.

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All vassal states enjoy very wide latitude to oppress and exploit their citizens or subjects until and unless such oppression and exploitation rises to a level that threatens system integrity.

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09-12

Putin's argument against American exceptionalism is effectively that the American project as an ideological project is essentially over. The prophecy has been fulfilled: What in 1776 was a message of a few colonial upstarts - that "all men are created equal" - is now everyone's basic belief, even the belief of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. Belief in equality no longer sets Americans apart: Everyone believes everyone is equal - or equal before God - so there's nothing exceptional about believing so, and no need for Americans to go abroad seeking monsters to destroy.

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if (roguestate > insignificant) and (civilians > insignificant) : intervention.

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09-13

"Resolving conflict worldwide" and "changing dictatorship into democracies" count in this context as simplistic, even childish reductions of any questions truly before us. When we focus on such simplisms instead of treating them for what they are, every movement of any kind falls subject to strategic hypochondria, a condition under which even a move consequentially "inward" also becomes impossible: A hypochondriac nation will resist turning consequentially in any direction at all.

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09-14

For now, as spectators, we may hope that our cheers or jeers may be heard on the field and somehow affect the outcome. From orbit, relieved of any such aspirations, we can see that the deal took the only shape it could take.

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09-16
09-21

Every alteration in the American way of war corresponds directly to a re-definition of the American concept - concretely. A long series of expediencies and exigent measures tend to become simply who you are, whatever you might prefer to think or may have previously had in mind.

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09-22
October10-05
10-29

The war the fellows in the Minuteman costumes thought they were fighting was already lost generations if not centuries ago.

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November11-06

Writing in Al-Hayat, Hazem Saghieh urges his mainly Arab readers to prepare themselves for "the Great Frustration." ((h/t Hussein Ibish as @ibishblog.)) He has the specific post-Arab Spring predicament in mind, of course, but the Great Frustration would be another good name for the neo-imperial condition in general, in relation to alternatives that once upon a time or during all previous history could not, at least from any sublunary perspective, have seemed merely "tragic or comical"- the author's description of attempts to integrate fractured polities by force, as if he knows some other means - but would have embodied the highest imaginable "resolution" known to our tragicomical species, the founding or downfall of nations and empires. ((Saghieh's reference to Bonaparte is indicative here: Bonapartism like Caesarism announces the transition from consolidated republic to imperial super-state, and Bonapartism specifically represented Caesarism in a world whose limits had actually been traced, so were conceivably reachable under a corresponding extremity of effort.)) The syndrome extends fully to nominally domestic politics, and not just in the countries of the former Third World, but is perhaps easier to discern on the international plane, where the denial of such destinies, of any new destiny at all, is written into the law above laws, and has been ever since the presumed final historical exam that ended in industrialized genocide, the nuclear incineration of cities, and the re-accelerated Americanization of the Earth. Like Saddam and Nasser, an Al-Sisi has nowhere to go, though after the others better knows it, and may simply accept the sense of relative security also enjoyed by fellow tragicomic impotentates from Tehran to Damascus to Washington DC and back round the time zones again: Such leaders are checked by local manifestations of a unitary geopolitics - here Israel, there oil, over there the free transit of container ships, but really the same problem under local conditions. As we know but are wont to forget, conquest in the traditional style, like the kind of full-scale disorientation and collapse that once upon a time might have invited if not demanded it, implicitly threatens transnational order on the same basis that over the longer arc of history the rise of the imperialist nation-state summoned the neo-imperialist world-state into concrete existence. The latter is never quite located. It is as it displaces, and is revealed, like God to the agnostics, apophatically: For ambitious individuals, peoples, and political movements in their frustration, in their diminution to tragic or comical or tragicomical, in the inconsequentialization and sub-ordination of the particular amidst the merciless and all-overwhelming pursuit of an inexpressible and relentlessly unsatisfying, yet indispensable and finally determining, supremely common interest. Fractured nation-states or pseudo-states or failed states or Hell-states beyond the limits in multiple senses of the term stand as typical exceptions, as active "sacrifice zones," until the broad awakening to danger in viral or ecological or moral or mass murderous human form re-connects world extremes to world centers. Except at such moments, the form of resolution resembles a vast suspension of resolutions: The interposition of frustrations great and small testify to the continued existence of an actual hegemony, everywhere politically effective, nowhere politically visible, in other words negatively effective if otherwise seemingly absent, at least until some new challenge to its inherited shape requires its concrete re-extension or its epochal failure: opposites eventually identical.

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11-28

By completing a deal, we therefore co-effectuate the realization or authentication of an objectively liberal-democratic tendency or potential in the Islamic Republic. We do not, of course, completely liberalize-democratize the IR. We offer it a partial and reversible, but all the same real and indispensable, for the moment undeniable, validation.

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