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Against the backdrop of the British-American law- and war-making of the first decade of the millennium, Fighting Monsters considers how the way we think about law affects the way we make war and how the way we think about war affects the way we make law.
The discussion is founded upon four of the martial phenomena (aggressive or 'pre-emptive' war, targeted killings, torture and arbitrary detention) that unsettle our complacent and flabby understandings of what law is to a liberal democracy.
The author argues, first, that force is a quintessential albeit ambivalent element of any realistic, serviceable and intellectually coherent concept of law. Second, reappraising the classic question at the intersection of martial doctrine and political philosophy in its contemporary context, the author asserts that we need not, in fighting monsters, become monstrous ourselves; that fighting partisans does not entail our own partisanship; and that we can indeed govern without dirtying our hands.
Seeking to ground a total, essentialist and practical theory of legality's sordid relationship with brutality, the book encompasses language and image; war and crime; liberty, security and rationality; amity, enmity and identity; sex, terror and perversion; temporality, spirituality and sublimity; economy and hegemony; parliaments, the press and the public man.