Introduction

If you want to destroy someone nowadays, you go after their infrastructure.

There is nothing in the world today that cannot become a weapon.

(Liang and Xiangsui 1999:5) Real security cannot be cordoned off. It is woven into our most basic social fabric. From the post office to the emergency room, from the subway to the water reservoir.

(Klein 2001:21)

Increasingly, both formal and informal political violence centre on the deliberate destruction, or manipulation, of the everyday urban infrastructures that are necessary to sustain the circulations and metabolism of modern urban life. As urban life becomes ever more mediated by fixed, sunken infrastructures, so the forced denial of flow, and circulation, becomes a powerful political and military weapon.

Since the devastating attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September, 2001, most attention has focused on the ways in which the banal systems of urban mobility— airlines, postal systems, water networks, commuter trains—can be instantly harnessed by non-state terrorists to produce sites of mediatized, mass death (Graham 2001; Luke 2003). Similarly, a powerful discourse has emerged in the past fifteen years suggesting that advanced, computerized societies are inevitably going to be attacked by coordinated "cyber-terror" attacks (see, for example, Verton 2003; Pineiro 2004; Rattray 2001; Debrix 2001). Here, the implication is that the everyday technics of western, urban life, based on computerized code, will be manipulated en masse from afar, producing catastrophe and death as airline, medical, financial and utility systems collapse through the pushing of a few key strokes.

Beyond such burgeoning debates in the west about "asymmetric" and "infrastructural" terrorism, the forced demodernization of societies through state infrastructural warfare is emerging as a central component of contemporary military strategy (Graham 2004). Largely unreported in the popular press and mainstream media, intensive military research and development efforts are fuelling a widening range of "hard" and "soft" antiinfrastructure weapons. These are being carefully designed to destroy, or disrupt, the multiple, networked infrastructures that together facilitate the continuous circulations and metabolisms necessary to sustain modern urban life (Graham and Marvin 2001). The Israeli Defence Forces' strategy of systematic infrastructural demodernization in the Occupied Territories since the mid-1990s presents the most visible example of such military strategy (Graham 2003).

The chapter's theoretical starting point, in keeping with the theme of this book, is that urban "technological networks (water, gas, electricity, information etc.) are constitutive parts of the urban. They are mediators through which the perpetual process of transformation of Nature into City takes place" (Kaika and Swyngedouw 2000:1). With the massive technical infrastructures that sustain urban metabolism the target of increasingly sophisticated strategies of political violence, this chapter seeks to probe into the political ecologies, and political economies, of forced demodernization. That is, it explores the deliberate disruption of this "transformation of Nature into City" through infrastructure as a strategy of political violence. It attempts to lay bare the doctrines and theories through which the urban metabolism of targeted cities is analyzed and conceptualized by military architects of forced demodernization. Finally, the chapter analyzes how the deliberate targeting of urban technics in political violence impacts on the political ecologies and urban metabolisms of targeted cities.

In particular, this chapter explores the emerging strategies, doctrines, techniques and discourses that surround state-backed infrastructural warfare. In doing this, what follows is an attempt to develop a preliminary geopolitics of forced demodernization in the contemporary world. Such a perspective is necessary for two reasons. First, the centrality of infrastructural demodernization in contemporary war is scarcely ever addressed in critical urban social science. Second, the geographical, political science and international relations writers who dominate the study of political violence and geopolitics remain preoccupied by the abstract machinations of nation states. Such researchers rarely address the concrete materialities, and processes, that emerge when weapons, doctrines and strategies intersect with the often hidden materialities of urban life in episodes of (attempted) demodernization, designed to achieve political, or geopolitical, ends.

The chapter has three parts. In the first, I attempt to place forced demodernization via infrastructural warfare and disconnection within a theoretical perspective. This stresses the connections between infrastructure, urban metabolism, and geo-political power. Second, I analyze a case study of state infrastructural warfare. This focused on the efforts of a leading exponent of forced demodernization as national strategy—the United States—to systematically demodernize Iraqi cities through war, sanctions, and more war since 1991. Finally, in the chapter's conclusion, I reflect upon the geopolitics of forced disconnection, and demodernization, within contemporary war and strategy.

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