Saskia Sassen
Berlin, February 23th, 2007, 17:30 - 18:00

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Anti War I think doesn't work anymore as a word. And I want to explore why. Is it that war itself is a situated historical something and we've moved beyond that historical period? Is it that we are no longer positioned in a clear way, so that we can identify war?

- I think the last time anti-war worked, as a word, as an image, of letters, was when massive demonstrations happened all over the world, hoping to prevent the invasion of Iraq. When the invasion happened, the word didn't work anymore. Anti-War became an anti-word. Can we say anti-massacre? We don't say that we are anti-massacre. We don't say that we are again anti-bombing of sitting ducks, those who cannot bring your planes down when you bomb them with planes. Is it that war itself is really no longer what it used to be ? It's not that I like war or that I'm saying 'Oh I wish for the good old days, when war was clearly war'. But I think it is an invitation to rethink the politics of how we handle this, how we respond. War has a certain architecture, a tight architecture. It's a big word with a tight architecture. What is happening today just doesn't look like that.

So what I want to sort of examine is, what is it, that might be changing? And the first thought - and again, I'm not trying to romanticize the past at all - the first thought is that, it seems that, they - I'm talking about a generic they - they only go to war when they have absolute military superiority. If it's going to be a level engagement, they are out of there. When they finally had tools, whoever - the terrorists, the murderers, the good people - whoever they were, who brought down five of those american helicopters, when they thought, that they had the skies to themselves, that was a crises back in Washington. So can we still say war when you have absolute military superiority and you're just dropping the bombs, etc. and nobody is going to bring you down, and then when they somehow bring down five of your planes, when you have been using hundreds, it's a crises. What is it that we are really talking about in the contemporary period when we speak of war? ...

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