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Terror and Territory

Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty

Stuart Elden
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Terror and Territory
    Book Description:

    From so-called deterritorialized terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda to U.S.-led overthrows of existing regimes in the Middle East, the relationship between territory and sovereignty is under siege. Unfolding an updated understanding of the concept of territory, Stuart Elden shows how the contemporary “war on terror” is part of a widespread challenge to the connection between the state and its territory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7052-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Terror and the State of Territory
    (pp. xi-xxxii)

    In a television broadcast, a U.S. president addresses the U.S. population, explaining air strikes abroad taken in response to terrorist attacks. The target was “terror,” made more concrete as facilities linked to Osama bin Laden. Groups associated with the bin Laden network are described as sharing “a hatred for democracy, a fanatical glorification of violence, and a horrible distortion of their religion to justify the murder of innocents,” and as hating the United States “precisely because of what we stand for and what we stand against.” He underscores that “countries that persistently host terrorists have no right to be safe...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Geographies of Fear, Threat, and Division
    (pp. 1-32)

    It did not take long after the events of September 11, 2001, for the United States to work out who was going to pay. Flight transcripts were examined that day, and on the register for American Airlines Flight 77 were Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who were known to U.S. authorities as members of al-Qaeda. Even had this very obvious linkage been unavailable at the time, many of the examinations of available intelligence have made clear that warnings had been made. Ron Suskind notes a number of these instances and suggests that President George W. Bush had a tendency to...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Territorial Strategies of Islamism
    (pp. 33-62)

    Al-Qaeda is often portrayed as a deterritorialized network or association. Yet even networks have connections, and examining the materiality of its nodes demonstrates that it is a much more grounded organization. If we think through how al-Qaeda actually functions, it is clear that it operates in a profoundly territorial way, both within and against conventional understandings of the relation between sovereignty and territory. In terms of a division of labor within al-Qaeda, the generally accepted view is that Osama bin Laden is the orator and Ayman al-Zawahiri is more the strategic planner and recruiter. Al-Zayyat, for example, suggests that al-Zawahiri...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Rubble Reduced to Dust: Targeting Weak States
    (pp. 63-110)

    This chapter looks in more detail at the impact of the move to target states that “harbor” terrorist groups. Drawing on arguments made in the previous chapter, it shows that these are states where the supposedly inviolable relation between sovereignty and territory has broken down. They thereby expose the sovereign fiction on which the United Nations is constructed, namely, that every state is in control of its own territory and therefore has territorial sovereignty within its boundaries and equal sovereignty outside them. These places have been described as “weak” or “failed” states—terms whose invocation is often used as a...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Iraq: Destruction and Reconstitution
    (pp. 111-138)

    Although Iraq had been discussed as a strategic priority early in the George W. Bush administration, pressure had been intensifying since September 11, 2001. The internal debates in the administration have been noted in previous chapters, but this event was undoubtedly enough to shift the balance from the cautious Powell to the advocates of intervention such as Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.¹ In 2002, claiming to have dealt with Afghanistan, the Bush administration turned its sights to Iraq: from the putative network to a more identifiable and geographically locatable target. The dates are significant: Bush gave a speech to the United Nations...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Territorial Integrity and Contingent Sovereignty
    (pp. 139-170)

    This final chapter provides a wider angle on the issues raised in this book, suggesting that arguments about the contingency of territorial sovereignty have a much longer history than events since 2001. While these claims have been made by neoconservatives concerning Iraq and other states targeted in the “war on terror,” they share a logic with earlier calls for “humanitarian intervention” that similarly limited the territorial sovereignty of states. Yet many states have long had their sovereignty compromised, and the United States is no stranger to making claims for the contingency of sovereignty, undertaking many interventions within both the Cold...

  10. CODA: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty
    (pp. 171-178)

    This book has described territorial integrity as the spatial extent of sovereignty. Sovereignty is an issue at the intersection of terror and territory; it operates as the crucial bridge between terror and the state and is integral to the state of territory. Those who have sovereignty—recognized states—are able to exercise a violence within their territory that they claim is legitimate. Those who are deemed not to have sovereign power—nonstate organizations, national self-determination movements, and individuals— are in a different position. Their violence is seen as illegitimate by definition, as “terror.” They can therefore be labeled “terrorists,” a...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 179-248)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 249-258)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-259)