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Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century

Anyone who happens to be in London at the beginning of June should probably try to get along to this lecture. If so, please report it: otherwise we'll have to check out the book ...

Date: Tuesday 3 June 2008
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building
Professor Philip Bobbitt

The threat of terrorism is now part of the landscape of daily lives all over the world, yet we have hardly begun to think properly about it. In his new book Terror and Consent  and in this lecture Professor Bobbitt argues that we are fighting these wars with weapons and concepts which though useful to us in previous conflicts have now been superseded. He aims to provide a fundamental rethinking of most generally accepted ideas about terror in the modern world – what it is, how it operates and above all how it can be frustrated. Philip Bobbitt argues that we need to reforge the links between law and strategy; to realize how the evolution of modern states, which have always produced terrorists in their own image, has now produced a globally networked terrorism; to combine humanitarian interests with strategies of intervention; and above all to rethink what ‘victory’ in such a war, if it is a war, might look like – no occupied capitals, no treaties, no victory parades, but the preservation, protection and defence of human rights and of states of consent. It is central to his argument that we are fighting terror and not just terrorists.

Bobbitt addresses questions about the nature and uses of intelligence, the apparently intractable persistence of torture, whether it is permissible for states to curtail citizens’ freedoms in order to protect them, and the role of the United States in the world, with boldness and originality.

Philip Bobbitt is Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and Director of the Center for National Security at Columbia University. He has served as a senior adviser at the White House, the Senate and the State Department in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and has held senior posts at the National Security Council, including Director for Intelligence Programs and Senior Director for Strategic Planning. He was Anderson Senior Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he was a member of the Oxford Modern History Faculty, and Marsh Christian Senior Fellow of War Studies at King’s College, London, and is currently Senior Fellow in the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has written books on nuclear strategy, social choice and constitutional law, as well as the celebrated The Shield of Achilles (Allen Lane/Penguin 2002).

This event marks the launch of Philip Bobbitt's new book Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century (Penguin, May 29 2008)

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. For more information, email events@lse.ac.uk or call 020 7955 6043.

Media queries

Please contact the Press Office if you would like to reserve a press seat or have a media query about this event, email pressoffice@lse.ac.uk.

If you are planning to attend this event and would like details on how to get here and what time to arrive, please refer to Coming to an event at LSE


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Terror and Consent

I now have my copy - with its irresistible endorsement "simply indispensable" - Henry Kissinger - and will proceed to read and review ...

But given the size of it and the density of Bobbitt's writing, it'll take a while - Shield of Achilles was about the same size (and same 100 pages of endnotes) and took me around ten days as I recall.

Oil grab as well Eliot

When you have a colony you can take what you want, yes? Besides, as the Yanks have now spent the equivalent of what their oil bill would have been for the next 50 years on the Iraq War, the plan is greater than we thought.

Throw in the usual profiteering that war brings to a handful of chosen corporations - this time by Dick Cheney (that even has conservative Patrick J. Buchanan bemoaning that the US taxpayer has been ripped off as never before).

What more proof do you need? You simply do not build an embassy that is a city within a city, fully functioning on its own without outside needs that consists of apartment and office blocks, shopping plazas and recreation centres spread over 150 acres when you plan to hand over control of a country to a bunch of Iraqi politicians.

God - even you should be able to see that in between browsing the web for Green Weekly publications and offending Pilger and Chomsky writings.

I mean what the hell do you think it was about - WMDs?

And get ready - Iran will be bombed before Obama or Hillary get to the White House. We live in more dangerous times than ever before. These guys are serious and they are nuts.

It's about oil, isn't it?

Michael de Angelos: "It's all a giant con - simply a land grab just like the old days when they said the Red Indians were scalping and raping white women."

That's funny. I thought it was an "oil grab". But then that was back in the days when alligators were eating babies in the Ninth Ward.

What terrorism ?

All we have is a manufactured war to place Iraq as an American colony between Israel and Iran. And Israel with its estimated 200 nuclear weapons isn't scared of a soul.

It's all a giant con - simply a land grab just like the old days when they said the Red Indians were scalping and raping white women. Terrorism is the buzz word to frighten the Christian folk and their kiddies.

(Speaking of which, what was the result of the bizarre raid that happened two days ago while I was abroad and I read an outrageous statement from police that the reason was "to send a message"? ... talk about Nazi tactics.)

It works every time and it doesn't mattter how many hundreds of thousands of people die - it's a means to an end. You heard John Howard say it when he was PM - he sleeps soundly at night even though he is partly responsible for the deaths of thousands. When people have reached that stage, anything and everything is possible.


"...should Iran start anything with Israel there will be millions of Iranians becoming martyrs withis 24 hours".

Alan, are you reflecting in this the comment that I read so many times on the New York Times talkboards, before they closed them down, that Israel would have no problem with unleashing nuclear fire power that would destroy the whole world?

If so, I understand that the majority of Israelis would disagree with you.

Invest in peace not war.

I’m trying to remind people that we spend $1.9 billion every single day on the Pentagon. So if one asks for $1.5 billion dollars for five years mosquito net coverage [to prevent Malaria] for all of Africa, that’s not outlandish, that’s less than one day’s Pentagon spending. You could ask for a few hundred million dollars for something and keep in mind that we spend $1.14 million every minute at the Pentagon. We’re taking a military approach that isn’t working and then complaining that we have no money to solve the problems of people dying of extreme poverty. I think there is a much better way.-Jeffrey Sachs in the Santa Barbara Independent.

The US sends nearly $2 billion a day on war and has no money to solve the problems of extreme poverty. If we continue to invest in war and not peace we will reap what we sow.

I know of only one time in the whole Bush administration where President Bush even refers to the Millennium Development Goals: September 14, 2005 at the United Nations because I happened to be there. He’s probably said “the war on terror” thousands of times, and he only said “Millennium Development Goals” once, so how can people know?

Of course, I want people to know despite the diversion of attention in Washington. I’m trying through my books to nudge that process along, but I think it would be good if we had national leadership that helped the American people to understand what has been signed in our name, what could be done, and what we are not doing. I’m hoping to see the Millennium Development Goals in the inaugural address of the next President. That to me would be a marker that we are back in the real partnership process.

If we want to put and end to wars in the 21st Century we must first tackle poverty. The Millennium Development Goals put forward at the UN have committed the affluent nations to fight extreme poverty.

Americans are largely naïve and misinformed about what people in Pakistan are like and how they think. If you ask a woman in a rural village about 9/11, the Twin Towers, Iraq, TSA, Homeland Security, B52s, she will not know what you are talking about. But she will be able to tell you that one in three babies dies before the age of one and she wants her children to get an education.

Everyone who is in this region knows that the most important thing for peace is building relationships. Chris wrote saying, “The thirst for education here is palpable. After 30 years of war, the people want a better future.”

What is amazing is that it is easy to get the Army to approve a $100,000 smart bomb to try to kill four Taliban soldiers, but they’ll deny a $2,000 request for a bridge that might serve an entire region and help make it much easier for the people to get their goods to market.

We need to invest in peace not war.

Give the Pilger thing a rest, Eliot

I know there are as many abhorrers as admirers, and his merits or otherwise have been done to death over past years.

So what did you think of the concepts of the speech, Eliot?

Talking about terrorists and their sympathisers

This is funny. You might recall me back on October 6, 2007 in the Preventing terrorrism.  Where do we begin?  thread advising investing in  copies of John Pilger's latest "documentary" called The War on Democracy in which John gets an extended intervew with a ranting, raving Hugo Chavez?

That was because anything John approves of is bound quickly to become a complete and utter embarassment to him and his followers, and the "documentary" would be quickly withdrawn form public view.

In it, Mr Pilger offers this comment on Chavez's Venezuela:

"It's easily the most democratic country in Latin America. It's not another Cuba, far from it."

That's "easily the most democratic country in Latin America", and not "obvious Mr Big in Latin American narco-terrorism".

Well, this turned up today:

"THE President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is facing serious allegations about his country's links to Colombian guerillas after Interpol bolstered the credibility of intercepted rebel documents.

The international police organisation announced that a two-month forensic investigation of laptops seized in a raid by Colombian security forces concluded they belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Leaks from the collection of 16,000 files and photographs have suggested high-ranking Venezuelan officials plotted to help the Marxist group obtain weapons and funding for its decades-long insurgency against the Colombian state."

My prediction? Pilger's next "documentary" will be about "How the USA backed Hugo Chavez", of course.


"Lebanese migrants have rallied across Australia, calling on the federal government to apply more pressure to help end the conflict in their Middle East homeland.

A group of about 50 noisy protesters rallied outside Queensland's Parliament House in Brisbane, waving flags and carrying placards calling for "Peace in Lebanon" and an end to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Protest spokesman George Tawk, who moved to Australia from Lebanon 18 months ago, called on the Australian government to do more to help put an end to conflict in his homeland.

"We want to demand the Australian government to put pressure on the international community to stop the acts of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"We are gathering here to say no to all the terrorism acts that Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon."

All this from people who complained when Israel was trying to get rid of Hezbollah. Next time just let the Israeli forces go in and wipe them out. Instead of protesting outside the Queensland Parliament they should have marched on the Lebanese Embassy.

Too much wiping and not enough talk.

Alan, you say "let the Israeli forces go in and wipe them out."

In Iran they say:

A senior Iranian commander warned on Tuesday that his military will wipe Israel off the world map if the Zionists attack the Islamic Republic.

"We must defend our state borders, and should Israel take any hostile action, we are ready to eliminate Israel from the world scene," Deputy Commander-in-Chief Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said.

Surely the dream of wiping each other out is the reason why there is no peace in the Middle East. These people need to talk to each other and the last thing they need is encouragement to wipe each other out. Ultimately they will have to live together.

Enough talk

John: "We must defend our state borders, and should Israel take any hostile action, we are ready to eliminate Israel from the world scene," Deputy Commander-in-Chief Mohammad Reza Ashtiani said."

He can say that till the cows come home but they have neither the stomach or brains to carry it out. I can tell you that should Iran start anything with Israel there will be millions of Iranians becoming martyrs with 24 hours. Perhaps you could explain to me why for years the rich Arab countries have let the Palestinians live  the way they do. I put it to you that it suits their political ends to do so. As for talking, would you trust Hamas? As for encouraging the Israelis to wipe out the Palestinians, there will come the day when there will be no other solution.

I am sorry John, but you have no conception of what it is like to live next to these fanatics.

Fanatical fanatics

Alan, perhaps you ought to reread your post and then consider just who is the fanatic.


I see...I won't be there myself, but I know some who may be interested, so will pass it on.

Venue:old theatre, old building

Is this address sufficient?

David R: ah yes - well it is if you look further down at the bit that says "If you are planning to attend this event and would like details on how to get here and what time to arrive, please refer to Coming to an event at LSE".

The LSE Old Theatre was the venue for several of the more memorable events of my adolescent life, from great concerts (Fairport Convention & Jethro Tull, Hawkwind, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Osibisa, Arthur Brown ...) to interminable SU meetings when I was General Secretary in 1969-70, which was at least a political education even if I wasn't going to many maths lectures. 

US House of Reps votes no more money for the Iraq war.

The US House of Representatives, in a surprise and largely symbolic move, has defeated legislation to fund the war in Iraq for another year.

But it also sent the Senate a controversial troop withdrawal plan that will give that chamber an opportunity to restore the money for waging the conflict, which is deeply unpopular with the public.

With a large group of anti-war Democrats voting against giving the Pentagon $US162.5 billion to keep fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through mid-2009, the House defeated the measure by a vote of 149-141.

It will be interesting to see if the elected government or the generals will win the battle. If democracy means anything in the US, surely this must mean the end of the Iraq war.

Reps voted against an end date, not against funding

Unfortunately, that's a very serious misreading of what happened. The Republicans defeated the Bill, and the Democrats voted for it, which may give you a clue - the bill was defeated because it set a non-binding withdrawal date, and other measures contained in it. So the vote was a vote AGAINST withdrawing the troops, not a vote for that.

Now that you've had breakfast, read this

Food for thought:

For the third year in a row, the attendees at this Kansas City event were all dressed up with no place to go to encounter a real bioterror attack. One PowerPoint slide after another, in endless progression, focused on the threats that everyday world commerce, with an assist from Mother Nature, poses to foods, crops, and animals. There were plenty of dark predictions, and plenty of ideas about how to set things right. All it will take, it seems, is more government intrusion in your life and more corporate control over your food.

But wait! There's more...

Guess I'll have to read the book!

Now if anybody would like to pay my fare . . . .

But then London! This time I'd not be back!

First thing if I win Lotto

I'd be on the plane. Meanwhile I know a couple of people (one a script agent) who might care to go and report for us.

Would that such a talk could be netstreamed. It's about time that this line of reasoning became more commonplace, and was weighed against recent UK/US/Australian government activities. ASAP, IMHO, before the dirty bomb meme becomes the 9/11 of the next stage.

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