City at a Time of Crisis

 

 

Tracing and researching crisis-ridden urban public spaces

in Athens, Greece.

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10
Jun2013

Performing the state of emergency in situ, part 3 (intervention)

III. Paradigmatic constructions at a time of crisis

Our brief but nevertheless demanding perambulation in both the world of linguistics and the field of epistemology aimed at setting the theoretical foundations for an alternative comprehension of the informal, undeclared and performative appearances of the state of emergency. We now ought to test out the limit of these, by peeking over the bleak present as outlined by the intensive police operations against select façades of public space in Athens and beyond. An opportunity to conduct such an exercise is offered by the coordinated eviction operations of specific squats that took place in the city of Athens in the period between December 2012 and January 2013 (whilst it is not yet possible for us to tell whether the current period, today, comprises a mere pause in the materialisation of this plan).

A number of attempts have been made to comprehend the coordinated attack launched against these antagonistic structures during that month –– and we do not hereby wish to downplay any of these. The opinion holds truth that the state, facilitating the plans of the far-right in the wider area of the urban centre, had the evident intention to attack the nuclei of resistance, hence wiping off their trace and even more importantly, their social capacities from the metropolitan map.

The widespread claim is also important, that the actual target of this repressive operation was to directly attack ––with whatever symbolic extension–– those who fight and resist; reserving, in addition, a certain message for the practice of squatting as means for the needs of the wider antagonism. Beyond these interpretations, which we hold every right to support ––and which are only some within the world of interpretative capacities–– the present article wishes to insist upon another aspect of these operations, which appears to somewhat escape us yet nevertheless acts quietly toward the (re)production of a crucial meaning for its own self.   

It would be interesting, then, to focus upon the fact in itself that these operations took place [1]; that is, to focus upon the materiality and the performance of these operations, upon the particular ways in which they were applied and upon the theoretical-conceptual framework that appears to explain and to have meticulously prepared them. One could therefore suggest that a crucial meaning is produced during the public appearance (or exposure, as per Agamben) of these operations, as forms that are lead, through their repetition, to their own self-comprehension, their self-legitimisation and further, their self-improvement. Forms that are to a large extent self-referential, essentially requiring their exposure to public light in order to hold meaning as such.

Forms that have to be tested and tried out in practical terms (as that necessary element that does the “dirty” experimental lab work as parts of a mechanism of crisis management), as defined, today, by the ideological and political preconditions for any discussion around the “crisis”. And it us upon the field formed by these experiments that we ought to seek the signs revealing that a paradigmatic operation is, indeed, under way. The environment formed (also) by the operations in question bears the characteristics of a peculiar state of emergency, and therefore appears to offer the space necessary for the assembling of a (new) paradigm. We are called, therefore, to manage these operations as experiments that are part of a theoretical environment and a scientific-police community, which will continue to design and develop itself based upon the observational statements that accompany the experiments in question. In other words, we can comprehend these operations as exercises in real space, at real time. Not only as means toward an end, but as an end in themselves –– once again referring, in a way, to the parable of the worker and the empty wheel-barrels and describing, as such, the apogee of the self-satisfaction of sovereignty. In order to comprehend this peculiar self-referential function, it would therefore make sense to focus upon the materialities of this informal state of emergency and upon the ways in which this is performed –– commencing, however, from the ideological and conceptual framework that it conceals. That is, from the metaphysical (as per Chalmers) rules of the paradigm and the particular theory that navigates it.

What nowadays breaks out almost entirely naturally obscures an intensive attempt of ideological re-definition, some origins of which we could trace back in the period following the revolt of December 2008. In face of the awe caused by the latter, and amidst the panic that overwhelmed the local sovereignty as a consequence both of the spread of the antagonistic movement processes and of the birth of a new cycle of political counter-violence, the need became imperative for some restoration of legal order that would be first and foremost ideological and conceptual. It was Michalis Chrisochoidis who undertook this difficult mission, specialised as he is in counter-terrorism matters –– and it was him who attempted to catch up with the lost ideological ground thus highlighting, in a way, the responsibilities of his predecessors in regard to the administration of the December revolt.

What he made evident then is that there was an urgent requirement for the conceptual and ––by extension, the social–– balances that were shattered following the outbreak of December to be restored, hence activating a co-ordinated ideological-police plan under the broad subject title “Zero tolerance to anomie”. [2] More specifically, zero tolerance against forms of political anomie that cut through political demands and social conflicts, which one could position in the tradition of anomie that commences, according to Foucault’s observations, already from the passage from the 18th into the 19th century. [3] We therefore enter a “counter-revolt” period: one that could have been interpreted, at that particular historical moment, through a strictly etymological lens –– that is, as the period that followed the revolt, rather than as a conscious expression of that particular military tradition called counterinsurgency.

Yet, it is characterised by a meticulous policy which, in its attempt to manage the “up until then latent social antagonism”, as this was exposed through December’s revolt, [4] was structured around the main target of theory and practice of the counterinsurgency, namely to “win (once again) the hearts and minds” of the population,[5] in this way beginning once again to invest ideologically. Ever since, colossal transformations have taken place in the greek reality, admittedly suggesting an exemplary case of acceleration of historical time. And if there is one thing that has some importance amidst the environment created by these transformations, it is surely the fact that the setting demarcated by the discourses about the crisis today begins to show, gradually, some alarming resemblance to the models produced by the official manuals and the literature of counterinsurgency on behalf of the operations taking place at crucial areas of the capitalist periphery. What, then, Chrisochoidis termed the “End of Anomie” a few years ago ––attempting to react, if instinctively, to the unprecedented production of political demands and political counter-violence–– appears to have matured, nowadays enjoying a holistic and uninterrupted accession into the official rhetoric of counterinsurgency: counterinsurgency, that is, as that specific range of military-police operations that have been meticulously and patiently producing a tradition of their own during the past five decades at least. [6]

But what is it that somewhat validates the accession of the domestic policies of public order into the official military family of the counterinsurgency? A plausible answer appears to lie in the relevant contemporary analyses and manuals that deal with the subject of counterinsurgency itself. Even a quick skim through, then, would allow for the detection of the crucial position reserved in the discussion for the notion of nation building –– for the process, that is, through which a “pariah-state” (Iraq and Afghanistan comprise perhaps the most telling examples in the manuals in question) carrying the signs of some serious political, financial and social “destabilisation”, attempts to restore its vital functions with the aid or the imposition of third parties. This rehabilitation becomes the subject of military negotiation precisely because it is only a military intervention ––and by extension, only the systematic presence of military force in these areas–– that may guarantee and allow for these functions to be restored effectively. And, avoiding, by reason of economy of space, to enter into any further detail concerning the ways of involvement of third party-countries as well as the ways in which a state is considered to be characterised by such destabilisation signs, it is worth keeping in mind the strong ties that appear to exist between military operations and economic development in the crucial fields where these operations are under way. “COIN (counterinsurgency) operations...”, writes the noted American manual on counterinsurgency, “...combine offensive, defensive, and stability operations to achieve the stable and secure environment needed for effective governance, essential services, and economic development”. [7] These operations are vital, then, for the formation of a safe environment, in turn necessary for a country’s financial development. And they comprise the precondition for the gradual formation of “...an environment that attracts outside capital for further development”. [8] The manual even stresses out that “In an unstable environment, the military may initially have the leading role”. [9] And in regards to economic development in particular, it suggests: “Create an environment where business can thrive. In every state (except perhaps a completely socialist one), business drive the economy. To strengthen the economy, find ways to encourage and support legitimate business activities. Even providing security is part of a positive business environment”. [10]

Gradually, then, a few structural similarities begin to be sketched out with the greek reality –– which is nowadays formed on the one hand by the discourses about the crisis and on the other hand by the intensification of the policies of repression. And it requires no great effort for one to see that the rhetoric and the policy of fiscal adjustment of Greece, moving in tandem with the all-out attack against political demands and struggles, refer to a process of a very particular nation building (or, to be precise, nation rebuilding), [11] wherein the sector of security appears to consistently hold a leading role. [12] The redesign of the public security dogma, so heavily promoted today, is not independent from the demand for the formation of a secure economic environment, as it was vividly articulated in the American counterinsurgency manual. And it is materialised in full correlation to the demands and the particularities of what David J. Kilcullen, perhaps the most important contemporary theoretician of counterinsurgency, terms domestic counterinsurgency. [13] In this direction, today’s minister of public order, Nikos Dendias, appears to be taking on the ideological construction of his predecessor regarding the end of anomie –– and bringing it up to date, fine-tuning it with the demands articulated through the agenda of fiscal adjustment. [14] For the purposes of this fine-tuning the minister chooses to mobilise the most militarised part of the greek police with some ever-increasing frequency –– thus confirming that the boundaries between police and military forces have already started to be negotiable, precisely as dictated by the state of emergency. [15] This militarisation becomes the most trustworthy indicator of the existence of effective domestic security forces and therefore, the main prerequisite for a safe investment environment. The recent case of the sabotage of the gold mine extraction facilities in Skouries (Chalkidiki) comprises a typical example of such. Both the repression that followed the sabotage and the discourse that outshone the public dialogue carry remarkable similarities with the observations of the theoreticians of counterinsurgency. “'Commando' terrorist attack against the investments”, wrote the newspaper Ta Nea on February 18, [16] whilst in the article of the newspaper Kathimerini titled “Foreign investments in the gold mines are now rope walking”, the links in question were articulated outright: “the management of the company...”, quotes the article in question, “directly questioned, last week, the capacity of the Greek state to manage large-scale investments and sent a clear message to the government that, 'should a clear and meticulous investment landscape not be formed', it will abandon Greece”. [17] There is therefore no doubt in that the clearness and the meticulousness of the landscape in question could only be guaranteed by the advancing of repressive technologies –– something that Dendias did not hesitate to try out straight away by applying, in relation to this case, policies of public order with unprecedented combative and refined characteristics. One month ago, on the occasion of the reactions that followed the eviction of the squats, he had stated: “should there be no public security, there will never be any economic recovery. Who will ever come to invest even one euro in the country?”. [18]

We therefore understand that the environment of emergency that nowadays plays host to the production of phenomena of public space, is constructed first and foremost at an ideological level; imposing, as Chalmers would argue, a very specific comprehension regarding the way in which the (social) world operates in its entirety and, by extension, a very specific metaphysics of meaning that the military administration of the crisis is designed on –– or, in order to be precise, the crisis-as-its-military-administration. In this way, the crucial “metaphysical rules that guide scientific work” as part of the new juridico-repressive paradigm are safeguarded, hence paving the way for the constitution of the paradigm itself as such. Both the feverish, repeated procedures at the level of ideological production and the constructive dimension in the notion of nation building point out the performative property of the state of emergency. The latter, to recall Athanasiou’s reading, “'refreshes' the phantasmatic of an otherwise 'redundant' sovereignty therefore creating a contemporary form of sovereignty in the field of governmentality”. It is precisely within this framework that this new form of sovereign authority must either manage the fields of social conflict formed by the policies of extreme austerity, turning them into fields of vehement police-military operation –– or to invent them, should these not exist. The onslaught against squats, approximately one month prior to the sabotage case at the Chalkidiki mines, may be positioned somewhere between these two capacities: both as operations against a long-time open political-ideological front, with some nevertheless entirely material expressions, as well as as operations whose centrality was constructed ideologically, for other reasons, at the time when these operations took place.

These other reasons are also located in some open fronts that the state (and its right-wing articulation in particular) has with itself –– particularly within the fact that the long-time-coming moment has arrived for it to prove that it is, indeed, the “responsible guarantor with the duty of the ultimate decision”, [19] something that presupposes, evidently, a radical redefinition of its relationship to the state of emergency. In this direction, it will either duly utilise any given opportunities offered to it, or it will attempt to form the conditions that will allow it to exercise, in practical and communicative terms, the redefinition in question. It will attempt, then, to construct some crucial fields of experiment. Migrant populations undoubtedly comprise one such privileged field to test out the new dogma of public security –– as social categories that are forced, from the moment they appear in the hostile Greek territory, to reside in extra-juridical spheres –– and hence, as “repression friendly” populations par excellence. [20] Next to the migrant populations, squats were deemed appropriate, at the present time, to comprise an additional testing field. Both the specific political-antagonist-antistatist tradition they comprise part of and their nature per se ––as projects that have additionally interrupted, long ago, their relationship first and foremost with Civil Law–– in a sense condense elements of what Günther Jakobs, drawing from Kant, describes as statu iniusto (“lawlessness of their condition”) in his theory for the Criminal Law of the Enemy, [21] hence ideologically “legitimizing” whatever operations might take place against them –– and forming a safe field of experimentation for the state. It is upon the utilisation of this particularity that the eviction operations of squats were planned out. And the ultimate aim was not only the show of state force, but also the testing out of all the ways and forms through which this showing off could, at a practical level, be successfully completed.

As mentioned already, these experiments took place in the heart of the long-declared “war against anomie”. This war, however, had the redesigning of public security dogma and a fresh conceptual framework as prerequisites. [22] Today, this in turn requires a complete transformation of the Greek police’s structures –– one that will concern not only the combatant units, but also all those who, as Panagiotis Kondylis would argue, “are not concerned with the application of violence in itself, but with the successful preparation of this application”. [23] It was for the needs of this redesigning process that Dendias resorted to importing know-how from the US –– something that was certified by his recent trip to New York. Such know-how is clearly not limited only to practical advice and issues of tactical policing of cities, but it also includes conceptual and operational borrowings, which concern both the conceptualisation of cities as well as the way of conceiving operations within these. Yet this turning of the gaze toward the model security industry of the US does not appear to be yet another narcissistic vision of some minister’s; rather, it was meticulously organised over a lengthy time period –– which proves indeed that a new paradigm, in an epistemological sense, has been activated. Quite a few months before the New York visit in question, an article in the newspaper To Vima referred to contacts between Dendias and the city’s ex-mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, as well as the ex-head official of the NYPD, William Bratton. [24]

Dendias’ contacts with the US security industry were therefore neither generic nor abstract. To the contrary, what the minister wished to introduce from the upstart was an unprecedented technology of urban space surveillance, similar to the one developed in New York City in the nineties –– and which came to be known as the Zero Tolerance dogma. [25] More specifically, the two prominent individuals that Dendias was in touch with from the summer of 2012 already are the same ones who made sure to practically apply the renown Broken Windows Theory, a particular theory of criminology that pushed for the extended police control of urban environments, and the spread of repressive operations in as many fields of everyday urban life as possible –– all on the basis of a questionable hypothesis concerning the escalation of violence and “anti-social” behaviour. [26] In practice, this theory first of all meant a new way of recording, storing and mapping out criminal acts –– which in turn demanded a new, automated real-time information management system. In an interview of his, five months after the publication of the article in question, Dendias would even explicitly refer to the Broken Windows Theory when attempting to position himself in relation to the squats’ evictions. He said at the time:  “What we had seen taking place in our country was the phenomenon of the 'broken window' [...] Our will is not only to fix the 'damage', but prevent it from reoccurring; to erect a social wall against anomie. To put an end to the many 'broken windows' of our collective presence in public space”. [27] Yet Dendias’ intention, through this communication, was not only to familiarise himself with the tools and techniques that would allow him the capacity to dictate the new “crime map” of the centre of Athens. In addition, as the article in question informs us, one of his main targets was to import know-how concerning the facing of “wild criminality” [28]. More specifically, to receive advice in regards to the constitution of new police units, with special equipment and heavy arms. The article refers to the notorious SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) Unit, which in the case of New York comes under the Emergency Service Unit (ESU). This is one of the most militarised units of the US police, specialised in counter-terrorism operations. This is, in other words, what for the time being corresponds, in the Greek police family, to the Special Counter-Terrorist Unit (EKAM).

Approximately two weeks after the publication of this article, the eviction of the “Delta” squat in Thessaloniki would show that the Greek Police’s reconstruction plan was swiftly being brought into action. [29] Fully armed men of the EKAM unit stormed the building in the early hours of September 12, 2012 –– in a military operation for which the Greek police made sure, for the first time, to take on its communicative management by uploading related video footage on its official website. [30] It was evident that the eviction in question did not comprise yet another operation of the greek police, but point zero in a circle of experiments on the basis of the new paradigm that the policing science had been working on for a while. On January 9, 2013, similar operations were repeated at the “Villa Amalias” squat (following the reoccupation of the building, which had been evicted on December 12, 2012) [31] and “Patision 61 & Skaramanga” squat, [32] while six days later, a similar operation took place at the “Lela Karagianni” squat, [33] which was eventually considered a “search” and not an eviction operation –– and for which the Greek Police did not even issue any relevant press release. EKAM units were also used for the eviction of the occupation of the headquarters of Democratic Left, on January 9, 2013, which had taken place in show of solidarity to the reoccupation of Villa Amalias. Then again, during the eviction of the metro depot in Sepolia (Athens), which was under occupation by its striking workers, on January 25, 2013. And finally, in the raid operation in the village of Ierissos, Chalkidiki, on March 7, 2013, for the arrest of suspects for the sabotage of the area’s gold mines. And so, after the pilot operation of September a field was swiftly constructed that one could say, gives shape and hence makes more tangible and intelligible the scientific subject that had been ideologically constructed through the discourse over anomie. At this point, we shall therefore repeat that beyond the message of authoritarianism these operations aimed at transmitting, a tremendously important meaning was gestated in the means-as-end in itself; one that, through its repeated use is auto-corrected and self-developed. In this ideological environment, as described above, the militarisation of public space as a sign of modernisation of the state apparatus comprises a product whose demand is meticulously constructed. And it is within this constructed demand that the product ought to improve its characteristics, forming an operational paradigm that constantly supplies its own self.

Hence, in order for one to study the practicalities and the materialities of this paradigm, they would ought to study its conceptual framework as well. Chalmers writes that “every paradigm comprises a particular conceptual framework through which the world is conceived and described; and a specific sum of experimental and theoretical techniques for the adjustment of the paradigm to nature”. [34] And so, next to the ideological constructions that secure the legitimisation of the paradigm in question, a series of notions is also developed, which in a sense complement the theoretical prerequisites of this policing disciplinary matrix (with the term disciplinary hereby acquiring its dual meaning). The insistence of this article upon the conceptual framework does not derive from some inexplicable obsession, nor from any overvalued epistemological projections in the field of military-police operations. To the contrary, it follows upon the wider discussion that is fully under way today in the circles of the most advanced military headquarters. By now, the observations of the architect Eyal Weizman concerning the integration of elements of critical theory and post-structuralism in the repertoire of the Israeli Defence Forces are well known. Beyond the explicit and justified doubt expressed on whether the introduction of this theory in military practices aims at nothing but the hiding of the bloody results of the latter, the interesting fact remains that these unfamiliar and abstract schemas have had, to an extent, an influence upon the design of specific operations. The recently appeared operational theory, which is officially taught by the Operational Theory Research Institute, acts precisely in the direction of the application of theoretical and conceptual innovations in operational design. In military jargon, it is located “somewhere between strategy and tactics” [35] and one could claim that it comprises, in a sense, a concept testing field –– the ultimate aim being their application in the primary branch of operational design. The suggestions by the American major Ben Zweibelson move in the same direction. He himself may not speak of an Operational but a Design Theory instead –– nevertheless, the Design Concepts that he suggests focus precisely upon operations’ conceptual framework and more precisely, upon what he terms Conceptual Planning. [36]

Concerning, now, the example we are interested in, one could most definitely not claim that Dendias utilises the language of post-structuralism (not yet at least). What is hereby attempted is a mere placing of emphasis upon some notions that he uses, which are typical of the new public order dogma –– and which effortlessly find their counterparts in the military discussion. And so, in an interview of his in the newspaper Kathimerini on January 20, 2013 in regards to some wrong choices in the tactics of the police from the past, Dendias would claim: “In Greece, the model that has been followed is the guarding of targets, with all that this means, and not the formation of a uniform security area”. [37] The minister therefore makes clear that the new plan for the surveillance of public space is related to the creation of a spatial continuum that will equal the application of a continuum in law enforcement. Should we wish to contextualize the statement in question, we would ought to focus upon the conceptual affinities that it shows to what would in military language equate a battlespace without dead spaces. [38] That is, without any places within space wherein access with weapon systems and means of surveillance would be impossible –– i.e. with the two cornerstones of law application. Dendias therefore outlines an urban space with as few dead spaces as possible. In another interview, he becomes more illustrative: “The centre of Athens is our façade, our shop-front and it is at the cutting edge of the Greek police’s efforts […] with the planning of consecutive patrols of a number units, that intersect one another at specific moments, so as to allow no space to criminality”. [39] What Dendias describes as the “centre of Athens” is no other than the most important test lab for the experimental control of the basic principles of the new paradigm of public order. His attempt to create a uniform security area nowadays makes its offensive characteristics rather evident in the multiple variants of the Athenian public space. And the logic running through the ways in which the continuity and unity of the secure area in question can be safeguarded by construction appears to lend itself, once again, some basic elements from the counterinsurgency manuals. The present American Counterinsurgency Field Manual suggests in this regard: “COIN efforts should begin by controlling key areas. Security and influence then spread out from secured areas. The pattern of this approach is to clear, hold, and build one village, area, or city –– and then reinforce success by expanding to other areas”. [40] In the aforementioned interview to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Dendias stated respectively: “We therefore try to conquer the absolute in the centre of Athens and from that point on, with the experience...” and “the know-how the Greek police will have acquired, to be able to expand this paradigm to the other areas, to the centres of other cities”. [41]

By intervening and conducting operations on a daily basis, the Greek police science then performatively constitutes on the one hand, a repertoire of action and on the other hand, the prerequisites of its own conceptualisation as an epistemological paradigm. The notion of the “uniform security area” comprises the backbone of the conceptual framework required by the paradigm in question. Along to it, some other notions strengthen this framework. The terms “avaton” (inviolable space, traditionally used to describe the Exarcheia area), “centres of lawlessness” (it was used widely during the communicative management of the evictions of squats) and “Gaulish village” (this is how Dendias called the residents of Ierissos in Chalkidiki, in regards to the resistance that has formed against the gold-mine investments in the area) all describe, in different ways, the demand for a uniform security area. Their match to the military manuals is, once again, glaring. And the fact that Dendias looks toward the model security industry of the USA allows us to presume that his technocrats [42] fully utilise the rich American production of theory on the policing of contemporary cities. If, therefore, one was to take a look at the latest Urban Operations Field Manual they would easily conclude that the “avaton”, the centres of lawlessness and the “Gaulish villages” are all typical examples of what is called pockets of resistance, [43] the presence of which is deemed entirely incompatible with the quest for a uniform security area. Relevant to the urban version of these pockets, Stephen Graham writes that “techniques of urban militarism and urbicidal violence serve to discipline or displace dissent and resistance”. [44] It is indeed indicative that in the strict military language connecting cities to military operations, a prominent position ––with an oft-equally charged meaning–– is reserved for the term urban enclaves, which is often used by association, in order to describe enclaves of insurgency. [45]

Once the ideological prerequisites of the new paradigm have been safeguarded, and once an elementary conceptual framework has been deployed for the guidance of the tests, all these now ought to be tried and tested at the level of experiment. And this is where we compulsorily move to the field of exercise, where it is not only the redefinition of the relationship of the state to the state of emergency that is tried –– but where, first and foremost, its own intelligibility is constructed. The state of emergency does not only comprise an eminent political-juridical form, but it is itself simultaneously comprised as a plexus of materialities, spatialities and temporalities. The field of capacities that opens up during the taking-place [46] of these operations comprises a separate chapter for the new (just like as for any other) paradigm of the military-police science, and a (scientific) subject of practical and experimental examination. Some people must therefore have taken the time, after the end of this first cycle of operations, to sit back and extensively examine the technical details, the mistakes, difficulties and the unexpected elements of these emergency exercises. It is once again the military sources that assure us about how crucial such details might be; not only during the application but even during the actual conceptualisation of the operations. [47] It is clear that the operational framework, as this was described above, guides whatever applications. But also a reverse process, of equal importance, is activated through these experiments: a process that during action produces knowledge and feeds back into the operational framework and hence, into the sovereign authority and its material expressions. [48] This is precisely where the dual performative function of the experiments in question is located. Both as operations that revitalise and refresh the schema of emergency, performing the main function of sovereign authority, and as exercises that perform and take care of their own selves. The state of emergency, therefore, is not merely dragged out of a warehouse of dusted juridical tools –– but it ought, every time, to additionally nurture the forms of its informal declaration. And it is these forms that are being tried out, today, in Athens’ metropolitan lab.

Yet the state of emergency ought to modernise its forms not only due to the condition of the urgency imposed by the financial crisis, but also as part of a duty weighting upon the state mechanisms of destruction in regards to the issue of the management of cities and the position these hold in the agenda of military operations. In his foundational work Low Intensity Operations – Subversion, Insurgency, Peace-keeping, the British general Frank Kitson wrote that already from 1969 the R.U.S.I. Journal hosted “...an article which comes to the conclusion that low-level urban insurgency combined with propaganda and economic pressure, is likely to be the most popular form of operation in the future”. [49] In the shadow of the cold-war paradigm, this assertion remained to be proven. Yet today, no-one can question how apt this prediction had been. And so, in an ever-increasingly urbanised environment, the military headquarters adjust their dogmas to the particularities and difficulties of urban formations. And as the R.U.S.I. Journal pointedly highlights, these are not conventional military operations but rather, counterinsurgency operations in an urban terrain. This comprises, in other words, a combination of counterinsurgency and urban operations. One can identify this combination in an exemplary form in the responsibilities of the 71st Airborne Brigade of Kilkis, segments of which are specialised in operations of crowd control, counter-terrorism, peace-keeping and urban operations. The brigade in question participates in the NATO Response Force (NRF) which was founded following the Organisation’s Head of State Summit in Prague in November 2002. As General James Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has stated, the NATO Response Force is “… an important recognition on the part of the Alliance that the international security environment has changed dramatically”. [50] A few months after the Prague Summit, NATO issued a manual for operations in urban terrain, proving that part of the change in question concerned the role of cities. One reads in its introductory pages: “Demographic trends indicate that the further urbanisation of towns and cities will continue, and that future military operations of all types could be expected to have an urban dimension”. [51]

The schema of the state of emergency is therefore called to update its forms amidst the landscape shaped up by the financial crisis on the one hand and by the urbanisation of the military subject on the other. Should we insist upon the strictly practical dimensions of these forms, we could perhaps detect two discreet sides to the importance of the police operations that interest us; that is, two different practicality categories. One that concerns the violation of buildings as an applied science, and one that is related to the field of social interaction –– as only two sides of a requisite study in operating. It is well-known that the EKAM units already had, from the past, “specialised personnel concerned with violation issues” (of doors, walls). [52] Yet today it appears that this particular practice acquires, precisely amidst the status formed by the state of emergency, some particular weight in turn requiring new fields of exercise. And this, because a gradual extension of the idioms of the state of emergency is observed, from the public into the private sphere. And for the needs of this extension, it is deemed necessary to forcefully violate those material limits that would traditionally defend the distinction between public and private. One may, still, hold some doubt regarding the extent to which the violation in question did indeed take place during the operations against the squats –– since the police raids did not reveal any violent passage from the public into the private but instead, a passage from the public to the public; from one version of the public to another. Yet at the same time when these operations were under way, one could read in the press releases of the Greek police news about other everyday searches in residencies where migrants resided, with hundreds of arrests.

To date, no clarification has been offered in regard to the ways in which these searches are conducted, apart from the fact that they are accompanied by the presence of an attorney. Yet the raid by men of the EKAM unit, on the night of April 10, 2013, in the houses of two suspects for the sabotage to the infrastructure of the Chalkidiki gold mines, most definitely offers some plausible answers. What matters is that all the operations to which we refer acquire their dominant meaning via a rhetoric of urgency. In other words, via a rhetoric of the state of emergency, which appears to gradually claim its expansion from the public upon the private sphere. [53] Such repeated tests then comprise opportunities to experimentally test out this expansion –– and, beyond whatever symbolic baggage they may carry, they simultaneously produce some invaluable know-how for the police operations per se. Invaluable to such an extent, that we would argue that it contends for a position right next to the fundamental reasons why these tests take place at the first place. The door, as a signifying material element of the dichotomy between public and private, has already started transforming itself into a key part of what is at stake with the state of emergency operations. The wind of the state of emergency will therefore slam it ever more frequently, ever more ferociously, as a reminder that it stands there as one of the final, perhaps, material obstacles to the complete colonisation of the everydayness –– and therefore, as one of the main issues at stake in politics itself. “Precisely because it can also be opened, its closure provides the feeling of a stronger isolation against everything outside this space than the mere unstructured wall”, Georg Simmel once wrote. [54] Let alone when this emergent “outside” meticulously prepares itself to violate doors at will.

Through these repeated tests the EKAM units learn and practice elements concerning how one storms a building, how to cut off a building block, how to cooperate with other security forces, what type of means and equipment one is to use and much more. Nevertheless, one would be excused to presume that such know-how could also be secured during exercises in vitro –– that is, amidst a controlled environment of a state of emergency-in-simulation. What therefore makes the know-how acquired through the tests in question special is precisely the fact that it is produced during its exposure to public light. And this exposure entails two discreet benefits for the science of counterinsurgency. On the one hand, these exercises take place in a field where a real, and therefore unpredictable enemy exists –– proving that these exercises acquire meaning first and foremost as exercises in managing the Other: not only the Other-as-enemy, but also the Other-as-non-combatant and in the assemblage between the two in particular. A dual demand that is put as ever-increasingly urgent amidst the rich literature produced concerning the operations in the complicated urban terrains. Yet on the other hand, it is only their exposure to public light that ratifies the composition of the new paradigm as such. Because the police science, as a science concerned with the control of public phenomena transforms, by default, public space into an endless experiment lab. And therefore it would only make sense for any plexus of theory and experimentation reserving the status of the epistemological paradigm for itself, to claim within public space whatever paradigmatic qualities it may hold. [55]

And so, any attempt to ponder over the new paradigm of repression introduces us, by default, to the field of social interaction. An introduction already known from the time of Clausewitz, when he would write that “War [...] is part of man's social existence”. [56] And yet,  today, amidst the status of urbanisation and asymmetrical-isation of conflicts, the operations of emergency appear to diffuse themselves across ever-widening parts of the social field, coming to compose the most essential condition for the reproduction of the urban everydayness itself. It is streaking that emphasis upon social interaction lead to the transition from the military term Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (also known as MOUT) to the term Urban Operations, wherein the crucial meaning is no longer identified in the urban topographical particularities, as much as in the permanent and dense presence of the (non-combatant) population. [57] After all, the counterinsurgency operations comprise operations par excellence of mapping out and managing the population. And it is not coincidental that for the needs of the training of forces that participate in counterinsurgency operations (and as part of what Derek Gregory calls the cultural turn) the American army resorted to “...simulations that attempt to incorporate the transactional intimacy of the cultural turn by using Civilian Role Players in Massively MultiPlayer Online Games or by using Artificial Intelligence to model cultural interactions”. [58] Understanding, however, the limited capacities of these simulations the RAND Corporation makes clear, through the mouth of Russell Glenn, that these operations-exercises in real urban terrain will prove most indispensable in the future since “no purpose-built urban training site and no simulation will be able to present the heterogeneity and complexity of a modern megalopolis for many years to come”. [59] The military-police science nowadays therefore ought to operate in situ and to occupy even more public space, focusing even further upon the “public” rather than “space”. The retired American lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters is, after all, clear enough: “While the physical characteristics of the assaulted or occupied city are of great importance, the key variable is the population [...] Man’s complexity is richer than any architectural detail”. [60]

 

by Christos Filippidis

 

Notes

[1]: It is hereby worth adding a comment on the phrase “lamvánō chṓra” (“takes place”) in regard to its dual meaning. The interpretation of the phrase is identical to the meaning of it occurs. If, however, we were to attempt an etymological reading based upon the ancient Greek terms it comprises of (lamvánō: take; chṓra: space) then the phrase could also mean occupy space. In the example that interests us, both interpretations retain their meaning. Both as a reminder of the performative dynamic of the operations in question, as well as an updating of the meaning of space (and public space in particular) for the needs of comprehension not only of these operations but the act as a whole.

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[2]: See for example the article by Dionisis Vithoulkas, “Consultation between Chrisochoidis and Mayors –– Jero tolerance and social cohesion”, newspaper To Vima, January 9, 2010, available at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=308437. The article of the newspaper Naftemporiki, titled “M. Chrisochoidis: Jero tolerance to anomie, social cohesion and social justice”, on January 8, 2010, available at http://www.naftemporiki.gr/audio/429132 and the article by Kostas Tomaras titled “We shall put an end to anomie”, newspaper To Ethnos, October 9, 2009, available at http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=11424&subid=2&pubid=6898843

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[3]: Foucault Michel, Discipline and Punish – The Birth of the Prison, trans. by Alan Sheridan, Vintage Books, New York 1995, pp.273-275

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[4]: See in this regard, Akis Gavriilidis, The Professors of Nothing –– Counterinsurgency as a Political Science, journal Theseis issue 113, October-December 2010, available at http://www.theseis.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1125&Itemid=29

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[5]: See Kilcullen David J., Counterinsurgency, Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York 2010, pp.6,37,187-190

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[6]: This tradition appears to commence after the end of WWII, when a surge is observed in “peripheral” wars, particularly with national liberation characteristics. Based upon the facts created by these conflicts, a new sector was constituted in military theory and practice that corresponds to what we term counterinsurgency. Ever since, an intense production of discourse is noted, which is not limited to field manuals and the mapping of individual operations, but instead also includes attempts toward the re-conceptualisation of the armed confrontation based upon the transformations that were taking place in the field of Law of War. And so, next to founders of counterinsurgency such as Roger Trinquier, Frank Kitson και David Galula –– and under the light of the new facts brought about by the four Geneva Treaties of 1949, one can detect the juridical framework formed by the observations of the national-socialist jurist Carl Schmitt, as this is composed through his work The Theory of the Partisan – A Commentary/Remark on the Concept of the Political, trans. by A.C. Goodson, Michigan State University Press, Michigan 2004

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[7]: See US Army Field Manual 3-24: Counterinsurgency, 15 Dec 2006, p.5-2, available at http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-24.pdf. Also see Long Austin, On “Other War” – Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica CA 2006, pp.52-55,71-73, in regard to the notion of pacification and its relationship to security and development. Available at http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG482.pdf.

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[8]: FM3-24, ibid., p.5-6

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[9]: Ibid., p.5-14

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[10]: Ibid., p.5-17

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[11]: It is by no means the intention of the present article to comment upon the current affairs through a national-liberation perspective. To the contrary, it stands in complete animosity toward any attempt to assimilate the political demands produced by the crisis within a unifying framework of national discourse. The one and only aim of the observations articulated in these pages is the clarification of the ideological framework within which the new dogma of public security appears to acquire its meaning –– and the noticing of those elements that reflect fundamental characteristics of the theory and practice of counterinsurgency.

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[12]: It is not coincidental that, amidst this environment of emergency, the first expo for matters of security took place in Greece, in early March –– hence proving that the field formed by the financial crisis offers a unique opportunity for the range of products and services produced by the security industry. Nor did any surprise come from rumours, already from early 2013, referring to an agreement between the greek government and the private military company Academi (ex-Blackwater) regarding the needs of the parliament protection; see, in regard to this, the article “Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos: Blackwater will protect the Greek Parliament”, available at http://bg-daily-news.eu/world/346-leonidas-chrysanthopoulos-the-greek-government-seek-protection-from-us

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[13]: Kilcullen, ibid., p.11

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[14]: The landscape of the state of emergency is filled by the intensification of processes that would once been limited to the margins of the lawmaking function, or were expressed as extreme versions of the application of the law. Typical examples comprise the mass voting-in of Legislative Acts under an emergency process –– and the ever more frequent use of the measure of civil conscription. The latter is firstly offered as a potentiality through the application of the Legislative Decree 17/1974 “Concerning the Political Planning of the Emergency” and secondly, through Article 41 of Law 3536/2007, with the telling title “Regulations for the handling of emergencies at peacetime”, which even invokes matters of public order and public health.

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[15]: The interweaving between police and military forces is clearly articulated, from the past, through the disputed discussion on the counterinsurgency –– see, for example, the chapter Developing Host-Nation Security Forces, in FM 3-24, ibid., pp.6-1 – 6-22 and the chapter Direct Action on the Populations of Cities, in Trinquier Roger, Modern Warfare – A French View of Counterinsurgency, trans. by Daniel Lee, Praeger Security International, Connecticut- London 2006, pp.37-42. Regarding this interweaving, the shy yet crucial entering of the 71st Airborne Brigade of Kilkis in the public discussion is crucial; the Brigade is specialised in both exercises of crowd control as well as urban operations. Indeed, its presence was not limited to the media sphere, as the unit in question was called in to take on safeguard tasks for the military parade of October 28th, 2012 in the city of Thessaloniki –– hence formalising its invasion in the public space. See  in this regard the articles “Karampelas says no to army-police, but the government’s people insist: the Greek Police cannot do it alone” and “71st brigade: the super-force they want to turn into Riot Police”, available at http://bloko.gr/enoples-dynameis/o-karampelas-leei-oxi-ston-strato-astynomia-alla-kybernhtikoi-epimenoyn-h-elas-den-mporei-monh.html and http://bloko.gr/enoples-dynameis/binteo-71h-taksiarxia-h-soyper-dynamh-poy-theloyn-na-thn-kanoynmat.html respectively.

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[16]: See the article of the same title by Foteini Stefanopoulou at the address http://www.tanea.gr/news/greece/article/5001818/katadromiko-tromokratiko-xtyphma-stis-ependyseis/

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[17]: See the article by Chrisa Liaggou titled “The foreign investments in the gold mines are now rope-walking”, newspaper Kathimerini, March 24, 2013, available at http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_economy_2_24/03/2013_515169. See also the article by some anonymous “special contributor” titled “Skouries was just the beginning... For the authorities, the 'commando' operation in Chalkidiki is a 'war rehearsal'; they fear abductions and assassinations of politicians, entrepreneurs and policemen”, newspaper To Vima, February 20, 2013, available at http://www.tovima.gr/politics/article/?aid=499044

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[18]: See the interview of Dendias to Giannis Souliotis titled “We had been expecting a terrorist attack since November”, newspaper Kathimerini, January 20, 2013, available at http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_2_20/01/2013_508566

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[19]: Wording of the German constitutionalist Kurt Wolzendorff in regard to the duty of the “pure state” as adduced in Schmitt’s Political Theology. Here, the greek translation of the work in question is used, since in its English attribution, the respective phrase “responsible and ultimate guarantor” does not convey the due significance to the notion of the decision, see Schmitt Carl, Political Theology – Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. by Panagiotis Kondylis, Leviathan, Athens 1994, p.49

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[20]: The militarisation of the management of the migratory flows in Greece comprises a typical example of the construction of a field of experiment. For its legitimisation, a liminal metaphoric discourse articulated around the “enemy-invasion-occupation” axis was first and foremost mobilised, which then in turn offered the ideological prerequisites for the mass anti-migrant operations to land in the public sphere as a self-evident mathematical problem.

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[21]: When introducing the theory of the Criminal Law of the Enemy ––a notion that has began to exercise considerable influence upon juridical thought––, and describing the capacities offered by it first and foremost for the law-maker, the German law theoretician Günther Jakobs claims that when justice deals with persons for which “... it is speculated that they constantly and decisively divert from Law, hence offering no cognitive guarantee that is necessary for them to be treated as persons”, then “the response of Law toward such a form of criminality is marked by the fact that it does not concern itself primarily with the restoration of the fault caused to the force of the rule of Justice, but with the elimination of the danger in question”, see Jakobs Günther, The Criminal Law of the Citizen and the Criminal Law of the Enemy, Penal Justice 7/2005 (8th year), p.873

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[22]: See the interview by Dendias on April 28, 2013 to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, available at http://www.minocp.gov.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&perform=view&id=4602&Itemid=570&lang=.

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[23]: Kondylis Panayiotis, Theory of War, Themelio Publications, Athens 1999, p.353. As the newspaper Imerisia writes, “The minister of Public Order presented, further, the reorganisation effort of the Greek Police under way, which is aimed at unhooking the latter from the static model of the 1980s decade, one that does not fullfil contemporary needs, as he pointed out; to acquire a new organisational structure, to become more mobile and to utilise new capacities in the sectors of criminological research, of collection and dissemination of data”. See the article titled “Dendias in the Operation Centres of FBI and the NYPD, newspaper Imerisia, April 27, 2013. Available at http://www.imerisia.gr/article.asp?catid=26509&subid=2&pubid=113033936.

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[24]: See the article by Vasilis Lampropoulos, “Police commandos for the... Kalashnikov fights; Dendias’s direct connection with Giuliani and Bratton, who 'swept clean'  New York City during the nineties”, newspaper To Vima, August 26, 2012, available at http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=471987

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[25]: See the article of the Economist of April 1st, 1999 titled “The dark side of zero tolerance”, available at http://www.economist.com/node/195184 and the article of the New York Times, on April 28, 2012, titled “The Human Cost of 'Zero Tolerance'”, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/the-cost-of-zero-tolerance.html

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[26]: See indicatively the article by the American criminologist Randall G. Shelden, Assessing “Broken Windows”: A Brief Critique, Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Available at http://198.170.117.218/pdf/broken.pdf

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[27]: See the interview titled “We had been expecting a terrorist attack since November”, ibid.

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[28]: See the article “Police commandos for the... Kalashnikov fights”, ibid.

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[29]: See the article “The eviction of the DELTA squat was ordered by Samaras!”, available at http://www.alterthess.gr/content/me-entoli-samara-i-ekkenosi-tis-katalipsis-delta.

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[30]: See the Press Release by the General Police Directorate of Thessaloniki of September 12, 2012, available at http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang=%27..%27&perform=view&id=19898&Itemid=973&lanng=. Also see the website of the occupation http://delta.squat.gr/

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[31]: See the Press Release by the General Police Directorate of Attica of January 9th, 2013, available at http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang=%27..%27&perform=view&id=23740&Itemid=1028&lanng=. Also see the occupation’s statements at the web address http://villa-amalias.blogspot.gr/2013_01_01_archive.html

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[32]: See the Press Release by the General Police Directorate of Attica of January 9th, 2013, available at http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&lang=%27..%27&perform=view&id=23749&Itemid=1028&lang=. Also see the occupation’s statement at the web address http://pat61.squat.gr/2013/01/7582/

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[33]: See the article by Dionysis Vithoulkas, “Reoccupation of 'Lela Karagianni' in Kypseli”, newspaper To Vima, January 15, 2013, available at the web address http://www.tovima.gr/society/article/?aid=493097. Also see the occupation’s statement at the web address http://squathost.com/lelas_k/gr/anak_17j.htm

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[34]: Chalmers, ibid., p.155

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[35]: See Weizman, Eyal, Lethal Theory, LOG Magazine, no.7, Spring 2006, p.59. Also available at the web address http://www.scribd.com/doc/57693125/Eyal-Weizman-Lethal-Theory. Also see Weizman Eyal, The Art of War, Frieze Magazine, Issue 99, May 2006, available at the web address https://www.frieze.com/issue/article/the_art_of_war/.

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[36]: Zweibelson Ben, Breaking Barriers to Deeper Understanding: How Post-Modern Concepts Are “Value-Added” to Military Conceptual Planning Considerations, Small Wars Journal, September 21, 2011, available at the web address http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/breaking-barriers-to-deeper-understanding-how-post-modern-concepts-are-%E2%80%98value-added%E2%80%99-to-mil

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[37]: See the interview titled “We had been expecting a terrorist attack since November”, ibid.

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[38]: See the US Army Field Manual 3-06: Urban Operations, 26 Oct 2006, p.5-21,5-30,6-18,B-19,Glossary-7, available at the web address https://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-06.pdf

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[39]: See Dendias’ interview to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, ibid.

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[40]: See FM 3-24, ibid., p.5-18. One can find similar recipes for the production of a unified security space in old, classic references of the counter-insurgency –– even if these are paradoxically based upon a conceptualisation of compartmentalisation and spatial fragmentation. See for example the chapter “Conducting Counterguerrilla Operations”, in Trinquier, ibid., pp.57-74 and the chapter “The Operations”, in Galula David, Counterinsurgency Warfare – Theory and Practice, Praeger Security International, Connecticut- London 2006, pp.75-94

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[41]: See Dendias’ interview to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, ibid.

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[42]: Ibid.

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[43]: FM 3-06, ibid., p.7-29,8-16

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[44]: Graham Stephen, Cities Under Siege – The New Military Urbanism, Verso, London-New York 2010, p.85

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[45]: See for example, Naveh Shimon, Between the striated and the smooth. Urban enclaves and fractal manoeuvres. Paper delivered at conference “An Archipelago of Exception”, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona, November 11, 2005. Available at the web address http://www.publicspace.org/es/texto-biblioteca/eng/b023-between-the-striated-and-the-smooth-urban-enclaves-and-fractal-maneuvers    

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[46]: See the 1st footnote

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[47]: See indicatively the chapter Understanding the Urban Environment in US Army Field Manual 3-06, ibid., and Glenn Russell W. & Medby Jamison Jo, Streetsmart – Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica CA 2002, pp.29,78-83, available at the web address http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2007/MR1287.pdf  

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[48]: “Action becomes knowledge and knowledge becomes action”, stresses the director of the Operational Theory Research Institute Shimon Naveh, in an interview of his to Eyal Weizman, βλ. Weizman, Lethal Theory, ibid., p.65

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[49]: Kitson Frank, Low Intensity Operations – Subversion, Insurgency, Peace-keeping, Faber and Faber, London & Boston 1991, p.21

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[50]: This information comes from the official website of the 71st Brigade. See http://www.army.gr/structure/eg/dieuthinseis/71am/visit_us.html

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[51]: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation/Research and Technology Organisation, Urban Operations in the Year 2020, April 2003, p.3, available at the web address http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA413638. See also Hoffman Bruce & Taw Jennifer, The Urbanization of Insurgency, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica CA 1994, available at the web address http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/2005/MR398.pdf

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[52]: See http://www.astynomia.gr/index.php?option=ozo_content&perform=view&id=52&Itemid=43&lang=

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[53]: Let us remember, here, that in his respective observations regarding the neutral zone of exception wherein bare life resides, Agamben deals precisely with the limit in question between the domus and the city: “if classical politics is born through the separation of these two spheres, life that may be killed but not sacrificed is the hinge on which each sphere is articulated and the threshold at which the two spheres are joined in becoming indeterminate”. See Agamben, Homo Sacer, ibid., p.56

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[54]: See the essay titled Bridge and Door, in Simmel Georg, Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings, edited by David Frisby and Mike Featherstone, SAGE Publications, London-Thousand Oaks-New Delhi 1997, p.172

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[55]: In regard to the observation statements that accompany experiments and perceptual experiences overall, Chalmers stresses that “...they comprise public entities articulated in a public language and which involve theories with varying degrees of generalisation and complexity”, in Chalmers, ibid., p.43

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[56]: Clausewitz Carl von, On War, trans. by Michael Howard & Peter Paret, Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York 2007 p.100

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[57]: Glenn Russell W., Paul Christopher, Helmus Todd C., Steinberg Paul, “People Make the City”, Executive Summary – Joint Urban Operations Observations and Insights from Afghanistan and Iraq, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica CA 2007, p.1, available at the web address http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2007/RAND_MG428.2.pdf

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[58]: Gregory Derek, The Rush to the Intimate – Counterinsurgency and the Cultural Turn, Radical Philosophy, 150, July/August 2008, p.16

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[59]: Adduced in Graham, ibid., p.198

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[60]: Peters Ralph, The Human Terrain of Urban Operations, Parameters, U.S. Army War College, Spring 2000, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p.4

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