Kritiking Reductions in Police and Military Presence

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey.

You cannot do too much reading and thinking about the words in your topic and how those words relate to the positions you want to run.  Begin to link the way the words are defended and projected into an ideology that your authors are criticizing.  Let us go through some evidence and set up some arguments, remembering that you can win debates with a few solid cards—in fact you are more likely to win debates if you can explain a few pieces of crucial evidence as opposed to spewing through more blocks.

—-So, the affirmative is going to “reduce” military or police presence?  Really?  Reduce from where is order to augment where?  Reduce means to keep around with a lower profile—not eliminate.  We won’t really reduce our global military or police presence.  If we do, we’ll replace those troops with other troops and call them something else—peacekeepers, advisors, officials, non-military personnel etc.   It’s military presence (like turtles) all the way down.  You reduce “its” presence and someone else’s military or police will take its place.

Dochterman, Political Analyst, Writer for Aporia Journal, 2002 (Zen, An Anarchist Analysis of the Detention of Immigrants and War, post 9/11)

Policing instances of ill health, sordid living conditions, human rights violations, and “rogue states” become an affair of the American state, the U.N., and N.A.T.O. as well as the N.G.O.s that follow quickly after them. The civil wars that empire produces (as in the Phillipines), now often melded into the rubric of “terrorism”, thus provide more instances for America to go to war and regulate population flows and the material conditions of life, Westernizing what it can in the process. Agamben’s concern with the zoe (bare life) of the immigrant and refugee takes on a double significance. Empire’s wars and global capital will increasingly displace people and provide for violations of so-called “human rights“; however, it is such displacement that comes to be the concern of the war machine itself. This type of analysis helps to explain the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, which without a clear short-term economic benefit (who thought Iraq would be “manageable” within a few months?) have more to do with extending empire’s capacity for biopolitical control. When N.G.O.’s and humanitarian institutions step in to occupied countries, the biopolitical regulation of “births and mortality, the level of health and life expectancy” swings into full effect. Introducing such seemingly innocuous organizations can radically alter the bureaucratic and at times, the cultural constitution of a country, and must be seen as the first step in neo-colonialist projects by the West. This central fact illuminates the otherwise mysterious bombings of the U.N. buildings and attacks on health workers in Iraq. These attacks send the message that it is not a question of one master or another, however benign, but a total rejection of the system of global neo-colonialism in both its military and bureaucratic guises. Thus, sovereign force, manifest in the U.N., N.A.T.O., the American military and carried out by N.G.O.’s, humanitarian organizations and “peacekeeping” groups comes to have a direct relation to the bare life (zoe) of the people of other nations, their living standards and their health. This is a biological infection of the “outside” of Empire by Empire.

—-Reforms in the military are extension of Biopower—the ceding of genocidal power to the false hopes of liberalism.  Economic liberalism and individual sovereignty are not possible through such a system.  Indeed, their path makes possible the extension of total control. 

Dean, Department of Sociology at Macquarie University, 2000 (Mitchell, Always Look on the Dark Side of Life: Politics and the Meaning of Life)

This thesis overcomes the successionist view of forms of power connected with our first thesis, even if it tends to reproduce its bipolar structure. The problem with the latter however it that somehow the source and point of articulation of sovereign and bio-politics seems to escape intelligibility. Why should our societies become ‘really demonic’ when they combine within themselves the powers over life with rights of death, or Hebraic understandings of the duties of the shepherd towards his flock with the virile and agonistic relationships between free citizens found within the Greek polis, as Foucault maintained (1981)? Can one simply make a virtue out of an absence of intelligibility of the articulation – is it the very heterogeneity of these forms of power that accounts for their devilish potential? Can we democratise sovereignty and use notions of rights to check the totalitarian impulses of bio-politics? Can we redress such despotic potentialities by an appeal to an outside of the sphere of limited government? At times Foucault appears to endorse such possibilities. At others, he seems to suggest that liberalism and democracy are flawed means for this task and that we should not become complacent. Perhaps, in this case, sovereignty can always return to an atavistic form as in Nazism, or liberalism can reveal its horribly illiberal side. Perhaps, to try another suggestion, bio-politics simply puts incredible technological means (the atomic, the biological and the chemical weapons and the organization of the modern military, and the applications of bio-science and biomedicine) in the service of sovereign powers – a kind of biotechnological account of genocide. If but perhaps Foucault has identified a problem and a language to investigate the problem without identifying how and why these elements form the problem. Before moving to a new thesis, let us note that there is one problem with the view that liberalism can act to check totalitarian administration of life. Both of the means by which it hopes to do so refer principally to nothing but simple existence. On the one hand, the economic rationality that provides a limit to government refers before all else to the means of the sustenance of life. On the other, the sovereign individual has rights, especially in the era of international human rights, simply by virtue of merely living itself. ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ reads the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If there is optimism in Foucault’s approach, it is one that cannot rely on a movement that checks the powers over life. The more liberalism and modern rights movements seek to defend us from the dangers of bio-powers, it would seem, the more they make possible its extension.

—-Working toward peace—a more secure world—is not about reducing the role of military force.  The practice of promoting peace has to take a certain form or it will be used to justify panoptic sovereignty and state control.  Attempts to operate within the current international system only serve to replicate the conflicts that result from it.  The norm of peace that develops from such actions results in humanitarian interventions in the name of the common good.  Their isolation of conflict and subsequent proclamation of a “new constraint on police action” is a giant performative contradiction.

Richmond, Department of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews, ’01 

[Oliver P., “A Genealogy of Peacemaking: the Creation and Re-Creation of Order,” Alternatives: Global, Local, Political Vol. 26 No. 3, p. AOF]

What has tended to occur since the end of the Cold War is that peace operations have aimed at the reconstitution of states and their frameworks. From Cambodia to Somalia and Yugoslavia, the official focus guiding peace operations was the creation and recreation of Westphalian states in order to democratize or solve humanitarian problems. In former-Yugoslavia and perhaps in Kosovo and in East Timor, the focus was on creating new states, but ones that were ultimately based on ethnic majoritarianism. This tendency emphasizes the fact that states underpin the international system, conceptually and physically, and the key organizations through which peace operations occur, and the end result is the replication of that system. As with previous approaches, third-generation approaches depend on containing violent conflict with a regime of truth in which it is claimed that the balance between management and resolution, order and justice, has shifted toward the resolution of conflict through human-security discourses. However, such approaches still tend to be acultural, give rise to the possibility of intervention without consent, based on Western models of neoliberal democratization and human rights as universally prescriptive. The hybridization of monodimensional approaches to ending conflict has raised several new and familiar debates. The first significant question relates to the type of order that hegemonic powers with sovereign claims to truth and knowledge use such approaches to ending conflict to reify. In the Westphalian system, such an approach was applied to preserve the statecentric order, territorial integrity, and very basic human rights. However, it was also applied to preserve a systemic balance of power that resulted in the positivist aspects of order taking precedence over the normative, state security taking precedence over human security-a negative peace. Have third-generation approaches moved beyond this-from the Westphalian into a post-Westphalian order? Francois Debrix has shown how the United Nations can be compared with a panopticon in which global observation and surveillance, not to mention intervention, occurs to endorse and simulate certain forms of order propagated by its dominant members and by the universal claims of the Charter within the context of their claims about forms of global governance and globalization. (53) These practices are aimed at normalizing the practices of sovereign states within the international system (and a latent international society) and their representations and the activities of the social groups located within these structures. Generally speaking, the different approaches to making peace are victims of a performative contradiction in that the assumptions that lie behind them may prove to exacerbate the issues that lie at the heart of the conflict.]

—-Finally, they appeal to the state to resolve a dilemma created by the state.  They are a mask, a perfectly benevolent mask on the state’s monopoly of power (“But,” they whine, “we reduce that power”).  No, they don’t—they make it less visible and harder to detect. The symbolic interaction between the appeal and the consequences is the ability to wage war—an ability that becomes a capability that becomes an inevitability.  They cannot solve and the case harms are replicated. 

M. Duffield, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Lancaster, ‘04 (Mark, Carry on Killing: Global Governance, Humanitarianism and Terror)

Bio-politics emerged with modernity to form the basis of state power.  It is concerned with validating, supporting and promoting the life of the nation (Foucault 1998).  For the purposes of this paper, bio-politics is the regulation of life at the aggregate level of population.  Bio-politics exists in the governmental technologies that both discover and act upon the varied biological, demographic, health, social and economic factors and mechanisms that constitute life as aggregated species-life.  Global governance, however, is a specific form of bio-power.  It is a power over the life of populations conceived as existing globally rather than nationally or territorially.  More specifically, it is a power over populations experienced as territorial or local illustrations of a particular global species-type.  This is how we know, for example, ‘refugees’, ‘economic migrants’, ‘internally displaced’ the ‘chronically poor’, and so on. In relation to global governance, those technologies and strategies that constitute ‘development’ are an essential expression of international bio-power. Bio-politics, however, contains an intrinsic and fateful duality.  As well as fostering and promoting life it also has the power to “…disallow it to the point of death” (Ibid: 138 orig. emph.).  In making this bio-political distinction, racism plays a formative role (Foucault 2003; Stoler 1995) FQUOTE “” .  This not only includes its nineteenth and early twentieth century biological forms, it also involves its contemporary cultural, value and civilisational re-inscriptions (Duffield 1984).  Race and its modern codings underpin the division between valid and invalid life and legitimates the measures deemed necessary to secure the former against the later.  In this sense, bio-politics is intrinsically connected with the security populations, including global ones.  This duality moreover underlies the paradox of bio-politics: as states have assumed responsibility for maintaining and developing life, wars have become increasingly more encompassing, devastating and genocidal for the populations concerned.  The awesome power to unleash limitless death presents itself as a cynical counterpart, …of a power that exerts a positive influence on life, that endeavours to administer, optimize, and multiply it, subjecting it to all precise controls and comprehensive regulations.  Wars are no longer waged in the name of a sovereign who must be defended; they are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilised for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity: massacres have become vital (Ibid: 136). As the managers of species-life, since the end of the nineteenth century states have been able to wage total wars that have pitched entire populations against each other in cataclysmic struggles to the death.  What is at stake in modern war is the existence of society itself.  Genocide consequently emerges as a strategy “…because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population” (Ibid: 137).  Although the ending of the Cold War raised hopes of a ‘peace dividend’, the diagrammatic form of bio-power was to be re-inscribed in the ‘new wars’ of the 1990s and confirmed with the declaration of war on terrorism.

5 Responses to “Kritiking Reductions in Police and Military Presence”

  1. thank you for the thoughtful evidence, dr. kuswa, but perhaps the page numbers would be nice.

    i think that it will be difficult for the affirmative to be “critical” this year because somehow spec’ing out of the redeployment turns seems on-face extra-T. however, a piece of evidence which would create the groundwork for holding the affirmative responsible for the redeployment arguments would be nice (yet, clearly in tension with some of the anti-consequentialist arguments your decision calculus would like to access).

    there is a sense in which the dean evidence is damning on this point. (as an aside, the going interpretation of this article in the college debate community seems to be a defense of the permutation or an argument about “strategic” uses of state power). i don’t mean to throw around cliches, but the evidence does a great job of contextualizing the slogan “where the danger grows, so too the saving power.” it is unfortunate that foucault learned his hegel through kojeve–he gives expression to the essence of dialectical conflict immanent to the appearance of the “regulation of life” in thought, and yet he can offer no apparatus which would make the appearance intelligible as merely a phase of this dialectical conflict.

    each of the “hands” needs the other–on the other hand, there are more fingers. this is what is properly “dialectical” about the conflict–the relations between “economic rationality” and “sovereign rights” APPEAR external to one another (insofar the Notion of each contains the negation of the other–economic rationality instrumentalizes sovereign rights but sovereign rights give expression to this instrumentality / sovereign rights demarcate what counts as rational in economic rationality but economic rationality gives expression to the material configurations through which sovereign rights are expressed) but foucault shows that, for thought, the relations must be internal (in hegelian terms, both economic rationality and sovereign rights gather the individual within a sort of absolute expression of spirit). thus while thought can give an account of the Whole, the individual’s encounter with the Whole is never in the terms of thought.

    with regard to the evidence, this probably means that thought can conceive of a co-productive relation between “economic rationality” and “sovereign rights” which lends credence to foucault’s theses about biopower. on the other hand, we as individuals find ourselves having to choose between the two when making “pragmatic political choices.” perhaps if only foucault had read hegel in german he would have picked up some kierkegaard or at least some appreciation for the power of Either/Or.

    this is probably foucault’s point when he says that power is neither good nor bad only dangerous–but as far as a recommendation goes, the rest is silence.

    • kevin kuswa Says:

      Izak, really good stuff, a little hard to decipher at times, but I think mulling over “economic rationality” AS “sovereign rights” will help my reading of your reply. Foucault is far more Kantian and allows space for critique within the enlightenment than many contemproary scholars would allow. I admit, the inside/outside trope operating in theses security arguments begs the question of whether Hegel is applicable to what debaters call “realism”–Machiavelli to Morgenthau on down (a little Huntington and Fukuyama in between).

      In other words, does it make sense to talk about the “inside” of empire–the USFG, the source of the military or police presence, the arbitration monopoly–as a means to show further colonization? Maybe not. Maybe it’s better to turn away from where Hardt and Negri would take biopower because the multitude is too hard to describe and lends itself to permutations?

      Ok, then take biopower further into Foucault and Deleuze and begin thinking about power and cartography. This is where, mapping and borders aside, the spatial dimensions of power and how it poerates get picked up by Deleuze.

      Deleuze’s book called _Foucault_ is probably a perfect place for Professor Dunn and I to unite, looking at the resolution rhizomatically in order to diagram the arrangement of “hegemony” from a new angle–not Gramsci and counter-hegemony, but _Thosuand Plataeus_ and the ways regimes of signs lock in folds and strata as both “magician-emperor” and “jurist-priest.”

      The pincers of the lobster represented by the magician-emperor (fiat) and the jurist-priest (policy/meta framework) might make for a better articulation of hte war machine and the apparatus of capture represented by the United States reducing its own ability “police.” leaving one area lawless is only a recipe for the growing state of exception elsewhere.

      Now, in some ways, we can pull together as orchid and wasp, diagramming (not tracing) lines of flight as ways out and witin (instead of out and not in). Keep the lava flow/ing.

      • you are right kuswa–i am a little hard to decipher at times. i agree completely with your account of a way we can get beyond foucault with deleuze. the fold is a different conception of change than held by foucault or hegel, but let me clarify my original comment first.

        the unfortunate choice between economic rationality and sovereign rights is posited by the dean evidence–there is an impasse for Thought in terms of choosing economic rationality or sovereign rights because it can see the dark side of both paths. however, as an individual, one must choose between the two in a “pragmatic” political sense. this is where i think that foucault could use some hegel since foucault’s various vascillations on certain political propositions (i’m thinking of, for example, his support of the iranian revolution) betrays his lack of an account of the relationship between Thought and change, the individual and the Whole. hegel gives an account of this relationship: the universe knows itself through the minds of human beings. if “the rational is real and the real is rational,” then Thought might be able to carry us to new kinds of choices–this time, instead of between economic rationality and sovereign rights, let us posit a nietzschean choice between believing or wanting, in the one or the other. now, the choice is removed from the actual content or political commitment immanent to itself–the question is transformed into one of “motivation” (see pointer’s comment to the esoteric for an aside on the strategic value of this transformation). not even the foucault who champions self-creation reconciles this problem.

        thus i believe that we have to move beyond a critique of the state as a way to understand the insidious articulations of violence taken up in the “removal of police presence”–the problem with these sorts of political actions is not the redeployment turn or the reification of a national identity but rather that we believe in the state in the first place. i was trying articulate this above as the difference between an encounter on what deleuze would refer to as the plane of immanence and an encounter at the level of thought–one of these things is hypothesized, like a claim, and the other is experienced, an undergoing.

        “economic rationality AS sovereign rights” is the dialectic point i was trying to make, but absent a robust analysis of Dialectic itself, i feel that foucault falls short on the question of “overcoming the impasse.” to make this AS political, i think, is a sort of first order negation–a re-arrangement of the political choices ahead of us. a second-order negation, on the other hand, sublates the notion of political choice itself. so you are right to say that foucault is kantian, but i feel this is true insofar as he still subscribes to an enlightenment-borne picture of the subject as that whose essence is to choose. everything else is just subjectification…

        so, then, the fold–rather than a dialectic battle of internal relations, we have concepts which demarcate distances regarding external relations. the fold, then, is a matter of arrangement (not essence, as is the case with both hegel and foucault–even if the latter points to the permeability of the concept of essence, his histories are littered with definite descriptions) and so might help us think a way around the various double-binds offered to us by mainstream politics. in the case of the dean evidence, the hinge is itself the notion of choice–rationality presupposes a risk of choosing against what one knows to be “right”, and sovereign rights are according to those things with the capacity to choose (i.e., are an articulation of what counts as legitimate exercises of freedom only, not an account of freedom itself). depending on what angle from which one views the fold, the mind would be ushered to one choice or the other. however, to occupy the space of the hinge itself is to bring us back to the nietzschean dictum: why is belief in these sorts of things needed in the first place? in what ways do they contribute to the survival of peoples or values? in any case, we will have to embrace an illusion–we are not strong enough for the truth.

        so, transformations in material (magician-emperor) and transformations in thought (jurist-priest) are not logically (modally necessary) implicated in a relation of exclusivity–they are arranged around the excess of power generated by heat and belief…

  2. kevin kuswa Says:

    Very fruitful exchange and we’ll have to dig into G&G in a separate thread. Veering back toward the military reductions topic, one direction the affirmative can go is to debate the intensity or scope of the military and claim an incremental improvement….

    Question: Can the affirmative debate the link to “military trade-off” arguments by contending that the resources are not fungible—they are not cut from one arena and redistributed to another? The whole military is under tight scrutiny for budget cuts, making the plan one piece of overall reductions. The idea that the US will simply redeploy its military or policy presence does not take into account the larger pressures to make major cuts in military spending. This is only an answer to a small portion of the case turn, but it seems to give the affirmative a little ground in “shift” debates. Some evidence on the momentum for military cuts….

    Joshua Green, Snr. Editor Atlantic, June 17, 2010 (“The military money pit”,, acsd 6/17/10)

    BROODING OVER the deficit is Washington’s civil religion, and as the budget gap exploded over the last two years, we’ve witnessed a revival. From the Tea Party to the White House, the deficit is a driving concern. Fear of adding to it has thwarted Democratic efforts at another stimulus. Anger over it could determine who controls Congress. No force in politics is more powerful. So it’s odd that the largest category of discretionary spending has largely escaped scrutiny: military spending. In January, when President Obama proposed a three-year freeze in discretionary spending, he pointedly exempted the military. Last week, a bipartisan group of legislators and policy experts asked an important question: Why? The group, The Sustainable Defense Task Force, encompasses the political spectrum — from Barney Frank, on the left, to Ron Paul, on the right — along with a host of military reformers. They share a belief that unrestrained military spending is a danger to the budget, and to the country. And they make a persuasive case that we can spend less without sacrificing security. Today, the United States spends more on its military than during the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Union no longer poses a threat, yet we continue to spend huge sums protecting countries in Europe and Asia. This defense subsidy allows Europeans to provide a level of social welfare far in excess of what the United States offers its citizens. If Germany, France, and Britain bore more of their own defense costs, US tax dollars could go elsewhere, or nowhere. Overpriced, underperforming weapons systems are a hardy Washington perennial also ripe for the cutting. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, and the V-22 Osprey — all identified as potential cost savings in the task force report — have been targeted by reformers for years. No less a hawk than Dick Cheney has pronounced the V-22 “a turkey.’’ That we continue paying for these weapons makes even less sense now that terrorists, not communists, are the enemy. This sorry state of affairs persists mainly for two reasons. Presidents rarely confront it: Republicans like to spend money on the military, and Democrats are afraid not to. “For years,’’ Frank said, “the major obstacle to a Democrat winning the presidency was being seen as soft on defense. That’s why Mike Dukakis put on that helmet and got in a tank.’’ The other reason is that Congress tends to think about boondoggle weapons systems in the context of jobs, not deficits. Killing a turkey is viewed as eliminating a major employer. (Last month, Frank voted over the objections of the defense secretary to fund a duplicate F-35 engine built in Lynn, but says he’d kill the fighter altogether if it came to a vote.) So we still buy useless weapons, over the protests of reformers and defense officials.
    That kind of backward thinking could start to change. Bringing the deficit under control is a zero-sum game. Eventually, we’ll have to raise taxes and cut spending. As budget pressure grows, the nearly $1 trillion in military cuts proposed by the task force could look appealing. One way of getting this done is through the president’s Deficit Reduction Commission, which will recommend a package of cuts to Congress in December for an up-or-down vote. The Sustainable Defense Task Force is lobbying the commission to do what Obama wouldn’t: consider military cuts, and in the context of the entire federal budget. Members like Frank and Paul say they’ll vote against any package that doesn’t, and encourage congressional colleagues to do likewise. Obama speaks often about overcoming old ways of thinking, but he chooses his fights carefully. He’s ducked this one for now. But it’s hard to see why he’d maintain the Democrats’ defensive crouch, especially when military spending cuts would achieve two things he holds dear. First, it would demonstrate that he’s serious about deficit cutting, which might free him and his party from their political stricture. Second, it would give him an opportunity to cooperate with Republicans, and not just moderates, but true deficit hawks like Paul. Targeting wasteful military spending — like, say, those subsidies to the French — might even channel Tea Party anger over government spending toward a productive purpose.

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