das heute in der FTD kritisierte US-Gesetz erklärtweltweit alle Leute für vogelfrei, die gegen die Politik des US-Imperialismus Widerstand leisten. "Der Kongress ermächtigt den Präsidenten, jeden Ausländer zu entführen, der nach R e g i e r u n g s a u f f a s s u ng an antiamerikanischem Terrorismus beteiligt ist oder ihn "wissentlichmateriell unterstützt"". (s.u.)
Hannah Arendt merkte zu solchen Fällen in ihrem Essays "Über die Revolution" an, dass der Übergang zu Methoden der Gewalt- und Willkürherrschaft anzeigt, dass die Zustimmung zur vorhandenen Herrschaft schwindet bzw. sich auflöst. Macht beruht auf Zustimmung, Gewalt nicht.
Dokumentiert:USA - Tiefpunkt des Rechtsstaats
Noch in dieser Woche dürfte ein Gesetz in Kraft treten, das eine Zäsur in der Geschichte der USA markiert. Der Kongress ermächtigt den Präsidenten, jeden Ausländer zu entführen, der nach Regierungsauffassung an antiamerikanischem Terrorismus beteiligt ist oder ihn "wissentlich materiell unterstützt".Der Gefangene kann, notfalls geheim, ohne Klagerecht so lange festgehalten werden, bis Washington den Anti-Terror-Krieg für beendet erklärt. Die Regierung ist nicht verpflichtet, Häftlingen den Prozess zu machen. Wenn doch, können ihnen vor speziellen Militärtribunalen Aussagen zur Last gelegt werden, die sie selbst oder Dritte nach Anwendung "alternativer Verhörmethoden" gemacht haben - so nennt die Regierung Praktiken, die andernorts als Folter gelten.Das von der überwältigenden Mehrheit beider Parteien Ende vergangener Woche verabschiedete Gesetz soll die Praktiken der Bush-Regierung im Anti-Terror-Krieg auf festeren rechtlichen Grund stellen. Partiell reagiert der Kongress damit auf das jüngste Urteil des Supreme Court, wonach Sondertribunale für Terrorangeklagte illegal waren, weil Bush sie aus eigener Vollmacht geschaffen hatte.Auf Betreiben einiger Republikaner bleibt die Genfer Konvention, anders als Bush es wollte, juristisch unangetastet. Doch faktisch wird deren Schutz ausgehöhlt: Der Kongress überlässt es wie bisher der Regierung, peinigende Verhörmethoden zu definieren, die in ihren Augen keine Folter sind.Das Gesetz dürfte letztlich einer Prüfung durch den Supreme Court kaum standhalten. Doch es ist ein trauriger Trost, wenn der Rechtsstaat nur noch durch eine Mehrheit oberster Richter zu schützen ist. Der Gesetzesbeschluss wird in die Geschichte eingehen - als ein Moment, in dem der US-Kongress Ideale seiner Gründerväter, des Rechtsstaats und der Demokratie verraten hat.
April 7, 2002
new liberal imperialism
To understand the present, we must first understand
the past, for the past is still with us. International order used to be based
either on hegemony or on balance. Hegemony came first. In the ancient world,
order meant empire. Those within the empire had order, culture and civilisation.
Outside it lay barbarians, chaos and disorder. The image of peace and order
through a single hegemonic power centre has remained strong ever since. Empires,
however, are ill-designed for promoting change. Holding the empire together -
and it is the essence of empires that they are diverse - usually requires an
authoritarian political style; innovation, especially in society and politics,
would lead to instability. Historically, empires have generally been static.
In Europe, a middle way was found between the
stasis of chaos and the stasis of empire, namely the small state. The small
state succeeded in establishing sovereignty, but only within a geographically
limited jurisdiction. Thus domestic order was purchased at the price of
international anarchy. The competition between the small states of Europe was a
source of progress, but the system was also constantly threatened by a relapse
into chaos on one side and by the hegemony of a single power on the other. The
solution to this was the balance-of-power, a system of counter-balancing
alliances which became seen as the condition of liberty in Europe. Coalitions
were successfully put together to thwart the hegemonic ambitions firstly of
Spain, then of France, and finally of Germany.
But the balance-of-power system too had an inherent
instability, the ever-present risk of war, and it was this that eventually
caused it to collapse. German unification in 1871 created a state too powerful
to be balanced by any European alliance; technological changes raised the costs
of war to an unbearable level; and the development of mass society and
democratic politics, rendered impossible the amoral calculating mindset
necessary to make the balance of power system function. Nevertheless, in the
absence of any obvious alternative it persisted, and what emerged in 1945 was
not so much a new system as the culmination of the old one. The old
multi-lateral balance-of-power in Europe became a bilateral balance of terror
worldwide, a final simplification of the balance of power. But it was not built
to last. The balance of power never suited the more universalistic, moralist
spirit of the late twentieth century.
The second half of the twentieth Century has seen
not just the end of the balance of power but also the waning of the imperial
urge: in some degree the two go together. A world that started the century
divided among European empires finishes it with all or almost all of them gone:
the Ottoman, German, Austrian, French , British and finally Soviet Empires are
now no more than a memory. This leaves us with two new types of state: first
there are now states - often former colonies - where in some sense the state has
almost ceased to exist a 'premodern' zone where the state has failed and a
Hobbesian war of all against all is underway (countries such as Somalia and,
until recently, Afghanistan). Second, there are the post imperial, postmodern
states who no longer think of security primarily in terms of conquest. And
thirdly, of course there remain the traditional "modern" states who
behave as states always have, following Machiavellian principles and raison d'ètat
(one thinks of countries such as India, Pakistan and China).
The postmodern system in which we Europeans live
does not rely on balance; nor does it emphasise sovereignty or the separation of
domestic and foreign affairs. The European Union has become a highly developed
system for mutual interference in each other's domestic affairs, right down to
beer and sausages. The CFE Treaty, under which parties to the treaty have to
notify the location of their heavy weapons and allow inspections, subjects areas
close to the core of sovereignty to international constraints. It is important
to realise what an extraordinary revolution this is. It mirrors the paradox of
the nuclear age, that in order to defend yourself, you had to be prepared to
destroy yourself. The shared interest of European countries in avoiding a
nuclear catastrophe has proved enough to overcome the normal strategic logic of
distrust and concealment. Mutual vulnerability has become mutual transparency.
The main characteristics of the postmodern world
are as follows:
· The breaking down of the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs.
· Mutual interference in (traditional) domestic affairs and mutual
· The rejection of force for resolving disputes and the consequent
codification of self-enforced rules of behaviour.
· The growing irrelevance of borders: this has come about both through the
changing role of the state, but also through missiles, motor cars and satellites.
· Security is based on transparency, mutual openness, interdependence and
The conception of an International Criminal Court
is a striking example of the postmodern breakdown of the distinction between
domestic and foreign affairs. In the postmodern world, raison d'ètat and the
amorality of Machiavelli's theories of statecraft, which defined international
relations in the modern era, have been replaced by a moral consciousness that
applies to international relations as well as to domestic affairs: hence the
renewed interest in what constitutes a just war.
While such a system does deal with the problems
that made the balance-of-power unworkable, it does not entail the demise of the
nation state. While economy, law-making and defence may be increasingly embedded
in international frameworks, and the borders of territory may be less important,
identity and democratic institutions remain primarily national. Thus traditional
states will remain the fundamental unit of international relations for the
foreseeable future, even though some of them may have ceased to behave in
What is the origin of this basic change in the
state system? The fundamental point is that "the world's grown honest".
A large number of the most powerful states no longer want to fight or conquer.
It is this that gives rise to both the pre-modern and postmodern worlds.
Imperialism in the traditional sense is dead, at least among the Western powers.
If this is true, it follows that we should not
think of the EU or even NATO as the root cause of the half century of peace we
have enjoyed in Western Europe. The basic fact is that Western European
countries no longer want to fight each other. NATO and the EU have, nevertheless,
played an important role in reinforcing and sustaining this position. NATO's
most valuable contribution has been the openness it has created. NATO was, and
is a massive intra-western confidence-building measure. It was NATO and the EU
that provided the framework within which Germany could be reunited without
posing a threat to the rest of Europe as its original unification had in 1871.
Both give rise to thousands of meetings of ministers and officials, so that all
those concerned with decisions involving war and peace know each other well.
Compared with the past, this represents a quality and stability of political
relations never known before.
The EU is the most developed example of a
postmodern system. It represents security through transparency, and transparency
through interdependence. The EU is more a transnational than a supra-national
system, a voluntary association of states rather than the subordination of
states to a central power. The dream of a European state is one left from a
previous age. It rests on the assumption that nation states are fundamentally
dangerous and that the only way to tame the anarchy of nations is to impose
hegemony on them. But if the nation-state is a problem then the super-state is
certainly not a solution.
European states are not the only members of the
postmodern world. Outside Europe, Canada is certainly a postmodern state; Japan
is by inclination a postmodern state, but its location prevents it developing
more fully in this direction. The USA is the more doubtful case since it is not
clear that the US government or Congress accepts either the necessity or
desirability of interdependence, or its corollaries of openness, mutual
surveillance and mutual interference, to the same extent as most European
governments now do. Elsewhere, what in Europe has become a reality is in many
other parts of the world an aspiration. ASEAN, NAFTA, MERCOSUR and even OAU
suggest at least the desire for a postmodern environment, and though this wish
is unlikely to be realised quickly, imitation is undoubtedly easier than
Within the postmodern world, there are no security
threats in the traditional sense; that is to say, its members do not consider
invading each other. Whereas in the modern world , following Clausewitz' dictum
war is an instrument of policy in the postmodern world it is a sign of policy
failure. But while the members of the postmodern world may not represent a
danger to one another, both the modern and pre-modern zones pose threats.
The threat from the modern world is the most
familiar. Here, the classical state system, from which the postmodern world has
only recently emerged, remains intact, and continues to operate by the
principles of empire and the supremacy of national interest. If there is to be
stability it will come from a balance among the aggressive forces. It is notable
how few are the areas of the world where such a balance exists. And how sharp
the risk is that in some areas there may soon be a nuclear element in the
The challenge to the postmodern world is to get
used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis
of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned
kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to
the rougher methods of an earlier era - force, pre-emptive attack, deception,
whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth
century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but
when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In
the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect
our defences, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great
dangers of the postmodern state.
The challenge posed by the pre-modern world is a
new one. The pre-modern world is a world of failed states. Here the state no
longer fulfils Weber's criterion of having the monopoly on the legitimate use of
force. Either it has lost the legitimacy or it has lost the monopoly of the use
of force; often the two go together. Examples of total collapse are relatively
rare, but the number of countries at risk grows all the time. Some areas of the
former Soviet Union are candidates, including Chechnya. All of the world's major
drug-producing areas are part of the pre-modern world. Until recently there was
no real sovereign authority in Afghanistan; nor is there in upcountry Burma or
in some parts of South America, where drug barons threaten the state's monopoly
on force. All over Africa countries are at risk. No area of the world is without
its dangerous cases. In such areas chaos is the norm and war is a way of life.
In so far as there is a government it operates in a way similar to an organised
The premodern state may be too weak even to secure
its home territory, let alone pose a threat internationally, but it can provide
a base for non-state actors who may represent a danger to the postmodern world.
If non-state actors, notably drug, crime, or terrorist syndicates take to using
premodern bases for attacks on the more orderly parts of the world, then the
organised states may eventually have to respond. If they become too dangerous
for established states to tolerate, it is possible to imagine a defensive
imperialism. It is not going too far to view the West's response to Afghanistan
in this light.
How should we deal with the pre-modern chaos? To
become involved in a zone of chaos is risky; if the intervention is prolonged it
may become unsustainable in public opinion; if the intervention is unsuccessful
it may be damaging to the government that ordered it. But the risks of letting
countries rot, as the West did Afghanistan, may be even greater.
What form should intervention take? The most
logical way to deal with chaos, and the one most employed in the past is
colonisation. But colonisation is unacceptable to postmodern states (and, as it
happens, to some modern states too). It is precisely because of the death of
imperialism that we are seeing the emergence of the pre-modern world. Empire and
imperialism are words that have become a form of abuse in the postmodern world.
Today, there are no colonial powers willing to take on the job, though the
opportunities, perhaps even the need for colonisation is as great as it ever was
in the nineteenth century. Those left out of the global economy risk falling
into a vicious circle. Weak government means disorder and that means falling
investment. In the 1950s, South Korea had a lower GNP per head than Zambia: the
one has achieved membership of the global economy, the other has not.
All the conditions for imperialism are there, but
both the supply and demand for imperialism have dried up. And yet the weak still
need the strong and the strong still need an orderly world. A world in which the
efficient and well governed export stability and liberty, and which is open for
investment and growth - all of this seems eminently desirable.
What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism,
one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. We can
already discern its outline: an imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to
bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle.
Postmodern imperialism takes two forms. First there
is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy. This is usually operated by
an international consortium through International Financial Institutions such as
the IMF and the World Bank - it is characteristic of the new imperialism that it
is multilateral. These institutions provide help to states wishing to find their
way back into the global economy and into the virtuous circle of investment and
prosperity. In return they make demands which, they hope, address the political
and economic failures that have contributed to the original need for assistance.
Aid theology today increasingly emphasises governance. If states wish to benefit,
they must open themselves up to the interference of international organisations
and foreign states (just as, for different reasons, the postmodern world has
also opened itself up.)
second form of postmodern imperialism might be called the imperialism of
neighbours. Instability in your neighbourhood poses threats which no state can
ignore. Misgovernment, ethnic violence and crime in the Balkans poses a threat
to Europe. The response has been to create something like a voluntary UN
protectorate in Bosnia and Kosovo. It is no surprise that in both cases the High
Representative is European. Europe provides most of the aid that keeps Bosnia
and Kosovo running and most of the soldiers (though the US presence is an
indispensable stabilising factor). In a further unprecedented move, the EU has
offered unilateral free-market access to all the countries of the former
Yugoslavia for all products including most agricultural produce. It is not just
soldiers that come from the international community; it is police, judges,
prison officers, central bankers and others. Elections are organised and
monitored by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Local police are financed and trained by the UN. As auxiliaries to this effort -
in many areas indispensable to it - are over a hundred NGOs.
One additional point needs to be made. It is
dangerous if a neighbouring state is taken over in some way by organised or
disorganised crime - which is what state collapse usually amounts to. But Usama
bin Laden has now demonstrated for those who had not already realised, that
today all the world is, potentially at least, our neighbour.
The Balkans are a special case. Elsewhere in
Central and Eastern Europe the EU is engaged in a programme which will
eventually lead to massive enlargement. In the past empires have imposed their
laws and systems of government; in this case no one is imposing anything.
Instead, a voluntary movement of self-imposition is taking place. While you are
a candidate for EU membership you have to accept what is given - a whole mass of
laws and regulations - as subject countries once did. But the prize is that once
you are inside you will have a voice in the commonwealth. If this process is a
kind of voluntary imperialism, the end state might be describes as a cooperative
empire. 'Commonwealth' might indeed not be a bad name.
The postmodern EU offers a vision of cooperative
empire, a common liberty and a common security without the ethnic domination and
centralised absolutism to which past empires have been subject, but also without
the ethnic exclusiveness that is the hallmark of the nation state -
inappropriate in an era without borders and unworkable in regions such as the
Balkans. A cooperative empire might be the domestic political framework that
best matches the altered substance of the postmodern state: a framework in which
each has a share in the government, in which no single country dominates and in
which the governing principles are not ethnic but legal. The lightest of touches
will be required from the centre; the 'imperial bureaucracy' must be under
control, accountable, and the servant, not the master, of the commonwealth. Such
an institution must be as dedicated to liberty and democracy as its constituent
parts. Like Rome, this commonwealth would provide its citizens with some of its
laws, some coins and the occasional road.
That perhaps is the vision. Can it be realised?
Only time will tell. The question is how much time there may be. In the modern
world the secret race to acquire nuclear weapons goes on. In the premodern world
the interests of organised crime - including international terrorism - grow
greater and faster than the state. There may not be much time left.
Cooper is a senior serving British diplomat, and writes
in a personal capacity. This article is published as The post-modern state in the new collection Reordering the World: the long term implications of September 11,
published by The
Foreign Policy Centre (www.fpc.org.uk)
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