This essay is concerned with where the current of global political and economic events runs. It addresses this concern by erecting an argument in three stages. First, a string being theory (SBT) is outlined. Second, this theory is used to formulate an SBT approach to imperialism, one that might be imagined as Lenin by alternative (theoretical) means, emphasizing the role of violent force. The 'seven deadly sirens'—generalizations that predict the exercise of violent force under different conditions in imperial systems—are introduced. Third, certain post-1945 US government uses of violence are analyzed in terms of their fit with the seven sirens' predictions. Oil depletion is considered as contributing to systemic crisis in capital accumulation, and its role in Gulf War II is explored. It is concluded that US government violence is consistent with the sirens' predictions. The essay terminates with speculation about where the current runs.
Yosl Birshteyn's “Between the Olive Trees”
“Between the Olive Trees” by Yosl Birshteyn (born in Poland in 1920, died in Israel in 2003) is a Yiddish short story about an old Palestinian farmer named Khasan Abu who walks out with his donkey one early morning and has an unexpected interaction with Israeli soldiers. Critics mostly read Birshteyn's works as 'non-ideological' and tend to label him as an 'apolitical' writer, for the most part ignoring the political themes in his works. However, this article argues that in this story Birshteyn takes a clear stance against the Zionist practices of the time.
Gerald D. Feldman
Christopher Simpson, ed., War Crimes of the Deutsche Bank and the Dresdner Bank. Office of Military Government (U.S.) Reports (New York and London: Holmes & Meier, 2001)
Andrew K. Jorgenson, Brett Clark and Jennifer E. Givens
Drawing from emergent areas of sociological research and theorization, the authors consider the environmental impacts of militaries from a comparative-international perspective. The article begins with an overview of treadmill of production and treadmill of destruction theories, the latter of which highlights the expansionary tendencies and concomitant environmental consequences of militarization. This theoretical overview is followed by a narrative assessment of military growth and energy consumption, with a particular focus on the US military over the past century. Next, the authors detail the various environmental impacts associated with the growth and structure of national militaries, briefly discuss potential future research directions, and conclude by calling for scholars in future studies on society/nature relationships to seriously consider the environmental and ecological impacts of the world's militaries.
Transport and Infrastructure in the East African Campaign of World War I
This article describes the little-known history of military labor and transport during the East African campaign of World War I. Based on sources from German, Belgian, and British archives and publications, it considers the issue of military transport and supply in the thick of war. Traditional histories of World War I tend to be those of battles, but what follows is a history of roads and footpaths. More than a million Africans served as porters for the troops. Many paid with their lives. The organization of military labor was a huge task for the colonial and military bureaucracies for which they were hardly prepared. However, the need to organize military transport eventually initiated a process of modernization of the colonial state in the Belgian Congo and British East Africa. This process was not without backlash or failure. The Germans lost their well-developed military transport infrastructure during the Allied offensive of 1916. The British and Belgians went to war with the question of transport unresolved. They were unable to recruit enough Africans for military labor, a situation made worse by failures in the supplies by porters of food and medical care. One of the main factors that contributed to the success of German forces was the Allies' failure in the “war of legs.”
This article is concerned with Durkheimian sociology’s problematization of war. Such concern is rooted in an appraisal of contemporary social scientific approaches to war and the military, particularly in the recognition that sociology has largely left these issues unexplored. I first attempt to situate the Durkheimian legacy in the current social scientific landscape of war and military studies, especially with regard to research conducted in France and the United States. I then argue, on the basis of Durkheim’s late writings, that he was not altogether oblivious to questions pertaining to the military and war; and that the way in which he addressed these issues was not just, as is often claimed, in a jingoistic mode. This article instead points towards the original analyses that Durkheim provided on the basis of concepts he had developed as early as in the Division of Labour and the centrality of the notion of ‘solidarity’ in his approach.
This study examines the year-to-year development of militaristic discourse in Indonesian secondary education history textbooks since 1975. Historical descriptions written since the fall of Soeharto’s military regime and its replacement by a civilian government in 1998 tend to emphasize Indonesia’s military history and pay little attention to its civilian leadership. To what degree did political change influence the production of historical discourse in recent textbooks in Indonesia? This article attempts to answer this question by applying Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to textual sources, in order to expose their historical and socio-cultural dimensions. The results show that in the post-Soeharto era, militaristic perspectives continue to dominate discourse production in history textbooks, denying the role of civilian leadership. This glorification of the military demonstrates that the Indonesian army continues to influence the country’s history textbook production in the modern era.
Chamorro Spiritual Resistance to Colonial Domination
D. S. Farrer and James D. Sellmann
The Chamorro people inhabit an archipelago known as the Mariana Islands located in the western Pacific Ocean. Seventeenth-century Chamorros took ancestral skulls into warfare against the Spanish in the period of the Spanish conquest. The possession of such skulls manifested profound symbolic power. In the aftermath of the war, the survivors converted to Catholicism, amalgamating their ancient religious practices with that faith. Resistance through the centuries against Spanish, Japanese, and American colonial power has been anchored in Chamorro cultural continuity, albeit in an ostensibly fragmented and augmented form. A site of strategic US military bases, Guam now anticipates further military build-up. War magic and warrior religion are lenses that enable the study of colonial domination where the battle lines fault across military, economic, and political frames toward cultural fronts.
Asymmetrical Warfare: Today’s Challenge to U.S. Military Power, by Roger W. Barnett. Washington DC: Brasseys Inc., 2003. ISBN 1574885634.
Humane Warfare, by Christopher Coker. London: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0415255767.
The Heart of War: On Power, Conflict and Obligation in the Twenty- First Century, by Gwyn Prins. London: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0415369606.
Repatriating Folly in France in the Aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars
At the beginning of the Second Restoration, Paris was swept by a mania for roller coasters, which were dubbed montagnes russes after a Russian tradition of sledding on ice hills. Situating this phenomenon in the context of the military occupation of France following the defeat of Napoleon, this article analyzes one of the many plays featuring these “mountains,” Le Combat des montagnes (“The Battle of the Mountains”), and especially two of its main characters, La Folie (Folly) and Calicot (Calico Salesman). The “battle” over the roller coasters, it argues, was really a contest over how to redefine national identity around consumer culture rather than military glory. Through the lens of the montagnes russes, the article offers a new perspective on the early Restoration as an aftermath of war.