Saskia Sassen at openDemocracy:
Today the search for national security may well become a source for urban insecurity. The “war on terror” reveals that cities become the theatres for asymmetric war, regardless of what side of the divide they are – allies or enemies. The attacks in Madrid, London, Casablanca, Bali, are symptomatic. So too is the United States’s conventional military aerial bombing. It took under three weeks to destroy the Iraqi army’s resistance and take over power in 2003. But then the asymmetric wars set in, with Baghdad, Mosul, Basra, and other Iraqi cities the sites of conflict – for years. Indeed, the fact that the Mumbai attackers evidently sought and prized Americans and British among the hostages they took, is clearly related to George W Bush’s declaration of war on Iraq and Britain’s supportive role.
The traditional security paradigm based on national-state security does not accommodate this triangulation. What may be good to protect the national state apparatus may cost major cities and their people a high (increasingly high) price. In the dense and conflictive spaces of cities, a variety of forms of violence can be foreseen.
Moreover, new kinds of crises may result from the major environmental disasters that are looming in our immediate futures. These will further challenge the traditional commercial and civic capacities that have allowed cities to avoid war when confronted with conflict. These crises could feed the violence that can arise from extreme economic inequality, and racial and religious conflicts.
Read the full essay here.
More at The Immanent Frame, including responses to the attacks in Mumbai by Arjun Appadurai, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Sumit Ganguly, and Vijay Prashad.