Mary Kaldor: In 2001, before 9‍/‍11, there was it seemed like a con­sen­sus around human­i­tar­i­an norms. It seemed like the out­come of the 1990s. 2001 was the year that the Canadian com­mis­sion on sov­er­eign­ty and inter­ven­tion came out with the idea of respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect. It was the year that Britain inter­vened rather suc­cess­ful­ly in Sierra Leone and stopped the vio­lence there—or at least began the beginning…created a sit­u­a­tion which led to a peace process. And so I think there was a gen­er­al feel­ing that we were mov­ing towards a world char­ac­ter­ized by inter­na­tion­al law, war crimes, inter­ven­tion for human­i­tar­i­an purposes. 

And then came 9‍/‍11. And I think that con­sen­sus was real­ly shat­tered by 9‍/‍11. Of course, at the same time as 9‍/‍11 there were all kinds of…there was quite a momen­tum to respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect. It was intro­duced into the United Nations in 2005. There’s been an enor­mous empha­sis in the United Nations on pro­tect­ing civil­ians. Many coun­tries have devel­oped new secu­ri­ty poli­cies that move away from nation­al secu­ri­ty that empha­size a range of threats, from hur­ri­canes and tsunamis, to ter­ror. And many of them are empha­siz­ing civil­ian cri­sis man­age­ment. And all of that comes out of the momen­tum and the con­sen­sus of the 1990s about respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect and human­i­tar­i­an intervention.

But at the same time of course, we had the War on Terror. And we had Iraq. We had Afghanistan. We had the debate about Darfur. And we had Libya. And all of them in a way were ways in which a new kind of dis­course was con­struct­ed, under­min­ing and weak­en­ing the human­i­tar­i­an con­sen­sus that char­ac­ter­ized the peri­od just before 9‍/‍11.

Of course the first inter­ven­tion was Afghanistan. And those peo­ple who sup­port­ed Afghanistan were of course the peo­ple around Bush. We call them the neo­cons. They came out of the American Enterprise Institute. They came of The Heritage Foundation. They had actu­al­ly had this project called the Project for a New American Century, in which they said we need a big increase in defense spend­ing so that America can take advan­tage of this unipo­lar moment. And they said but that’s unlike­ly to hap­pen unless there’s a cat­alyz­ing event like anoth­er Pearl Harbor. 

And I think it’s inter­est­ing that of course Bush react­ed in a typ­i­cal way, as though 9‍/‍11 was Pearl Harbor. He used the lan­guage of Pearl Harbor. He used the lan­guage of World War II. And so Afghanistan going to war because 9‍/‍11 was an attack by a for­eign ene­my against the United States was the obvi­ous way to go. And the neo­cons were sup­port­ed by the lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ists. And what I mean by the lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ists are those peo­ple who thought you could pre­vent geno­cide, you could pre­vent eth­nic cleans­ing, all the things that the human­i­tar­i­an con­sen­sus had been built around in the 90s—Srebrenica, Rwanda—by using force. And of course prob­a­bly the most well-known voice in that lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ist con­sen­sus was Tony Blair. But there were also well-known jour­nal­ists like Michael Ignatieff or Christopher Hitchens, who were sup­port­ing this, and cre­at­ing a gen­er­al consensus.

And I think at the time of Afghanistan there were a few spo­radic peace demon­stra­tions. But oppo­si­tion was mut­ed because peo­ple were so shocked by what had hap­pened in 9‍/‍11. But of course there was one very impor­tant stream of think­ing, with which I asso­ciate myself, which said look, it’s all about how you frame 9‍/‍11. And if you did­n’t frame 9‍/‍11 as an attack on the United States but you framed it as a crime against human­i­ty, then this would require a very dif­fer­ent response. Not a war response but a law and polic­ing response. There might be an argu­ment to attack Afghanistan to destroy the ter­ror­ist camps, or there might be an argu­ment to be putting pres­sure on the Taliban to deal Al-Qaeda. But there isn’t an argu­ment to go to war with Al-Qaeda. The aim has to be to try to arrest Osama bin Laden and to try to deal with him in a court of law.

Interestingly, Richard Falk, who’s very-well known as a pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tion­al law and usu­al­ly is on this line was actu­al­ly argu­ing for a just war. He argued that a tri­al would give bin Laden a kind of plat­form from which he could start mobi­liz­ing inter­na­tion­al and glob­al sup­port, and that there­fore a lim­it­ed war was need­ed in Afghanistan. 

Well of course the Afghan War then led to Iraq. And the neo­cons felt that in Afghanistan they had dis­cov­ered an amaz­ing mod­el of how to bring about regime change and how to defeat dic­ta­tors. And of course the argu­ment for going to war in Iraq was not human­i­tar­i­an, either. By the way, in Afghanistan the for­mal argu­ment was self-defense, and the United States informed the Security Council that it was under­tak­ing a uni­lat­er­al act in self-defense. In the case of Iraq this was much hard­er. And the neo­cons set their sights on Iraq. And they were once again joined by the lib­er­al interventionists. 

And although the for­mal argu­ment was to deal with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruc­tion, the argu­ment that was used both by the neo­cons and the lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ists was actu­al­ly a human­i­tar­i­an argu­ment. They said that Saddam Hussein, quite right­ly, was a hideous dic­ta­tor. That he’d killed hun­dreds of thou­sands, espe­cial­ly the Kurds and the Shiites in the ear­ly 90s. And that this was an inter­ven­tion real­ly for human­i­tar­i­an pur­pos­es, even though they were using a legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion based on weapons of mass destruction. 

The war mobi­lized an incred­i­ble peace move­ment. Millions demon­strat­ed on February the 15th, 2003. I think… The total count varies from 9 to 11 mil­lion. And in a way it can be seen as one of the con­se­quences of the spread of the Internet that it was so much eas­i­er to mobi­lize peo­ple all over the world on the same day, and the World Social Forum played a very key role in decid­ing on the date. 

The oppo­si­tion brought togeth­er the tra­di­tion­al left to oppose impe­ri­al­ism. And many in the Islamic com­mu­ni­ty, who while not being jihadists accept­ed the argu­ment that this was—or at least, pro­mot­ed the— Not pro­mot­ed, but went along with the argu­ment that the War on Terror was a war against Islam. And in fact there were rather few peo­ple on those peace demon­stra­tions who were real­ly think­ing about alter­na­tive ways of deal­ing with Saddam Hussein. 

The human rights and human­i­tar­i­an com­mu­ni­ty was deeply deeply divid­ed. The human rights com­mu­ni­ty was split between the lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al­ists like Christopher Hitchens and Michael Ignatieff and those who felt that you should­n’t vio­late human rights when try­ing to pro­tect peo­ple. Who felt that although Saddam Hussein was a hideous dic­ta­tor, there was no imme­di­ate human­i­tar­i­an emer­gency that could’ve jus­ti­fied the war and that the human­i­tar­i­an con­se­quences of the war were worse, or as bad, as what Saddam Hussein had done. 

And I think a par­tic­u­lar aspect of all this was what hap­pened to the United Nations. Some peo­ple say that the blow­ing up of the United Nations com­pound in the sum­mer of 2003, killing the much-loved and well-known diplo­mat Sérgio de Mello was the UN’s 9‍/‍11. And that was the point at which the con­sen­sus among the human­i­tar­i­an NGOs start­ed to blow apart. Because they felt this com­ing togeth­er of inter­ven­tion and human­i­tar­i­an aid was a huge mis­take. That it was very impor­tant to keep human­i­tar­i­ans sep­a­rate from the mil­i­tary. Because the mil­i­tary, that made you a tar­get. And of course that was fol­lowed by blow­ing up of the Red Cross. So the human­i­tar­i­ans became very much opposed to ideas of respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect or human­i­tar­i­an inter­ven­tion. Or if not opposed, want­ed to main­tain their independence. 

Both Afghanistan and Iraq led to long wars. And of course these posi­tions were repro­duced in the war. The peo­ple who were pro-intervention ini­tial­ly argued very strong­ly for a surge in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The peo­ple who were against argued for with­draw­al. And the sort of belea­guered human­i­tar­i­an com­mu­ni­ty kept say­ing Well we need troops to pro­tect peo­ple from vio­lence, but we don’t want them to be engag­ing in war.” And that posi­tion was increas­ing­ly squeezed. 

Though an inter­est­ing aspect of the war has been the debate that it’s pro­duced in the Pentagon. General Petraeus, who was the com­man­der in Iraq and then is now com­man­der in Afghanistan but about to leave to become head of the CIA, he pro­duced a new coun­terin­sur­gency man­u­al which real­ly empha­sized this con­cept of pop­u­la­tion secu­ri­ty. That you real­ly have to min­i­mize civil­ian casu­al­ties, that you have to keep peo­ple safe in order to win the trust of peo­ple. And that was a real shift in American mil­i­tary think­ing. And I do think it was a fac­tor. I won’t go into how the Iraq War end­ed now but it was a very impor­tant fac­tor in the sense that the Americans put joint secu­ri­ty sta­tions all over Baghdad to pro­tect peo­ple and they nego­ti­at­ed lots and lots of local deals. 

So, while all this was hap­pen­ing, there was this weird debate about Darfur. Suddenly there was a big cam­paign, which was led by the US Holocaust Museum. It start­ed with a group of stu­dents on an out­reach pro­gram argu­ing that there was a geno­cide going on in Darfur. And they cre­at­ed this cam­paign involv­ing Mia Farrow, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt—every celebri­ty was sup­port­ing it—called the Save Darfur Campaign. And I think what’s inter­est­ing, of course what was hap­pen­ing in Darfur was typ­i­cal­ly what I would call a new war.” People were being killed, there was very heavy dis­place­ment, there was eth­nic cleans­ing. And I think there were very good grounds for an inter­ven­tion by the United Nations. 

But, the Save Darfur Campaign want­ed to argue it was a geno­cide. And in order to argue it was a geno­cide, they had to arg— And the rea­son they want­ed to argue it was geno­cide is because in inter­na­tion­al law, even despite the fact that respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect was passed by the United Nations, you can’t inter­vene unless autho­rized by the Security Council except in the case of a geno­cide. And so they want­ed to prove this was a geno­cide, in order to trig­ger mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion. And so there was a huge empha­sis both on the num­bers of peo­ple killed, but also on the Arab and African iden­ti­ty of the two sides. Essentially what was hap­pen­ing was that set­tler com­mu­ni­ties who had start­ed a rebel move­ment were being dealt with very very harsh­ly by a com­bi­na­tion of the Sudanese army and local mili­tias who were a mix­ture of nomads, unem­ployed, criminals—the typ­i­cal kind of groups. And they were suf­fer­ing a great deal. So, they were construed…the gov­ern­ment side was con­strued as Arab, and the set­tler side was con­strued as African. Although as Mamdani has very con­vinc­ing­ly shown, this con­struc­tion was a rather recent construction. 

So the peo­ple who were against inter­ven­tion in Darfur said this is not geno­cide, this is a civ­il war. And the way to solve the prob­lem is through nego­ti­a­tions. But if in fact as I would argue, it was nei­ther a civ­il war nor a geno­cide, it was what I call a new war, in which all kinds of dif­fer­ent state and non-state actors are engaged togeth­er with their inter­na­tion­al part­ners, then actu­al­ly nego­ti­a­tions are unlike­ly to solve the problem—and indeed they have not. And there needs to be an inter­ven­tion not on one side or the oth­er, but in order to pro­tect set­tlers, and to sta­bi­lize the vio­lence. In the end, the UN came in after 2007 but there are still huge problems. 

And final­ly, we come to Libya. So, here we have…this is the one we’re in the mid­dle of. And again on the one side you have the lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ists, very enthu­si­as­tic, say­ing let’s go in to pro­tect peo­ple. Gaddafi is about to kill all of the pro­tes­tors. And you have the peo­ple against, who say you can’t use war. And there are a few peo­ple like me who say yes, we should pro­tect civil­ians but you can’t pro­tect civil­ians with airstrikes. You can’t use the tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of war to pro­tect civil­ians. And that’s what has­n’t been under­stood, that’s what was­n’t dis­cussed in Darfur. It was seen as a sim­ple case of inter­ven­tion or non-intervention. It was the same in Afghanistan and Iraq. That posi­tion of say­ing actu­al­ly, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has a respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect peo­ple when they’re in sit­u­a­tions of extreme inse­cu­ri­ty, but how it pro­tects peo­ple is absolute­ly crit­i­cal; you can’t use tra­di­tion­al mil­i­tary meth­ods, that posi­tion real­ly in a way broke apart, because of 9‍/‍11.

In a sense, as I’ve tried to explain, the human­i­tar­i­an con­sen­sus was pulled apart by the lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al­ists who felt you could inter­vene mil­i­tar­i­ly, and the tra­di­tion­al human­i­tar­i­ans who felt you had to keep your dis­tance from the mil­i­tary. And in a sense what I think is real­ly need­ed is a new kind of instru­ment for pro­tect­ing peo­ple which I call human secu­ri­ty,” although it tends to be rather dif­fer­ent from how human secu­ri­ty is often defined in the literature. 

So where are we now, in the midst of an ongo­ing war with Libya and the cap­ture of Osama bin Laden? Well I think what’s extra­or­di­nary at the moment is the spread of non­vi­o­lence through the Middle East. I mean, this is an extra­or­di­nary, epochal moment when peo­ple are tak­ing to the streets and being incred­i­bly brave in the face of provo­ca­tion. And what you real­ize has been going on is that here in the West we’ve been deeply involved in this debate about when is it right to use force to stop geno­cide and human rights vio­la­tions. And odd­ly enough, the same debate has been going on in the Arab world. When is it right to use force to resist occu­pa­tion? When is it right to use force to resist human rights vio­la­tions by the state? And cer­tain­ly I’ve been involved in these dis­cus­sions, and young peo­ple in the Middle East felt that Osama bin Laden had dis­cred­it­ed Islam. And the out­come of that debate I think has been a real­ly impor­tant com­mit­ment to nonviolence. 

But what we’re see­ing in the Middle East is this ter­ri­ble strug­gle between the non­vi­o­lent pro­tec­tors and the dic­ta­tors, many of whom have been long-supported by the West on the basis of a sort of cul­tur­al rel­a­tivist posi­tion that peo­ple who are Islamic can’t have democ­ra­cy. And I think it actu­al­ly it’s incred­i­bly impor­tant that we do rethink the whole issue of how do you pro­tect peo­ple with­out using the meth­ods of war. Because if you use the meth­ods of war, as I fear it’s hap­pen­ing in Libya, you sim­ply pro­voke a long war instead of lay­ing the basis for democracy. 

9‍/‍11 has done huge dam­age to the lib­er­al ide­al. And maybe part of the rea­son is that the lib­er­al ide­al has tra­di­tion­al­ly been seen in a nation-state con­text. So, there seems to us to be noth­ing wrong with the idea that you can be a lib­er­al at home, and you can talk about val­ues at home, and you can talk about pol­i­tics, human rights, the rule of rule, and be a real­ist abroad. That some­how the inter­na­tion­al world is a world of vio­lence and anar­chy and it’s alright to use violence. 

And I think in a way this posi­tion becomes most extreme when you look at a case like Israel. One of the argu­ments that’s made both by the neo­cons and lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ists is that Israel is the only democ­ra­cy in the Middle East. And what you real­ize is, how do you answer that? Because in some sens­es it’s true, although now we can hap­pi­ly have the exam­ple of Turkey and to some extent Lebanon. But to some extent it’s true that Israel has very deep polit­i­cal debates, it has a very live­ly and active civ­il soci­ety, it has alter­na­tion of polit­i­cal parties. 

So what’s wrong with say­ing Israel is the only democ­ra­cy in the Middle East? Well I think most of us recoil against the idea that you can have an exclu­sive democ­ra­cy nowa­days. And that’s a huge con­trast to the past. If you think about the way we cel­e­brate 1776 and the American Declaration of Independence and the estab­lish­ment of democ­ra­cy in America, it exclud­ed black slaves and women and Indians—American Indians. And if that hap­pened now we would be hor­ri­fied. We’d say it was like South Africa. And actu­al­ly what I think is real­ly real­ly sig­nif­i­cant is that we now do have a human rights con­scious­ness. It does mat­ter to us that Palestinians are exclud­ed. We don’t think you can talk about democ­ra­cy if a sub­stan­tial num­ber of peo­ple are exclud­ed from that democracy. 

And so what that means is that the inter­na­tion­al are­na has to become more like the domes­tic are­na. There has to be a lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al order. And to some extent the lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al­ists did want a lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al order but they had this fix­a­tion with using mil­i­tary force to pro­tect the lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al order, just like in the Second World War there was a feel­ing that the Americans and the British were going to war to estab­lish a lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al order. And that it was alright to go to war. And yet, if you look at what the Americans and the British did, if you look at the war—what I con­sid­er to be war crimes in Dresden, Tokyo, and Hiroshima, there was a huge con­tra­dic­tion at the heart of this lib­er­al inter­na­tion­al order. 

So I feel human­i­tar­i­an­ism and lib­er­al­ism are very close­ly con­nect­ed. I don’t think you can have any longer democ­ra­cy in one coun­try. I think you have to have a glob­al debate. I’m not say­ing that you have to have a glob­al democ­ra­cy, because I think that’s…potentially total­i­tar­i­an, actu­al­ly. I’m not in favor of a world gov­ern­ment. But you have to have a lib­er­al, civ­il way in which dif­fer­ent kinds of diverse polit­i­cal orders relate to each oth­er. And that’s only pos­si­ble if you out­law tra­di­tion­al forms of war.

My ver­sion of human secu­ri­ty came out of a study group that I con­vened for Javier Solana, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. And it was a fas­ci­nat­ing group of peo­ple, both mil­i­tary and civil­ians from across Europe. And what we were pre­oc­cu­pied with was what kind of a secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy the European Union should have. And we were argu­ing that it should not be a clas­sic nation­al secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy. It’s not about defend­ing bor­ders. The European Union from the begin­ning was a peace project. It was estab­lished to pre­vent anoth­er war on European soil. And it has to in a way spread that peace project. 

And so what we were argu­ing was that you need new types of capa­bil­i­ties that can inter­vene in crises, not to win wars but to damp­en down vio­lence. And we argued for a com­bi­na­tion of mil­i­tary and civil­ian capa­bil­i­ties that would be essen­tial­ly more like polic­ing than war fight­ing, and that would be under civil­ian con­trol. So it’s a civil­ian type of secu­ri­ty, not a mil­i­tary type of security. 

Of course after­wards I dis­cov­ered that there were all these oth­er mean­ings. The Canadians equat­ed with respon­si­bil­i­ty to pro­tect. And the UNDP real­ly equat­ed it with devel­op­ment, which comes to the point about devel­op­ment and secu­ri­ty. But I think the con­cept is real­ly impor­tant because what it’s try­ing to say is that we do live in a world in which there is a dif­fer­ence between the inside and the out­side but it’s becom­ing blurred. And as we try to extend secu­ri­ty through the rule of law as opposed to secu­ri­ty through diplo­ma­cy and war, then we have to have the appro­pri­ate tools to enforce that and the appro­pri­ate tools are not military. 

They are linked of course to all kinds of oth­er civil­ian capa­bil­i­ties. There is a link— Human secu­ri­ty in the UNDP def­i­n­i­tion is real­ly about devel­op­ment. And in the Canadian def­i­n­i­tion it’s real­ly about free­dom from fear. But I actu­al­ly think there is of course an eco­nom­ic link to secu­ri­ty. People do fight because…they have no choice very often. And so one does­n’t want to lose that link, but nor does one want to make devel­op­ment a secu­ri­ty project, as it’s increas­ing­ly come to be. 

And I think that’s what’s inter­est­ing about human secu­ri­ty. Because the big dif­fer­ence I guess between a human secu­ri­ty con­cept and Petraeus’ coun­terin­sur­gency con­cept, and even Tony Blair’s glob­al val­ues, is they still see the project as defeat­ing the ene­mies of the West. And pop­u­la­tion secu­ri­ty is a means to that end. It may be part­ly rhetoric. I mean, I’ve had this argu­ment with peo­ple in Britain, with politi­cians who say we’re in Afghanistan to keep our streets safer.

And I say but nobody believes that our behav­ior in Afghanistan is going to make our streets safer. On the con­trary it’s prob­a­bly going to make our streets less dan­ger­ous. But there is a case of being in Afghanistan, because we’ve done such a lot of dam­age to the Afghans. Don’t we have a respon­si­bil­i­ty to pre­vent them from degen­er­at­ing into civ­il war or com­ing under Taliban rule? So why can’t we say we’re in Afghanistan for the sake of the Afghans? 

And for me that’s what human secu­ri­ty’s about. Human secu­ri­ty is say­ing an Afghan life is equal to a British life. And our secu­ri­ty is guar­an­teed by con­tribut­ing to a glob­al secu­ri­ty that treats all humans as equal. That’s some­thing very very dif­fi­cult for politi­cians to grasp. Partly because they still live in an old-fashioned world where they’re afraid if they use words like human secu­ri­ty” they’ll sound soft. They’ve got to be strong on nation­al secu­ri­ty, they’ve got to have Trident. Partly because they think the pop­u­la­tion won’t wear it. I actu­al­ly have a very dif­fer­ent view. I think pre­cise­ly because of the spread of human rights con­scious­ness, the Afghan War would be a lot more pop­u­lar if we pre­sent­ed it as doing good to the Afghans than if we pre­sent­ed it for keep­ing our streets safer. And maybe what that shows is that the British pop­u­la­tion are prob­a­bly a bit nicer than politi­cians are, a bit less selfish. 

But I do think that this human rights con­scious­ness is real­ly impor­tant in the way that it’s grown and the way that peo­ple don’t accept col­lat­er­al dam­age. They see it in human rights terms. I mean, in fact if you think about it, in a coun­terin­sur­gency war where you’re min­i­miz­ing civil­ian casu­al­ties, civil­ian casu­al­ties are so much low­er than they were in Vietnam, Korea, not to men­tion the Second World War. But they’re too high for us, because we find civil­ian casu­al­ties unac­cept­able. Which shows that we’ve gone through a real­ly pro­found change in consciousness. 

Looked at from a more the­o­ret­i­cal posi­tion, why is it so impor­tant for politi­cians to con­strue the world in terms of friends and ene­mies? And at the moment, Carl Schmitt is incred­i­bly pop­u­lar on the left. And Carl Schmitt had what I regard as a very sim­plis­tic, and indeed essen­tial­ist, argu­ment that all fields of human endeav­or are char­ac­ter­ized by bina­ry dis­tinc­tions. So aes­thet­ics is about the good and the beau­ti­ful, eco­nom­ics is about the prof­itable and the unprof­itable, moral­i­ty is about good and evil. Did I say— Aesthetics is about the beau­ti­ful and the ugly. And so pol­i­tics is about friends and ene­mies. And it’s absolute­ly crit­i­cal, in order to estab­lish sov­er­eign­ty, that the basis for that is a notion of friends and ene­mies; that’s what the polit­i­cal means. And that must involve, said Carl Schmitt, the real phys­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ty of killing. 

Now, from a lib­er­al per­spec­tive that’s real­ly very pecu­liar, because actually…it’s very mod­ernist, actu­al­ly. Aesthetics isn’t defined by the beau­ti­ful and the ugly, it’s defined by the pret­ty, the mod­ernist, the dark, the emo­tion­al, the…you know, if we only could define aes­thet­ics in terms of beau­ti­ful and ugly how bor­ing aes­thet­ics would be. 

And the same is true of pol­i­tics. I mean, pol­i­tics isn’t about friends and ene­mies, I don’t think. Politics is about debate, it’s about dis­cus­sion, it’s about part­ner­ship, it’s about com­pe­ti­tion, it’s about col­lab­o­ra­tion, it’s about allies. And so this attempt to reduce pol­i­tics to this bina­ry dis­tinc­tion is a very…odd…step.

Now, for Schmitt, war fol­lows enmi­ty. What I sug­gest is that it’s exact­ly the oth­er way around. Enmity fol­lows war. And in order to estab­lish a friend/enemy dis­tinc­tion, it’s nec­es­sary to have vio­lence. Because you only think in bina­ry terms if you’re real­ly afraid. In oth­er words, every­body— If we go to iden­ti­ty, every­one has many iden­ti­ties. I’m a moth­er, I’m a schol­ar, I’m a grand­moth­er, I’m some­body of Jewish ori­gin, I’m agnos­tic. I don’t know what I am; all of these things. Oh, and I’m British and I’m English, and I’m…it’s ter­ri­bly con­fus­ing if you’re British, you nev­er know quite what you are. And why would I have one iden­ti­ty? Well if we were at war with Germany I would stress my British iden­ti­ty above all else. And Sartre says it’s the anti-Semite that makes the Jew. If you feel that some­body’s try­ing to kill, then your iden­ti­ty real­ly mat­ters. And you could turn the whole thing on its head and say well war cre­ates friends and enemies.

The sec­ond step that Schmitt takes is to say sov­er­eign­ty has to be some­thing above the law. The law can’t be based on a lib­er­al dis­cus­sion. It can’t be based on a social con­tract. There has to be some­thing above the law, and that above the law is the monop­oly to decide in sit­u­a­tions of cri­sis. In sit­u­a­tions of cri­sis the sov­er­eign can sus­pend the law in order to defend the coun­try. So, key to the friend/enemy dis­tinc­tion is also the notion of a state of excep­tion. And that sov­er­eign­ty has the right to cre­ate a state of exception.

And I think that’s one of the rea­sons why Schmitt has become so incred­i­bly pop­u­lar on the left. Because what Bush did after 9‍/‍11 was to pass the PATRIOT Act which allowed him to sus­pend nor­mal law and allowed him to estab­lish Guantanamo and so on.

The inter­est­ing thing is that if you look at some of Carl Schmitt’s lat­er work, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing the Second World War when he was on the side of the Nazis, is that he was mak­ing the argu­ment that a just war, or a human­i­tar­i­an war, is unac­cept­able. Because it means the ene­my’s treat­ed like a crim­i­nal and not like a human being. And so he argued that what was going on was a glob­al civ­il war, in which the Americans and the British were treat­ing Germans as criminals.

And he said that in the mod­ern peri­od, war became brack­et­ed, as he called it, ratio­nal­ized and human­ized. And European states respect­ed each oth­er because they were friends and ene­mies. They were all human, but they were dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal group­ings. Well I find that a very weird con­tra­dic­to­ry argu­ment. Because if war is brack­et­ed, why do you need to have an ene­my in the first place? I think that’s a very very strange argu­ment because it under­mines the friend/enemy dis­tinc­tions and sug­gests, in a way, that you need war to cre­ate a friend/enemy dis­tinc­tion rather than the oth­er way round. Because if the ene­my is like you a gen­tle­man offi­cer, then what’s the point of it all? It just becomes a game.

And I think the argu­ment against his point about human­i­tar­i­an­ism is the notion that you can have col­lec­tive crim­i­nals. I don’t think you can have col­lec­tive crim­i­nals. You can only have indi­vid­ual crim­i­nals. Criminals are peo­ple who’ve bro­ken the law indi­vid­u­al­ly. You can’t have a col­lec­tive group break­ing the law. Which means that you can’t use the meth­ods of war against an indi­vid­ual criminal.

And I sup­pose there’s an argu­ment for say­ing that the lib­er­al inter­ven­tion­ists have made that same con­fu­sion. Namely that they think you can have col­lec­tive crim­i­nals, like ter­ror­ists or whatever. 

But I think that’s a key point and that leads back to the notion of human secu­ri­ty. Because if you have a notion of human secu­ri­ty, then if there are peo­ple who start wars, they are crim­i­nal, and should be arrest­ed like Mladić has just been arrest­ed. They are not respectable enemies.

I was, like many peo­ple in the West, appalled at the way it was cel­e­brat­ed. Many peo­ple in Europe, I should say, not in the United States. And so many of my American friends said yes, Obama has to do it in order to win American votes. And what I found real­ly appalling is that that’s what you have to do to win American votes. In oth­er words, this friend/enemy idea that under­pins sov­er­eign­ty and the state of excep­tion in the United States has some­how become nat­u­ral­ized in the United States. It’s con­sid­ered nor­mal to behave in this way. And I think that shows that the think­ing in the United States is very dif­fer­ent from the think­ing that I’ve been describ­ing, this human­i­tar­i­an human rights think­ing. I don’t want to sug­gest that human rights, human­i­tar­i­an, lib­er­al think­ing is tak­ing over. Because obvi­ous­ly there is clear­ly a lot of com­pet­ing discourses. 

And what I felt real­ly bad about the death of Osama bin Laden is that it occurred at the moment when the polit­i­cal death of Osama bin Laden was hap­pen­ing, the polit­i­cal death in the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was the most won­der­ful affir­ma­tion and rejec­tion of jihadist meth­ods. And in a way what upset me about the whole assas­si­na­tion is that it brought back that friend/enemy idea, at just the moment when it was being killed. I hope the Arab Spring is strong enough to with­stand it. 

I do have some sym­pa­thy with the Richard Falk posi­tion that what one real­ly want­ed was for Osama bin Laden just to dis­ap­pear, and not have a pub­lic plat­form through a tri­al. But I have no doubt that a trial…it would’ve been much bet­ter to arrest him than to kill him.

[One of the?]…prob­lems about the human­i­tar­i­an dis­course is it’s been very much linked to the debate about the International Criminal Court, and the emer­gence of the notion that crimes of war, crimes of human­i­ty— In my view, the estab­lish­ment of the International Criminal Court has been an incred­i­bly impor­tant step in the devel­op­ment of a lib­er­al con­scious­ness, if you like. Or a human­i­tar­i­an con­scious­ness. But it’s been crit­i­cized from both the right and the left. And the left crit­i­cize it because it’s one-sided. Because actu­al­ly the only crim­i­nals that’re inves­ti­gat­ed are the Mladić’s, the Bashirs of Sudan, peo­ple in Uganda, Kenya. And nei­ther Bush nor Blair have been…even thought of as poten­tial war crim­i­nals. And so they argue that it’s unhelp­ful. And that it’s impos­ing a kind of Western set of norms on the rest of the world. So there’s also a kind of cul­tur­al rel­a­tivist argu­ment that at local lev­els peo­ple should use local jus­tice mechanisms. 

And then there’s an argu­ment from the right which says you have to make peace with dic­ta­tors. You have to make peace with war crim­i­nals. And if you bring them before the International Criminal Court, then it makes peace much more dif­fi­cult. That’s the sort of real­ist argument.

And I sup­posed one of the— The one ar— I don’t share the cul­tur­al rel­a­tivist argu­ment. On the con­trary my feel­ing is, hav­ing spent a lot of time in war zones, that local peo­ple real­ly wel­comed the International Criminal Court. And it’s been quite impor­tant in pro­vid­ing a back­drop to all kinds of local cas­es in Serbia, for example.

But what I do think is that Nuremberg was of course one-sided. And no one has ever real­ly raised the issue of bomb­ing and airstrikes as a crime. And I think that has some­how allowed coun­tries to get away… Or par­tic­u­lar­ly the West. I mean, I think at the moment one of the most appalling things that’s going on at the moment are the drone attacks on Pakistan. People sit­ting in places like Nevada behind a com­put­er all day, and killing some­one in Pakistan and then going home to din­ner. It’s moral­ly unac­cept­able. There’s a song in Pakistan, The Americans Think We’re Insects.” 

But it also keeps alive this nar­ra­tive of friends and ene­mies. Sure, use the drones for intel­li­gence pur­pos­es, to iden­ti­fy where Taliban lead­ers or Al-Qaeda lead­ers are, but then in local­ly and arrest them, even if it’s more risky. Because they are human beings. And I think there’s a kind of airstrikes with impuni­ty which aris­es from the fact that the West’s war crimes were left out of Nuremberg. And so bomb­ing is some­how accept­able, for the West, in a way that it’s absolute­ly not in oth­er parts of the world.