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Against the New Internationalism


When I think of the challenges facing international society in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, two images come to mind. The first, a work of postcard art, depicts a screenprint of the Statue of Liberty, with a twist. In the place of her striking face and radiating crown appears a decidedly masculine image: that of a helmeted marine, grim and tight-jawed, a cigarette poking insolently from his lips. The caption reads, in bold white capitals on black, “PEACE,” and beneath it another phrase, asterisked: “conditions apply.” The second is a newspaper photograph of a young woman in New York taken during the global demonstrations against the war in February 2003. She has been called out of the march by the photographer and stands, at once defiant and bewildered, against a row of mounted police. Rugged up against the winter cold, she holds a placard upon which she has written a question: “Perpetual war for perpetual peace?”

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1 Habermas Jürgen, “Interpreting the Fall of a Monument,” Constellations 10, no. 3 (2003), p. 364.

2 “Liberty design” by Phil Hannaford, Arts Bandit, 2003.

3 Perera Suvendrini, “What Is a Camp ?” Borderlands 1, no. 1 (May 2002); available at

4 Bush George W., “Remarks by the President at the 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy,” speech given at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington,, D.C., November 6, 2003 ; available at

5 Habermas, “Interpreting the Fall,” p. 366.

6 William Shawcross's book is Allies (New York: Public-Affairs, 2003). The others are discussed below. A 2004 article by Allen Buchanan and Robert Keohane promoting the creation of a “cosmopolitan institutional” framework for authorizing the preventive use of force also treads similar ground, but its scope is far more limited (to cases of the imminent first use of WMD), it affirms the United Nations as the prime context for deliberation, and it sets a much higher threshold of discussion and accountability than other proposals. For these reasons it cannot be strictly classified with the “new internationalism,” and will not be discussed here. Allen Buchanan and Robert. O Keohane, “The Preventive Use of Force: A Cosmopolitan Institutional Proposal,”Ethics & International Affairs 18, no. 1 (2004), pp. 1–24.

7 Tony Blair, “Doctrine of the International Community,” speech given at the Economic Club, Chicago, April 24, 1999; available at

8 Ibid.

9 Cockburn Andrew and Cockburn Patrick, Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession (New York,: Verso, 2002), p. 31.

10 Ten Downing Street Press Release, “Prime Minister Warns of Continuing Global Terror Threat,” March 5, 2004; available at

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Feinstein Lee and Slaughter Anne-Marie, “A Duty to Prevent,” Foreign Affairs 83, no. 1 (2004), pp. 136 – 50.

14 Ibid., p. 137.

15 Ibid., p. 138; emphasis added.

16 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect (Ottawa,: IDRC, 2001).

17 Feinstein and Slaughter, “A Duty to Prevent,” p. 141.

18 Evans Gareth and Sahnoun Mohamed, “The Responsibility to Protect,” Foreign Affairs 81, no. 6 (2002), p. 99.

19 Feinstein and Slaughter, “A Duty to Prevent,” pp. 137, 149.

20 See Ignatieff Michael, “I Am Iraq,” New York Times Magazine, March 23, 2003, pp. 1314; for his criticism of the Bush administration, see Ignatieff Michael, “The Year of Living Dangerously,” New York Times Magazine, March 14, 2004, pp. 1316.

21 Ignatieff Michael, “Why Are We in Iraq? (And Liberia? And Afghanistan?),” New York Times Magazine , September 7, 2003, p. 85.

22 Feinstein and Slaughter, “A Duty to Prevent,” p. 145.

23 Bleiker Roland, “A Rogue is a Rogue is a Rogue: US Foreign Policy and the Korean Nuclear Crisis,” International Affairs 79, no. 4 (July 2003), pp. 719 – 37.

24 Butler Richard, Fatal Choice: Nuclear Weapons and the Illusion of Missile Defense (Boulder,, Colo.: Westview Press, 2001), pp. 4552.

25 Bradford Plumer, “Busting Out,” Mother Jones, May/June 2004; available at; and U.S. Government, “National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction,” December 2002; available at Strategy.pdf.

26 See Robert S. McNamara's remarks on the Cuban Missile Crisis in his book with Blight James G., Wilson's Ghost (New York: Public Affairs, 2003), pp. 188–91.

27 For a summary of this view, see Reus-Smit Christian, American Power and World Order (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004), pp. 108109.

28 Elshtain Jean Bethke, “International Justice as Equal Regard and the Use of Force,” Ethics & International Affairs 17, no. 2 (2003), pp. 6364.

29 Ibid., p. 66.

30 Ibid.

31 See Elshtain Jean Bethke, “A Just War?” Boston Globe, October 6, 2002, p. H4.

32 Elshtain, “International Justice,” p. 68; Burke Anthony, “Just War or Ethical Peace? Moral Discourses of Strategic Violence after 9/11,” International Affairs 80, no. 2 (2004), pp. 329–53.

33 Buchanan and Keohane, in “The Preventive Use of Force,” p. 4, make this latter criticism of just war theory.

34 Elshtain, “International Justice,” p. 67.

35 Ibid., pp. 73, 74.

36 Ibid.

37 See the reports from the International Crisis Group, “Darfur: The Failure to Protect,”Africa Report 89, March 8, 2005; and “A New Sudan Action Plan,”Africa Briefing 24, April 26, 2005; available at

38 A May 24, 2005, press release states that the NATO Council has agreed on “initial military options for possible NATO support to the African Union” in Darfur, such as “strategic airlift; training, for example in command and control and operational planning; and improvement of ability of the AU's mission in Darfur to use intelligence.” NATO Press Office, “Statement by the Spokesman on NATO Support to the African Union for Darfur”; available at

39 Fukuyama Francis, The End of History and the Last Man (London,: Penguin, 1992), pp. 276 – 84.

40 Ibid., p. 280.

41 Ibid., p. 276; Elshtain, “International Justice,” p. 74.

42 Casualty figures are minimal estimates based on an ongoing crossreference of media reporting sourced from Iraq Body Count:

43 Kant Immanuel, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” in Reiss Hans, ed., Kant: Political Writings (Cambridge,: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 93108.

44 Ibid., pp. 112, 95.

45 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; available at

46 Schell Jonathan, The Unfinished Twentieth Century: The Crisis of Weapons of Mass Destruction (New York,: Verso, 2003), p. 58.

47 Balibar Étienne, We, The People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), p. 222.

48 Elshtain Jean Bethke, Women and War (Chicago,: University of Chicago Press, 1995), p. 255.

49 Crawford Neta C., “The Slippery Slope to Preventive War,” Ethics & International Affairs 17, no. 1 (2003), pp. 3039.

50 See Cohen Avner, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); and Bleiker Roland, Divided Korea: Toward a Culture of Reconciliation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

51 Burke, “Just War or Ethical Peace?” pp. 349–53.

52 UN Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) did refer to Iraq's “prior use of chemical weapons,” but also mentioned the “use by Iraq of ballistic missiles in unprovoked attacks.”The United Nations and the Iraq-Kuwait Conflict 1990–96 (New York: UN Department of Public Information, 1996), p. 194.

53 Ritter Scott, Endgame (New York,: Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 133.

54 Friedman Alan, Spider's Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit (London,: Faber and Faber, 1993).

55 Cockburn and Cockburn, Saddam Hussein, p. 31; Meisler Stanley, “U.S. Sanctions Threat Takes UN by Surprise,” Los Angeles Times, May 9, 1991, p. 10; and Glen Rangwala, “The Myth That All Iraq Needs to Do to Lift Sanctions Is Comply with Weapons Inspectors”; available at

56 Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz directly raised concerns about the U.S.-U.K. covert operations with UNSCOM chairman Rolf Ekeus. Scott Ritter also quotes an Iraqi colonel who revealed to him that the regime had foiled a June 1996 coup plot, coordinated by the CIA, which had been timed to coincide with UNSCOM inspections, and mentions his own concerns about the role of CIA covert operations staff seconded to UNSCOM in 1992 and 1993. See Ritter, Endgame, pp. 140, 131–34, 143–44.

57 See David Kay's testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services on January 28, 2004; available at

58 Cockburn and Cockburn cite an FAO study estimating that 576,000 children had died as a result of sanctions and a WHO study (using Iraqi Ministry of Health figures) estimating that 90,000 Iraqis were dying every year in public hospitals over and above normal death rates. Extrapolating from these figures, they argued in 2000 that the number of Iraqis of all ages who died as a result of the sanctions was “closer to one million.” A March 1999 Richard Garfield study, commissioned by the Joan B. Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies in the light of concerns about the UN's methodology and sources, estimated 106,000–227,000 deaths of children under the age of five. However, these were not figures for all ages and did not continue until 2003, when the sanctions were lifted. Cockburn and Cockburn, Saddam Hussein, pp. xxix, 114–35; and Richard Garfield, Morbidity and Mortality among Iraqi Children from 1990 through 1998: Assessing the Impact of the Gulf War and Economic Sanctions, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, March 1999.

59 Habermas, quoted in Borradori Giovanna, Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), p. 39.

60 Hiro Dilip, Iraq: A Report from the Inside (London,: Granta, 2003), p. 147.

61 Cockburn and Cockburn, Saddam Hussein, p. 44; and Rangwala, “The Myth That All Iraq Needs.”

62 Brown Chris, “Self-Defense in an Imperfect World,” Ethics & International Affairs 17, no. 1 (2003), p. 7.

63 Elshtain, “International Justice,” p. 74; and Ignatieff, “Why Are We in Iraq?” p. 85.

64 Ignatieff Michael, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (New York,: Metropolitan Books, 2000), pp. 208 – 10.

65 Ibid., pp. 213 – 14.

66 Morgenthau Hans J., Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York,: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964), pp. 245 – 49.

67 Ibid., p. 249.

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