“National Security” and the “economy”

video_button_white_dred.gifWars are justified in terms of “national security”, and todays empire’s wars are, for good or bad, justified in the same terms. Critics generally tend to dismiss the national security argument, by pointing out, as in the case of Colin Powell’s infamous speech on WMD at the UN used to justify US and British attack on Iraq, that the threats to national security are often constructed, and indeed, they become more real as a result of imperial policies. In a sense, this is true. But in another sense, this is not taking the forces of Empire seriously enough. There is in fact a sense in which “national security” — as defined by capital’s empire — is threatened if new markets, new realms of market relations, are not created. The difficult thing is to articulate this broader sense of “national security” with the lies and constructions used to justify wars.

To come to term with the broader sense in which “national security” plays a role, have a look at the US National Security Strategy document 2006 (see table of contents below), which reports the “economy” and its liberalisation as central to the national security of the US hence of its military operations worldwide (see section VI in the table of contents below). This centrality is not defined in terms of general principles with no clear material basis and context, such as a call for “prosperity” and other blah blah. No, it is very clear and specific. The basics for US “national security” are global economic growth and its alleged instruments: free markets and free trade, that is increasing the pervasiveness of market disciplinary processes. Now it is obvious why the prospects of global economic growth (i.e. global capitalism) are important to US national security. To the extent that a) US businesses have global reach, b) the reproduction of US livelihoods (and correspondent degree of manageability of social relations) is highly dependent to market relations attached to global loops, and c) we acknowledge that capital does not recognize an inherent limit to accumulation (that is an “enough profit is enough” principle), then obviously US national security depends on promotion of market relations everywhere.

How does it promote market relations everywhere? That is, what are the political routes to the marketisation of the world? In principle there are two broad avenues: whether through bombing first and negotiation later (stereotypical republican style) or negotiation first and bombing later (stereotypical democrats style). The strategic choice depends on the political context. From a perspective of the “beginning of history”, that is of the constitution of other ways to reproduce our livelihoods, the point is to go beyond these two sides’ common understanding of “national security”. All the same, and at a different scale, the point is that when we study “imperialism” and try to see different interests being pursued by different geo-political actors (US, EU, Russia, Japan, China and so on), we should measure these differences in terms of what is the production of a common terrain among them. It is this common terrain of theirs that cages our lives into capitalist market relations.

US National Security Strategy — 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Overview of America’s National Security Strategy………………………………………………….1

II. Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity………………………………………………………………2

III. Strengthen Alliances to Defeat Global Terrorism and Work to Prevent Attacks
Against Us and Our Friends…………………………………………………………………………………..8

IV. Work with Others to Defuse Regional Conflicts…………………………………………………….14

V. Prevent Our Enemies from Threatening Us, Our Allies, and Our Friends with Weapons
of Mass Destruction……………………………………………………………………………………………18

VI. Ignite a New Era of Global Economic Growth through Free Markets and Free Trade…25

VII. Expand the Circle of Development by Opening Societies and Building the Infrastructure
of Democracy…………………………………………………………………………………………………….31

VIII. Develop Agendas for Cooperative Action with the Other Main Centers of Global
Power…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….35

IX. Transform America’s National Security Institutions to Meet the Challenges and
Opportunities of the 21st Century………………………………………………………………………….43

X. Engage the Opportunities and Confront the Challenges of Globalization…………………..47

XI. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………….49

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