Multitude, by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, adds enormous clarity to the libertarian worldview.
The Westphalian nation-state’s sovereignty rested on its sole right
to define the legitimacy of both use of violence within its boundaries
and the exercise of violence against other nation-states. Under the
Westphalian system, whatever their differences in actual military power,
states regarded each other as equal sovereigns, with equal claims to
territorial integrity and equal rights to conduct war, subject to common
standards of legitimacy under international law.
This has been superseded by Empire. The Hegemon has the sole right to
define legitimate state violence within the world system. It becomes,
in effect, a super-state, excercising the same sovereign rights in the
world-system as a whole that ordinary nation-states exercise internally.
Hence the American national security establishment defining as a
“threat” the credible ability to successfully resist American attack,
and “aggression” as refusal to obey the Hegemon’s orders.
The Hegemon, as sovereign of the world-system, upholds a global
system of power in exactly the same way national governments uphold
their domestic systems of power.
War, for the Hegemon, is a police activity. Wars in the Westphalian
system were limited to specific theaters of operations and specific
timespans, directed against defined nation-states, and ended by treaty
when their finite objectives were met. But the Hegemon’s military action
is no extraordinary state of affairs that punctuates periods of peace;
it is the normal, “peacetime” state of activity. Like the operation of
police forces within the nation-state, the Empire’s military actions are
continuous and omnipresent acts by which the system is constituted and
maintained. War is the normal global state of affairs, just as “law
enforcement” is the domestic norm.
The blurring between military and police action is exemplified by
several things: Militarization of domestic police forces through SWAT
teams; erosion of constraints on the use of the regular military for
domestic law enforcement; and the use of drone warfare for constant
police action in which foreign nationals are killed in large numbers on
the territories of formerly sovereign nation-states, with which the U.S.
is formally at peace, with or without their governments’ permission.