Still Riding The Trojan Horse Research Essay

Still Riding The Trojan Horse Essay, Research Paper

Still siting the Trojan Equus caballus The Shield of Achilles: War, Law and the Course of History by Philip Bobbitt 960pp, Allen Lane This is a book of extraordinary aspiration. It could good hold been called A General Theory of War, Peace and History. For that is what it proffers, at least for political history over the last half-millennium as perceived through European and American eyes. And it has a message: that, as Sir Michael Howard puts it in his magisterial preface, & # 8220 ; world could be confronting a calamity without case in point in its history & # 8221 ; . Even Achilles behind his & # 8220 ; great and monolithic & # 8221 ; shield was neither secure nor winning at Troy. Nor are we, the parliamentary democratic nation-states, today. These are large subjects, and the architecture and manner of the book are appropriately expansive, pulling on a wealth of classical and modern scholarship every bit good as on the writer & # 8217 ; s extended experience in the highest ranges of American authorities as an expert and policy-maker on security and international jurisprudence. In order to repress and organize the huge field of modern history within the compass of a individual overarching theory & # 8211 ; or put of theories & # 8211 ; Bobbitt generates a grade of abstraction that might upset traditional historiographers of the British empirical school, at one point even necessitating explanatory diagrams. Even so, London and Oxford, with Washington, DC and Texas, are his religious and existent places ; and the about Germanic construction of his statement is relieved by his winsomely fresh English prose. The book starts, giving no one-fourth to the frights of nervous publishing houses, with over four consecutive pages of Homer ( albeit in interlingual rendition ) . It is the famed transition in The Iliad in which the armorer of the Gods forges for Achilles a brilliant shield on which are emblazoned keen peacetime scenes & # 8211 ; nuptialss, markets, dancing, sports, the humanistic disciplines, agribusiness, wine-making and jurisprudence & # 8211 ; every bit good as conflicts. & # 8220 ; This, & # 8221 ; says Bobbitt, & # 8220 ; is the chief point that I wish my readers to bear in head: war is a merchandise every bit good as a maker of civilization. Animals do non do war, even though they fight. No less than the markets and the jurisprudence tribunals, with which it is inextricably entwined, war is a originative act of civilised adult male with of import effects for the remainder of human civilization, which include the festivals of peace. & # 8221 ; The cardinal constructs in Bobbitt & # 8217 ; s theory of history are epoch-making wars, types of province and species of international order, embodied in historic colonies that conclude the epochal wars and modulate the dealingss between consecutive species of province. Therefore five epoch-making wars ( Habsburg-Valois, 1515-1555 ; thirty old ages & # 8217 ; , 1618-1648 ; Louis XIV & # 8217 ; s, 1667-1713 ; Gallic revolutionist, 1792-1815 ; the & # 8220 ; long war & # 8221 ; , 1914-1990 ) delivered the laterality of five consecutive types of province. Each besides yielded a signifier of international order among the society of provinces, with an associated unique legalizing impression. So, the Treaty of Augsburg ( 1555 ) enshrined the deluxe province whereby the province legitimises the dynasty. The Treaty of Westphalia ( 1648 ) enshrined the kingly province where the dynasty legitimises the province. The Treaty of Utrecht ( 1713 ) enshrined the territorial province on the rule that the province will pull off the state expeditiously. The Congress of Vienna ( 1815 ) enshrined the state-nation, in which the province forges the individuality of the state. The Treaty of Versailles ( 1919 ) enshrined the nation-state, whose legitimacy rests on the thought that the province will break the public assistance of the state. And eventually, at the terminal of the & # 8220 ; long war & # 8221 ; , the Peace of Paris ( 1990 ) set the scene for the rise of the market-state, whose mission is to maximize the chance of its citizens. Each of these developments is, furthermore, sustained by the most successful development of the characteristic military engineering and tactics of its clip. Armed with this model, Bobbitt addresses the hereafter, and the oncoming of the & # 8220 ; age of indefiniteness & # 8221 ; . This is non, by the way, an inconvenient construct to the futurologist dying to fudge his stakes, instead in the manner that & # 8220 ; faith & # 8221 ; squares the circle for those who would progress spiritual & # 8211 ; or so other & # 8211 ; beliefs in the dentition of the grounds. We are, he says, at the threshold of & # 8220 ; the 6th great revolution in strategic and constitutional personal businesss & # 8221 ; . The victory of the parliamentary nation-state at the decision of the & # 8220 ; long war & # 8221 ; , and the associated peace that has followed it, will non last. History is non over. We can anticipate a new epoch-making war in which the new signifier of the province, the market-state, & # 8220 ; asserts its primacy as the most effectual constitutional agencies to cover with the effects of the strategic

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innovations that won the ‘Long War’”. In a rare lapse from abstraction, Bobbitt explains that the age when only states could wage wars, aggressively or defensively, is passing because “very small numbers of persons operating with the enormous power of modern computers, biogenetics, air transport, and even small nuclear weapons, can deal lethal blows to any society. And, because it may be impossible to tell whence the attack comes, defence based on deterrence and retaliation will fail, thereby threatening the ability of the parliamentary nation-state to fulfil its legitimising role as the protector of its citizens’ rights, liberties and interests.” At best, “there will be no final victory in such a war”. We shall never reach the utopia of a world of law without war. Worse still, “so long as states rely on a nation-state model for their international order, fruitlessly attempting to cope with new problems by trying to increase the authority of treaties, multi-state conventions, or formal international institutions like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, the society of states will fail to develop practices and precedents for regional, consensual, and market-driven arrangements that do not rely on law for enforcement”. “Constitutional orders that protect human rights and liberties can coexist,” he continues, “with the consequences of the ‘Long War’ only if they revolutionize their military strategies; states will only be able to pursue military strategies that enable collaboration and international consensus if they revolutionize their constitutional orders, away from the national, law-centered methods of the nation-state and toward the international, market operations of the market-state”. This, indeed, is heavy stuff. Some readers will feel at the end of it all that, piling Pelion upon Ossa of such abstractions, its practical meaning eludes them. At the very least they may think that the argument hinges heavily on the concept of the epochal war and, in particular, on a reading of the history of the 20th century as a single such war from 1914 to 1990 – by the end of which the parliamentary nation-state, for all of its triumphs, had met the military and technological conditions for its own demise. A sceptical reader might say that the cold war was not, as Bobbitt argues, an extension for half a century of the first and second world wars, which are perceived as an historic struggle between, on the one hand, the parliamentary democracies and, on the other, the fascist/ communist dictatorship model of the state. On the contrary, that reader might say the cold war was not a war at all, but an armed peacetime competition between Washington and Moscow for spheres of influence, always short of upsetting the equilibrium, however unstable, that preserved the nuclear stalemate and so the peace. More aggressively, such a reader might say it is unconvincing to pretend that the Kaiser was fighting the same war for the same reasons as Hitler and Stalin – and even less convincing to pretend that Stalin was on one side of this epochal struggle from 1941 to 1945 and then on the other from 1948 onwards. A less ambitious historian than Bobbitt might be content to say that the first world war was essentially a clash of rival nationalisms, and that the second world war was a hideously unfortunate consequence of the devil’s brew of failed peace-making, economic mismanagement and inflamed resentments that produced Adolf Hitler. And, finally, that the cold war started as an ideological competition and ended as a technological race from which the Soviet Union simply dropped out. Accordingly, the real historical dividing line was not in 1990, but in 1945, when – after mankind’s worst half-century in 1,000 years – the world said to itself “never again”, drew a line in the sand and embraced the overriding principle of non-aggression as the sovereign rule of a new world. In this world, might would no longer be the sole right and the law of the pontifical and military jungle would be left in the past. The cold war paralysed its enforcement. Nonetheless, there was no third world war; and the challenge to the society of nations is still to uphold and augment the rule of non-aggression, extended to deal with rogue states, failed states, humanitarian disasters, weapons of mass destruction and aggression by non-states. The changing technology and tactics of armed conflict, while contradicting nonsensical complacency about the “end” of history, do not by themselves announce a new epochal war so much as feed the age-old running battle between war and peace and between “us” and “them”. · Peter Jay was formerly British ambassador in Washington, DC.

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