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Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent (2008), reviewed by William Arthurs

Philip Bobbitt concluded his previous book The Shield of Achilles (published in 2003) on the eve of the attacks on the World Trade Center. That work set out Bobbitt's history of the constitutional order of the modern state as it has evolved through epochal wars and their concluding peace treaties: Bobbitt identified, as part of this evolution, changes in the state's basis of legitimacy, its military organisation and aims, its approach to commerce and trade. Bobbitt argued that we are on the cusp of a change in constitutional order from the nation state to the market state, and used scenario techniques, accompanied by plausible narratives, to imagine various possible futures for the international order of market states.

Terror and Consent picks up this story at the inception of the global war on terror. Its discussion and policy recommendations are most obviously aimed at the United States, with a lesser emphasis on the United Kingdom. The Introduction, and indeed the starkly-designed dustjacket of the hardcover edition, make the bold claim: "[A]lmost every widely held idea we currently entertain about twenty-first century terrorism and its relationship to the Wars against Terror is wrong and must be thoroughly rethought." (p. 5) Ironically the dustjacket design is by graphic designer Pedro Inoue whose other work (eg. "The Corporate Vermin that rules America" which depicts the Bush administration as cockroaches and the War on Terror as a mere business opportunity for Halliburton and the oil majors) provides an excellent example of the utterly conventional views that Bobbitt intends to shake and undermine. Read full review.

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