Foreign Economic Policy After September 11th"
Barry Eichengreen, Economics, University of California,
Law and Justice in a Global Age"
David Held, Political Science, London School of Economics
Reach of Transnationalism"
Riva Kastoryano, Center for International Studies and Research,
Religious Undercurrents of Muslim Economic Grievances"
Timur Kuran, Economics, University of Southern California
Hotspots: Challenges We Must Confront in the Post-September
Saskia Sassen, Sociology, University of Chicago
"Terrorism and Cosmopolitanism"
Scales of Terror"
Law and Justice in a Global Age
David Held, Professor of Political Science, London School
On Sunday, 23rd
September 2001, the novelist, Barbara Kingsolver wrote in
The Los Angeles Times:
'It's the worst
thing that's happened, but only this week. Two years ago,
an earthquake in Turkey killed 17,000 people in a day, babies
and mothers and businessmen.... The November before that,
a hurricane hit Honduras and Nicaragua and killed even more....
Which end of the world shall we talk about? Sixty years
ago, Japanese airplanes bombed Navy boys who were sleeping
on ships in gentle Pacific waters. Three and a half years
later, American planes bombed a plaza in Japan where men
and women were going to work, where schoolchildren were
playing, and more humans died at once than anyone thought
possible. Seventy thousand in a minute. Imagine....
There are no worst days, it seems. Ten years ago, early
on a January morning, bombs rained down from the sky and
caused great buildings in the city of Baghdad to fall down
- hotels, hospitals, palaces, buildings with mothers and
soldiers inside - and here in the place I want to love best,
I had to watch people cheering about it. In Baghdad, survivors
shook their fists at the sky and said the word "evil". When
many lives are lost all at once, people gather together
and say words like "heinous" and "honor" and "revenge"....
They raise up their compatriots' lives to a sacred place
- we do this, all of us who are human - thinking our own
citizens to be more worthy of grief and less willingly risked
than lives on other soil.' (2001)
This is an unsettling
and challenging passage. When I first read it, I felt angered
and unsympathetic to its call to think systematically about
the 11th September in the context of other disasters, acts
of aggression and wars. A few days later I found it helpful
to connect its sentiments to my own strong cosmopolitan orientations.
wrote over two hundred years ago that we are 'unavoidably
side by side'. A violent challenge to law and justice in one
place has consequences for many other places and can be experienced
everywhere (1970, pp 107-8). While he dwelt on these matters
and their implications at length, he could not have known
how profound and immediate his concerns would become.
Since Kant, our mutual interconnectedness and vulnerability
have grown rapidly. We no longer live, if we ever did, in
a world of discrete national communities. Instead, we live
in a world of what I like to call 'overlapping communities
of fate' where the trajectories of countries are heavily enmeshed
with each other. In our world, it is not only the violent
exception that links people together across borders; the very
nature of everyday problems and processes joins people in
multiple ways. From the movement of ideas and cultural artefacts
to the fundamental issues raised by genetic engineering, from
the conditions of financial stability to environmental degradation,
the fate and fortunes of each of us are thoroughly intertwined.
for Kant's Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch.
The story of
our increasingly global order - 'globalization' - is not a
singular one. Globalization is not a one-dimensional phenomenon.
For example, there has been an expansion of global markets
which has altered the political terrain, increasing exit options
for capital of all kinds, and putting pressure on polities
everywhere (see Held and McGrew, Goldblatt and Perraton, 1999,
chs 3-5; and Held and McGrew, 2000, ch. 25). But the story
of globalisation is not just economic: it is also one of growing
aspirations for international law and justice. From the UN
system to the EU, from changes to the laws of war to the entrenchment
of human rights, from the emergence of international environmental
regimes to the foundation of the International Criminal Court,
there is also another narrative being told - a narrative which
seeks to reframe human activity and entrench it in law, rights
and responsibilities. In the first section of this essay,
I would like to reflect on this second narrative and highlight
some of its strengths and limitations. Once this background
is sketched, elements of the legal and political context of
the 11th September can be better grasped.
International Law, Rights and Responsibilities
The process of
the gradual delimitation of political power, and the increasing
significance of international law and justice, can be illustrated
by reflecting on a strand in international legal thinking
which has overturned the exclusive position of the state in
international law, and buttressed the role of the individual,
in relation to, and with responsibility for, systematic violence
for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and
additional documents on the ICC from the United Nations.
In the first
instance, by recognizing the legal status of conscientious
objection, many states - particularly Western states (I shall
return to the significance of this later) - have acknowledged
there are clear occasions when an individual has a moral obligation
beyond that of his or her obligation as a citizen of a state
(see Vincent, 1992, pp. 269-92). The refusal to serve in national
armies triggers a claim to a 'higher moral court' of rights
and duties. Such claims are exemplified as well in the changing
legal position of those who are willing to go to war. The
recognition in international law of the offences of war crimes,
genocide and crimes against humanity makes clear that acquiescence
to the commands of national leaders will not be considered
sufficient grounds for absolving individual guilt in these
cases. A turning point in this regard was the judgement of
the International Tribunal at Nuremberg (and the parallel
tribunal in Tokyo). The Tribunal laid down, for the first
time in history, that when international rules that
protect basic humanitarian values are in conflict with
state laws, every individual must transgress the state
laws (except where there is no room for 'moral choice', i.e.
when a gun is being held to someone's head) (Cassese, 1988,
p. 132). Modern international law has generally endorsed the
position taken by the Tribunal, and has affirmed its rejection
of the defence of obedience to superior orders in matters
of responsibility for crimes against peace and humanity. As
one commentator has noted: 'since the Nuremberg Trials, it
has been acknowledged that war criminals cannot relieve themselves
of criminal responsibility by citing official position or
superior orders. Even obedience to explicit national legislation
provides no protection against international law' (Dinstein,
1993, p. 968).
The most notable
recent extension of the application of the Nuremberg principles
has been the establishment of the war crimes tribunals for
the former Yugoslavia (established by the UN Security Council
in 1993) and for Rwanda (set up in 1994) (cf. Chinkin, 1998;
The Economist, 1998). The Yugoslav tribunal has issued indictments
against people from all three ethnic groups in Bosnia, and
is investigating crimes in Kosovo, although it has encountered
serious difficulty in obtaining custody of the key accused.
(Significantly, of course, ex-President Slobodan Milosevic
has recently been arrested and brought before The Hague war
crimes tribunal.) Although neither the tribunal for Rwanda
nor the Yugoslav tribunal have had the ability to detain and
try more than a small fraction of those engaged in atrocities,
both have taken important steps toward implementing the law
governing war crimes and, thereby, reducing the credibility
gap between the promises of such law, on the one hand, and
the weakness of its application, on the other.
Most recently, the proposals put forward for the establishment
of a permanent International Criminal Court are designed to
help close this gap in the longer term (cf. Crawford, 1995;
Dugard, 1997; Weller, 1997). Several major hurdles remain
to its successful entrenchment, including the continuing opposition
from the United States (which fears its soldiers will be the
target of politically motivated prosecutions) and dependency
upon individual state consent for its effectiveness (Chinkin,
1998, pp. 118-9). However, it is likely that the Court will
be formally established (with or without the USA) and will
mark another significant step away from the classic regime
of state sovereignty - sovereignty, that is, as effective
power - toward the firm entrenchment of the 'liberal regime
of international sovereignty' as I refer to it - sovereignty
shaped and delimited by new broader frameworks of governance
and law (see below; and see Held, 2002, for a fuller account).
The ground now being staked out in international legal agreements
suggests something of particular importance: that the containment
of armed aggression and abuses of power can only be achieved
through both the control of warfare and the prevention of
the abuse of human rights. For it is only too apparent that
many forms of violence perpetrated against individuals, and
many forms of abuse of power, do not take place during declared
acts of war. In fact, it can be argued that the distinctions
between war and peace, and between aggression and repression,
are eroded by changing patterns of violence (Kaldor, 1998a
and b). The kinds of violence witnessed in Bosnia and Kosovo
highlight the role of paramilitaries and of organized crime,
and the use of parts of national armies which may no longer
be under the direct control of a state. What these kinds of
violence signal is that there is a very fine line between
explicit formal crimes committed during acts of national war,
and major attacks on the welfare and physical integrity of
citizens in situations that may not involve a declaration
of war by states. While many of the new forms of warfare do
not fall directly under the classic rules of war, they are
massive violations of international human rights. Accordingly,
the rules of war and human rights law can be seen as two complementary
forms of international rules which aim to circumscribe the
proper form, scope and use of coercive power (see Kaldor,
1998b, chs 6 and 7). For all the limitations of its enforcement,
these are significant changes which, when taken together,
amount to the rejection of the doctrine of legitimate power
as effective control, and its replacement by international
rules which entrench basic humanitarian values as the criteria
for legitimate government.
How do the terrorist
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon fit into
this pattern of legal change? A wide variety of legal instruments,
dating back to 1963 (the Convention on Offences and Certain
Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft), enable the international
community to take action against terrorism, and bring those
responsible to justice. If the persons responsible for the
11th September attacks can be identified and apprehended,
they could face prosecution in virtually any country that
obtains custody of them. In particular, the widely ratified
Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of
Aircraft (1970) makes the hijacking of aircraft an international
criminal offence. The offence is regarded as extraditable
under any extradition treaty in force between contracting
states, and applies to accomplices as well as to the hijackers.
In addition, the use of hijacked aircraft as lethal weapons
can be interpreted as a crime against humanity under international
law (although there is some legal argument about this). Frederic
Kirgis has noted that the statute of the International Criminal
Court 'defines a crime against humanity as any of several
listed acts "when committed as part of a widespread or systematic
attack directed against any civilian population...". The acts
include murder and "other inhumane acts of a similar character
intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to
body or to mental or physical health" ? (2001).
Changes in the law of war, human rights law and in other legal
domains have placed individuals, governments and non-governmental
organizations under new systems of legal regulation - regulation
which, in principle, recasts the legal significance of state
boundaries. The regime of liberal international sovereignty
entrenches powers and constraints, and rights and duties in
international law which - albeit ultimately formulated by
states - go beyond the traditional conception of the proper
scope and boundaries of states, and can come into conflict,
and sometimes contradiction, with national laws. Within this
framework, states may forfeit claims to sovereignty, and individuals
their right to sovereign protection, if they violate the standards
and values embedded in the liberal international order; and
such violations no longer become a matter of morality alone.
Rather, they become a breach of a legal code, a breach that
may call forth the means to challenge, prosecute and rectify
it (see Habermas, 1999). To this end, a bridge is created
between morality and law where, at best, only stepping stones
existed before in the era of classic sovereignty. These are
transformative changes which alter the form and content of
politics, nationally, regionally and globally. They signify
the enlarging normative reach, extending scope and growing
institutionalization of international legal rules and practices
- the beginnings of a 'universal constitutional order' in
which the state is no longer the only layer of legal competence
to which people have transferred public powers (Crawford and
Marks, 1998, p. 2; Weller, 1997, p. 45).
for the 1963 convention on aircraft offenses.
In short, boundaries
between states are of decreasing legal and moral significance.
States are no longer regarded as discrete political worlds.
International standards breach boundaries in numerous ways.
Within Europe the European Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the EU create new
institutions and layers of law and governance which have divided
political authority; any assumption that sovereignty is an
indivisible, illimitable, exclusive and perpetual form of
public power - entrenched within an individual state - is
now defunct (Held, 1995, pp. 107-113). Within the wider international
community, rules governing war, weapon systems, terrorism,
human rights and the environment, among other areas, have
transformed and delimited the order of states, embedding national
polities in new forms and layers of accountability and governance
(from particular regimes such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty to wider frameworks of regulation laid down by the
UN Charter and a host of specialized agencies) (see Held and
McGrew, Goldblatt and Perraton, 1999, chs. 1 and 2). Accordingly,
the boundaries between states, nations and societies can no
longer claim the deep legal and moral significance they once
had; they can be judged, along with the communities they embody,
by general, if not universal, standards. That is to say, they
can be scrutinized and appraised in relation to standards
which, in principle, apply to each person, each individual,
who is held to be equally worthy of concern and respect. Concomitantly,
shared membership in a political community, or spatial proximity,
is not regarded as a sufficient source of moral privilege
(Beitz, 1998, cf. 1979; Pogge, 1989, 1994a, 1994b and Barry,
1999 and see below).
The political and legal transformations of the last fifty
years or so have gone some way toward circumscribing and delimiting
political power on a regional and global basis. Several major
difficulties remain, nonetheless, at the core of the liberal
international regime of sovereignty which create tensions,
if not faultlines, at its centre (see Held, 2002). I shall
dwell on just one aspect of these here.
for the text of the European Convention on human rights.
can, of course, be documented in the implementation and enforcement
of democratic and human rights, and of international law more
generally. Despite the development and consolidation of the
regime of liberal international sovereignty, massive inequalities
of power and economic resource continue to grow. There is
an accelerating gap between rich and poor states as well as
between peoples in the global economy (UNDP, 1999). The human
rights agenda often has a hollow ring. The development of
regional trade and investment blocs, particularly the Triad
(NAFTA, the EU and Japan), has concentrated economic transactions
within and between these areas (Thompson, 2000). The Triad
accounts for two-thirds to three-quarters of world economic
activity, with shifting patterns of resources across each
region. However, one further element of inequality is particularly
apparent: a significant proportion of the world's population
remains marginal to these networks (Pogge, 1999, p. 27; see
UNDP, 1997; 1999; Held and McGrew, 2000).
Does this growing gulf in the life circumstances and life
chances of the world's population highlight intrinsic limits
to the liberal international order or should this disparity
be traced to other phenomena - the particularization of nation-states
or the inequalities of regions with their own distinctive
cultural, religious and political problems? The latter phenomena
are contributors to the disparity between the universal claims
of the human rights regime and its often tragically limited
impact (see Pogge, 1999; Leftwich, 2000). But one of the key
causes of the gulf lies, in my judgement, elsewhere - in the
tangential impact of the liberal international order on the
regulation of economic power and market mechanisms. The focus
of the liberal international order is on the curtailment of
the abuse of political power, not economic power. It has few,
if any, systematic means to address sources of power other
than the political (see Held, 1995, part 3). Its conceptual
resources and leading ideas do not suggest or push toward
the pursuit of self-determination and autonomy in the economic
domain; they do not seek the entrenchment of democratic rights
and obligations outside of the sphere of the political. Hence,
it is hardly a surprise that liberal democracy and flourishing
economic inequalities exist side by side.
Thus, the complex and differentiated narratives of globalization
point in stark and often contradictory directions. On the
one side, there is the dominant tendency of economic globalization
over the last three decades toward a pattern set by the deregulatory,
neo-liberal model; an increase in the exit options of corporate
and finance capital relative to labour and the state, and
an increase in the volatility of market responses, which has
exacerbated a growing sense of political uncertainty and risk;
and the marked polarization of global relative economic inequalities
(as well as serious doubt as to whether there has been a 'trickle
down' effect to the world's poorest at all). On the other
side, there is the significant entrenchment of cosmopolitan
values concerning the equal dignity and worth of all human
beings; the reconnection of international law and morality;
the establishment of regional and global systems of governance;
and growing recognition that the public good - whether conceived
as financial stability, environmental protection, or global
egalitarianism - requires coordinated multilateral action
if it is to be achieved in the long term.
11th September, War and Justice
If the 11th September
was not a defining moment in human history, it certainly was
for today's generations. The terrorist violence was an atrocity
of extraordinary proportions. It was a crime against America
and against humanity; a massive breach of many of the core
codes of international law; and an attack on the fundamental
principles of freedom, democracy, justice and humanity itself,
i.e. those principles which affirm the sanctity of life, the
importance of self-determination and of equal rights and liberty.
These principles are not just western principles. Elements
of them had their origins in the early modern period in the
West, but their validity extends much further than this. For
these principles are the basis of a fair, humane and decent
society, of whatever religion or cultural tradition. To paraphrase
the legal theorist Bruce Ackerman, there is no nation without
a woman who yearns for equal rights, no society without a
man who denies the need for deference and no developing country
without a person who does not wish for the minimum means of
subsistence so that they may go about their everyday lives
(1994; and see Sen, 1992, 1999). The principles of freedom,
democracy and justice are the basis for articulating and entrenching
the equal liberty of all human beings, wherever they were
born or brought up. They are the basis of underwriting the
liberty of others, not of obliterating it. Their concern is
with the irreducible moral status of each and every person
- the acknowledgement of which links directly to the possibility
of self-determination and the capacity to make independent
choices (see Nussbaum, 1997).
The intensity of the range of responses to the atrocities
of 11th September is fully understandable. There cannot be
many people in the world who did not experience shock, revulsion,
horror, anger and a desire for vengeance, as the Kingsolver
passage acknowledges. This emotional range is perfectly natural
within the context of the immediate events. But it cannot
be the basis for a more considered and wise response.
The founding principles of our society dictate that we do
not overgeneralise our response from one moment and one set
of events; that we do not jump to conclusions based on concerns
that emerge in one particular country at one moment; and that
we do not re-write and re-work international law and governance
arrangements from one place - in other words, that we do not
think and act over hastily and take the law into our hands.
Clearly, the fight against terror must be put on a new footing.
Terrorists must be bought to heel and those who protect and
nurture them must be bought to account. Zero tolerance is
fully justified in these circumstances. Terrorism does negate
our most elementary and cherished principles and values. But
any defensible, justifiable and sustainable response to the
11th September must be consistent with our founding principles
and the aspirations of international society for security,
law, and the impartial administration of justice - aspirations
painfully articulated after the Holocaust and the Second World
War - and embedded, albeit imperfectly, in regional and global
law and the institutions of global governance. If the means
deployed to fight terrorism contradict these principles and
achievements, then the emotion of the moment might be satisfied,
but our mutual vulnerability will be deepened.
War and bombing were and are one option. President Bush described
the attacks of the 11th September, and the US led coalition
response, as a 'new kind of war'; and, indeed, the attacks
of the 11th September can be viewed as a more dramatic version
of patterns of violence witnessed during the last decade,
in the wars in the Balkans, the Middle East and Africa. These
wars are quite different from, for example, the Second World
War. They are wars which are difficult to end and difficult
to contain, where, typically, there have been no clear victories
and many defeats for those who champion the sanctity of human
life, human rights and human welfare. There is much that can
be learned from these experiences that is relevant to the
situation now unfolding.
The contours of these 'new wars' are distinctive in many respects
because the range of social and political groups involved
no longer fit the pattern of a classical interstate war; the
type of violence deployed by the terrorist aggressors is no
longer carried out by the agents of a state (although states,
or parts of states, may have a supporting role); violence
is dispersed, fragmented and directed against citizens; and
political aims are combined with the deliberate commission
of atrocities which are a massive violation of human rights.
Such a war is not typically triggered by a state interest,
but by religious identity, zeal and fanaticism. The aim is
not to acquire territory, as was the case in 'old wars', but
to gain political power through generating fear and hatred.
War itself becomes a form of political mobilisation in which
the pursuit of violence promotes extremist causes.
In Western security
policy, there is a dangerous gulf between the dominant thinking
about security based on 'old wars' - like the Second World
War and the Cold War - and the reality in the field. The so-called
Revolution in Military Affairs, the development of 'smart'
weaponry to fight wars at long distance, the proposals for
the National Missile Defense programme, were all predicated
on out-dated assumptions about the nature of war - the idea
that it is possible to protect territory from attacks by outsiders.
The language of President Bush, with its emphasis on the defence
of America and of dividing the world between those 'who are
with us or against us', tends to reproduce the illusion, drawn
from the experience of World War II, that this is a war between
simply 'good' states led by the United States and 'bad' states.
Such an approach is regrettable and, potentially, very dangerous.
Today, a clear cut military victory is very difficult to achieve
because the advantages of supposed superior technology have
been eroded in many contexts. As the Russians discovered in
Afghanistan and Chechnya, the Americans in Vietnam, and the
Israelis in the current period, conquering people and territory
by military means has become an increasingly problematic form
of warfare. These military campaigns have all been lost or
suffered serious and continuous setbacks as a result of the
stubborn refusal of movements for independence or autonomy
to be suppressed; the refusal to meet the deployment of the
conventional means of interstate warfare with similar forces
which play by the same set of rules; and by the constantly
shifting use of irregular or guerrilla forces which sporadically
but steadily inflict major casualties on states (whose domestic
populations become increasingly anxious and weary). And the
risks of using high-tech weapon systems, carpet bombing and
other very destructive means of interstate warfare are very
high, to say the least.
The risks of concentrating military action against states
like Afghanistan are the risks of ratcheting-up fear and hatred,
of actually creating a 'new war' between the West and Islam,
a war which is not only between states but within every community
in the West as well as in the Middle East. No doubt, the terrorists
always hoped for air strikes, which would rally more supporters
to their cause. No doubt they are now actively hoping for
a global division between those states who side with America
and those who do not. The fanatical Islamic networks that
were probably responsible for the attacks have groups and
cells in many places including Britain and the United States.
The effect of the US-led war might very well be to expand
the networks of fanatics, who may gain access to even more
horrendous weapons, to increase racist and xenophobic feelings
of all kinds, and to increase repressive powers everywhere,
justified in the name of fighting terrorism.
An alternative approach existed, and might even be salvaged
in some respects, although the longer the bombing goes on,
and the longer the forces of the US and its allies have to
remain in place to secure foreign lands, the less optimistic
one can be. An alternative approach is one which counters
the strategy of 'fear and hate'. What is needed, as Mary Kaldor
and I have argued (2001), is a movement for global, not American,
justice and legitimacy, aimed at establishing and extending
the rule of law in place of war and at fostering understanding
between communities in place of terror. Such a movement must
press upon governments and international institutions the
importance of three things.
for the Commonwealth Institute's web site on the RMA debate.
must be a commitment to the rule of law not the prosecution
of war. Civilians of all faiths and nationalities need protection,
wherever they live, and terrorists must be captured and brought
before an international criminal court, which could be either
permanent or modelled on the Nuremberg or Yugoslav war crimes
tribunals. The terrorists must be treated as criminals, and
not glamorised as military adversaries. This does not preclude
internationally sanctioned military action under the auspices
of the United Nations both to arrest suspects and to dismantle
terrorist networks - not at all. But such action should always
be understood as a robust form of policing, above all as a
way of protecting civilians and bringing criminals to trial.
Moreover, this type of action must scrupulously preserve both
the laws of war and human rights law. Imran Khan put a similar
point forcefully in a recent article:
'The only way
to deal with global terrorism is through justice. We need
international institutions such as a fully empowered and
credible world criminal court to define terrorism and dispense
justice with impartiality.... The world is heading towards
disaster if the sole superpower behaves as judge, jury and
executioner when dealing with global terrorism' (2001).
The news (in
October 2001) of an increasingly intense pattern of extra-judicial,
outlaw killings (organized, targeted murders) on both sides
of the Israeli-Palestine conflict compounds anxieties about
the breakdown of the rule of law, nationally and internationally.
This way only leads one way; that is, toward Hobbes's state
of nature: the 'warre of every one against every one' - life
as 'solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short'.
Second, a massive effort has to be undertaken to create a
new form of global political legitimacy, one which must confront
the reasons why the West is so often seen as self-interested,
partial, one-sided and insensitive. This must involve condemnation
of all human rights violations wherever they occur, renewed
peace efforts in the Middle East, talks between Israel and
Palestine, and rethinking policy towards Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan,
and elsewhere. This cannot be equated with an occasional or
one-off effort to create a new momentum for peace and the
protection of human rights. It has to be part of a continuous
emphasis in foreign policy, year-in, year-out. Many parts
of the world will need convincing that the West's interest
in security and human rights for all regions and peoples is
not just a product of short-term geo-political or geo-economic
And, finally, there must be a head-on acknowledgement that
the ethical and justice issues posed by the global polarisation
of wealth, income and power, and with them the huge asymmetries
of life chances, cannot be left to markets to resolve. Those
who are poorest and most vulnerable, locked into geopolitical
situations which have neglected their economic and political
claims for generations, will always provide fertile ground
for terrorist recruiters. The project of economic globalisation
has to be connected to manifest principles of social justice;
the latter need to reframe global market activity.
To date the US-led coalition, in pursuing, first and foremost,
a military response to the 11th September, has chosen
not to prioritize the development of international law
and UN institutional arrangements (point 1); and not
to emphasize the urgency of building institutional bridges
between the priorities of social justice and processes of
economic globalization (point 3), although one or two coalition
politicians have made speeches acknowledging the importance
of this question. Peace in the Middle East has been singled
out as a priority by some coalition leaders, but there is
little sign as yet that this is part of a broader rethinking
of foreign policy in the Middle East, and of the role of the
West in international affairs more generally (point 2). These
are political choices and, like all such choices, they carry
a heavy burden of possibility and lost opportunity.
Of course, terrorist crimes of the kind we have just witnessed
on the 11th September may often be the work of the simply
deranged and the fanatic and so there can be no guarantee
that a more just world will be a more peaceful one in all
respects. But if we turn our back on this challenge, there
is no hope of ameliorating the social basis of disadvantage
often experienced in the poorest and most dislocated countries.
Gross injustices, linked to a sense of hopelessness born of
generations of neglect, feed anger and hostility. Popular
support against terrorism depends upon convincing people that
there is a legal and pacific way of addressing their grievances.
Without this sense of confidence in public institutions and
processes, the defeat of terrorism becomes a hugely difficult
task, if it can be achieved at all.
Kant was right; the violent abrogation of law and justice
in one place ricochets across the world. We cannot accept
the burden of putting justice right in one dimension of life
- security - without at the same time seeking to put it right
everywhere. A socio-economic order in which whole regions
and peoples suffer serious harm and disadvantage independently
of their will or consent, will not command widespread support
and legitimacy. If the political, social and economic dimensions
of justice are separated in the long term - as is the tendency
in the global order today - the prospects of a peaceful and
civil society will be bleak indeed.
the Kantian Heritage and Double Standards
for Imran Khan's article in The Guardian.
for the pursuit of justice does not just fall on the West.
It is not simply the USA and Europe that must look critically
at themselves in the aftermath of the 11th September; there
is a chronic need for self-examination in parts of Islam as
well. The Muslim writer, Ziauddin Sardar, wrote recently:
everywhere I issue this fatwa: any Muslim involved in the
planning, financing, training, recruiting, support or harbouring
of those who commit acts of indiscriminate violence against
persons... is guilty of terror and no part of the ummah.
It is the duty of every Muslim to spare no effort in hunting
down, apprehending and bringing such criminals to justice.
If you see something reprehensible, said the Prophet Muhammad,
then change it with your hand; if you are not capable of
that then use your tongue (speak out against it); and if
you are not capable of that then detest it in your heart.
The silent Muslim majority must now become vocal.' (2001)
Iman Hamza, a
noted Islamic teacher, has spoken recently of the 'deep denial'
many Muslims seem to be in. He is concerned that 'Islam has
been hijacked by a discourse of anger and a rhetoric of rage'
(quoted in Young, 2001). The attacks of the 11th September
appear to have been perpetrated in the name of Islam, albeit
a particular version of Islam. It is this version of Islam
which must be repudiated by the wider Islamic community, who
need to re-affirm the compatibility of Islam with the universal,
cosmopolitan principles that put life, and the free development
of all human beings, at their centre.
for Ziauddin Sardar's article in The Guardian.
Hugo Young made
the same point rather bluntly in The Guardian recently:
terrorists who left messages and testaments described their
actions as being in the name of Allah. They made this their
explicit appeal and defence. Bin Laden himself, no longer
disclaiming culpability for their actions, clothes their
murders and their suicides in religious glory. A version
of Islam - not typical, a minority fragment, but undeniably
Islamic - endorses the foaming hatred for America that uniquely
emanates, with supplementary texts, from a variety of mullahs.'
it is not just enough for the West to look critically at itself
in the shadow of 11th September. Muslim countries need to
confront their own ideological extremists, and reject without
qualification any doctrine or action which encourages or condones
the slaughter of innocent human beings. In addition, they
need to reflect on their own failings to ensure minimum standards
of living, and a decent, free and democratic life, for all
their citizens. As Bhikhu Parekh, Chair of the Commission
on the Future of Multi-ethnic Britain, put it, Muslims must
'stop blaming the West for all their ills' and must grapple
with the temptation to locate all the main sources of their
problems elsewhere (2001).
The 11th of September
can be linked to a new, integrated political crisis developing
in west Asia. The crisis has been well analysed by Fred Halliday:
countries, there has been a weakening, if not collapse,
of the state - in the 1970s and 1980s in Lebanon, more recently
in Afghanistan and Yemen.... It is in these countries, where
significant areas are free of government control, or where
the government seeks to humour autonomous armed groups,
like al-Qaeda, that a culture of violence and religious
demagogy has thrived... . This is compounded by the way
in which the historically distinct conflicts of Afghanistan,
Iraq and Palestine have, in recent years, come to be more
and more connected. Militants in each - secular nationalist
(Saddam) as well as Islamist (Osama bin Laden) - see the
cause of resistance to the West and its regional allies
as one.' (2001)
bin Laden's first target was the government of Saudi Arabia,
to which he later added the governments of Egypt and Jordan
(and the Shi'ite Republic of Iran ). Only later did he formally
connect (via a declared fatwa in 1998) his war against these
governments to the United States, which he came to see as
the key source of, and support for, the corruption of Islamic
sovereignty in the Middle East (Armstrong, 2001).
The fundamental fissure in the Muslim world is between those
who want to uphold universal standards, including the standards
of democracy and human rights, and want to reform their societies,
dislodging the deep connection between religion, culture and
politics, and those who are threatened by this and wish to
retain and/or restore power to those who represent 'fundamentalist'
ideals. The political, economic and cultural challenges posed
by the globalization of (for want of a better short hand)
'modernity' now face the counterforce of the globalization
of radical Islam. This poses many big questions, but one in
particular should be stressed; that is, how far and to what
extent Islam - and not just the West - has the capacity to
confront its own ideologies, double-standards, and limitations.
Clearly, the escape from dogma and unvindicated authority
- the removal of constraints on the public use of reason -
has a long way to go, East and West. The Kantian heritage
should be accepted across Islam as well.
It's a mistake to think that this is simply an outsider's
challenge to Islam. Islam, like the other great world religions,
has incorporated a diverse body of thought and practice. In
addition, it has contributed, and accommodated itself, to
ideas of religious tolerance, secular political power and
human rights. It is particularly in the contemporary period
that radical Islamic movements have turned their back on these
important historical developments and sought to deny Islam's
contribution both to the Enlightenment and the formulation
of universal ethical codes. There are many good reasons for
doubting the often expressed Western belief that thoughts
about justice and democracy have only flourished in the West
(Sen, 1996, p. 118). Islam is not a unitary or explanatory
category (see Halliday, 1996). Hence, the call for cosmopolitan
values speaks to a vital strain within Islam which affirms
the importance of rights and justice.
It is useful
to return to the passage with which I started this essay.
It makes uncomfortable reading because it invites reflection
on the 11th September in the context of other tragedies and
conflict situations, and asks the reader to step outside of
the maelstrom of the 11th September and put those events in
a wider historical and evaluative framework. Uncomfortable
as this request is, we have to accept it if we are to find
a satisfactory way of making sense of the 11th. To begin with,
as the passage suggests, it is important to affirm the irreducible
moral status of each and every person and, concomitantly,
reject the view of moral particularists that belonging to
a given community limits and determines the moral worth of
individuals and the nature of their freedom. At the centre
of this kind of thinking is the cosmopolitan view that human
well-being is not defined by geographical and cultural locations,
that national or ethnic or gendered boundaries should not
determine the limits of rights or responsibilities for the
satisfaction of basic human needs, and that all human beings
require equal moral respect and concern. Cosmopolitanism builds
on the basic principles of equal dignity, equal respect, and
the priority of vital need in its preoccupation with what
is required for the autonomy and development of all human
Cosmopolitan principles are not principles for some remote
utopia; for they are at the centre of significant post Second
World War legal and political developments, from the 1948
UN Declaration of Human Rights to the 1998 adoption of the
Statute of the International Criminal Court. Many of these
developments were framed against the background of formidable
threats to humankind - above all, nazism, fascism and the
Holocaust. The framers of these initiatives affirmed the importance
of universal principles, human rights, and the rule of law
when there were strong temptations to simply put up the shutters
and defend the position of some nations and countries only.
The response to the 11th of September could follow in the
footsteps of these achievements and strengthen our multilateral
institutions and international legal arrangements; or, it
could take us further away from these fragile gains toward
a world of further antagonisms and divisions - a distinctively
uncivil society. At the time of writing the signs are not
good, but we have not yet run out of choices - history is
still with us and can be made.
November 5, 2001
Two sections of this essay have been adapted from my previous
writings. The first section draws on some material developed
at much greater length in my 'Law of states, law of peoples',
Legal Theory, 8.2, 2002, forthcoming. The second section
draws on my 'Violence and justice in a global age' and, with
Mary Kaldor, on 'What hope for the future? Learning the lessons
of the past'. Both these pieces were made available initially
through OpenDemocracy.net. I would like to thank Mary Kaldor
for allowing me to draw on our joint essay and to adapt some
of the material for this new piece. Her work on old and new
wars has been an especially important influence on me here.
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