From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Bobbitt follows his magisterial Shield of Achilles
with an equally complex and provocative analysis of the West's ongoing struggle against terrorism. According to Bobbitt, the primary driver of terrorism is not Islam but the emergence of the market state. Market states (such as the U.S.) are characterized by their emphasis on deregulation, privatization (of prisons, pensions, armies), abdication of typical nation-state duties (providing welfare or health care) and adoption of corporate models of operational effectiveness. While market states are too militarily formidable to be challenged conventionally, they have allowed for the sale of weapons on the international market, thereby losing their monopoly on mass destruction; furthermore they are disproportionately vulnerable to destabilizing, delegitimating, demoralizing terror. Bobbitt asserts that this situation requires a shift from a strategy of deterrence and containment to one of preclusion. States must recast concepts of sovereignty and legitimacy to define what levels of force they may deploy in seeking and suppressing terrorists. Domestically, the shift involves accepting that in order to protect citizens, the state must strengthen its powers in sensitive areas like surveillance. International alliances can be a major advantage in a war waged not against terrorists, but terror itself. Terror and Consent
, the first work to interpret terrorism in the context of political theory, merits wide circulation and serious consideration. (Apr.)
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With The Shield of Achilles (2002), constitutional law and nuclear strategy scholar Bobbitt argued, among other things, that the epoch of the nation-state is ending. Governments of the twenty-first century and beyond, he argued, will increasingly be “market states”: global, networked, decentralized, and considerably privatized states whose primary objective is to maximize the (primarily economic) opportunities of its citizens. With his latest book, Bobbitt examines at great length the relationship between the emergent constitutional order and the emergence of modern “market state terrorism,” which, mirroring the market state and availing itself of the same technological advances, may be lethal enough to pose an existential threat to the very possibility of government by consent of the governed. Arguing that America is indeed in a war against terror itself, not merely terrorists, Bobbitt finds the key to preserving states of consent lies in increased state power, increased multilateralism, and especially a strengthening of both constitutional and international legal restrictions on unfettered state action. Not just another book about terrorism, this is a complete theory of constitutional evolution and a sophisticated set of far-reaching policy prescriptions. Frequently digressive, incredibly erudite, and frustratingly difficult to pin down on the political spectrum, Bobbitt aims for the big picture and succeeds. --Brendan Driscoll