04 July 2012


'Lawfare, Wikileaks, and the Rule of Law' by Eric Engle argues that
 "Lawfare" is the idea that international law only exists as a strategem; that states only comply with or create international rules as part of their quest for power; that power, not law or morality or even trade dominates international relations; and that states are rational power maximizers. As such, it is a variant within the (failed) IR Realist theory of international law.
This article outlines the tenets of "lawfare" placing "lawfare" in the broader historical context. It then places lawfare into the practical contemporary context. It positions lawfare within a spectrum of ideas and movements opposing globalization such as Wikileaks, Al Qaeda, Occupy Wallstreet, and also Neoconservatism. The article concludes that global liberalism ("Empire") will likely meet and triumph over each of these challenges because liberalism is open textured, sustainable, and self-replicating whereas its opponents are conspiratorial, fragmented, disorganized, lack a mass base, and cannot articulate a comprehensive and compelling alternative vision. ...
I wish to look at Wikileaks as an example of Foucault's theory of knowledge-as-power applied in practice to a network. Network theory argues that networks are more powerful (dominant) than isolated autarchic actors due to productive synergies and improved communications allowing more effective rationalizations and uses of power. The ideal power relationship, according to network theory, is a constantly growing and ever linked network: many nodes, with many linkages, and the number of nodes and linkages growing. Drawing from network theory, Assange/Wikileaks decided to try a disruptive strategy intended to render a network of international relations militarists inoperative. Notice however, that we can really only understand wikileaks as an instance of altruism, of enlightened self interest. The "payoff" for Assange/wikileaks, other than peer-recognition and whatever that entails (hot chicks, wild parties?) is decidedly not monetary. Wikileaks versus (U.S.) Empire is, like Al Qaeda versus (U.S.) Empire, a struggle between competing networks. Each seeks to disrupt the others' nodes and the linkages between the opponent's nodes. Low intensity conflict seems to be the present and future face of war, as exemplified in terrorist attacks and information warfare. Are the Chinese and Leo Strauss right? Is there no justice? To answer that, we must return to Aristotle.
Engle concludes - more poetically than (for me) persuasively -
The struggles, some overt, some covert, between Al Qaeda, Empire, Wikileaks, Chinese Maoists, and other international movements such as OWS swirl about us, dancing in the shadows. Sometimes, they strike fast and furious, like hell-fire, leaving a trail of tears and blood in their wake. To decipher these secret wars we must thread our way through the web of war, the maze of the minotaur man-beast, following Ariane's golden wisdom. We are in darkness. We seem lost. Yet, there is an exit. It is illuminated by the lamp of knowledge, a magic lantern: the knowledge of the rule of law as the means to justice to attain the good life of peace and prosperity for all. Will our fellow travelers take heed? I cannot say. There is an exit. Follow me. I know the way.