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By David Holloway

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Extra info for 9 11 and the War on Terror (Representing American Events) (2008)

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During the 1990s, Bush’s neoconservative supporters said, Clinton’s ‘wishful brand of idealism’ had placed too much faith in the ‘liberalizing powers of commerce’ (Kaplan and Kristol 2003: 59), when commerce itself, as the Bush National Security Strategy put it, ‘depends on the rule of law’ (NSS 2002: 19). For Harvey, on the pretext of a war on terror, the war in Iraq was actually part of a wider war on Brenner’s long downturn, with military power rather than market forces now creating the circumstantial order (or rule of law) necessary for the pursuit of ‘national’ (meaning elite) economic interests.

Harvey’s understanding of the broad mechanics of the twenty-first-century American empire was Williamsian to the core. By emphasising the link between class conflict at home and empire abroad, The New Imperialism brought a cutting edge to Bacevich’s revival of Beard and Williams. What made The New Imperialism really significant, though, was its theorising of the war on terror as a crisis in ‘neoliberal’ capitalism – the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’ capitalism of the 1980s and 1990s, built on deregulated markets, privatisation, cost-cutting, antipathy to trade unionism, downward pressures on wages, the globalising of markets and capital/labour flows, ‘just-intime’ niche production and severe retrenchments in national welfare states.

One far-reaching assessment of sclerosis in state institutions and process came from within Congress, in the form of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), whose expansive, multi-authored The 9/11 Commission Report (National Commission 2004a) was compared by one reviewer to the Federalist Papers, such was its ambition ‘to foster the debate by which the country will re-imagine itself through its [federal] bureaucracy’ (Publishers Weekly 2004). The National Commission had a self-consciously bipartisan membership of five Republicans and five Democrats, and broad terms of reference – ‘Why did they do this?

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