A Postmodern Fantasy

In Cole, 2008, pp. 98-100, I also discussed the ‘postmodern fanatasy’ of Robert Cooper (2002, p. 5).4 Briefly, Cooper argues that postmodern imperialism takes two forms. The first is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy, where institutions like the IMF and the World Bank provide help to states ‘wishing to find their way back into the global economy and into the virtuous circle of investment and prosperity’ (ibid.). If states wish to benefit, he goes on ‘they must open themselves up to the interfer?ence of international organisations and foreign states’ (ibid.) (my emphasis). Cooper (ibid.) refers to this as a new kind of imperialism, one which is needed and is acceptable to what he refers to as ‘a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values’: an imperialism ‘which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation’ [he does not mention exploitation and oppression] ‘but which rests today on the voluntary principle’. While ‘[w] ithin the postmodern world, there are no security threats’ ... ‘that is to say, its members do not consider invading each other’ (Ibid., p. 3), that world, according to Cooper has a right to invade others. The ‘postmodern world’ has a right to pre-emptive attack, deception and whatever else is necessary.

The second form of postmodern imperialism Cooper calls ‘the imperialism of neighbours’, where instability ‘in your neighbourhood poses threats which no state can ignore’. It is not merely soldiers that come from the international community; he argues, ‘it is police, judges, prison officers, central bankers and others’ (my emphasis). Between 1999 and 2001, Cooper was Tony Blair’s Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat, in the British Cabinet Office.

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