prof. stephen graham; cities as battlespace: the new military urbanism

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An exposé of how contemporary political violence now operates through the sites, spaces and infrastructures of everyday urban life. Cities are the new battleground of our increasingly urban world. From the slums of the global South to the wealthy financial centers of the West, "Cities as Battlespace: The New Military Urbanism', a presentation based on the 2010 Verso book 'Cities Under Siege', traces the spread of political violence through the sites, spaces, infrastructure and symbols of the world’s rapidly expanding metropolitan areas.

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  • 1. Cities as Battlespace: The New Military Urbanism
    Stephen Graham
    Global Urban ResearchUnit
    School of Architecture
    Planning & Landscape
    Newcastle University, U.K.

2. Israel, 2002: A walk on the dark sideIn 1998, at the same time that urbangeographers were writing that cities are places where identities form, social capital is built, andnew forms of collective action emerge, the US Marine Corps explained the phenomenon a bitdifferently: "cities historically are the places where radical ideas ferment, dissenters find allies anddiscontented groups find media attention" thereby making cities "a likely source of conflict in the future Gan Golan (2005)
3. Today, wars are fought not in trenches and fields, but in living rooms, schools and supermarkets Seymour BarakatThe city will be the strategic high ground whoever controls it will dictate the course of future events in the world. Keith DicksonThe city [is] not just the site, but the very medium of warfare a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux Eyal Weizman
4. To understand this new military urbanism, we must address broader modern histories of urban militarism.Deep and complex geneologies: (i) Attempts at pacifying colonised cities (Jaffa)
5. (ii) CIAMs urban modernism and strategic bombing
6. (iii) Mendelsons Utah tenements
7. (iv) Urban exterminism and Cold War decentralisation
8. (v) Interstate and defense highway system
9. Foucaults boomerang
Mobile exemplars of architectural
and control technology
It should never be forgotten that while colonization, with its techniques and its political and juridical weapons, obviously transported European models to other continents, it also had a considerable boomerang effect on the mechanisms of power in the West, and on the apparatuses, institutions, and techniques of power. A whole series of colonial models was brought back to the West, and the result was that the West could practice something resembling colonization, or an internal colonialism, on itself
Michel Foucault, Society Must be Defended, 2003.
10. Historic boomerangs
11. A new military urbanism is emerging, constituted through a complex set of Foucauldian boomerangs Theseprofoundly connect attempts at urban securitisation in Homeland cities and colonial, counter-insurgency, urban warfareBoth shaped by a linked idea of permanently and preemptively targeting the everyday sites, circulations and spaces of cities as battlespace within assymetric or non-traditional warfareBlurs war-peace; policing- intelligence-military force;liberal inside - illiberal outside of nations; local - global
12. 13. Some IIlustrative examples:1. Linked, anti-urban, Manichean, imaginative geographies
14. Cosmopolitanism and Homeland: Inner city Orientalism
Far-Right often see cosmopolitan domestic cities as beyond the authentic spaces of the nation
Rural areas have become the heartland of militarism and 'authentic' patriotism Deborah Cowan
Law Enforcement agencies and militaries are often bastions of ethno-nationalist, anti-urban right.
15. Such discourses work to render all cities as intrinsically pathological and requiring highly militarised securityKatrina:Iraqification of domestic response - Urban Operations against insurgents to reclaimNew Orleans
16. Expeditionary urban operations shaped (or at least justified) through domestic urban paradigms
17. 18. Negev: Baladia -Fake Palestinian city built for IDF by US Army Corps of Engineers
19. Popular Orientalism: Intrinsically devious cities
20. 21. 22. Whilst mock Arab cities pepper theHomeland,
mock UScities (bases) dot the fringes of Empire
23. The Ultimate Boomerang?
Newest Raytheon control systems deliberately use the same HOTAS [hands on stick and throttle] system on a [ ] video game.
Raytheons UAV designer argues that theres no point in re-inventing the wheel. The current generation of pilots was raised on the [Sony] Playstation, so we created an interface that [the pilots] will immediately understand
Inside the trailers, crews dont get even the sensation of flying that one gets in a flight simulator, writes Kaplan. The real tension for these pilots comes from the clash with everything outside the trailers. beyond Nellis is the banal world of spouses, kids, homework, and soccer games not to mention the absurdity of a city where even the gas stations have slot machines. Simply entering or leaving one of the trailers is tremendously disorienting.
Quoted in RobertKaplan , Hunting The Taliban In Las Vegas, Atlantic Monthly, Aug 4, 2006,
24. 2. Converging political economies: Security-industrial complexes & the new security economy2.
25. 26. Normalisation of non-lethal weapons against urban publics? Sonic warfare hits the high street (Steve Goodman)
27. Israel as global exemplarMany of the country's most successful entrepreneurs [ are now] using Israel's status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom--a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war. Naomi Klein
28. Global cities, neoliberal financialisation and the distant projection of violence
One of the fundamental determinants of [modern] experience, suggests Frederic Jameson, can be found in the way imperialism masks and conceals the nature of its system.Frederic Jameson
Critical research necessary to alertus to one of the more ominous accomplishments of our urban culture: The barbaric killing of cities in the new and old colonies. Stefan Kipker andKanish Goonewardena
29. New military-industrial-academicsecurity/simulation complexes
30. 3. Urban design boomerangs: Related Shifts to a Passage-Point Urbanism- Jittery Camps and Archipelagoes of Enclaves
The new bunker is a passage from one point to another
Paul Virilio and Sylvere Lotringer
31. Green-Zones ==== Security Zones (Jeremy Nemeth)
32. 33. 34. 35. Urban design principles:The new blast zone
36. 4. Mobile exemplars as shop windows for legal, physical and technological aspects of the new military urbanism
37. 38. 39. Pre-emptive geographies: anti-democratic legal suspensions, criminalisation and pervasive terror labelling(Gan Golan)
40. Complex overlaps with broader legal geographies of revanchist urbanism, zero tolerance &pre-emptive exclusion and criminalisation
41. 5. Deep anti-urban obsession with trying to permanently unveil cities through new surveillance assemblagesTechnophilia: Latest military-standard surveillance equipment increasingly normalised in everyday policing of domestic cities
42. Targeting & armed vision: Jordan Crandall
Fantasy of being switching on and off to distinguish between friend and enemy. Bottomley and Moore)
Tracking is integral to the emergingmodes of governance and sovereign and military power based on anticipatory seeing (Crandall 1999)
While civilian images are embedded in processes of identification based on reflection, militarised perspectives collapse identification processes into Id-ing - a one-way channel of identification in which a conduit, a database, anda body are aligned and calibrated (1999)
Represents a gradual colonization of the now, a now always slightly ahead of itself(1999).
43. 44. 45. Video analytics: Pre-emptive, algorithmic definition of urban normality and putative threat
u
46. 47. 48. Biometric boomerangs: An evolving global norm of securitized identity John Measor and Benjamin Muller
49. Data mining and data fusion
50. 51. 52. 53. 6. Global homelands? National borders increasingly merge into urban sites and transnational infrastructures
Homeland security is now an away game. We dontwant [threats] to get in our airspace, on our land or close to our shoreline in the maritime domain. So we are working very hard with the other regional combatant commanders so as to roll up the bad guys, capture or kill them and interrupt their attacks.
US Navy Admiral Tim King
54. 55. Containersecurity initiative
56. NSAs internet surveillance
57. Function creep & computerised automobility: Congestion charge zones morph into Security Zones
58. 59. 7. Securitisation of everyday urban infrastructures: Biopolitics of urban, logistical societies Infrastructural terrorism
60. Water
61. Streets
62. Parallelled by much more stealthy, invisible, and deadlystate infrastructural warfare
"If you want to destroy someone nowadays, you go after their infrastructure"
(Phil Agre, 2001)
63. Switching cities off: Bomb now, die later The war onpublic healthe.g. Gaza, 1967-, Lebanon, 2006, Iraq, 1991
64. Beyond the Master Narratives: Important Caveats
Technophiliac desire but strategic failure:. In Iraq & Afghanistan Americas military fantasy [ ] morphed into its military nightmare: a cumbersome high-tech army of soft American kids bogged down in Iraqi cities fighting a low-tech and determined insurgency Christian Parenti
Internally contested
Seductive technophilia of master narratives masks messy situated & improvised practices, failures and kludges
Often of very limited effectiveness in cities
Nevertheless technophiliac dreams of omniscience, omnipotence & automation underpinning the new military urbanism areremarkably resilient
65. Some concluding questions:
Normalising the techniques and imaginariesof the new militaryurbanismtends to sustainfetishise certain risks; obfuscate others.
Anti-democratic, anti-cosmopolitan, anti-urban: Manichean abstractions translate difference into othering, othering into targeting,targeting into violence
Brings danger that