Simon Dalby

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Imperial Geopolitics

Since my Ph.D. research on cold war geopolitics I have continued to work on matters of international security and the geographical dimensions of global politics. My current research on this focuses on the policy and intellectual sources of the so called "Bush Doctrine".

This research project investigates the geographical thinking in the current Bush Administration security and defense policies and in particular the doctrines of pre-emption and pre-eminence. Its focus is on the strategic logic of the launch of the “War on Terror” in response to the events of September 11th 2001; the invasion of Iraq in 2003; the current “revolution in military affairs” based on high tech innovations; and the ongoing discussions about National Missile Defense and new strategic doctrines to employ American dominance of spaceand the global reach of its military forces.

The theme of empire is back in vogue in political discussion as an interpretativescheme to make sense of recent political events. Numerous commentators haveinvoked analogies with the Roman empire, and with the British empire, to explain contemporary American policy. But while discussions of globalizationalso continue apace in many disciplines, the new military dimensions of globalpolitics after September 11th have not yet been widely incorporated intoacademic research on globalization. Empire apparently adds a furthercomplication, but it also reveals the importance of the implicit geographicaldesignations of politics in these discussions.

The research will ask both how the geographical concepts in official documents,political commentary and academic analysis shape strategic thinking, and howthe arguments about empire and globalization rely on particular forms of geographical representation. Both contemporary globalization and the relevanceof the discussions of empire will be understood better with the addition of themilitary dimension. Considering these themes together provides a betterexplanation of each. The geographical assumptions in this reasoning are key tounderstanding the academic debates of military doctrines as well as the currentpolicy discussions. The research is supported by a Social Sciences andHumanities Research Council Standard Research Grant.

A second phase of this research has just begun which extends the analysis to examine the response by four states that were once part of the British empire to the American launched "global war on terror" and to the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Most of the academic and policy debate about the so called "Bush doctrine", as well as the numerous claims that the U.S. is now an empire, have focused on the United States and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom. Looking at the policy discussions in India, Singapore, Australia and Canada extends this discussion of contemporary empire "the Bush doctrine" and what it all means for globalization, by examining how it has been received and acted upon outside Washington and London. This too is supported by a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

This research is discussed in:

"Geopolitics, The Revolution in Military Affairs and The Bush Doctrine" International Politics 46(2/3). 2009. 234-252.

"Imperialism, Domination, Culture: The Continued Relevance of Critical Geopolitics" Geopolitics 13(3). 2008. 413-436.

"Warrior Geopolitics: Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and the Kingdom of Heaven" Political Geography 27(4). 2008. 439-455.

"Regions, Strategies, and Empire in the Global War on Terror" Geopolitics 12(4). 2007. 586-606.

"The Pentagon's New Imperial Cartography: Tabloid Realism and the War on Terror" in Derek Gregory and Allan Pred (eds) Violent Geographies: Fear, Terror and Political Violence New York: Routledge, 2007.  295-308.

"Geopolitics, Grand Strategy and the Bush Doctrine: The Strategic Dimensions of U.S. Hegemony under George W. Bush” in Charles Philippe David and David Grondin (eds) Hegemony or Empire? The Redefinition of American Power under George W. Bush Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006. 33-49. 

"Political Space: Autonomy, Liberalism and Empire" Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 30(4). 2005. 415-441. 

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