THE NORMATIVE PARADOXES OF GLOBALIZATION

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Radmila NAKARADA
327.56/.57:304-027..511

 

ABSTRACT
Following the end of the Cold war, a period of „rule breaking and rule making”
has emerged. Its nature is contradictory, exlusionary, based on the power
division. The powerfull are rule makers, determining the scope of their relevancy
(self-exclusion) and the form of implementation. The justification, given
for the „rule breaking and rule making” is the moral imperativ and the vacuum
created by limited relevance of the state-centric international law that
can not address the problems that have come about as the result of the
transformation of sovereignty, emergence of new non-state actors in the era
of globalization. However, what is emerging is not a new normative order. The
dramatic inequalities of states and their sovereign powers are perpetuated,
the criteria of arbitrariness in the use of force is extended and the notion of
protecting human rights is instrumentalized for geopolitical interests. In order
for „moral dependency” to become a force of cosmopolitism, coherent critical
reflection is required, as well as systematic and uwavering efforts invested
into the strengthening of democracy and rule of law at the global level,
decisive affirmation of the spirit of cooperation and non-violent conflict resolution
and the development of effective instruments of transcending the new
exclusionary practices generated by the old/new world.
Key words: globalization, normative order, cosmopolitism, human rights,
humanitarian interventions, neoliberalism, democracy.

АПСТРАКТ

Крајот на Студената војна беше проследен со период на ,,кршење на
правилата и создавање нови правила“. Неговата природа е противречна,
ексклузивистичка и заснована на поделба на моќта. Моќните се креатори
на правилата, со што го детерминираат и опсегот на нивна примена (само-
изземање) и начинот на нивна имплементација. Оправдувањето што се
нуди за ваквото ,,кршење на правилата и создавањето нови правила“ се


 

состои во моралниот императив и во вакуумот создаден со ограничената
релевантност на меѓународното право фокусирано на државите, а кое не
може да одговори на проблемите кои произлегоа како резултат на транс-
формацијата на суверенитетот, појавата на новите недржавни актери во
ерата на глобализација. Сепак, крајниот резултат не е појава на нов
нормативен, вредносен поредок. Драматичната нееднаквост на државите и
нивните суверени моќи се перпетурираат, критериумот на арбитрерност во
употребата на сила е проширен, а идејата за заштита на човековите права
е инструментализира во полза на геополитичките интереси. За да може
,,моралната зависност“ да се претвори во сила на космополитизмот, нужна
е кохерентна критичка рефлексија, како и систематски и конзистентни на-
пори кои ќе се вложат во јакнење на демократијата и владеењето на пра-
вото на глобално ниво, решителна афирмација на духот на соработка и не-
насилно разрешување на конфликтите, како и развој на ефективни инстру-
менти за надминување на новите исклучувачки практики генерирани од
стариот-нов свет.
Клучни зборови: глобализација, нормативен поредок, космополитизам,
човекови права, хуманитарни интервенции, неолиберализам, демократија.

1. Introduction

The abrupt, by and large, unforseen end of Cold war coincided with the deepening and
acceleration of the processes of globalization. With ideological barriers torn down, the capitalist
mode of production was extended to new frontiers, the sovereignty of the state was
being transformed, and democracy was gaining universal legitimacy: „For the first time in
human history, there is a single clearly dominant state form, the modern constitutional representative
democratic republic.”1 The major restructuring of the world, the beginning of
the seventies, seemed to be definitely reaching a new historical phase, in spite of the uneveness
of the processes of integration and global incorporation, and the emergence of novel
tensions. The world was released from the dangers of ideological confrontation between
two superpowers, but new risks and enemies were soon „discovered”. The state was not only
being transformed, but forceful non-state actors were shading the structures of power,
_______________________________
1 Eric Hobsbawn (2007), Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism, London, Little Brown, p. 96.


 

and while democracy and the protection of human rights were becoming a civilizational axiom,
authoritarian, tyranical, the so called, rogue states were surviving in various parts of
the world. The ambiguities of the restructuring become the basis for the emergence of the
new normative project, the basis for launching new rules and redefining the obligations of
the international community beyond the existing norms of the international law. It appeared
under various headings - developing cosmopolitan law/global democracy, comprehensive
human security, global governance, etc. The underlying assumption was that a transition
from an order, based on the sovereignity norm to a cosmopolitan order was necessary, for
the world was becoming interdependent not only economically and politically, but morally,
as well. Therefore, the classical, Westphalian, principle of non-interference in internal matters
was becoming ahistorical. In order to adequatly respond to the new challenges and
reach higher ethical standards, the advocates of the new normative order asserted that the
relationship between territorial integrity and self-determination has to be reinterpreted,
the right to military intervention in the internal affairs of sovereing states in the name of
extending democracry and protecting human rights has to be recognized, while the concept
of self-defence has to be redefined allowing for preventive and pre-emptive strikes, even
transitional occupation, due to the aggressive nature of some of the regimes and new nonstate
actors. New types of missions - spreading democracy, bringing tyranicall regimes
down - have to be carried out, and new responsibilities assumed, above all, to protect
citizens from massive violations of human rights. The argument was that the respect for
the sovereignty norm2 can not continue to be a rationalization for indifference, inaction, for
the abandonment of countless individuals, citizens to the massive violation of their rights
due to the violence of an authoritarian regime, or the incapacitated, weak state.
In principle, the advocacy of the cosmopolitan order was voicing a legitimate concern for the
development of global democracy, the wellbeing of citizens and their rights beyond the walls of
the nation state at a historical moment when the state was udergoing fundamental
transformations and global interdependence was reaching unprecedented levels. However, a
closer look at the practice attempting to implement and legitimize a new emerging normative
narrative, is pointing to a forceful, but uneven relativization of sovereignty - primarily of the
small and weak states, and the creation of new foundations for the arbitrary use of violent
means by the powerful states – extending democracy by non-democratic means,
instrumentalizing the issue of human rights protection for domination.3 Thus, the relevant
________________________________
2 Susan L. Woodward, „Compromised Sovereignty to Create Sovereignty“, in: Stephan. D. Krasner, (ed) (2001),
Problematic Sovereignty, New York, Columbia UP, pp. 252-300.
See: Costas Douzinas (2009), Ljudska prava i imperija, politička filozofija kosmopolitizma (Human Rights and
Empire, The political philosophy of cosmopolitanism), Belgrade, Službeni glasnik.


 

international institutions that are essential for the strengthening of the rule of law, accountability
at the global level, are undermined by the self-exemption of the most powerful
countries,4 while the newly assumed responsibilities and concerns for the violation of human
rights are selectively invoked, depending on the geostrategic interests of the dominating
states and not on the magnitude of violations themselves. Often these newly assumed
responsibilities are justified by either false or superficial diagnosis, stereotyped simplifications
of the causes and actors of conflict (unexplainable Evil vs. unquestionable Good), resulting
in a „rush to war”, in the implementation of disproportionate force, surpassing the
magnitude of the (moral) provocation.5
On the other hand, the advocacy of the new normative project by all those who recognize
the real need to prevent mass violations of human rights becomes a form of political irresponsibility
when the moralistic rethorics of the global political elite is taken at face value,
disregarding the lack of credible evidence that the normative vacuum created by the
end of Cold war and the dynamics of globalization, was in practice being transcended by a
consistent series of steps toward establishing a new, cosmopolitan, order. Above all, that it
was rooted in the profound and necessary changes of its main proponents – USA and its
Western allies, in the transformation of the nature of the hegemonic aspirations of America.6
For instance, when humanitarian motives were read into the military intervention against
Serbia (1999), classical agression was declared to be the „first ethical war carried out in
the name of human rights” (V. Havel). This was done as if the paradigmes of the foreign policy
of US and its allies, the self-interest that motivated interventions in the past, underwent
fundemental changes. Either that, or the advocates of the new ethical war were implying
that the Cold war was a plot involving only one „evil” actor – Soviet Union, whose
disappearance automatically created the preconditons for a transition to a higher normative
order, to a new level of international responsibility of the enlightened, non-self-serving
________________________________
4 According to the privileged and rich, in spite of the unprecedented interconnectedness and interdependence,
the world still consists of civilized and uncivilized parts, insiders and outsiders. The civilized
(representatives of the universal) have the right to rule making and self-exemption, and the uncivilized „are
included in humanity by being excluded from any kind of equal treatment.“ Beate, Jahn, “One Step Forward,
Two Steps Back: Critical Theory as the Latest Edition of Liberal Idealism”, Millennium, 1998, vol. 27, no. 3, p.
630
5 ICISS, The Responsibility to Protect, Ottawa, 2001, pp.36-37.
6 In order to avoid misunderstandings, let me underline that critical reflections concerning the US as an
international, global actor should not be automatically perceived as „anti-americanism“, in the same way as
critical refelctions concerning internal policies of Isreal should not be equated with „anti-semitism“. Such
misperceptions hinder critical thinking, creative reforms, alternative strategies, dialogue.


 

actors - the US and its allies-in the globalized world. How wrongly the representatives of
global civil society misjudged the character of the „first ethical war” and its implications,
was proven by the interventions that followed, especially by the occupation of Iraq in 2003
(against which many of them raised their voices, without establishing the link between the
two interventions).
However, the obstacles to the development of a cosmopolitan project are not only rooted
in the inconsistencies produced by those aspiring to uncontested global power, by the
vested interests of the new self-proclaimed rule makers, nor in the normative illusions nurtured
by (some) representatives of the global civil society. On a more substantial level obstacles
are to be found in the dominant economic – neoliberal-paradigme, and the tensions
existing between the neoliberal and cosmopolitan project.


2. Normative paradoxes of the global era


From the mid-1970s neoliberalism emerged as an anti-Keynesian intellectual and political
program/project. In the name of greater economic efficiency and growth, the neoliberal
project vehemently argued against state interventionism (i.e. for a minimalist role of the
state), placing its full trust in the „invisible hand” of the market forces, celebrating deregulation,
trade liberalization and privatization of state and social property. Neoliberalism
gained a wide following in developed, developing, and after the fall of the Berlin wall, in exsocialist
countries,7 resulting in what, W. Robinson termed, “global neoliberal consensus”.
Taking a look at the assumptions and practical achievements of the global neoliberal project
one can explore whether it is compatible with the advocated cosmopolitan project.
Comparing the two projects from the standpoint of responsibility, one will discover that
they are rooted in two opposing logics. The neoliberal ideology/project presupposes avoidance
of social responsibility. The combination of deregulation and locally unbound capital,
i.e. free-floating capital circulating around the globe in search for maximum profits and
minimum duties, ultimately creates the basis for shedding responsibilites for the social and
environmental consequences of the interventions of global capital in the local communites,
for the daily life and needs of the citizens („the self-reproduction of the living conditions of
all”, Z. Bauman). The unbrideled („intoxicating”) freedom from territorial bounds, the
possibility of the capital to move in and out of local communities at short notice, on the
one hand, and the deconstruction of the consensus between state, capital and labour, on
the other, replace (the principle of) solidarity and social justice (the mechanisms of redistribution)
with indifference, uncertainity and social disempowerment of the majority. In con-
____________________
7 Ha-Joon Cheng (2003), Globalisation, Economic Development and the Role of the State, London, Zed Books, p.
37.


 

trast, the advocacy of the cosmopolitan project, gobal democracy and protection of human
rights is in principle premised on the extension of responsibilites, commitments and
solidarities, transcending the classical sovereignity norm, on the responsibilities to be assumed
by (enlightened parts of) the international community. Shedding responsibility within
the economic realm and at the same time aspiring to greater levels of politica/moral
responsibility are incompatible processes and can not but result in incoherent practices.
When the question of plurality, the legitimacy of alternatives is concerned the tension
evolved from the attempts to promote neoliberal capitalism as the sole model of development
(„end of history”), to deny the possibility to devise alternatives, to excercise choices
because the historical triumph of the ultimate option has occured. The global neoliberal
consensus was projected as if there was just one form of capitalism, just one, uncontested,
right way of running the economy.8 That in itself runs counter to the essence of democracy
that presupposes first a recognition that there are different types of capitalism (plurality of
economic options) and that the specific experiences, traditions, circumstances should define
the choices of the particular societies. Second, the neoliberal consensus obscured, as J.
Stiglitz points out, that different options benefit different groups, and that the current „neoliberal
consensus” has its clear beneficiries and a great number of loosers. It has not
evolved as result of a (global) democratic political process/procedures, as a choice of the
majority. On the contrary, the attempts to implement a „pure market” system, have resorted
to authoritarian means, various forms of shock therapies, radical exclusionary divides,
disciplinary mechanisms that secure obedience9 and uniformity in the global process of
economic transformation. Efforts to transform the myth of pure market (K. Polany) into reality,
subjugates the society to the market, creating a disbalance that provides for the
„social protection of the strong”, and the social deprivation of the weak. To introduce and
uphold such a system authoritarin means in some cases have been inevitable. In other
______________________________
8 Joseph Stiglitz, Making Globalization Work, London, Penguin Books, 2007, p.xv.
9 Obedience is secured by the fragmentation of work, superfluousness created by new technologies, and the
disappearance of unions and movements offering protection. Existential uncertainty, contributes to obedience,
for disobedience means risking unemployment when jobs are becoming scarce goods. Obedience and
uniformity are secured also by the growth of surveillance mechanisms utilized by states and private agencies.
A plethoria of information on citizens is gathered in the name of security, profit, giving ground for
analysts to speak of the emergence of a surveillance society. For instance, in the UK there are more than 14
million video cameras operating, i.e. one camera per 14 citizens. On the other hand, US companies like
Experion for example, boast that they have detaild economic and social data on 170 milion American
citizens. Compare: Stephen, Gill (2003), Power and Resistance in the New World Order, New York, Palgrave,
Macmillan, p. 195.


 

words, the development of the free market did not exclude coercive, even millitary, means
of imposition.10
Accordingly, some analysts have, as N. Klein notes, recognized the direct link between
economic shocks that impoverished a vast number of citizens, and an epidemic of torture
that punished thousands because they believed, as she states, in an alternative form of society.
For example, in the earlier stages of neoliberal expansion preceding the end of the
Cold War, the implementation of the neoliberal model in Chile,11 combined economic freedom
and political terror.12 In principle, shock therapy, as N. Klein points out, deprives the
citizens of the power to understand what is happening, to act and counter act. They are reduced
to powerlessness or resigned to apathy.
When outright coercive, military, measures were not the mode of implementing the neoliberal
form of capitalism, the instruments still violated elementary democratic principles.
In the name of market efficiency, external limitations on democratic decision-making process
were implied and practiced by major international financial actors. Their „proposals
imply or mandate the insulation of key aspects of the economy from the influence of politicians
or the mass of citizens by imposing, internally and externally ’binding constraints’ on
the conduct of fiscal, monetary and trade and invesment policies.”13
Although the measures of international financial institutions (primarily the IMF and
WB) demanding downscaling of government, sharp cuts of public spending, rapid privatization,
deregulation - were by and large unpopular among large segments of the population,
their voices were not heard. The implementation of reforms and conditionalities were implemented
by a coalition made up of representatives of international financial institutions,
state and private actors, and parts of the local political elite (together they constitute what
Robinson calls the „transnational class”, and J. Wedell, „transactors”). In Russia, for instance
this coalition of (trans)actors14 carried out the transition in the nineties, resulting,
_______________________
10 According to N. Klein, fundamentalist capitalism, i.e. deregulated capitalism, is continually preserved by most
brutal forms of coercion applied to the political collective body. Naomi Klein , Doktrina šoka, (The Shock
Doctrine) V.B.Z. Zagreb, 2008, p. 27
11„ Chicago Boys cooperated with the Chilean army before the coup and in the economic transformation
following the violent coup. Referring to the experiences after the coup, Friedman stated that the most
important achievement is that the free market did its part of the job in creating free societies”. Op. cit. p.
120
12 N. Klein, op. cit. p. 15.
13 S. Gill, op. cit. p. 132
14 The main transactors were made up of a Harvard team representing the US and the Chubais clan
representing Russia. Janine R. Wedel, “Privatizing Foreign Policy: How Transactos Hijacked US Relations”,
www.globality-gmu.net/archives/835


 

as Cohen enumerates, in the worst industrial depression, flight of capital abroad, hyperinflation
and abrupt decontrol of prices, currency collapse and pyramid schemes that wiped
out life savings of the citizens, massive corruption, impoversihment, detoriation of health.
The results can be summarized in short as - economic freedom and benefits for the few,
and regression, „demodernization” for the majority. This means that the neo-liberal project
could not but have a „narrow social basis”. In order to transcend this lack of social support,
the implementers of shock therapies implemented their reforms swiftly, treating societies
as tabula rasa, radically erasing social achievements of the past, for nothing deserved to
survive, become part of the new historical chapter. The speed of the implemented reforms
(shock therapies) caused confusion, apathy, deprived the citizens of the possibility to
defend their interests (N. Klein). Moderation, was relinquinshed (S. Cohen) in the name of
speedy reforms that would in fact, secure the overnight transfer of the state owned
property into few private hands. For this reason, some economists have defined the
transition from socialism to neoliberalism as the biggest historical plundering of state and
social property. However, the new normative project based on the protection of human
rights and extension of democracy was not problematized in relation to this form of
transition and its dramatic social consequences; social rights/social deprivation never
become an equally dramatic question as did political, civil rights. Nor were the external
„binding constraints” perceived as serious challenges to the processes of democratization.
Many have depicted the social consequences of the neoliberal project - leading to the
widening gap between the rich and poor in and between countries, to the production of
„too many loosers” (J. Stiglitz) on the global stage. The common thread in the analysis of
the social consequences of neliberalism is captured by S. Gill: „Restructuring along marketdriven
lines tends to generate a deepening of social inequality, a rise in rates and intensity
of exploitation of labour, growth in social polarization, gender inequality, a widespread
sense of social and economic insecurity, and, not least, pervasive disenchantment with
conventional political pratice. Such a situation may also open the door to the appeals of
______________________________________________
“In effect, the United States was to teach ex-communist Russia how to become a capitalist and democratic
country and oversee the process of conversion know as a “transition”. Certainly, Russia was not to be
trusted to find its own kinds of change, lest it wander off… ‘on a strange, ambivalent path of its own confused
devising.’ The lessons to be taught were simple but stern. Economic reform meant “shock therapy” and
tight-fisted monetarism, especially severe budgetary austerity and end to Soviet/era consumer and welfare
subsidies, wholesale privatization of Russian state enterprises and other assets, opening the country’s markets
to foreign producers, and a minimal role for the government… In that spirit, legions of American political
missionaries and evangelists, usually called “advisers,” spread across Russia in the early and mid
1990s.” S. Cohen (2000), Failed Crusade, America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia, New York,
W.W. Norton &Company, p. 7


 

extremist political movements...”.15 The gap between neoliberal economic efficiency (although
that is also becoming increasingly questionable) 16 and social deprivation has reached
such a level that, as Boaventura Santos notes,17 democracy in a number of countries is
becoming irrelevant for the social well being of citizens. Thus, according to him the coexistence
of „political liberalism and social fascism” has become a realistic possibility. This leads
us to another paradox.
It is related to the fact that the protection of human and minority rights rose to the
pennicle of the hiararchy of values, at the same time the neoliberal project was promoting
a pessimistic anthropology, defining greed and fear as the main motivating forces of
human beings. Apsolutizing individual egotism, delegitimizing the welfare state and the
principle of solidarity, placing the blame on the poor for their plight, was occuring at the
same time when the protection of the human rights above and beyond the sovereignty
norm were celebrated as the axis of an emerging cosmopolitan order. In other words, moral
interdependency as the basis for relativizing the sovereignty norm, was being proclaimed
at the same time, when solidarity and common good, as a fundamental precondition of
freedom (Z. Bauman), were being erased. The different moral and practical implications of a
project based on greed and egotism, and a project based, at least in principle, on solidarity
and empathy, tended to be overlooked. However, the defining principles of the two could
not be implemented simultaneously without producing incoherent practices, turning the
protection of human rights into an additional instrument of domination, among else, into a
basis for selective, arbitrary, external interventionism. The power mechanisms operating
and being reconstituted on the basis of the neoliberal agenda, did not produce prudent
caution (at least among the idealists) in the advocacy of the legitimacy of the
interventionist politics based on the new ethics of human rights. The advocacy of the new
responsibilities was carried out as if coherent economic and political preconditions for a
transition to a cosmopolitan order were laid down, as if the neoliberal and human rights
agenda have together become a moral imperative. It was promoted as if safeguardes
against the possible abuse and „frightening arbitrariness” (Hanna Arendt) by the enlighte-
_______________________________
15 Gill, op. cit. p. 140
16 As Ha-Joon Chang, points out, and the current economic crisis confirms, neoliberalism has failed to produce
expected results, increasing income inequalities and economic instability, and above all, not generating the
promised faster growth. Nevertheless, the neoliberal project is far from being dismantled.
“The world’s per capita income was growing at 3.1% during the ‘bad old days’ of 1960-80, but it has been
growing at only 2% during the neoliberal period of 1980-2000. Growth of per capita income in developing
countries has decelerated from 3% to 1.5% between these two periods.” Ha-Joon Cheng, op. cit. p. 2.
17 Santos, Boaventura de Sousa, „Beyond abyssal thinking“, www.euorzine.com/articles/2007-06-29-santosen.
html


 

ned states in implementing their cosmopolitan responsibilities were being erected. In fact,
no such safeguards were constituted, as testified by, for example, the further weakening of
the UN, self-exemption of US from the reach of the International Criminal Court, by the
erosion of the democratic capacities of the nation-states (for instance, by measures like the
Patriotic Act, or Guantanamo torture practices).
A consistent contemplation of a transition to a cosmopolitan order under present conditions,
is further complicated by the fact that one of the consequence of the global neoliberal
consensus is the weakening of the state and its capability to respond to the needs
of its citizen. The implementation of the neoliberal paradigme promoting absolute economic
deregulation, placing full trust in the mechanism of the market which will automatically
resolve economic and (eventually) social problem, has incapacitated the state to perform
some of its fundamental classical functions relevant for the wellfare of the community, i.e.
its citizens. When an order is based on the primacy of economy, while the state/society
looses its protective capacity, being subjugated to the market this can, as K. Polany’s
analysis has demonstrated, lead to an impresisive development of the means of production
but also to the catastrophic „dislocation of the lives of common people”, that is, to the
violation of their human (social) rights.
The weakening of the state is the result of two combined processes: privatization and transnationalization.
Within the framework of the dominating neoliberal project, the principle of
privatization is extended not only to proprety but to the realms pertaining to classical functions
of the state. Privatization of the state means that some of the key functions of governance are
transfered to the private sector. This has included, for instance in the US, from the managment
of energy, setting up private jails (in Texas, for example) to waging wars and fighting the
terrorists. It should be particulary noted, that an impressive increase of the number of private
companies that offer security, military services to governments and TNC have appeared. These
companies offer a wide variety of services, from the maintenance of military bases, compiling
intelligence information, scientific research, and training, to sending private armies to the war
fronts. They operate by and large beyond democratic control and accountability, extending the
space of abuse and corruption, and undermining one of the crucial dimensions of state power –
its monopoly over the legitimate use of force.18
This hollowing of the state by the extension of the processes of privatization means
that its cohesive capacities are diminished, while the needs of the citizens in the sphere of
education, medicare, security, etc. are marginalized by the profit interests. The main task of
the state transformed according to the neoliberal principles is internal restructuration and
__________________________
18 R. Schwarz, „Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: The Challenges of Security, Welfare and Representation“, Security
Dialogue, Vol.36 (4): p.443, 2005.


 

global integration of local economy. This pressupose the elimination of all barriers to the
free flow of the capital, and such a harmonization of the internal economic policy with external
demands that will secure macroeconomic stability. Besides macroeconmic stability
the state has two more functions (W. Robinson) insuring the basic infrastructure necessary
for global economic activity, securing social stability by coercive and ideological
instruments (cheap labor, weak unions). In other words, the state is not bound by the
needs of internal consensus, redistribution, social protection, but by the external demands
of global capital and the interests of the transnational class.
At the point when the state is undergoing transnationalization and privatization, losing
fundamental aspects of its autonomy and becoming a „conveyer belt” for the demands of
global capital, when unaccountable, predatory transactors are emerging with little concern
for the wellfare of the community, it is diffucult to identify the real foundations for new
cosmopolitan responsibilities. The transformation of the state according to the neoliberal
paradigme is an illogical direction of change if an evolution toward a cosmopolitan order is
to take place.
The coherent evolution toward cosmopolitan law would require a social-democratic
global paradigme19 which would affirm the rule of law, solidarity, accountability, participation,
consensus building, retriving some of the fundamental capacities of the state – its
mediating role in the distribution of social wealth, maintaing a social compromise between
different social strata, the power to correct the disbalance between the demand of the
market and society, autonomy in formulating its own economic policy in accordance with
the need of its citizens, specific historical experiences and cultural patterns.

3. Interventionism

The insufficiently problematized tensions between the dominant neoliberal paradigme
and the emerging cosmopolitan principles resulted in the entrapment of the assumed „new
moral responsibilities” in excercises extending domination and inequality. Placed in the
hands of „global moral actors” whose existence was simulated, the legitimate need to protect
human rights was misused. Thus, an emancipatory vision became, in a number of instances,
a force of expansionism, redistribution of resources and property, of redefining borders
by violent means. Lacking real conditions for the development of the cosmopolitan order,
moral dependency became an additional principle of legitimation for rule making based
on „frightful arbitrariness”. What shape strides toward the future cosmopolitan order may
_______________________________
19 David Held, (2004), Global Covenant, the Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus, Cambridge,
Polity Press.


 

take in these circumstances is demonstrated by the military interventions carried out in its
name.

3.1. The case of Kosovo and Metohija
The NATO intervention against Serbia (1999) because of Milosevic’s repression in the
province of Kosovo and Metohija (Kosovo, for short) was hailed as a defining moment, a dividing
line between the era of sacrosant sovereignty and the era of relative sovereigny. It
was seen as an inaguration of the moral, cosmopolitan, project, subordinating sovereignity
to the protection of human and minority rights. NATO intervention was interpreted as a a
sign that the international community was finally accepting its (moral) responsibilities. Although
it was carried out without the mandate of the SC, and in violation of the Article 5 of
the NATO Charter, the intervention was widly supported across the globe by representatives
of the left and right, the establishment and civil society, all sharing a belief that allegedly
new ethics, a new notion of justice was residing beyond the UN Charter. Therefore
the intervention was proclaimed by a number of its advocates as „illegal but legitimate”.
A complex, protracted conflict was seen, by and large, only as a brutal violation of the
human rights of the Albanian minority by the repressive regime of S. Milosevic (undoubtedly
a significant part of the story, but not its entirety). Black and white inscriptions were invoked,
and the “game of numbers” concerning victims activated, reaching shocking - mobilizing
- but unfounded heights. Each and every victim of violence is tragic, but the
launching of arbitrary estimates (up to 100.000), the concern only for the victims of one
side was in the function of justifying the intervention to the domestic public in spite of its
illegality. The fact that the intervention ensued after a simulation of negotiations in
Rambouillet and an ultimatum issued to the Serbian state, concerning the acceptance of
Annex B (military part of an Agreement, otherwise accepted by the Serbian side), and only
acquired a humanitarian label after the bombing started and the situation on the ground
turned for the worse, was not the object of reflection for the advocates of the new ethics.
During the „humanitarain intervention” the whole country was bombed, a third of the
targets were civilian, including, hospitals, schools, bridges, cultural monuments and
industrial complexes (the damage was estimated at thirty billion euros), and the weapons
used included cluster bombs and deplated uranium. However, all of this did not distort the
legitimacy of the intervention. The fact that the ideal of protecting human rights was by
this new, modern notion of justice tied to military intervention, agression, war, did not
appear to collide with the general humanitarian interest. Legitimizing names for the illegal
bombing were invented such as „politically correct militarism”, „liberal interventionism” (M.
Ignatieff). A philosopher like J. Habermas, considered that it was perfectly acceptable to


 

intervene militarily in order to secure the full respect of human rights, particularly when
the intervention is surgically precise (the civillian victims/collateral damage of the precise
intervention were not taken into account) and so efficient as was the NATO intervention.20
Because it is based on the universalistic content of human rights, he concludes, it should
be perceived as a leap from international toward cosmopolitan law, a step in the direction
of an inevitable transition. NATO simply did what was necessary, when no one else was
there to fill the legal vacuum. The end result of the bombing was ethnic cleansing of the
non-Albanina population (resulting in around 200.000 internally displaced citizens in
Serbia), unilateral secession of Kosovo, in spite of the democratic changes that took place
in Serbia, the creation of another weak, economically unviable, criminalized state. With this
violent change of Serbian borders, a new chapter of state building opened involving
external actors who were prepared in the name of moral principles to ignore the existing
norms of international law, agreements, UN resolutions, as well as the violations of the
rights of the non-Albanian population remaining in the Kosovo enclaves. The morality of
the cosmopolitan advocates was not challenged by these incoherences.

3.2. The cases of Afghanistan and Iraq

Following the 9/11 attack by the terrorist group Al Qaida on New York and Washington,
the US responded after several months by launching a military intervention against Afghanistan,
holding it responsible for harbouring a terrorist organization on its territory.
Prior to the intervention, Afghanistan demanded from the US unquestionable evidence that
Al Qaida was responsible for the attack in which case they would agreed to extradite Bin
Laden to a neutral country to stand trial. The US did not accept these demands and decided
to respond by a military operation legitimizing it by and extended interpretation of
the right to self-defence, the use of force. Self-defence according to the new interpretation,
included the right to respond forcefully not just to aggression committed by states,
but also by non-state actors (terrorists) as well. It seemed even to segments of the civil society
an acceptable reinterpretation of the Article 51 of the UN Charter in novel circumstances
– global interdependence and emergence of powerful non-state actors. Again an alleged
void between the exisitng rules and the new circumstances was being resolved by the
rulemaking power of the US. Setting aside, the fact that a military intervention against Afghanistan
was contemplated prior to 9/11, the unclear nature of the documented American
intelligence blunders/oversights in relation to the terrorist attack, etc. the very legitimacy
______________________________
20 J. Habermas (2002 ), Postnacionala konstelacija, Politički eseji (Postnational Costellation, Political Essays),
Beograd, Otkovenje, pp.160-183.


 

of extending the right of self-defence in relation to terrorist groups in the manner which
the US did, is not as convincing as it seems.21 First, Article 51 gives a state the right to
repal an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the SC can take
steps necessary for international peace and security. The self-defense of the US has turned
into a an unending military operation, i.e. occupation of Afghanistan, with a substantial
number of civilian casulties. Second, as S. Hassan points out there is no disclosed evidence
that the Afghan Government sent Al Qaida to the US with the instruction to commit
terrorist attacks, and the ICJ rejected the notion that mere assistance to rebels was an
’armed attack’.22 Hassan goes on to say, that self–defence as a valid use of force, required
it be immediate, not a retaliation, proportionate (a full scale, invasion of Afghanistan cannot
be considered proportionate) and necessary. Since the necessity long passed before the
bombing of Afghanistan it was legitimized as a defence against an ongoing threat, and turned
into a total war against global terrorism, a war that could last several decades. Therefore,
the response to the terrorist attack turned essentially into new norm emerging out
of US practice, which extended the notion of self-defence into a „perpetual” use of disproportionate
force. Furthermore, this extension of the right to self-defence as part of the new
normative order, involved the emergence of secret prisons round the world23 and brutal
torture of prisoners, in violation of the Geneva conventions. The practice of rendition - sending
suspected terrorist to third countries where torture was not illegal, also emerged. To
conclude, the legitimatiion of interventionary politics by the need to reinvent and redefine
the normative assumptions of the emerging order in the case of Afghanistan contributed
much more to a new phase of militarism, than cosmopolitism.
The intervention against Iraq (2003) is explained in another chapter, in rule making and
rule breaking. Again without a SC mandate, the US, supported above all by UK, carried out
a pre-emptive intervention based on the several unfounded accusations: that Iraq, although
it was a secular state, was harbouring terrorists, that Saddam Hussein was in possession
of WMD, that he did not discontinue his nuclear program threatening world peace
(although the intelligence agencies had knowledge that the program was abanded ten yea-
_____________________________
21Sulman, Hassan, “The legality of the United States intervention in Afghanistan”, www.americansc.org.uk/Online/
Forum/Afghanlegality.htm
22 S. Hassan, ibid.
23 Guantanamo in Cuba was too exposed to the public, therefore the CIA wanted „ secret places where it could
have full control over the interrogations .... far away from the inquiring eyes of the media and the
monitoring of organizations for the protection of human rights, but above all, far away from the authority
of the American legal system.“ James Risen, (2006), Ratno stanje, Tajna istorija CIA-e i Bušove
administracije (The State of War, Secret history of CIA and Bush administration), Beograd, Samizdat B92, p.
36.


 

rs earlier), that he was a dictator who had regional ambitions and therefore presented a security
threat to the region and the USA, as well. Accordingly, the aim of the intervention
was to disarm Iraq, to end Saddam’s support for terrorism and to free the Iraqi people (Tony
Blair). All of the justifications for the intervention were eventually revealed as blatant
lies, constructions. In 2005, the Central Intelligence Agency releasead a report saying that
no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. There was also no evidence to corroborate
that S. Hussein was supporting the terrorists, 24 nor that he was in the position to
cause any serious regional turmoil, exausted/contained by the devastating defeats in two
Gulf wars and by the ensuing comprehensive sanctions. As for bringing liberation to the
Iraqi people, the American led invasion toppled Sadam’s regime, and turned the democratization
of Iraq into a prolonged occupation that profited American commercial and security
companies, created the conditions for the breakout of a ravaging civil war, which according
to some analysts, took, the lives of 600.000 civilians.
These episodes of „moral dependency”, demonstrated not only a profound disregard for
existing norms of international law, for facts, which were either ignored or intentionally covered
up, but also for the rights of the American citizens as well. In the name of the war
against terrorism in the case of Afghanistana and Iraq, secret intelligence activities were
approved on the American territory, violating the civil rights of its own citizens.25
The three interventionist chapters have a number of serious consequences, none of
them paving the way to a cosmopolitan order. First, the consenus of long standing, that
borders can not be changed by force was dismanteled on the territory of Europe. This opened
the doors to further arbitrary „attacks” on the sovereignity norm – expanding the
space for new rounds of violence. Accordingly, voices have already appeared advocating
that borders should not be treated as sacrosant in Africa, because in a number of African
states the governments do not controll the entirety of their territory. Others have
________________________________
24In September 2006, a Report of the Senate Intelligence Committe concluded that Saddam Hussein regarded
Al Qaida „as a threat rather than a possible ally, contradicting assertions President Bush has used to build
support for the war in Iraq“. In their remarks to the Senate document, Democrats contended that former
CIA Director George Tenet had modified his position on the terrorist link at the request of administration
policymakers. Furthermore, according to the Report there was no evidence that Hussain had the capacity
to produce WMD (nor did he posses the alleged mobile laboratories for the production of biological
weapons). These accusations were based either on serious errors of judgment by the CIA, on the disregard
of assessments made by other intelligence agencies, as well as of reports of agents on the ground. On the
whole the Report accuses the administration that it did everything to justify the war. See: Jim Abrams,
"Senate: Saddam Saw al-Qaida as Threat", The Associated Press, 08 September, 2006, www.truthout.org/
docs_2006/
25 J. Risen, op. cit. pp. 50-54.


 

suggested that excersies of dismanteling classical sovereignty should also be applied in
cases (for instance in Russia), where the mangament of vast resources, defined as the „the
common good” is concerned.
Violent change of borders is supplemented by the project of extending democracy, toppling
authoritarian regimes, and restructuring economies by violent means. The criteria for
selecting targets for external implementation of democracy are, by and large, linked to „expansive
economic and strategic impulses” (G. Kolko). But not only that, the celebration of
democracy goes hand in hand with the attempts to reinvent legal foundations for torture
and limiting civil rights in the great democracies themselves. Finally, the extension of the
right to self-defence has led to a perpetual war on terrorism, to the suspension of legal
rules regulating the use of force and protection of human rights. Disregarding the logic of
illegal violence and human rights violations common to all the interventions, the sincere
promotores of cosmopolitan order, unfortunately contributed to the delegitimation of law
and legitimation of the arbitary use of force in shaping the post Cold War world.
The bitter conclusion of de Sousa Santos seems a realistic reflection of the present normative
paradoxes. Human rights are violated in order to be defended, democracy is destroyed
in order to safegurad democracy, life is eliminated to preserve life.
4. Conclusion
Following the end of the Cold war a period of „rule breaking and rule making” has emerged.
Its nature is contradictory, exlusionary, based on the power divide. The powerfull are
rule makers, determining the scope of their relevancy (self-exclusion) and the form of implementation.
The justification given for the „rule breaking and rule making” is the moral
imperativ and the vaccum created by limited relevance of of the the state-centric international
law that can not address the problems, threats, developments that have came
about as the result of the transformation of sovereignty, emergence of new non-state actors
in the era of globalization. Although one may agree that a new normative order is necessary,
what is emerging is not an order of a cosmopolitan nature. On the contrary, it perpetuates
the division between the strong and the weak, the dramatic inequalities of states
and their soverign powers, it extends the criteria of arbitrariness in the use of force and instrumentalizes
the notion of protecting human rights for geopolitical interests. Not only
are fundamental preconditions for a transition to a new cosmopolitan normative order absent,
but they are „preemptively” deconstructed. In order for „moral dependency” to become
a force of cosmopolitism, coherent critical reflection is required, as well as systematic
and unwavering efforts invested into the strengthening of democracy and rule of law at the
global level, decisive affirmation of the spirit of cooperation and nonviolent conflict resolution
and the development of effective instruments of transcending the dramatic social divides,
new exclusionary practices generated by the old/new world.


 

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