Edited by Maurice Mullard and Bankole A. Cole
Chapter 3: History’s Actors: Insights into the ‘War on Terror’ from International Relations Theory
1 Colin Tyler We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left just to study what we do. (A senior advisor to George W. Bush, 2004 quoted in Suskind, 2004; see also Ferguson, 2005, p. vii) INTRODUCTION The image of the Bush administration (at least prior to the 2006 congressional elections) as a self-interested elite leading a rogue nation – to some, even a right-wing terrorist force – is now popular among not merely the radical left, but even among moderate political commentators (Chomsky, 2003, 2006; Coleman, 2003; Prestowitz, 2003). Yet, such a polemical position obscures the crucial subtleties of the so-called ‘war on terror’. This chapter argues that the aims of the Bush administration’s ‘war’ are far from being restricted to the ruthless augmentation of US wealth and power in the world. The war also seeks to reassert the authority of the US state in the international system, to secure retribution, and to reassert the US body politic’s own identity to itself domestically, as well as to pursue a neoconservative moral mission. One thing that is notable about this list is that, in spite of the rhetoric, the diﬀerent goals of US foreign policy serve the interests of diﬀerent manifestations of ‘the United States of America’....
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