ECONOMIC MOTIVATIONS OF 1990 IRAQI INVASION OF KUWAIT.
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Analysis of a network-based or flow centered society for global power politics. Technocology-driven economics. Also discusses Hong Kong, Silicon Valley, Corporation's historical roots & religious entititites. Terrorism. Naval warfare. Air power.... More...
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Analysis of a network-based or flow centered society for global power politics. Technocology-driven economics. Also discusses Hong Kong, Silicon Valley, Corporation's historical roots & religious entititites. Terrorism. Naval warfare. Air power.
POWER POLITICS IN A WORLD OF FLOWS Introduction When Saddam Hussein dispatched Iraqi troops to invade Kuwait in the late summer of 1990, he acted on a variety of motives. Among these were to assert Iraq's claim to Kuwait as its "nineteenth province," to inhance his domestic standing with a military victory in the wake of the unsuccessful Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, to inhance his standing in the Arab world by defying the United States (and thus by indirection Israel), and of course the economic motive of siezing control over Kuwaiti oilfields as an addition to Iraq's own oil reserves. In addition, the Iraqi invasion had a further economic
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In the year 2 such an effort would be grosslypremature. 23-24) to kingdoms, principalities, "free and imperial cities," and on down toindividual barons, who while bound to support their overlords werethemselves the immediate disposers of military force in the form of theirretinues of knights. The case of Palestine remains so far unique; othersubmerged groups such as the Kurds have had no comparable success atestablishing a de facto diplomatic identity. In these circumstances the Iraqis had noneed to take the risk, inherent in any "soft" occupation, of leaving apotential resistance largely unmolested."Siliconia" We may now turn to the final and hypothetical case of "Siliconia."Silicon Valley, like its counterparts elsewhere, is not place-bound in anyof the traditional ways, either by physical natural resources or bypositional qualities such as a strategic port. Likewise, the ad-hoc coalition arranged by President Bush did not goto war to rescue Kuwait's financial assets (which had in any case"escaped"), nor its physical infrastructure. Nevertheless, militant Islamism has been the mostconspicuous example of the great potential power of religious identity. Over about the lastfive hundred years, the sovereign nation-state became the dominant (andnearly exclusive) component of power politics in Europe, from which it thenspread around the world. As the traditional forms of military power become lesseffective, this option may be open to an increasing number of groups.City-States The city-state is a very ancient form of political and diplomaticentity in the Western world; indeed, Western concepts of sovereignty andinternational relations have their roots in the mutual dealings of theancient Greek city-states. Since students of diplomacy tend to come outof a background of European history -- that being the environment fromwhich the current global state-system of diplomacy primarily arose -- suchspeculation tends to look back to Europe in the period before its state-system took hold. By about 198 , the retreat from sea patrolling opened aspace in which at least small-scale pirates could operate. It must be assumed that guided missile of at leastequal range, precision, and striking power will become generally availablein the coming decades. U.S. A number of characteristics of corporations render them crediblepower centers in a flow-based economic world. 271-72). The Ottoman Turks in 1565 were able to launch an amphibioussiege of Malta (itself a characteristic example of a fortified operatingbase); the siege was ultimately lifted by a Spanish relieving force, butland forces could not have operated so far from their own territory. That same statesman, however,would have found little difficulty in analyzing the European power politicsof 19 . (Both principles have to besure often been honored in the breach, but each in its time was taken as ageneral basis for regarding the nation-state as "natural.") Whatever thejustification given, however, the essential nature of the nation-state hasbeen dominance of territory, i.e., place: a nation-state was a piece ofground, normally relatively large, over which an internally-based authorityis asserted, particularly an exclusive right to force. Within itsterritory, the use of force was and is normally a police matter; the sameuse of force a few miles away, across a national boundary, is liable to bean act of war. To take one example, a firm like Times Warner is (as its nameimplies) a thrown-together superstructure incorporating numerous sub-entities, from CNN to Warner Bros. It is unlikely that, in the small timeavailable, the Kuwaitis would have been able to move gold or any physicalform of wealth, even gilt-edged bonds, in time to keep them from fallinginto Iraqi hands. It may well be that among SaddamHussein's objectives was seizure of Kuwait's very substantial financialassets, and that he was substantially disappointed to find that these wereelectronic assets, instantly wired abroad and out of his reach. On the other hand, the same technological developments that underminethe territorial state may well undermine the great multinationalcorporation as well. According to recent reports,Singapore is considering relaxing social controls with respect to Internetaccess (Lavander, 1999). These technologies have also enableda more rapid spread of what may be called accidental inducements tolocalism. The rhetoric ofaggression and mistreated populations, drawn as Luke says from the powerfulimagery of World War II, was effective as propaganda but not credible asmotivation. Indeed, as Timothy Luke points out in "The Discipline of SecurityStudies and the Codes of Containment: Learning from Kuwait" (1991), in thecourse of the 197 s and 198 s the income derived from Kuwait's financialportfolio was actually larger than its income from oil sales. The use of air tankers canindefinitely extend the range of VTOL aircraft (and was used in the long-range bomber strikes mentioned above). "Failed states" --territories inwhich the normal functions of statehood do not exist -- have entered ourvocabulary. That itwas the faith of hundreds of millions of people was well enough known, butas a political force a Westerner of 197 would have associated Islam onlywith the very remote past: distant images of caliphs and crusades (Jansen,1979, pp. To speak of "economic interest groups,"such as the inhabitants (literal or cultural) of the world's variouspossible Siliconias, is to use an arid expression, for which we canscarcely imagine anyone undergoing sacrifice. Conclusions This essay has successively examined technology-driven economic andsocial forces that may undermine the traditional role of "place" in globalpower politics (and specifically the role of the nation-state); somepossible alternatives to the state-system as we have known it in recentcenturies; and military developments that modify the ability of variouspower-political actors, state or non-state, to assert on their own behalfthe ultimate sanction of force. Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the world in 1577-8 -- only a few years after the siege of Malta -- was a naval raid ofliterally global scope, and wars between naval powers of the 17th and 18thcenturies were in geographical terms the first "world wars." In thisregard, naval war in the steam age saw a retrogression from the age ofsail. The medieval Catholic Church asserted, and was accepted byWestern Christendom as rightfully asserting, an authority not bound byterritorial limits, and backed up by armed forces that would rally to itscause. The Roman CatholicChurch and Shia Islam (especially in Iran) are the most notable examples ofreligious institutions currently influential on the international scene.Charismatic entities are less readily identified, since the leaders of themost militant such entities are frequently secretive. Indeed, the technologies with whichSilicon Valley deals -- email, the Internet, and soon perhaps virtual-reality teleconferencing -- are precisely those which might well allow itsparticipants to be scattered far and wide, keeping in touch with oneanother electronically rather than physically. Financialinterests tend to crave orderliness; Singapore has thrived as a financialcenter under a "soft" authoritarianism (a characterization that could alsobe applied to Hong Kong even under its British administration). More generally the use of military force, or the threat of suchuse, remains the final sanction in international affairs. One might imagine a league of city-states, orcomparable entities, widely scattered around the world, but commerciallylinked by air travel and providing mutual defensive support through theirnetwork of airfields. Moreover,even the most abstract, software-based industries have some need ofphysical equipment, and this equipment (along with the human expertise toinstall and operate it) will always be most readily available when theindustry is geographically clustered. Like otherforms of warfare, "terrorism" is treated as such by conventions not whollyrational; the bombing of a military barracks is regarded as a terroristattacks, whereas the bombing of a city in World War II was regarded as aregrettable necessity. New York: Holmes & Meier.----------------------- 5 Religion may of course be a major influence in politics and diplomacywithout being embodied either in a large institutional church or a smallcharismatic sect, if it serves as a motivator that can be seized upon byother movements. Like their contemporary counterparts the Assassins were characterizedby internal secretiveness, wide publicity for their actions, and awillingness of operatives to act without concern for their own lives. In these respects they resemble the agricultural goods thatwere the basic measure of wealth in an earlier age. Maritime choke-points themselves, indeed, are significant purelybecause they block a flow, not (or only incidentally) because theyconstitute valuable real estate in themselves. POWER POLITICS IN A WORLD OF FLOWSIntroduction When Saddam Hussein dispatched Iraqi troops to invade Kuwait in thelate summer of 199 , he acted on a variety of motives. A statesman of 18 would have found the world of 19 transformedalmost out of recognition, including those aspects of it that applied mostdirectly to power politics. www.chronicleworld.org.Wight, Martin (1978). Nevertheless, its rise was initially determined byplace: an excellent harbor in a strategic location athwart major worldtrade routes. The present-day use of air power, save for bombing, is thereforegeographically restricted by availability of bases. Industrial goods like oil and steel are produced inmassive, effectively fixed facilities, and the goods move by the trainloador shipload. Hong Kong: 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices. The military application of this technology (originally developed forICBMs) has made possible the development of precision-guided weapons, somesmall enough to be carried by one man. But it is well to recall thatPalestine reached its current status without ever having the military meansto establish itself in the old way, by forcibly expelling Israeli forcesfrom its territory. Instead it essentially asserted itself through sheerinconvenience. www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/ 1999_hrp_report/hongkong.htmlVan Creveld, Martin (1991). The overall effect of these developments, on the level of "grandstrategy" or power politics, is to reduce the relative advantage of sheersize. The state system has behind it both the power ofindividual states, still very powerful, and the subtler power of tradition,habit, and loyalties. The conquest of Singapore would give theconqueror the harbor itself, along with all its physical infrastructure.These, however, are only of modest value in today's world economy -- of farless value than Kuwait's oil reserves. Significantly, piracy has enjoyed a modest but visible revival in thelast couple of decades, particularly in Southeast Asian waters, startingwith outrages against "boat people" refugees and extending to seizures ofmerchant ships, occasionally even large ones. For all the alarm that has been raised about thecentralization of news under a few conglomerates, this situation may beinherently unstable. At the same time, improved communications have -- paradoxically, itwould seem -- strengthened local place-based identities, a trend givenlegal acknowledgment in Britain by the establishment of Scottish and Welshsub-national assemblies. The physical facilities that makeup, say, CNN are only of limited value when compared to its news-gatheringforce and its intangible reputation as a news provider. The choice is understandable; the Gulf War was the firstnotable diplomatic and military episode of the then-nascent post-Cold Warera, and aspects of it do illustrate his argument. Afurther feature, not yet matched in modern times, was the great longevityof the movement, greatly transcending the lifetime of the original Old Manof the Mountain. A theoretical doctrine of naval warfare, that of Alfred ThayerMahan, was only formulated as recently as 189 , but Mahan's theories wouldhave been immediately grasped by the ancient Athenians, who implicitlyacted upon them. Indeed,"international" affairs may be broadly defined as those taking place in anenvironment where no one party enjoys an effective monopoly of force. The state system is so familiar, and now worldwide, that most peopleprobably regard it as the natural order of things, but such is by no meansthe case. As early as the 188 s, the vastly smaller and cheaper torpedo boatemerged to challenge the battleship, but their effectiveness was open toquestion, and they were sharply place-limited, suitable only for localcoast defense. (This impulse has its own contradictions, forexample between "freedom of use" and intellectual property rights, ascurrently seen in the Napster dispute. In all of these cases, however, theadvantage of large units and forces, nearly absolute in the mid-2 thcentury, may be drastically reduced if not eliminated by the mid-21stcentury. The legal framework of the latter was of coursedifferent; the handover was in keeping with treaty agreements andinternational law, and involved only the most oblique and purely potentialuse of military force. 6 ). A balance-of-power regime may collapse whenone power center becomes so predominant as to become hegemonic or imperial. Serbian tanks survived inKosovo only by remaining immobile and unused, and the tank may yet go theway of its maritime counterpart, the armored battleship. Whateverthe legal status of these missions, they are a form of nascent diplomaticrepresentation."Submerged" Nations When the nation-state system arose in early modern times, it wasinitially quite indifferent, at least formally, to linguistic and culturalboundaries; in the 18th century provinces were routinely traded back andforth like pieces on a chessboard. The best-known atthe present time (not least due to his prominent place in Americanpropaganda) is Osama bin Ladin, not himself a religious leader as such, butclearly a figure whose following is motivated by religion. H. Both areessentially city-states, with enormous wealth relative to their territoryand means of defense. Department of State. 25), and nothing precludes another suchrevolution. Singapore to relax censorship laws as it seeks to expand Internet access. And how dothese possible outcomes compare to the experience of Kuwait?Singapore Singapore has no natural resources to speak of, at least not in thesince that Kuwaiti has oil, or that conquest targets of an earlier age hadgold or rich farmland. A few dozen keyresignations could reduce CNN to a hollow shell; moreover, the potentialresignees know it. The roles of location and distance are thus annihilated for agrowing share of the world's wealth -- and, therefore, for a growing shareof its economic and ultimately political power.New Forms of Society, New Forms of Power Though new in historical terms, this state of affairs has been takingform for a number of years, long enough for social thinkers to addressthemselves to the implications. (The name of the German airline,Lufthansa, would be a precisely accurate term for such a league.)The End of Gigantism The shift in the world power-political spectrum from control ofterritory to control of flows may be reinforced by technologicaldevelopments, specifically the technology of miniaturization. Naval warfare is thusessentially a matter of controlling flows: either interdicting shippinglanes or protecting them from interdiction.Air Power Aircraft move at 1 or 2 times the speed of ships, and may flyanywhere, whereas the direct reach of naval force (as opposed to"projection" by shipboard aircraft or amphibious troops) ends at theworld's coastlines. Writers such as Manuel Castells haveaddressed the broad implications of a "network society" -- or, put anotherway, a society based primarily on flow rather than place -- evoking in turna school of thought critical of their propositions and concerned about thehuman implications of who and what may be left out of such a society (VanDijk, no date). The real wealth of Singapore is in its financial and entrepreneurialfunction, and those assets would slip out of a conqueror's hands as quicklyas did the financial wealth of Kuwait, at the touch of a computer key.Business owners and managers might be captured before they could flee, butthey are of only limited value. In the air,future developments are uncertain and may go either way. Modern Military Aircraft. Newertechnologies, however, have made mass communications available to localinterests on more nearly equal terms. A "wired world" may also add thepotential of physical destruction to that of disruption; penetration ofcomputers that control, say, air or rail traffic could put large numbers oflives at risk. In all theserespects, then, siezure of Kuwait's financial wealth promised a moreimmediate and flexible source of additional income for Iraq than didsiezure of the oilfields. The ocean offers strategic choke-points where passage of an enemy maybe blocked. Much thesame applies, in one way or another, to most of the world's great cities. Hong Kongwent from being in effect a city-state, held only nominally by a remotepower with no practical means of forcibly imposing its well, to beingdirectly subject to the military and police power of a strong neighbor. Some entities of this semi-sovereign type persistedwell into the age of the modern state system. Institutionalentities are those in which a large number of believers are bound togetherby some permanent organizational structure; charismatic entities are thosein which a (typically) much smaller number of believers are bound by theirattachment to some individual preacher or other leader. No special factors substantially privilege one place overanother. The distinction may be partly one of geographical scale: a cargo shipthat has crossed the Atlantic as far as Scapa Flow may as well go on to adestination port like Hamburg or Rotterdam, requiring only another day'ssteaming. The non-placeness of naval warfare is not absolute. The technological developments outlined above, combined withpolitical developments, might either reverse this trend or accelerate it.On the one hand, a future US Navy (or dominant maritime successor) whosesea power is based on medium-sized missile ships, operating independentlyor in small squadrons, may be more able to exercise direct sea patrol thanare the massively centralized carrier task forces of today. As the ultimate paradox, thepossible declaration of Palestinian statehood has become a diplomaticmaneuver, to be deployed or held back as diplomatic utility or domesticpolitics may require. An airfield is inherently a territorialentity (and requires a great fixed investment), but the territory requiredis only a few square miles. Buyers andsellers can be concealed by a host of well-established methods, andpainstaking analytical accounting work is required to ferret out suchtransactions: they cannot be blocked by a destroyer in the Persian Gulf.Sales from a diversified portfolio such as Kuwait's can be made with muchless risk of severely depressing the value of the assets. The US-led coalition responded by bringingin a stronger force, which pivoted around the Iraqi lines and rolled themup with an armored assault -- a place-centric mode of warfare notfundamentally different from that of the Second World War. The US provided these weaponsto the Afghani resistance during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, andsubsequently has had to worry about their falling into the hands ofIslamist militants. We might well see a revival of corsairs -- that is, of private navalforces operating in the name of some political or religious cause, butconducting themselves in a quasi-piratical manner. Mass-productionpublishing was centered in national capitals, as were education ministries,and they strengthened ties to the center while weakening local ties. Although it is only a fewmiles away from one of the world's great harbors, convenience in loadingsoftware aboard freighters is not a consideration in Silicon Valley'seconomy. Potential developments in this direction are foreshadowed bydevelopments in present-day Europe. In the medieval cases given above, large legalentities (the Holy Roman Empire and the kingdom of France) werecircumscribed by a power environment in which smaller units possessed theactual advantages of force; in the modern cases, small legal entities arecircumscribed by a power environment in which larger units possess theactual advantages of force.Superstates and Substates The medieval system, so different in its diplomatic structure fromthe familiar world of unitary sovereign states, was nevertheless primarily(though not exclusively) based on place, and place-based entities maycontinue to be of significance in a substantially flow-based world. The torpedo boat in turn give rise to the submarine, whichthough devastating against merchant shipping proved incomplete as an answerto the battleship. Thistechnology, in its military applications, is not directly related to thepower-political shift itself, yet they have a common origin: it is thissame technology, originating with the transistor and proceeding through themicrocircuit, that allowed the power of a 196 s mainframe computer,occupying a floor of a building and costing millions of dollars, to becompressed into the desktop computer of today. A local threat to any member of the league could beanswered within hours by a concentration of air power, including air-mobiletroops, flown in from around the world. In the mid-19th century, the index of sea power wasthe wooden ship-of-the-line with two or gundecks, displacing a few thousandtons, little changed from Nelson's ships save for the addition of steamengines. The Tomahawk has not proliferated only because the United States hasnot chosen to sell it widely abroad; smaller players are still limited tothe older and less capable Exocet. The age of sail all but eliminated geographical range restrictions onnaval operations. By 1922, battleships were approaching5 , tons; the great powers agreed at the Washington Conference to limitthem to 35, tons. The most famous of these is theStinger, a hand-held antiaircraft missile. The United States, though still a superpower -- indeed the "solesuperpower" -- nevertheless finds its freedom of action remarkablyconstrained. But in place of the familiar balance of power he would find asingle "superpower," nevertheless severely constrained in its ability toshape global events, diplomats negotiating though one of the parties is notofficially a state (and its territory largely occupied by one of itsnegotiating partners), and shadowy movements exerting an outsized influencein world affairs. This financial wealth, the accumulated profits of Kuwait's oilsales, was by 199 very large, estimated to have a net value of some $1 billion. The following essay is devoted, as was Luke's discussion of theKuwait experience, to one specific aspect of a network society, but onethat will profoundly shape all others: the implications of a network-based,or flow-centered society for global power politics. While nothing in principle rules out intercontinental range verticaltakeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, technical limitations are likely torule them out for the foreseeable future. It may yet adapt itself to the new networktechnological age, as it previously adapted itself to the industrial age. But what is relevant for the current point is that,unlike Kuwait or even Singapore, nothing makes Silicon Valley, or anyfuture Siliconia, valuable and worth controlling politically save thepeople who live there. The technology would seemscarcely more outlandish than that of a century earlier: airliners but afaster train, even the Internet merely a telegraph taken to its logicalconclusion. They have essentially vanished from the modernworld, Singapore (and to a much more limited degree Hong Kong) being rareexceptions. The classical assumption of the fate of a state-system with abalance of power is that the number of Great Powers would be graduallyreduced to two and eventually to one, which would then go on to exerthegemonic and ultimately imperial power. Ancient naval warfare (which in this context extends as lateas the 16th century) was limited by the technology of oared warships.Necessarily relatively light vessels with large crews, these had limitedrange and seakeeping ability; Athenian triremes normally carried only threedays' provisions, and even heavier medieval galleys were limited to two orthree weeks at sea. (Whether the modern nuclear submarine could challenge the carrierand achieve the positive dominance that eluded its predecessors isuncertain, but nuclear submarines are themselves exceedingly costly andcomplex.) However, starting in the 196 s and 197 s, antiship missilesbegan to appear and proliferate. Yet participants in the high-tech industries show a marked tendencyto cluster geographically. Moreover, the rate at which the potential value of oil reservescan be realized by sales is limited; dumping too much oil on the market toofast simply depresses the price and may reduce rather than increase theoverproducer's income. Withcontinued improvements in transportation, the economic life of cities isless and less tied to their regional hinterlands -- or, perhaps, regionswill come to thrive as their regional "capitals" thrive, and decline ifthey lack connections to an important global urban center. The Chinese government has, however, behaved (so far) precisely as arational conqueror of Singapore would choose to behave. Kings, dukes, cities, and individual barons within WesternChristendom also asserted a rightful authority and use of force. Following theappearance of the British battleship Dreadnought in 19 6 the size ofbattleships escalated sharply. Any set of international relations that grossly ignores ormisrepresents the available correlation of force is condemned to existunder great strain, subject at any time to a use (or threat) of force thatwill reveal the imbalance. (Indeed, the Beijing government has madesignificant effort to develop other South Chinese coastal cities into aflock of golden geese.) The Chinese policy in Hong Kong, and the hypothetical "soft" conquestof Singapore, are both in sharp contrast to the harsh -- not to say brutal-- means by which Iraqi authority was imposed on Kuwait during theoccupation. It is no larger than thetorpedo of an earlier age, can be launched from a simple canister, andcosts about a million dollars, well within the reach of the smalleststates, or of non-state entities. On the other hand, a world of networks, interlaced and cross-cutting,may also provide new instruments for the maintenance of peace andstability: a web of interests, commitments, and beliefs that can bemobilized to contain conflict and prevent it from exploding into violence.The diplomats of the mid-21st century may well find themselves one dayarguing a case before the United Nations or some other global assembly, andthe next day crouching on a street corner, cell phone in hand, negotiatingwith counterparts on the next block. A map of the Caribbean demonstrates this well; formerSpanish, British, French, American, and Danish possessions are thoroughlyintermingled. Militant Arab socialism or nationalism (the former, atleast, now all but forgotten) were the forces then in play in the ArabMiddle East, and the fact that Islam extended far beyond the Arab world wasperhaps scarcely thought of. In short, the value of a Siliconia lies almost entirely in its humancapital. The missiles themselves havegrown enormously in reach without any substantial growth in size or cost.The Tomahawk cruise missile, with a range of several hundred miles, can beused either against ships or targets far inland. Yet instead of finding itself dominant by virtue of facing nogreat rival, the United States must step very delicately for fear ofrousing an amorphous antagonism that would present it with a dozenVietnams, or more alarmingly a terrorist campaign that could reach into theAmerican heartland in a way that the Vietcong and North Vietnamese nevercould.Plan of the Essay The remainder of this essay examines ways in which the development ofa flow-based world economy and "network society" might shape thedevelopment of global power politics in the 21st century, and particularlythe possible decline of the state system, and its modification orreplacement by other sorts of power-political relationships. However, such points cannot be garrisoned and held by a navy;the tactical advantages of place, so prominent in most sorts of landwarfare, apply only if a choke point is so narrow that it can be covered byshore guns, or in recent times by shore-based aircraft. No comparable entity exists in the worldtoday, but it is surely imaginable, and plausible; sometime in the next fewdecades some small country might well be transformed into a high-techcenter, as important to the information economy as Kuwait is to the oileconomy or Singapore to the shipping and finance economies. In a world increasingly dependent on such flows, nonation can impose really strong border controls without paying a severeprice in cutting itself off from the mainstream of the world economy andthus relegating itself to (ever-increasing) backwardness. Terrorists may strike anywhere."Cyberterrorism," potentially vastly disruptive even if not yet capable ofkilling people directly, may be launched by remote control from anywhere,and its effects be felt globally and nearly instantaneously. In the Crusades, as in the European wars of religion inthe 16th and 17th centuries, political divisions ran largely alongreligious lines, though the leaders involved were not for the most partclerics. Major powers like Britain possessed scores of such ships, buteven middle-rank powers could maintain a few. The cooperation of the Kuwaitis was not inherentlynecessary to preserve its golden goose, whose most valuable eggs layunderground in the oilfields. The re-emergence of submerged "nations" in Europe has already beendiscussed, but the same potential exists in many other parts of the world.In one case, that of the Palestinians, a political and diplomatic identityhas emerged as an important international player long in advance of formalstatehood. Taken to itslogical conclusion, a world of de facto (and ultimately perhaps de jure)city-states might well supplant the world of national states.Corporations All of the above entities, even city-states, are on some levelterritorial. But in recentyears these productive goods have themselves increasingly taken ametaphysical form. For two centuries, the high seas have essentially belonged to two nations:first Britain, then for a while Britain and the US together, and now theUnited States. Power and Autonomy in a Flow-Based WorldKuwait Revisited Luke employs Kuwait and the Gulf War as the jumping off point for hisanalysis of the possible evolution of power politics from place-centered toflow-centered. Indeed, the wise conqueror might well seek toportray himself as liberator from the existing government of Singapore(which is unabashedly authoritarian, if only mildly repressive). No attempt has been made -- and noplausible attempt should or could be made, outside the speculative mediumof science fiction -- to posit the actual outlines of some future worldpower-political system. These activities, closelyakin to art, lead those involved in them to have a strong bias in favor ofcreative freedom and thus to great resistance even to the mildest ofauthoritarian controls. As Mahan wrote, "to call a country with a fleet like England's'distant' from a small maritime nation like Portugal is an absurdity.England is, and yet more in those days was, wherever her fleet could go(Wight, 1978, p. Thus, this method of warfare is likely to becomeincreasingly effective, generally undermining the protective value of largeplace-based political entities, i.e. 197), gives analarming example of the potential of small, militant religious movements toexert an outsized power-political influence: the original medievalAssassins, who operated in Syria and neighboring areas for some twocenturies in the era of the Crusades. The state system of the post-medieval era was made possible in large measure by a "revolution inloyalties" (Wight, 1978, p. The massive and costly battleship was finally superseded only by theequally massive and costly aircraft carrier -- each costing several billiondollars, and two or three times more for its aircraft and defensive escortships. Whoever attacks me is aterrorist; whoever attacks my enemies may be a freedom fighter. This state of affairs was not uncommon in the Middle Ages; from dukesto mercantile leagues, entities existed that had some of thecharacteristics of sovereignty, including armed forces which they could anddid deploy in their own names, yet were at the same time bound by acceptedties of fealty or obedience to some higher authority (Bull, 1977, pp. Measures of control, however,engage in an endless -- and possibly futile -- effort to keep up with thesheer volume of traffic. The resulting analysis may be called neofeudal.Neofeudalism The term must be used carefully, for "feudalism" has numerousmeanings and no precise one. As the dominant influence of larger geographical states declines, therelative political (and thus ultimately diplomatic) standing of cities mayincrease. (1979). The followingsection, however, will consider forms of warfare which are not stronglyplace-centric, and which therefore may be more applicable than thetraditional type of military force used in the Gulf War.Terrorism The use of terror in war is as old as armed conflict itself, but"terrorism," as we have learned to understand the term in modern discourse,is a mode of warfare that belongs distinctly to the information age. New York: Crescent.Jansen, G. The small missile boat is itself only an updated form of the torpedoboat of a century earlier, and similarly limited to local waters. Instantaneous communication, rapid transportation, and interlappingand cross-cutting loyalties may combine explosively, creating a world morefraught with political violence than even the 2 th century has been.Moreover, such violence may be more endemic and immediate, less containedin time and place. New York: Harper & Row.Lavander, Michelle (1999). If the massacre of ahundred remote villagers should happen to be caught on videotape andbroadcast on CNN -- an increasing possibility as cheap, portable videocamsproliferate-- it too might have a comparable effect. Saddam's primary objective, however, was surely not Kuwait'sfinancial assets, attractive though they might be. (no date). Future conventions of warfare may distinguishbetween legitimate and illegitimate uses of the methods and tactics nowcommonly classed as terrorist. The most familiar example of the problem, inrecent centuries, has been the problem of adjusting a balance-of-powerarrangement as Great Powers rise or fall. But the Tomahawk itself is the productof 197 s technology. The terms of the handover agreement havebeen honored, or at least not overtly violated (State Department, 2 ).Much more importantly, the world -- and specifically its investors -- havenot been exposed to the spectacle of Tienanmen Square-style officialviolence and subsequent repression, or to anything else that would bealarming or upsetting to anyone considering doing business in Hong Kong. Terrorism is not place-based. The single greatest power that states retain is not their weaponry,but their ability to call on the loyalty of populations (and thus recruitsoldiers among them). Even the computer equipment in a Siliconia's officecubicles is not exceptionally valuable -- save in the hands of an expertuser. states.Naval Warfare Unlike terrorism, war at sea is a long-standing mode of conflict, oneunderstood and incorporated into Western military thought since ancienttimes. The entities on whose behalf theynegotiate may seem strange to us, but the task -- resolving tensions andaverting bloodshed -- will remain unchanged. A Gospel could speak of the emperor ordering "all the world" tobe taxed; the writer of those words was probably well aware that Parthiawas not subject to Roman taxes, and perhaps more hazily aware of untaxedGermanic tribes, but these limitations would have been regarded asquibbles. However, the resources, in numberof air tankers, needed to mount a troop-mobility operation add up veryquickly. Earlier in this discussion we considered the hypothetical case of a"Siliconia." We may now return to that model and view it in a broaderlight, for one of the striking features of the contemporary world is theexistence of Silicon Valley and its counterparts elsewhere. The firms most often associated with the growth ofcorporate power -- such as the oil companies -- are entities of the "old"industrial economy, bound to fixed, place-based resources such as oilfields and production facilities. In contrast, financial assets are fluid and difficult to embargo.Financial assets, unlike oil, need not be shipped in tankers. In fact, however,Kuwait is far from a perfect example. In the current fluid andunsettled conditions, one level may well supplant the other entirely, butit is also possible that both will continue to co-exist. The discipline of security studies and thecodes of containment: Learning from Kuwait. Contrariwise, an imperial system may collapse when provincial governorsgain such relative balance of force that they can defy the center; such wasthe fate of the Abbasid Caliphate around the 1 th century AD. New and nascent technologies may have the overall effectof vastly increasing the scope of "low-intensity" warfare, allowing small-scale power-political actors to compete on a more even footing. Such is also the case, for the most part, with present-dayIslamism (especially Sunni); the role of Islamism in politics far exceedsthe scope of individual clerics or formal religious bodies. Times Warner thus has roughly the same relationship to anoil giant that the Holy Roman Empire did to Bismarckian Germany: instead ofa monolithic entity it is a fragmentation waiting to happen. This retreat from regular patrol ofthe sea lanes actually began as early as 19 4, when the British scrappedgreat numbers of patrol vessels in favor of more powerful -- but fewer --vessels, concentrated to meet the rising German threat. The pursuit that ended with the Battle of Trafalgar stretched fromthe eastern Mediterranean to the West Indies and back to the coast ofSpain; it is hard to imagine steam-age fleets showing similar fluidity,though nuclear submarines might do so. Under a succession of shadowyleaders known as the Old Man of the Mountain, this movement sent outoperatives on suicide missions -- reputedly under the influence of hashish,hence the origin of their movement's name -- to kill regional leaders, bothChristian and Muslim. But evolving connections andvalues may yet give these now-hazy entities a self-identity no less strongthan that of Christendom for medieval knights or France for Napoleon'ssoldiers. The principalities and cities that madeup the Holy Roman Empire enjoyed a status that arose initially out of themilitary weakness of the emperors, and evolved only gradually intoeffective legal sovereignty. Paratroops can becarried equally far, but once they make their drop there is no way toretrieve them from any comparable distance, unless they can seize and holda major airfield long enough for recovery (or reinforcement) aircraft toland. Correspondingly, maritime empires have no frontierzones, and their territories may be thoroughly intermingled with those ofrival powers. The Iraqi invaders seizedterritory, and constructed a series of defensive lines around it, manned byconventional military forces. Incontrast, the Internet and software industries are based on the creation,manipulation, and transformation of symbols. A- 18.Luke, Tmothy W. Hints of comparable development may be seenelsewhere in the world. New York: Columbia University.Guilmartin, John G. Among these were toassert Iraq's claim to Kuwait as its "nineteenth province," to inhance hisdomestic standing with a military victory in the wake of the unsuccessfulIran-Iraq war of the 198 s, to inhance his standing in the Arab world bydefying the United States (and thus by indirection Israel), and of coursethe economic motive of siezing control over Kuwaiti oilfields as anaddition to Iraq's own oil reserves. Can place-based exercisers of force retain themeans of supporting their forces if the necessary economic underpinningsare flow-based? Once the treaty broke down in the 193 s much largerships were set in hand, culminating in the 7 , ton Yamato. More generally, pressures for strengtheningthe EC have come from a close intermixture of place-based and flow-basedmotivations: the EC potentially at once frees flow movements within Europeand allows Europe as a whole to exert influence more effectively than itcan as a collection of individual states. The overall effect was however similar. This principle must be understood within its limits. Hong Kong maycontinue for many years to come as an entity distinct from the mainlandChina to which it is affiliated. Indeed, the best course for a conqueror of Singapore would be toleave it alone, allowing it to continue in its entrepreneural function,settling only for skimming off some level of taxes low enough to avoidkilling the golden goose. The paradox may be explained by reduced costs ofcommunication. Fortunecontinues to favor the big battalions. In addition, the Iraqi invasion had a further economic motive:"Saddam Hussein, by invading and holding Kuwait's territories, also hopedto gain and keep its electronically accumulated wealth" (Luke, 1991, p.324). Most of all, Singapore became an entrepreneurial center,and so took on a life of its own long after the Royal Navy vanished fromits harbor. The point is that cities and universities are widespread, and SiliconValley, or a future Siliconia, might spring up equally well wherever theseare available. The one-dimensional networks societyof Manuel Castells. The latter is hypothetical: Silicon Valley imaginedas an independent city-state. The tendency toward multinationalmergers has weakened the attachment between these firms and individualstates, rendering them in some degree free-floating entities. Informalpersonal contact may be more important even than work-site contact; it isworth recalling that Lloyds of London began at a coffee house. At least to those who pay some attentionto international affairs, the initial alarm of some vast Islamist jihad hasbeen replaced by some more textured sense of crosscurrents operating in theIslamic world. In this case an organization that must originally havebeen charismatic in nature must have achieved an institutional quality. Alternatively (or additionally), people may learn to hold andjuggle multiple identities and multiple loyalties, as they have often donein the past. Why has this happened, whenthe US Navy enjoys an even greater relative predominance than did the RoyalNavy in its Victorian heyday? Humanpopulations are, after all, themselves place-based, and high personalmobility has not brought us to a return of nomadism. Large modern cargo ships havesufficient steaming range that they need not call at Singapore forbunkerage, as they might have a century ago, and to the extent that theport directly serves shipping operations, half a dozen other SoutheastAsian ports could be developed to take its place. Had the Kuwaiti elite been somehow able toremove not only themselves and their electronic bank accounts, but theentire physical infrastructure of Kuwait -- to leave nothing to the Iraqisbut trackless desert -- that desert would still be an immensely valuablepiece of real estate, because of the oil reserves under it. Flow-basedindustries organized in this way may well find a way to convert theireconomic power into the coin of diplomatic power, but not necessarilythrough the vehicle of large corporations acting as power-politicalplayers.Religious Entities An ancient form of non-place-based entity, with a proven record ofhaving far greater power to command human loyalties than corporations orother economic entities have so far shown, is a body of religiousbelievers. The Ultimate Sanction: Force In the early modern era, artillery was called the final argument ofkings. Hedley Bull and CarstenHolbraad, eds. Individual American states, whichconstitutionally have only a purely internal quasi-sovereignty (and areexplicitly barred by the Constitution from having any separate diplomaticidentity), increasingly maintain permanent trade missions abroad. 69). At present, the fluidity of air warfare is limited (asthat of sea war in the galley age was) by technology, specifically therange of aircraft. A century ago the RoyalNavy deployed upwards of fifty cruisers worldwide, and a comparable numberof gunboats, the smallest of which could deal with pirates. He (or familymembers) may be held to ransom, but that is a limited and one-time means ofaccess to wealth, not a source of ongoing wealth flow. Journal (September 1), p. The success of armored formations in thePersian Gulf War, facing an unsophisticated enemy in ideal conditions, mayunderstate the potential vulnerability of tanks. (Though it might be argued that thedualism of the Cold War differed fundamentally from the multi-polar balancethat in various permutations had characterized the West from about the 16thcentury until 1939.) Other historical cases, however, have shown morecomprehensive transformations. This financial treasure trove, were Saddam Hussein able to lay handson it, would offer advantages even over the Kuwaiti oilfields. A would-be conqueror gains nothing at all save by preserving thegolden goose. On the one handthe power of antiaircraft weapons forced NATO aircraft in Kosovo to operateless effectively at high altitude; on the other hand, progress in remote-piloted vehicles (RPVs) may lead to a new generation of pilotless (andinexpensive) attack aircraft. The Chinese, in short, have been very careful not to kill Hong Kong'sgolden goose, just as a rational conqueror of Singapore would be wise notto kill its golden goose. Indeed, the entrepreneurial function of Singapore has long sinceovertaken its physical role as a port, and this fact is central to theprobable outcomes of an invasion. The Soviet Union, which a decade ago was understood to be notonly a nation-state but a superpower, has fragmented, and the most powerfulof its successors, Russia, encounters the greatest difficult making itsauthority felt over the small area of Chechnya. Anxiety regarding this possibility (thoughseldom explicitly stated) appears to be one of the factors in currentopposition to "globalization." It is well known that a number of largecorporations have incomes greater than the GDP (gross domestic product) ofmost of the world's nation-states. Submarines eliminated the battleship's ability toprovide preclusive "command of the seas" by bottling up enemy forces inport (since submarines could always slip out to raid convoys), but thesubmarine, at least in its relatively simple and cheap 1914-1945 form, didnot drive the battleship from the sea. Miniaturization and precisiontechnology, however, reduce the cost of entry, reversing the trend of the19th and 2 th centuries. 254-55). It is perhaps not entirely sufficient to say that the Iraqimethods were due simply to Saddam's being a nasty character who runs abrutal regime. The maximum range of existing aircraft is global ornearly so, but very long range -- greater than a thousand miles or so -- iscurrently attainable only by large jet aircraft which can only land or takeoff from long runways (Gunston, 1977). Farfrom other British bases, it required more services to be usable as a fleetbase; these services required a large civilian population (which Scapa Flownever acquired) to provide them, and the population then exerted its ownadditional draw. The Transformation of War. Militant Islam. Wall St. To a considerable degree, indeed, thefamiliar nations of Europe were creations of the state system itself. They certainly have the economic means to exertinfluence, including coercive influence. The role of place in its development is entirely circumstantialand indirect. We might well imagine, then, that in a generation or two Europe willhave a distinctly three-level diplomatic structure in which the EC, thenational states, and local entities from Wales to Provence to Bavariainteract in complex ways. For all its terrible bloodshed, the 2 th century hasalso provided long intervals of peace even for the inhabitants of countrieslike Poland or China. The Anarchical Society. The cost of propping updeclining "sick man" powers, or of excluding rising powers from the table,eventually becomes greater than the system can bear, often leading to ageneral war. As political and diplomatic players, religious entities can bedivided into two groups, institutional and charismatic (with theunderstanding that the distinction is far from absolute). As was notedearlier, no inherent geographical characteristics require Silicon Valley tobe where it is, in the way that the presence of oilfields was necessary forKuwait to be more than a remote town. A captured businessman can be thrown intojail, but he will not make money for you from his cell. Already, as noted earlier, powerful conventionalarmies have found themselves stymied in the face of "low-intensity" war byirregular forces. This agglomerative effect has power-political implications that willbe considered below. Nevertheless evengalley warfare enjoyed greater geographical flexibility than contemporaryland warfare. The Soviet Union pioneered the type as analternative to carrier-borne aircraft, but its proliferation in arelatively cheap form is due primarily to the French Exocet. Power Politics. In many contexts we already speak of London, or Frankfurt, orTokyo, rather than of the national states in which they are situated. 2 ff). The enormousgrowth in international travel in the past generation has in fact led tocostly and elaborate efforts to protect against terrorism; the controlsroutinely found at world airports today would have astonished and dismayedinternational travelers of 35 years ago. London originally rose to prominence as aport, but the human infrastructure that built up over the centuries hasmade it a global financial center, a status it would probably retain evenif its original port functions became entirely insignificant. The same qualities made it a potentialcommercial shipping center -- but only potentially. Thecaptain of a British gunboat could display a high-handedness, say inboarding and seizing a questionable vessel, that is unthinkable today.This alone, however, is not a sufficient explanation. What outcomesmight stem from an invasion of Singapore or Siliconia, and why? The characteristic businesses of the"new" economy, such as telecommunications firms, have much less of a fixedidentity. If, however, one postulates a future political environment in whichlarge territorial states cease to be the dominant political actors, basesmay be more readily available. It is also exceedinglydoubtful that Bush and the coalition would have gone to war for the sake ofthose unfortunate Kuwaitis who were unable to flee. Settingaside a possible counter-intervention -- a subject to be dealt with below -- it is quite possible that the population of Singapore, and especially itsall-important financial sector, might acquiesce in the conquest onceassured that the new ruler would not unduly interfere in business as usual.Hong Kong As it happens, a test case for a "soft" conquest of Singapore existsin the present-day world, and in the same region: the 1997 reversion ofHong Kong to Chinese rule. Likewise, the late-medieval duchy of Burgundyenjoyed what we would now call Great Power status because it had themilitary means of assertion, notwithstanding theoretical subordination toits actual rival, the French crown. (1991). The potential strategic effect on the world's oceans is incalculable. New York:Free Press.Van Dijk, Jan A.G.M. Chronicle World. Theembargo against most Iraqi oil sales, which has hamstrung the Iraqi regimethroughout the 199 s (even if it has failed to topple that regime) wouldhave been almost equally effective had Iraq retained control over Kuwaitireserves. The movie "Braveheart," a Hollywood production, appears to havelent significant encouragement to Scottish national sentiment; this wasunlikely to be intended by the producers, and would have been far lesslikely had the film been made a generation ago, when American films wereaimed primarily at the domestic audience and overseas marketing was asecondary concern. The culture of the Internet and software industry are markedlyfreewheeling and libertarian when compared to that of finance. (1974). Yet even this is undergoing transformation.Religious militants have shown a readiness for self-sacrifice that fewnation-states could expect of their troops. Moreover, nothing precludes fitting them aboard ordinary cargoships; the required launching apparatus is uncomplicated, especially whencompared to the naval guns of a century ago. Gunpowder and Galleys. Physical instruments of terrorism are unlikely to rival the speed orwide reach of cyberterrorism, but a world of flows obviously includes widerand freer movement of people and materials as well, including terroristsand their weapons. Singapore, farther removed from Asian destination ports butroughly equidistant among them, makes a more convenient transshipmentpoint. Terrorism is, of course, a loaded word. The difference between themedieval and modern situations is rooted in opposite imbalances betweentheory and practice. Inthe Middle Ages, France might logically have been divided into twocountries, north and south, differing in culture, heritage, and evenlanguage. Theterm "terrorism" is used here without regard to its morality, in order togive a familiar name to a certain type of warfare, one that relies heavilyon the magnifying effect of modern media to make its points. The growth of Silicon Valley itself seems to have beenagglomerative: A few pioneering software firms happened to locate there,creating a pool of skilled people that made it convenient for similar firmsto establish themselves nearby, and the process fed on itself. Very long range air warfare is thus currently restricted to bombing.Bombers based in the US flew airstrikes in both the Gulf and Kosovo wars,flying several thousand miles each way in both cases. Kuwait'sunderlying oil income was larger than it could either consume or invest inits domestic economy, and it had in effect invested the balance to buy apiece of the global economy. One reason is undoubtedly diplomatic. As disagreeable as this may be to a paternalistregime, failure to do so risks cutting Singapore off from the mainstream ofthe information economy. Thepossibilities of a post-state diplomatic world have been a matter of somespeculation in recent years. Cities, therefore, have not been rendered obsolete by technology,even if the geographical factors that originally brought them into beinghave been largely superseded. In the case of Kuwait in 199 -91, the sanction of force remained asrooted in place as Kuwait's oil reserves. Manythousands of barrels of oil must be sold even to earn one million dollars,and such large bulk quantities are subject to effective interdiction. The consequences will be felt not only ininternal politics but in international, or "post-international" affairs.An invader of Siliconia would have to refrain not only from the grosserpolice-state excesses, but from any security actions that might impinge onthe broad sphere of freedom demanded by the information economy. The Beijing government is itself not a republic of saints.But harsh occupation methods were used in Kuwait at least in part becausethey could be used. Unfortunately for the Saddam regime, Kuwait's wealth turned out to beall too fluid -- so much so that almost all of it was transferred out ofKuwait in advance of even the fastest-moving Iraqi troops. But naval warfare is inherently far less place-based thanmost forms of land warfare. Computerviruses like "Melissa" have spread around the world in hours, a speed ofattack considerably greater than jet aircraft and rivaled only by ICBMs.(The virus was moreover spread primarily by unwitting email users.) As theInternet becomes more pervasive the potential speed and scope ofcyberterrorism can only increase. A familiar example is theBritish East India Company, which conquered India essentially on its owninitiative, only very loosely bound by the authority of the British State.(Viewed through a different lens, the role of the British East IndiaCompany might be seen as prefiguring the possible future role ofmultinational corporations as power-political actors in their own right.) In medieval as in modern times a distinction must be drawn betweenlegal theory and actual practice. The specific consequences of technology outlined above are peculiarto war (and thus power politics) at sea, but similar consequences apply inall the realms of warfare. The verylegitimacy of states was transformed, dynastic right giving way to nationalidentity even in the surviving monarchies. How these are resolved will becomean issue of growing significance in international law.) But to the extent that an information economy becomes dominant, thisanti-authoritarianism will gain force. In contrast,the equivalent ships of the present-day USN, its cruisers, destroyers, andfrigates, are tied down as escorts to the carrier task forces, with fewavailable for general patrol duties. The justification given for the supremacy of the nation-state hasvaried over time; in the 17th and 18th centuries its basis of legitimacywas taken to be dynastic, while in the 19th and 2 th centuries the basis oflegitimacy has been cultural and linguistic. Oil may beblack gold, but unlike the yellow kind it is valuable only in bulk. Thus an analyst could write, inthe late 195 s, that "if either the Soviet Union or the United States didnot exist, the other would have probably a rather better prospect ofunifying the entire world than Rome of unifying the Mediterranean worldafter the defeat of Hannibal" (Wight, 1978, p. The first of these is economic entities, corporations. In the last half century, most of the world'swars have been within rather than between national states, and even stateswith powerful armies have lost low-intensity wars with remarkableregularity (Van Creveld, 1991, pp. Itdepends for its effects largely on information flow. The tension between theory and practice inherent in these cases mightbe compared to French neo-imperialism in francophone Africa in recentdecades, or to earlier American neo-imperialism in the Caribbean; in eachcase theoretically sovereign states were in fact subject to more or lessroutine intervention by a larger power. Can a flow-basedworld economy be fully realized if, for example, the capacity of usingforce remains place-based? As such missiles proliferate, the carrier taskforces in which the United States has invested so much -- and which only asuperpower could afford to duplicate -- will increasingly be rendered bothvulnerable and unnecessary: too costly to risk in hostile waters, andperforming few missions that could not be performed with less risk and atfar less cost by missile-armed vessels. Moreover, there are contemporary indications that the statesystem may be breaking down. studio, that substantially retain theirown identities. Galley fleets thus operated in a symbioticrelationship with fortified ports (Guilmartin, 1974). The collapse of the USSR gave rise simultaneouslyto the Russian Republic and its neighboring successor states and to theConfederation of Independent States (CIS). We may now turn to possible players that are not place-basedat all. Today of course the situation has been entirely transformed. Even the physicalinfrastructure of a Siliconia has no strategic value. Notonly have terms like Shia and Sunni become familiar to every newspaperreader, but the initial shock has passed (compare Jansen, 1979, for aperspective at a time when Islamism was a new phenomenon -- at least formodern times -- in Western eyes). (Medieval historians indeed view the termwith skepticism, as implying legal theories that often developed long afterthe fact.) For the purpose of this discussion, however, (neo-) feudalismmay be taken as having a specific meaning, namely a diplomatic environmentin which limited sovereignty is a recognized concept -- that is, in whichdiplomatic entities exist that enjoy sovereign rights in some contexts,including the right to the sanction of force, without however enjoying theabsolute sovereignty that is characteristic of states. The war, Iraqi invasion and US-led riposte alike, wasprimarily fought for oil, a material resource fixed by place.The Advantages of "Placeless" Places While Kuwait is an imperfect example of Luke's premise, that does notinherently vitiate the premise itself. (Provencal, the "langue d'oc," is at least as distinct fromFrench as Portuguese is from Spanish.) Only the political fact of theFrench crown gradually bound these regions together. We may suggest that, in spite of its theoretical supremacy, theactual reach of the USN is sharply restricted. Their economic power derivesprecisely from control over flows, of goods or information, rather thanfrom control of territory. (It must be noted that Silicon Valleyoriginally developed before email, much less more advanced electronic-contact technologies, were widely available even to computer specialists,but the development and proliferation of these technologies has not visiblyreduced the tendency toward population clustering.) The cause, in allprobability, is an inherent human preference for face-to-face contact,whether at a work site or informally over a cup of coffee. Martin Van Crevald, in The Transformation of War (p. It is, for one thing, much too early to read a funeral service overthe nation-state. However, the experience of themedieval Assassins indicates at least the possibility that some groups,while remaining in the shadows and engaging in terrorist tactics, couldcontinue to function over a long period of time, becoming more or lesspermanent features of the global power-political scene. Gold bars, theold form of financial wealth, may weigh several thousand times less perunit value than do barrels of oil, but they are still physical and subjectto capture unless physically moved. Other orders than the familiar state system are therefore quitepossible. Computer software, incontrast, can be produced on any desktop computer and "shipped" via theInternet. Political Actors in a Flow-Based World What sort of "players" might be expected to emerge in a diplomaticenvironment centered on flow, and how might they interact? It was for this reason initially acquired and developed as abase for the British Navy. Thepossibility that large multinational corporations might supplant nationalstates as power centers has been a trope in science fiction for some years,and was among the possible future scenarios considered by Hedley Bull inthe 197 s (1977, pp. Antishipmissiles can, however, equally well be fitted to destroyer-class vesselshaving oceanic range, but vastly smaller and cheaper than aircraftcarriers. The increasing roleof flow has, however, led to an increasing potential significance forgeographical entities both larger than and smaller than existing nationalstates. Historically it was only in the 19th century that Germans learned tobe loyal to Germany rather than, say, Bavaria, or Italians to be loyal toItaly rather than Venice or Milan. On the one hand, the EuropeanCommunity may soon emerge (if it has not already emerged) as an importantglobal player distinct from its national members. Naval forcesrequire bases, and operate with increasing difficulty at a distance fromthose bases. It is not made upof, say, factories or shipyards, facilities that are costly to build andthus worth siezing. Thefirst examines implications and consequences of a flow-based world economy. Let us examine that premise byplacing Kuwait alongside two other examples of conceivable invasionscenarios: Singapore and "Siliconia." The former is of course a realplace, and one with some important similarities to Kuwait. The possible evolution from a place-based global system to a flow-based system raises fundamental questions about the role of force: who mayhave access to force, used in what ways, to what ends. In the modern world, however, financial wealth hasbecome in a literal sense metaphysical: its only existence is in the formof electronic codes. Scapa Flow in theOrkneys has a position of equal if not greater strategic value (it was theRoyal Navy's main base in both world wars), but never acquired the leastsignificance as a commercial port. The second examines alternatives to the state system, specifically newtypes of power "players" that might emerge. So long as the world's coastlines remained in the hands of strongstates, able and
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