chapter  7
17 Pages

The biopolitics of American security policy in the twenty-fi rst century


The fi nal decade of the twentieth century was characterized by vast changes in the international organization of power. The end of the Cold War, the development and strengthening of international governmental organizations, intensive technological innovation, the growth and spread of practices and institutions of liberal democracy, the proliferation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and spread of a “global” civil society, the penetration of capitalism into previously non-capitalist societies, and the emergence of new systems of global governance (all subsumed under what came to be known both heroically and pejoratively as globalization) were all hallmarks of the immediate post-Cold War era. These changes challenged most traditional assumptions made by theorists of international relations (IR) as to what constitutes power internationally. At the center of the discipline, liberal conceptions of power that privileged the theorization of forms of interdependence rapidly overtook the traditionally statist orientations of political realism. Beyond the center, poststructuralist accounts of the disseminative and biopolitical character of power relations challenged the emphases upon hegemony and imperialism in both critical theory and classical variants of Marxism. By the end of the last decade of the twentieth-century, there was a prevailing assertion within areas of thought concerned with the international that the world we were living in was defi ned by either a softening or a complexifi cation of power relations in virtually every area of politics, and that this was challenging the rigidity with which power was theorized in more traditional IR accounts.