Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Smoke and Mirrors: Globalized Terrorism and the Illusion of Multilateral Security

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Smoke and Mirrors: Globalized Terrorism and the Illusion of Multilateral Security

Article excerpt

Frank P. Harvey, Smoke and Mirrors: Globalized Terrorism and the Illusion of Multilateral Security (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), xiii+342 pp. Cloth. $33.00. ISBN 0-8020-8948-8.

At the core of the heated rhetoric swirling around debates about the foreign policy of the presidential administration of George W. Bush is a vacuum. Needed to fill that vacuum is a reasoned, balanced, and contextualised examination of the administration's approach to the world outside its boundaries. Unfortunately, Smoke and Mirrors: Globalized Terrorism and the Illusion of Multilateral Security, by Dalhousie University academic Frank Harvey, is not that book.

Harvey primarily explores questions related to globalisation and security and multilateralism and unilateralism through cases studies of two Bush administration policies: its pursuit of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) and its decision to invade Iraq. In following this course, the overall weaknesses of the monograph become apparent.

In the case of ballistic missile defence, he generally avoids the most telling arguments against it: namely that the system will not work and that the resources devoted to it would be more effectively spent on ensuring the security of Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles and American ports. Nor does Harvey examine the long ideological context to the current drive to develop and deploy missile defence, specifically the fact that since the Reagan administration it has been on the wish list of American conservatives.

It is in the section on Iraq, however, where the book really runs into difficulty, especially since some of Harvey's points, apparently written soon after the fall of Baghdad but before the full rise of the current insurgency, now seem hopelessly out of date. Again, as with BMD, what is missing is any sort of contextualising of the Iraq issue. Absent is a discussion of the ideological underpinnings of the decision to invade Iraq of the type provided in James Mann's book Rise of the Vulcans.

Indeed, to put it more bluntly, the section on Iraq clearly demonstrates that this book should not have been written at this time. With the passage of a decade, for example, more documents and memoirs, such as Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies and Michael Scheuer's Imperial Hubris, will have emerged, allowing for a more nuanced account of what occurred with respect to Iraq and the invasion's relationship to wider questions of unilateralism and multilateralism. …

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