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The central hypothesis of Philip Bobbit’t’s The Shield of Achilles is that there has been an evolution in constitutional states driven by the dynamic interplay of law, strategy and history. Furthermore, accordng to Bobbitt, the era of the sovereign nation-state is passing away due to ( I reify here for brevity’s sake):

1. The Moral Claim of Human Rights
2. Nuclear Weapon proliferation
3. Rise of global and transnational threats
4. Globalization of liberal capitalist economic model
5. Rise of the global communications network

Emerging is a new constitutional form that Bobbitt calls “ The Market-State“, dedicated to ” maximizing the opportunities for its people”. For a lengthier examination of The Shield of Achilles and the ideas of Bobbitt, check out Josh Manchester’s post at The Adventures of Chester.

Using Bobbitt’s definition, should the Old and New Core manage to harmonize their rule-sets on security and transactional effciency, the entire Core could be an incipent market-state. These market-states are seemingly purer, more open-dended network structures than nation-states as Bobbitt classifies the broader Islamist, jihadi, insurgency as a market-state:

“This network, of which Al Qaeda is only a part, greatly resembles a multinational corporation but that is simply to say that it is a market-state, made possible by advances in international telecommunications and transit, rapid computation and weapons of mass destruction.” (p.820)

I have to disagree. While al Qaida and the greater Islamist-Salafi-Jihadi network of radicals and terrorists exist in this fluid, “market-state” form described by Bobbitt, the state is transient and tactical. It is quite clear from both by example and by public declarations that the Islamists have an entirely different and comprehensive alternative social contract in mind – The Sharia-State – which when they control territory they refer to as an ” Emirate” or as a “Caliphate” ( the former exemplified by Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and the latter entity encompassing the entire future territorial extent of the Ummah).

A sharia-state would begin by rejecting outright the above points 1 and 4 as these secular concepts clash with longstanding interpretations of Islamic Law and the rulers would also be compelled ideologically to severely restrict the operation of point 5. In fact, all of this occurs already in sharia-influenced nation-states like Iran and Saudi Arabia so we need only extrapolate to imagine an al Qaida Arabia or a Jihadi Egypt. The sharia to hard-core salafis is meant not as a guide but a set of divine regulations – and substantially regulations of a political nature – though competing schools of Islamic jurisprudence differ on the meaning and extent of particular interpretations.

In other words, the fundamental preconditions for a market-state would be intolerable to a sharia-state making the latter a deadly 4GW rival of the former and not, as Bobbitt maintained, a variation.

4 Responses to “”

  1. StrategyUnit Says:

    Hey there,

    I havent read “Shield of Achilles” yet, but I am happily surprised it mirrors my own thoughts of the transition of the nation-state under globalization.

    I wrote along very similar lines with a blog posting I did last week, “Events in Content: Paris Riots and SAFTA“:
    Globalization has forced states’ function to evolve. While the nation-state in past could be seen in terms of protecting its citizens with raw power, the “New State” will be seen as merely a facilitator, the stabilizing force that allows for commerce, media, financial transaction et cetera to occur.

    I am not sure the “Shield of Achilles” talks about this, but one other element is the movement towards regional blocs – be it NAFTA, EU, SCO, SAFTA etc. States are aggregating themseleves in the name of collective security and the Market.

    I definately agree with you that while Al-Qaida et al are using the fluid “Market-State” for their own goals, the end-game is not an Islamic Market-State but a theocratic Caliphate state.

    Its interesting that the movements against globalization – the Seattle/Anti-Globalization crowd and the Islamist – are using globalization to stop/destroy it.

  2. mark Says:

    Hi Strat.

    You have a good blog there…going to have to put StrategyUnit on the roll…nice graphics too…

    Toward the end, yes, Bobbitt discusses trade liberalization’s outcomes…

    I agree with your assessment. I think the core commonality between the Islamists and the Western secular hard Left is the rejection of the market model – because “market” is shorthand for the aggregation of individual choices -i.e. – they really do ” hate our freedom” because individual choice is inimical to the kinds of top-down societies these utopians wish to build.

  3. StrategyUnit Says:

    Thanks! Much appreciated.

    I just started blogging about 1-2 months ago.


  4. Purple Says:

    Would the Sharia-State really be Bobbitt’s older Kingly-State form?

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