Carl Schmitt, Crown Jurist of the Third Reich: on Preemptive War, Military Occupation, and World Empire

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Carl Schmitt is one of the most contentious political theorists of the twentieth century. His complicity in Nazi Germany left him discredited yet he has continued to attract widespread attention as an insightful, if flawed, critic of the modern democratic order and its global ambitions. His assertion that ‘whoever invokes humanity is trying to cheat’ has been revived as a indictment of western especially American, intervention in the affairs of other countries. As a German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has noted Schmitt’s arguments potentially have a fatal appeal in the contemporary world. The essays in this volume explore related aspects of Schmitt’s arguments against intervention, about the concept of the enemy, political myth, occupation and the global order. In the light of the so-called war on terrorism, the occupation of Iraq and widespread hostility to American foreign policy, these arguments have gained new vitality, yet they are ultimately deceptive. This book examines both the reasons for the appeal of Schmitt’s arguments and the reasons why we should reject them.


“… despite the cloud that hangs over his name, Schmitt’s work has become the object of great academic interest in recent times. The number of monographs devoted to his thinking seems to be increasing by the day and he is becoming an ever more familiar feature in journals of politics and international relations … Schmitt illuminates dilemmas … and so, despite the deep moral caution with which we should approach his theories, he is still a valuable thinker from whom we can learn. It would be a mistake to think that intelligence and wisdom (in its prudential Aristotelian sense) was always confined to the decent and just.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor Howard Williams, University of Aberystwyth

“Interest in the controversial figure of Carl Schmitt has never been greater, with a spate of recent books and articles by British and American, as well as continental European writers. Not least among the reasons for this is the current relevance of some of Schmitt’s thought, particularly where it relates to the tendency Schmitt perceived even before the Second World War towards increasing American interventionism and assumption of a right to act as a kind of global arbiter, which he saw as an emergent American imperialism. Other ideas of Schmitt’s that bear re-examination are his thoughts on the power of mythical constructions of contemporary realities and of the use of metaphors and analogies as political weapons. Dr. Stirk’s achievement in this succinct and highly readable account is to provide an authoritative guide to some of Schmitt’s central ideas and demonstrate their application to today’s world, particularly the ‘war on terrorism’, international law, the intervention in Iraq and the implications of American power. His scholarship is never less than impeccable and the study is an invaluable contribution for anyone wishing to place contemporary events in a larger theoretical and historical context.” – David Armstrong, Professor of International Relations, University of Exeter

Table of Contents

1. Carl Schmitt’s Völkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung
2. Carl Schmitt’s Enemy and the Rhetoric of Anti-Interventionism
3. Carl Schmitt, the Law of Occupation and the Iraq War
Select Bibliography

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