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Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-first Century Paperback – May 5, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140007701X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077014
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Izaak VanGaalen on June 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since the time of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), the nation state has been viewed as a "sovereign entity," designed to protect and promote the general welfare of its citizens. Now, according to Philip Bobbitt, in the age of globalization, this sovereign entity is becoming increasingly "porous." As nation states integrate into the global economy, the constitutional foundations dedicated to protecting their rights and liberties are no longer adequate. The new entity that is emerging is what Bobbitt calls the "market state," a term he borrows from a previous work, The Shield of Achilles, in which he traced the evolution of the nation state.

This new market state Bobbitt describes is no longer confined to a sovereign territory, it is a decentralized and privatized network of relationships. It has all the characteristics of a multinational corporation and it treats its citizens much like a consumers. The market state has many upsides in that it presents its citizens with unprecedented freedoms and opportunities.

This book, however, is about the downside of the market state and the opportunities it provides terrorists. Today's terrorist networks are a byproduct of the market state, indeed they are an opportunistic parasite of the market state. They harness its technology and networks to wage war against it.

Bobbitt is not a neoconservative, he is a law professor who sees the need for a new constitutional order that reflects the needs of this new market state. Although he supported the war in Iraq, he now emphasizes the need for stronger international alliances and a "commitment to globalize the systems of human rights and government by consent.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The work is sophisticated and explores, among other things, how strategy must align with the rule of law if our policies on terror are to succeed. This is a good read and well ahead of the proverbial curve. You will see the themes of this book, again and again, in the popular literature on terrorism. Enjoy!

In the first page, Professor Bobbitt introduces a broad definition of terror which includes the socially debilitating effects of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, as well as man-made disasters, including terrorism and human rights violations. This is both an accurate and elegant definition - it encompasses things that diminish the human condition; and it is a practical definition in an age of transnational threats where multi-lateral action is a necessity. "We are fighting terror, not just terrorists." I like that.

Yet how does a state effectively and legitimately pursue such policies and enact such cooperation? This question inevitably raises strategic and constitutional issues.

Professor Bobbitt's approach compels a reexamination of strategy, which includes how we organize our resources and conceptualize intervention - peaceful or otherwise - in the highly complex and uncertain environment of the 21st century. And here he makes the case that the alignment of strategy with law is absolutely essential. Our response to terror must be from the legal high ground; which, one hopes, also corresponds to the moral high ground.

I especially liked his detailed discussion of bio-terrorism and the detailed rebuttal to the International Institute for Strategic Studies Adelphi Paper - Nuclear Terrorism After 9/11. This, in conjunction with the background surrounding the A. H.
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`Terror and Consent' deserves high praise for both insight and thoroughness. The insights are of an analytical rather than a revelatory kind. It might be true to say that any intelligent citizen given enough time could have come up with many of the better perceptions in the book, but it is certainly true that not many analysts would have been capable of the sustained concentration that we find here. If it is clarity, mental honesty and detachment that you are looking for in trying to sort out this abominable tangle of a topic, I have yet to see these qualities better combined between the covers of a book.

What the work mainly needs, in my opinion, is pruning. Bobbitt has valuable things to say about more topics than really belong together without risking incoherency. A `war on terror' may be metonymy for a `war on terrorism'. It may also validly signify a strategy for coping with natural disasters, but it would have been better to separate the two issues. In fact I would say in general that the thoughts and insights are better than their presentation and expression, although the actual writing is of high quality - articulate, literate and easy to read. The other difficulty that I found concerned some of the basic terms and expressions that underlie Bobbitt's thinking. `Market State' must be a term that enjoys currency among academics, and if so one can go along with it. However Bobbitt labours it in a way that suggests that he thinks we need convincing of its real value, as probably we do. Also, in trying to reinforce it Bobbitt spoils his exposition by talking about `market state terrorism', an expression that surely conveys nothing to anyone.
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