Globalization, Empire, and Crime: Unraveling the Motives for America's Illegal Invasion of Iraq

Raymond J. Michalowski, Northern Arizona University

Beginning in the late 20th century, state theory has been heavily influenced by narratives of globalization in which territorial states play a vastly diminished role in a new world order mapped according to the contours of fully de-nationalized capitalism. The illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq in March, 2003 offers a potential challenge to this vision of the withering state. Was the invasion an anachronistic state crime by a declining sovereignty? Or was it an imperial move designed to solidify the world dominance of U.S. capital and further the global reach of the U.S. state? In an attempt to answer this question, this paper examines the underpinnings of the U.S.-instigated war on Iraq. I give particular attention to (1) the political-economic vision guiding Bush Administration decision-making, particularly as that vision was articulated by the Project for the New American Century, (2) the intersection of these political-economic goals with the design of the Administration's post 9/11 "war on terror," and (3) the mapping of the "war on terror" according to earlier, empire-enhancing strategies to internationalize the "war on drugs." Taken together, these factors suggest that the invasion of Iraq served to further expand the jurisdiction of a U.S. capitalist empire, and provide little evidence that the long-standing symbiotic relationship between capitalist expansion and sovereign states is being supplanted by the "stateless future" of globalization theory.

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Updated 05/20/2006