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The Police of Civilization: The War on Terror as Civilizing Offensive



This article deals with two contemporary issues: the return of “civilization” as a category of international power and the common refrain that war is now looking more and more like a police action. The article shows that these two issues are deeply connected. They have their roots in the historical connection between “civilization” and “police.” Through an exercise the history of ideas as an essay in international political sociology, the article unravels the connection between these issues. In so doing, it suggests that a greater sensitivity to the broader police concept in the original police science might help us understand the war on terror as a civilizing offensive: as the violent conjunction of war and police.