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Nation-building and Liberal Imperialism

C. Raja Mohan

By Antonio Giustozzi
Hurst & Co, London, 2011, pp. 298, price not stated.

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 2-3 February/March 2013

The title of the book is doubly provocative. The first part of Antonio Giustozzi’s stimulating volume paraphrases Machiavelli’s work, The Art of War. The second part is a play on primitive accumulation, a term widely used in understanding the evolution of capitalism but rarely employed in analysing the evolution of state structures. If the title certainly raises eyebrows, Giustozzi’s work is rewarding for anyone interested in the current debates on intervention, territorial sovereignty and ethical questions on when, where and how the international community must use force. Since the end of the Cold War, the divisions over these questions between the western and non-western powers, idealists and realists, unilateralists and multilateralists have been at the very heart of global political discourse. Giustozzi cuts across these debates to develop a valuable analytical framework to understand the challenges of state formation and the negative effects of external intervention on it. the collapse of the Soviet Union, international focus shifted from managing great power rivalry and inter-state war to dealing with civil wars and intra-state conflicts. The massive proliferation of nations in the international system in the era of decolonization has been followed by the inability of many of them to survive as credible states. Profound internal conflicts—regional, ethnic, religious, sectarian—have torn apart the very same peoples that once united to throw out alien and imperial rulers. Many new states have found it impossible to maintain coherence in the face of these multiple conflicts. State failure in these nations has not been limited to those that have emerged only recently. These internal conflicts are challenging the credibility of well-established states, for example in the Middle East today. State failure, in the post-Cold War era is not seen as a local problem but as a significant threat to international peace and security. The territories of failed states have become havens for international terrorism, criminal mafias, and facilitated the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The extraordinary violence that accompanied the breakdown of order in failed states spills over borders, draws neighbours into the conflict, and threatens the interests of the major powers. In extremis, the violence in these states has degenerated into large scale killing of minorities. The word genocide is back. This in turn has raised ethical and political questions about the role of the international community. The notions of humanitarian intervention by the United Nations and the ...

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