This article examines developments in the Global War on Terror in terms of a shift in focus from terrorism to insurgency. We argue that the recent focus on the problematic of insurgency involves understanding the threat of terrorism as a matter of low-intensity conflict that can best be addressed through technologies of conflict management and peace-building. The article is composed of five sections. It begins with a discussion of the shifting terrain of ‘threat’ to encode a wider logic of security tied to the governance of life. It then examines the distinction between terrorism and insurgency as a shift from an exterminatory logic poised to excise ‘enemies’ towards a focus on whole populations as besieged by underdevelopment and illiberal forms of social organisation to are to be ‘corrected’. The third section maps the shift from the preoccupation with terrorism as a form of incalculable danger to insurgency as calculable and thus rooted in socio-economic probabilities that are said to contribute to conflict within host societies. Section four investigates the spatio-temporal dimensions attached to the problematic of insurgency as signifying a movement from a terminal exceptionalism to the field of complex emergency involving the incorporation of life into technologies of international management. The article concludes by arguing that the conceptualization of insurgency signifies yet another regeneration of life wars which rearticulates and deepens the division of humanity into qualitatively distinct forms of life, contributing to the dramatic materialization of global civil war at the level of life itself.
- complex emergency
- liberal war