Privatising the War on Terror

Dr Lucas Walsh,
Dr Julien Barbara
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Mass media representations of the so-called 'War on Terror' present a war taking place on more geographic fronts, from the Western 'liberation' of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the bombings in Bali, Madrid, New York and more recently, London. These representations foster a view that the War on Terror is taking place both everywhere and nowhere in particular, and in doing so, provides Western Governments with an opportunity to mobilise public support in new and ubiquitous ways.

The authors use recent 'skirmishes' in the War on Terror to discuss the ways in which this support is mobilised, and its implications. It is argued that, where governments have propagated war as a political tool in the past, the War on Terror has seen this strategy taken to new and alarming levels. As a perpetual war, the War on Terror is globalised and marketised; a privatised war fought increasingly by private military corporations operating outside the conventional state-based war framework and capitalising on global-based markets. Furthermore, communications technology has paradoxically made the War on Terror seem both immediate and distant, enlisting citizens as hyper-consumers with a patriotic duty to spend their way to victory while trusting governments to wage war on their behalf. The result is that where once war was a state-controlled tool of mass mobilisation and control, privatised war is now individualised, diffuse and uncontrollable with a terrifying and perhaps unstoppable momentum of its own. The consequence is the rapid erosion of personal and civil liberties.

Keywords: War on Terror, Privatised War, globalisation, Media, Human Rights
Stream: Political Science, Politics
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Lucas Walsh

Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts, Deakin University

Dr Walsh is currently involved in research across three areas: e-learning and cultural heritage; cultural diversity in education; and the impact of digital media on civil society and new forms of governance. He is currently also a fellow of the Department of Learning and Educational Development at the University of Melbourne. Dr Walsh is also an active member of the Education Family-Taskforce on Education, Academia and Research within the framework of the Civil Society contribution to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) organized by the United Nations. A recurrent theme of his research has been the theoretical and applied issues arising from the complex nexus of technology, education, culture, citizenship and governance in contemporary society.

Dr Julien Barbara

Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts, Deakin University

Dr Barbara is a Research Fellow at Deakin University’s Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. His current research interests include the privatisation of war, the role of the private sector in peacebuilding and development, shadow globalisation and processes of state failure and state formation. Dr Barbara has worked previously as an Australian diplomat posted to the European Union and for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade where he worked on East Timor and Pacific Island issues.

Ref: H06P0120