Thursday, August 30, 2007

Taking Stock of the Day that Disturbed the International Order (A Kasarinlan Feature Review)

Ken Booth and Tim Dunne. 2002. Worlds in Collision: Terror and the Future of Global Order. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke & New York 2002. 384 pp.

First published in Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 18, 1-2 (2004): 204-218.

Much has been said about the character of 9/11 attacks from being the fulfillment of Nostradamus’s bleak prophecies to the alleged resurgence of worldwide Islamic jihad. September 11 events have undeniably altered people’s perception—from the business executives of Manhattan to the opium farmer of Afghanistan—of the dynamics of globalization, national security and international relations. For some, the collapse of the Twin Towers offered a déjà vu of the demolition of the Berlin Wall. If the unification of Germany symbolized the values of international legality and democracy, the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks witnessed the birth of a new form of realpolitik (Archibugi 2001). The Achilles’ heel of US’s power was ultimately exposed in the so-called “paradox of 9/11” which both convey Washington’s readiness to respond to complex emergencies (911 emergency dial) and the susceptibility of the American territory to foreign intrusion. No country has confronted the United States’s (US) lead before, and for the first time ever, the Hegemon has been challenged by an absolutely gratuitous attack. The casualties of September 11 constituted one of the worst one-day massacres in the last decade, together with the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis. Major debates revolve around the question whether 9/11 should be deemed as an unprecedented event which shattered the previous international order, or just another flashpoint in the history of tweny-first century. Answers to this question do not come easily.

World governments demonstrated three main responses to the trauma of 9/11. First, state power was rapidly reinstated through the intensification of sovereign control which the realists heralded as the strengthening of statecraft. The self-help system of world politics compels states to prioritize their security concerns above the interests of other states through the use of military force as a key instrument in gaining states’s objectives. The transnational nature of terrorism likewise reinvigorated inter-state cooperation aimed at preserving regional security. For rationalist institutionalists, globalization opens a Pandora’s Box which creates new channels for protest including the terrorist path. International institutions promise to assist governments in addressing these challenges. Keohane and Nye (1989) proposed the complex interdependence framework to explain the nature of international interdependence and the benefits of multilateral cooperation. They argue that multilateral initiatives are more politically-effective and resource-efficient than bilateral actions in addressing transnational concerns including terrorism. This is accomplished through the institution of a “regime” or a set of rules that countries subscribe to, in leveling the playing field, minimize cheating and balance international actors’s relative gains as proposed by the realists. The term “collective security,” first employed during the construction of the League of Nations, finds a niche in the security architecture emerging post-9/11. In theory, collective security would discourage potential aggressors from angering a collectivity of states. Premised on this notion, Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty provides that an attack on one of the member-states shall be considered an attack against all. Likewise, Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations (UN) provides that nations can exercise their right to individual or collective self-defense. As comprehensively discussed in the book, these multilateral initiatives are defied by the hawkish, cowboy foreign policies of Washington. Holding steadfast to the doctrine of defensive realists, the Bush administration’s expansion of security tools had serious repercussions to the security standing of others by decreasing their military power (Taliaferro 2001).

Second, bin Laden’s involvement in the attacks signaled the criminalization of terrorism and its attendant actions, nostalgic of what Keohane explains about the delegitimation of piracy in the eighteenth century (141-151). Terrorists of diverse ideological motivations were widely condemned including the nations which harbor them. The “axis of evil” was identified comprising of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, countries assumed to possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Widespread suppression of public dissent became the norm to quell domestic discontent, leading to the decreased space for civil society.

Third, majority of states “embroidered” the concepts of “nation,” “heroism” and “freedom” to elicit sympathies and galvanize public support for the anti-terrorism campaign. Global media networks accentuated the rhetoric of war while stories of civilian casualties were romanticized mainly through dramatic media video footages and metaphors. Not only had these imageries stirred the collective pathos of the peoples around the globe, it also provided enough raison d’être for governments to apply military solutions in the name of national security and order.

The horrors of 9/11 have become “fashionable” in recent years with numerous cozy presumptions and grand interpretations about world politics demolished and questioned. Bringing together an outstanding group of intellectuals, Worlds in Collision primes itself as an indispensable book in understanding the debates about the future of global order in the wake of international terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. Booth and Dunne have managed to garner contributions from a stellar group of scholars in a commendable speed (completed in 2002). The plurality of viewpoints ranging from the writings of Kenneth Waltz, Amitav Acharya, Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein, among others, makes the collection a must-read for scholars of International Relations. The volume presents the current dialectics of thought-worlds explicating the nature of terrorism, the current international order and the variegated worlds coexisting in the globe. Compartmentalizing the chapters into three broad themes—Terror, Order and Worlds—aids the readers to frame their sight on current issues. These issues indeed are the evident overarching discourses of the post-9/11 period. Deeper appreciation of the texts reveals three corollary sub-themes: 1) the reinforcement of US global power and its consequence on the international political structures, 2) the interplay between globalization and culture in reconciling thought-worlds, and 3) the assumed birthing of a new world order.

The book clearly sets out that we are confronted by a “confusion of misunderstandings, crude stereotypes and parallel absences of self-knowledge”(5). Different international actors have divergent perceptions on the motivation and real character of the World Trade Center (WTC) bombers. As Chomsky explains, the terms terrorism and terrorists require serious attention and examination since they have not been defined in a coherent manner (128). Cynics argue that one country’s “terrorist” can be another state’s “freedom fighter.” September 11 has bifurcated the notions of terrorism between the US-inspired and other countries’ brand of terror with the term terrorists being applied only to Washington’s enemies and not against itself. The US is notorious in approaching the world through a series of simple minded binaries: friend and foe, west and east, allies and enemies, as substantiated by President Bush’s either-you-are-with-us-or-you-are-with-the-terrorists speech.

Defining terrorism is akin to the search for the “holy grail”. UN members have yet to formulate an agreed-upon definition of the term, a sine qua non for the establishment of international legal instruments to combat the crime. Previous efforts by terrorism experts to define the term fell short in various ways. For instance, one terrorism expert suggested in 1992 that acts of terrorism should be considered as “war crimes” during peacetime—deliberate attacks on civilians, infrastructure and killing of prisoners.But this position was not easily welcomed due to “diverging political interests and contradicting normative perceptions” between Western and Islamic states. Amidst the clash of interpretations, Soliman (2002) posits that the terrorist acts can be subsumed under this comprehensive legal definition:

the systematic employment by states, groups or individuals of acts or threats of violence or use of weapons deliberately targetting the civilian population, individuals or infrastructure for the primary purpose of spreading terror or extreme fear among the civilian population in relation to some political or quasi-political objective and undertaken with an intended audience.
The multiplicity of terrorists’s strategies can get easily entangled with their somehow nebulous, non-political motivations. We can discern religious overtones from the pronouncements of al-Qaeda members stating their fundamental mission to stage a protracted armed struggle against the enemies of Islam, especially the Great Satan—US. Still, terrorist activities are not only a monopoly of shadowy groups but can also be utilized by states as a means to gain legitimacy. Authoritarian governments of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and the Talibans exhibited how leaders wage war against nonconforming constituents through state oppression.

The US was successful in establishing the coalition of the willing (or coalition of the coerced?) to gain global support for its regime change project in Afghanistan and Iraq. The coalition supporting Washington’s war in Iraq includes Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

Nonetheless, supporters of Bush’s anti-terrorism campaign overlooked and miscalculated the costs of their participation. As in the past, military cooperation with the US could not guarantee the honest exercise of multilateral cooperation nor can it safeguard the interests of smaller players. On the contrary, it could put governments to a more vulnerable position as demonstrated by the experiences of the Philippines, Spain and Great Britain which became epicenters of terrorists’ initiatives in recent years.

Reassertion of US Hegemony

Neorealists maintain that contemporary states have already abandoned the maximization of state power but rather focus on striking a balance between international relations and power politics. On one hand, the anarchic nature of the international system permits powerful states (the so-called poles) to determine the trajectory of the international order. The stability of the international system, as neorealists suggest, can be attributed to a single dominant state or a lead hegemon which can articulate and enforce the rules of interaction among the international system (hegemonic stability theory). Admittedly, since coalitional politics are unstable in this conjuncture, America is considered as the only viable global leader. Halliday and Gray expound this notion by magnifying Washington's punctured political ego and its aggressive military responses to terrorism (226-241).

While some take the view that 9/11 destroyed or, at least decreased, US’s omnipotence, the reverse may be more compelling (Hill 2002, Smith 2002). For chapter author Michael Cox, the “end of the unipolar moment” thesis is untenable and should not be conveniently received because US, as the former isolationist of pre-World War II period, is beginning to rebuild its image as the main sheriff of world affairs (152-161). Series of military build-up put the country in a more dominant status and no country can challenge the Hegemon without suffering its consequences. Guzinni (2002, 292) likewise shares this observation;

The Bush administration’s foreign policy hitherto suffers from a neglect of diplomacy. It has emphasised a strategy that combines unilateral and re-militarising elements. Security is conceived of in terms of a gated community writ large. Diplomacy is downgraded to alliance-building (conveniently misnamed multilateralism) for a policy already decided. Other countries are sheer objects, not subjects, within US foreign policy. The conception of order in international society is stripped of substantial components of justice or legitimacy, to which the US would accept being subjected itself.
Combating terrorism and maintaining peaceful international relations necessitate the preservation of the integrity of the international law. Yet the imperial tinge in the application of these laws is apparent and continues to injure international players. Byers and An Naim strike it hard when they characterize the US as a “vigilante and a self-imposing entity” which comfortably circumvents UN resolutions—either to dismiss it or to engage in “a la carte multilateralism” which can complement its own preferences. Washington rejected the idea of an International Criminal Court of Justice mainly because of its detrimental provisions for the American government. It has been flouting the Geneva Convention on the Laws of War for more than five decades. US rejected the Kyoto Protocol on gas emission to guard its economy which is heavily funded by the oil industry. Moreover, Washington’s protectionist policies continue to intimidate its Western Europe’s counterparts with fifty percent of global economy in the hands of American corporations.

Coalitional politics is the major instrument of US to exert its power and compete with other states in distinguishing the terrorists and ascertaining acts of terrorism. Washington recasts itself as the final arbiter of what is morally right or wrong but as Chomsky argues, Bush’s moral truism reflects that it only acts to protect the civil liberties of its people and undermine the human rights of other peoples in the world (134-135). Washington and its allies were successful in securing good legal “cover” to legitimize its use of military power using the doctrine of preemptive strikes as its grand smokescreen. Although it brands itself as an epitome of democratic society, it has been consistent in applying terrorist measures in Panama, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans and Afghanistan to ostracize erring civilians. This posturing is exacerbated by the vague definition of “national defense” provided by Article 51 of the UN Charter. Previously, it was generally understood that military self-defense should focus only on halting or repelling the attack that has taken place; it should not be retaliatory, punitive, or preemptive. Historical evidences abound about the US’s violation of this UN pronouncement. In 1986, the US took military action against Libya in response to terrorist attacks on its forces in Berlin; many states insisted that such action went beyond legitimate self-defense. In August 1998, the US attacked Afghanistan and Sudan in response to terrorist attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Washington’s global democratization project contradicts the concept of a just war. Normative theory defines a jus ad bellum (just war): 1) as a war of self-defense in response to aggression; it is legitimized by state authorities as a last resort after exhausting peaceful remedies and (2) as a war that is being exercised jus in bello (in right conduct) including the protection of the non-combatants and the innocent, non-use of immoral weapons (e.g. WMD) and when actions are taken with a right intention to accomplish legitimate military objectives and to minimize collateral death and destruction (Viotti and Kauppi 1987). Conventional requirements state that non-combatants should not be the intended target of the enterprise. Governments’s responsibility to protect their people does not provide them a right for the use of violence. It must be recalled that the photographs of the Iraqi prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib elicited condemnation and anger among the peoples of the globe. The arrogant display of US soldiers’ violation of human rights clearly defies Elhstain’s definition of a compassionate, forbearing American military (263-269). He somehow misconstrues Washington’s military policy when he claims that:

No group in the US pays more attention to ethical restraint on the use of force than does the US military. We do not kill or even threaten to kill nearly 3000 civilians because that number of our own civilians has been murdered by perpetrators who scarcely deserve the name of either soldier of warrior. (266)
The volume juxtaposes contemporary wars with the issues of national sovereignty and human rights to reconcile debates concerning the use of force vis-à-vis the universal rights to human protection and dignity. Political observers confirm that a counter-terrorist strategy that separates the enemy from those who harbor them is not part of Bush’s mindset. Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah are seen as problematic and need to be carefully approached and dissolved. Buzan (85-94) reinforces this conviction when he posits that, in the declaration of war, civilians must be separated from their governments as targets, if and only if the people do not deserve the government they have. He further states;
To delink people from their governments, when they are in fact closely linked, is to undermine the political point of resorting to war in the first place. (91)
Although the Geneva Conventions on War dictate that civilians should be treated separately from their governments, it must be noted that not all civilians are innocent. Buzan explains that the flag-waving Serbs either stood as silent supporters of Milosevic or as protectors of innocent civilians, while Hussein’s despotic rule in Iraq, Kim’s Stalinistic regime in North Korea and Iran’s anti-US theocracy were all sustained and reinforced by public choice and decision. In all of these, the international community has the right and responsibility to put an end to erring governments and people that threatens peace.

When Globalization and Civilizations Collide
Huntington’s “clash of civilization” thesis is vigorously criticized by the chapter authors for its flawed culture-based interpretations of 9/11, reflected in his unconvincing justification of terrorists’ genocidal tendencies. Counter-arguments to the image of a religious or civilizational conflict are more pronounced contrary to what Huntington imagines. Globalization factors have blurred the civilizational lines because of porous state borders which enhance the transnational mixing of socio-political loyalties. The assumption of a homogenous Islam is contentious since cultures are not monolithic blocks that can be sustained, and is indestructible. Islam, like Christianity, does not have a unified version of its religious beliefs and practices. Many Muslim nations openly condemned the theology of Osama bin Laden. As Acharya concludes in his chapter, states “acted more as states rather than as civilizations” in responding to 9/11 (195).

The post-9/11 period witnessed a new and sustained interest in the study of Islam and Muslim societies, with the cornucopia of knowledge projected in various governmental and media pronouncements on the subject. But, more often, the interpretation of Islam with regard to terrorism is determined by domestic and international political factors (Dalacoura 2002). Islam is being demonized by Washington as a means to universalize Western liberal values and contain Muslim fundamentalists. Islamism has been labeled as the counter-hegemonic force of the post-Cold War period replacing communism. Consequently, rather than a “war on terrorism,” the international community is currently engaged in a witch-hunt for specific terrorist groups who embrace the doctrine of radical Islam.

Fukuyama describes Islamo-fascism as the Muslim world’s reaction to the social poverty brought about by the Western modernization process in the Arab peninsula (27-36). Historically, the September 11 attacks can be traced back to the economic, social, and cultural crisis which plagued the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and the accelerating process of globalization which started in the late 1970s. Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) and import liberalization strategies have impoverished the powerful proletariats in the Arab world and reconfigured traditional Muslim communities. Still clinging to his “end of the history” thesis, Fukuyama presents his liberal doctrine which argues that Western liberalism is the final destination of MENA countries. He sees the results of the Afghanistan and Iraq democratization projects and the dismantling of the theocratic and despotic nature of Islamist politics as crucial factors in transforming the history of the Arab world. For him,
Americans tended to believe that their institution and values—democracy, individual rights, the rule of law, and prosperity based on economic freedom—represent universal aspirations that will be ultimately by people all over the world if given the opportunity. (28)
Globalization and fundamentalism are twin phenomena that cannot be separated. Benjamin Barber (245-262) has been consistent in his earlier position that we can allow either a globalized capitalist world (McWorld) or a world of fundamentalist (Jihad) to set the terms of international interdependence. We cannot strike a balance between the two because of the inherent nature of capitalism which automatically induces inequalities in the globe—the very reason of resentment among terrorists. There is a view that poverty among Muslim societies engenders terrorism because of clashes between Western consumerism and traditional Islamic teachings. Capitalism is perceived as part and parcel of the neo-liberal ideology which endeavors to secularize the religion of terrorists. In this regard, Smith’s chapter complements Barber’s position when the former formulates 10 factual questions directed to the US regarding the justification of its response, the nature of foreign policy it acted upon and the comprehensiveness of its understanding of the 9/11 attacks (48-59). These inquiries aim to investigate how cultures determine the perceptions of international actors regarding outsiders. Answers to these questions reveal that both the US government and the terrorist groups have their unique interpretations of each other. This divergence very well explains the vicious cycle of struggle between the al-Qaeda and the developed nations.

Information technologies and the media are shaping the global citizens’ perception of terrorism and its concomitant actors. Acquisition of information and opinion about the aftermath of 9/11 has been a crucial factor in reconciling media coverage and opinion. Media networks have caused global citizens to perceive that the WTC attacks are reenactments of Bruce Willis’ Die Hard series and James Cameroon’s Pearl Harbor. Der Derian provides an interesting twist when he explores how 9/11 provided a platform for wars between networks engaged in maneuvering, influencing and altering public opinion (101-117). Networks’ strategies easily conflate with the global opinion about the moral justifications and the rationale behind the terrorist attacks. Foremost, Washington has attempted to prevent the ‘Vietnam syndrome’ to preserve public support. The first phase of its war in Iraq was projected as a successful military campaign which deserved to be sustained. President Bush even established the military-industrial-media-entertainment network (MIME-Net) not only to ostracize negative publicities that could mar the image of his leadership but also to solicit political capital that could catapult him again into power in the 2004 elections.

Freedman (37-47) and Ball (60-73) concentrate on what they see as the evolution of a new form of warfare. Of interest to them is the war between a modern force and a primitive army (e.g. the United States and Afghanistan's Northern Alliance). Peoples of the globe must recognize that al-Qaeda members are not naïve cave dwellers. The marriage of the narratives of primitivism (fundamentalism) and modernity can be seen in bin Laden’s adherence to Islamic extremism while identifying himself as a member of an elite Saudi family. His desire to banish the Western, secular ideology is enhanced by the al-Jazeera television network, the Internet and compact m satellite telephones to communicate with his grassroots network organizations in Africa and Southeast Asia. Washington responded to the situation by establishing the Office of Homeland Security and the Human Intelligence Network (HUMINT) systems to safely locate and pursue al-Qaeda operations.

Ultimately, the intelligence community is anticipated to be burdened by the terrorist threats. Challenges lie on the lack of political will among governments to devote resources for the dismantling of intra-states terrorist networks and the failure to realign their legal and juridical systems to the principles of US’s anti-terror campaign. On the broader level, there is a lingering fear among states that the anti-terror campaign can easily translate into a war against freedom and privacy. Biersteker (74-84) explains that gross infringement of civil liberties is not far-fetched in the future due to several strictures to be implemented on the use of the Internet and other correspondence and transaction systems including the financial market mechanisms. For instance, targeted financial sanctions (TFS), first applied by UN in Angola (1998), Taliban (1999, 2000) and Liberia (2001), is being revived to dismantle the terrorists’ underground hawala system.

A New World Order?

Have 9/11 events reconfigured the international state system? Some theorists maintain that it has unmistakably altered the traditional Westphalian concept of state as the sole enforcer of security. Interestingly, the book is concluded by Waltz’s statement that nothing has changed since 9/11, frustrating and downplaying the passionate trumpet call for the formation of global civil society by Linklater (303-312), Williams (336-347), Brown (293-302) and Parekh (270-283). Waltz’s position seems to earn more plaudits since international events show that there is no plausible major evidence suggesting the emergence of a new world order. The attacks may induce policing problem for the international community but they do not constitute a serious challenge to the norms of international society as the world’s global pattern of military, political and economic power remains unaltered (Brown 2002, 263). Changes are more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, characterized by the following: increased assertion of US power, emergence of coalition of countries for and against the US and widespread economic recession in many states due to threats of terrorism.

Gray (226-234) seamlessly describes the triumph of realist explanations as he chronicles how states supported US to further their national interests. Russia deemed it necessary to cooperate with Washington to contain conflicts in China and the Himalayas. Great Britain committed itself to be the US’s faithful lieutenant to increase its influence in Europe. September 11 surprisingly brought together European governments into a military alliance with Washington (Wallace 2002). European Union (EU) governments are well aware of their relative weakness compared with the US military and any cooperation with the Hegemon was the most intelligent option to protect their borders. Yet, NATO’s invocation of Article 5 failed to revitalize the Alliance and transform Atlantic relationship. The issue of war in Iraq disintegrated any unity forged by 9/11 with France and Germany condemning the military actions. In East Asia, the Great Power Rivalries between the US and China reached its peak when Bush’s foreign policies made it difficult for China and Japan to join the anti-terrorism bandwagon.

Asian governments managed to protect their interests by maximizing the opportunity of US cooperation. In South Asia, General Musharraf of Pakistan needed the US military aid and resources because of the lingering Indian nuclear threats on Kashmir. President Sukarnoputri of Indonesia accepted the economic and political support from US in assisting to crush Jaamiyah Islamiyah and other terrorist networks in its territory. But weeks after Washington announced its war in Iraq, Sukarnoputri gave her veiled criticism against the Bush administration.

Chapter writer Raja Mohan believes that U.S. intervention holds more promise for South Asia than its earlier involvement in Afghanistan. Karzai’s interim government is still fragile and currently being threatened by the resurgence of warlordism and revival of predatory extraction in the country. There is a growing consensus that Afghans, which had been abandoned by the US in 1991, should not be left alone to tread the road to politico-economic stability.

Divergent perceptions of 9/11 were also evident in the local level. For Acharya (194-204), the post-9/11 period saw state-society relations more divisive in terms of the relationship of governments to their people than between states. Saudi Arabia and other gulf states witnessed the growing population of Muslim anti-Americans who likewise found an opportunity to actively clamor for the recognition of their Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip. Some Asian leaders, on one hand, showed utmost concern for regime security. Mahathir made it difficult for Muslim jihad supporters to travel to Afghanistan because of threats to domestic stability while President Gloria Arroyo tried to contain the Abu Sayyaf bandit group through the sustained militarization of Southern Philippines. Meanwhile, Wallerstein (95-100) and Rogers (215-225) foresee the the outcomes of US’s war on terrorism will be uncertain due to the conflation of international factors. Political violence will continue to reconfigure global order because the dominant drivers of conflict and insecurity will stay including issues on socio-economic division and the proliferation of military technologies.

The UN Millennium Declaration of September 2000 promoting common values such as freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility was challenged post-9/11. Writing on the narratives of religion, civilization and modernity, Brown explains how the al-Qaeda and the coalition against terrorism see each other as uncivilized and there is no way that these perceptions can be reconciled in the near future. In this regard, chapter authors offer their modest recommendations on how to address the recurring international violence. If Fukuyama puts his faith on his unshakable logic of historical evolution to ensure the hegemony of liberalism, Parekh trusts inter-cultural dialogue as the surest means to address the deeper roots of terrorism. Widely shared values must be promoted and none should be demonized or declared evil in the negotiation process. On one hand, Sissela Bok (284-292) deems it beneficial to abandon the idea that Islam and the West have divergent perceptions of the world. Imperative to this is for governments to veer away from interpreting 9/11 events in religious and civilization terms.

Conclusion: (Un)filled Gaps
No short reviews could do justice to the 31 chapters of the book. Booth and Dunne remained faithful to the aspirations they laid down in the introductory chapter—to investigate the fragile relationship between binary opposites: Islam and the West, terror and dialogue, force and law, among others. Nonetheless, the aim to do a comprehensive survey of academic opinions is undercut by their failure to include the works of scholars from other global regions. It must be noted that only two out of the 32 contributors are Asian-based academics—Mohan (India) and Acharya (Singapore). Also, conspicously absent are scholars from South America and Africa. Their contribution could have provided an ideological balance between the Western-centric and Southern countries’ interpretations of terrorism. Post-9/11, majority of Latin Americans believe that the US has lost interest in their region. A closer examination of this notion is crucial in locating Latin American developing countries in the map of US foreign policy. On the African side, the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism in 1999. African leaders also issued a strong declaration against terrorism at the Africa Summit held in Dakar in October 2001. But none of these important developments echo in the pages of the volume. Similarly, chapter authors barely discussed the dynamics of East Asian geopolitics. The perspectives of China and Japan can give flesh to the dynamics of “Great Power Rivalry” thesis elucidated by Acharya. Apparently, the Western-centric interpretations inundate the volume overwhelming readers of realist explanations which overlook the genuine human security concerns.

Nevertheless, a commendable strength of the collection is the authors’s attempt to shift the spotlight to the subdued questions that have been marginalized by policy discourse of governments around the globe. The question of culture and terrorism is again put forth to revive the dying attention of many states toward the role of socio-economic deprivation in exacerbating the terrorist tendencies of their constituents. More importantly, it is very difficult to find a book that put together scholars par excellence possessing solid academic reputation. Worlds in Collision provides a platform for left-wing socialists to reflect side by side with right-wing über realists in their quest to explain the transformation of global history. The contributors to this volume come from variegated perspectives which do not always converge. But all of them share an aspiration for a more peaceful and just world; in which transnational communities coexist in mutual relationship, diverse religious and faith-based groups not only tolerate but also learn from one another and states act judiciously to empower individuals and protect the collective rights of their citizens.—Ronald C. Molmisa, University Research Associate, Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines-Diliman

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