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Considering the advent of U.S.
empire-making on the web

// by Zachary McCune

the question
s the United States an Imperial Power? The question has been asked, and answered,
from the position of military actions, political theory, history, economics, discourse
analysis, law studies and cultural criticism. These approaches, spanning the scholastic
work of J.A. Hobson, Edward Said, and Antonio Negri among others, continually assert
that imperial power does what it has always done: make empires. And while these studies
and theories still resonate today, they are in of re-consideration for the network spaces of
the digital age. For if America is an imperial power today, then that empire must extend into
and be maintained through what has been called cyberspace, the global information net-
work, the world wide web, or most commonly, the internet. In short, if America is an impe-
rial power, it must be engaged in a form of network imperialism to keep its military might,
economic prowess, and foreign policy agendas working throughout the emergent spaces of
new media networks. With the development of “Cyber Command”, the U.S. has openly
acknowledged its weaponization of network power. Through staunch intellectual property
campaigns designed at combating “piracy” throughout the web, the U.S. government has ex-
tended the reach of its law far beyond the physical territories of its jurisdiction. And even as
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls for the world to defend the new virtues of “internet
freedom,” her comments actually define a new American doctrine that is being developed to
serve U.S. interests and quietly develop a 21st century network empire.

theories of imperialism
Several helpful theoretical frameworks exist for conceptualizing of imperialism, and con-
necting its characteristics to contemporary U.S. actions and policies online. Working in
1902, J.A. Hobson works between the terms ‘empire’ and ‘imperialism,’ considering the
former to be the product and domain of the latter. Hobson is quick to center the history
of the idea writing “The root idea of empire in the ancient and medieval world was that of
a federation of states under a hegemony, covering in general terms the entire known recog-
nized world, such as was held by Rome under the so-called Pax Romana” (Hobson 8). For

Hobson, and for many subsequent assessments of imperialism, the ancient Roman roots
of the idea are completely foundational, and in a way, redeeming, as they positioned any
modern attempts at imperialism as an imagined recovery of this golden Western epoch. To
this effect, Hobson writes of the “ancient” and “medieval” idea not as a situation of conflict,
violence, and oppression, but instead points to the Pax Romana, as the signature, and thus
redeeming quality, of empire. Later he writes, “Political philosophers in many ages…” in
whom he includes Dante, Kant, and Machiavelli, “have speculated on an empire as the only
feasible security for peace” (Hobson 9). Despite damning aspects of imperialism, Hobson
allows it to be redeemed as a form of necessary security.

Perhaps more empirically, Hobson notes that imperialism was always intrinsically an inter-
national venture. In the first quote above, Hobson outlines the subordination of states to
“hegemony,” or leadership/dominance, as an indispensable characteristic of classical empire.
But maybe with an eye on contemporaneous British empire, Hobson acknowledges that the
internationalism of empires was “not always based on a conception of equality of nations”
(Hobson 9). The fact that Hobson even uses “not always” leaves the door open for empire
to be founded on the “equality of nations” not matter how unlikely that equality may be. In
general, Hobson’s ideas of empire draw at once from historical analysis while also moving
towards an empirical, evidential analysis best exemplified by his “Measure of Imperialism”
chapter in which he attempts to “give definiteness to term imperialism” by looking over
statistical tables of property, population, and possessions with regard to European countries
of the time (Hobson 15). This approach suggests that imperialism can be discerned not only
in history, but also within contemporary reality. By examining and ultimately connecting
disparities (what David Harvey will call ‘asymmetries’) between nations, Hobson suggests
that some nations (the imperial powers) hold more assets and thus power than others, allow-
ing them to control the actions of a secondary set of nations. Connecting these observances
with his historical model of empire (hegemony over a federation of states) Hobson con-
cludes that imperialism is alive and active at the dawn of the 20th century.

Where Hobson sees imperialism largely in economic terms, Edward Said would come to
characterize it additionally as a cultural project. In Culture & Imperialism, he argues “’Im-
perialism’ means the practice, the theory, and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan
centre ruling a distant territory” in which “the enterprise of empire depends upon the idea
of having an empire ... and all kinds of preparations are made for it within culture” (Said
8, 10). Being a scholar of literature, Said sees this best in “the power to narrate, or to block
other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism,
and constitutes one of the main connections between them” (Said xiii).

To make his theory tangible, Said looks at cases like the emergence of Irish nationalism and
the literature of Yeats, connecting the “nationalist struggle” against British imperialism to
the poet’s imagined “Irish past, with its Cuchulains and its great houses” giving the Irish an
identity disjointed from that within British empire (Said 17). At the same time, Said em-
phasizes the necessity that imperial powers have an “imperial” culture in which “the idea of
having an empire” is developed and supported. For the British Empire, this may be observed
in the comedies of Gilbert & Sullivan, which at once poke fun at the empire while openly
affirming its perceived benevolence. While Said does not follow ‘cultural imperialism’ to the
empirical import/export ratios of objects like Hollywood films today, his theory emphasizes
the indispensability of culture and cultural objects in the imperial project. Said asks the
critical observer of imperialism to find where the culture of the process can be located and
cited, an injunction that this paper will attempt to follow.

For Harold Innis, the Canadian historian, empire could be traced out and understood
through communication technology. In Empire and Communication, he explains “it has
seemed to me that the subject of communication offers possibilities in that it occupies
a crucial position in the organization and administration of government and in turn of
empires” (Innis 5). By “using the concept of empire as an indication of efficiency of com-
munication” Innis makes communication what Hobson called a “measure of imperialism,”

but also inverts the expected order (Innis 1950: 9). Instead of assuming the existence of
empire and then examining communication systems, Innis suggests that an empire would be
a high “indication of efficiency of communication” and then examines historical periods of
communication in search of the empires they may represent. This view of communication
as constructing rather than resulting from empire is an incredibly helpful way to approach
global information networks today. For assuming that they are results of empires (as the
BBC World Service is the ‘result’ of British Empire) ignores the role the technologies play
in constructing empires, that may be different than economic and political mappings of the
same subject.

Writing almost a hundred years after Hobson, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri challenge
the idea that imperialism and empire are directly related terms. In Empire, the authors at-
tempt to create a form of post-imperialism study that buries “imperialism” will continuing a
similar analysis of power and hegemony under the re-defined concept of “empire.”

In contrast to imperialism, Empire establishes no territorial center of power and does not rely
on fixed boundaries or barriers. It is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule that
progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding frontiers. Empire
manages hybrid identities, flexible hierarchies, and plural exchanges through modulating net-

works of command (Negri & Hardt xii - xiii).

While their theoretical semantics are sensational and vaguely impractical (do we no longer
use the term ‘imperialism’ then?), this theory does present a working contemporary idea
of empire for a time in which in the literal use of empire cannot be pointed to. This allows
America to be classified as an empire of the theoretical kind, despite governmental resistance
such formal categorization and avoidance of the language of imperialism in its actions.

Hardt and Negri’s re-definition of empire is also crucial in that it centers “networks” as the
operational system of contemporary imperialism.

“Empire can only be conceived as a universal republic, a network of powers and counterpow-
ers structured in a boundless and inclusive architecture. This imperial expansion has noth-
ing to do with imperialism, nor with those state organisms designed for conquest, pillage,

and genocide, colonization, and slavery (Hardt & Negri 166-167).

Though the two rarely directly refer to the internet, information technology, or cyberspace
in their analysis, there can be no mistaking its clear presence in this theoretical overture.
Proponents of internet technology, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as will be
shown, routinely characterize it as a “universal republic,” a utopian flat political space where
individuals with access are afforded equal voice and opportunity to do what they will. The
notion of “boundless and inclusive architecture” can also be read as a reference to internet
technology and protocols which have been defined by their openness and inclusiveness (reli-
ant on open protocols, free exchange between machines, and open source software). The in-
ternet is often celebrated for the sensation of being boundless and inexhaustible, while also
being inclusive in that access to sites from other nations is technically no different than ac-
cessing sites about local businesses. The only issue that must be taken with Hardt & Negri’s
positioning of the internet-as-empire is their second sentence. For surely “state organisms
designed for conquest…” are very much a part of the boundless and inclusive architecture of
the internet. These are the agencies of cyber warfare and intellectual property defense, who
are quietly re-defining the web. Though their visibility remains low enough for them easily
overlooked, it is naïve of Hardt and Negri to imagine the construction of empire without
the forces of imperialism being literally coded into its technological apparatuses.

David Harvey’s New Imperialism makes it clear that the United States is and must be con-
sidered as an imperial power. But the nature of that power, as his title suggests, are new
elements and styles that differentiate it from older, more Hobsonian conceptions of empire.
Harvey terms American style empire “capitalist imperialism” – a “contradictory fusion” of
state/empire politics with “the molecular processes of capital accumulation in space and
time” (Harvey 26). “Imperialistic practices, from the perspective of capitalistic logic, are
typically about exploiting the uneven geographical conditions under which capital accumu-
lation occurs and also taking advantage of what I call the ‘asymmetries’ that inevitably arise
out of spatial exchange relations” (Harvey 31). Reading through Harvey, one detects a bor-
rowing from the frameworks of development studies- assessing the unevenness of economic
prosperity around the world most often expressed in the categories of first, second, and
third world. In this, Harvey harkens back to Hobson’s “measures of imperialism” and does
not seem to be cutting any new ground. But when we consider that the bulk of his analysis
is actually about the U.S. military, which he calls the U.S.’s “strongest card” for creating and
defending empire, his “new imperialism” does indeed take shape (Harvey 79). And when he
casts America as the “chief defender of freedom (understood in terms of free markets) and
the rights of private property” one can begin to apply this framework to network policies
about American intellectual property online are aggressively defended using much the same
logic (Harvey 51-52). With Harvey’s labeling, it is possible to connect certain statements
within American policy as “new imperialist” despite the conscious avoidance of such a term.

American war Online
Andrew Bacevich’s The New American Militarism bridges the gap between the theorization
of imperialism, and the concrete study of its historical development in the U.S. Military. For
Bacevich a culture of looking at the world and its problems as situations best solved by mili-
tary means has “seduced” contemporary America (Bacevich 2). The consequences of this are
not only the incomparable size and expenditure of today’s U.S. military, but also its global
deployment, international actions, and intellectualization. For Bacevich, like scholar Martin
van Creveld, a major component of American military development has been the formaliza-
tion of its ‘arts and sciences’ into certifiable academic programs (van Creveld 2005). On the
one hand, these programs have made the American military a ‘white collar’ profession like
many others. Simultaneously, this transformation has also opened a path for the develop-
ment of what has been called “defense intellectuals” and their ability to theorize future paths
and techniques of war, shifting Pentagon spending towards their topics (Bacevich 151).

Beginning in 1988, and reaching a critical mass in the late 1990’s, military think tanks like
the RAND (Research ANd Development) Corporation began to look beyond the atomic
bomb towards a new type of ‘information warfare.’ Military researchers like Andrew Mar-
shall began pointing at the dawning of the “computer age” to signify the end of conven-
tional warfare, and the substitution of “smart” and “nimble” military operations reliant on
advanced technology over the large army deployments (Bacevich 167). The empire of the
bomb was giving way to the empire of networks and data packets. This became clear in the
Gulf War. Combining cold war ballistics with ‘surgical precision’ made possible by comput-
ers in the field, the Gulf War would be derided by Jean Baudrillard as inherently “unreal.” In
fact, Baudrillard claimed, “the Gulf War did not take place.”

Since this war was won in advance, we will never know what it would have been like had it
existed. ... But this is not a war, any more than 10,000 tonnes of bombs per day is sufficient
to make it a war. Any more than the direct transmission by CNN of real time information is

sufficient to authenticate a war (Baudrillard 61).

Baudrillard’s hyperbole explains that with “real time information” combat, the very mean-
ing of war changes. So Baudrillard’s critique may be read best as identifying the overthrow
of war (and thus imperialism) as such, privileging the development of war as a highly virtual
phenomenon. Baudrillard’s denial of the Gulf War as war also fits neatly in the Hardt and
Negri overthrow of imperialism in favor of empire. For in the blurred combat zone con-
structed between CNN and information networks and computers in which the Gulf War
raged, the traditional space of combat is “deterritorialized” and “decentered,” casting it as
Hardt and Negri’s contemporary ‘empire.’

But the Gulf War was still very early in the development of more visible and formal network
imperialism. Only in 1997, with President Clinton’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure
Protection, did the idea and danger of combat as a purely informational act (i.e. an act that
takes place only within the digital space of computer codes and networks) begin to gather
formal address (Cordesman 13). In this document the commission defined a taxonomy of
cyber-attacks for the one of the first times, shaping a definition of cyber-war as repeated,
related cyber-attacks.

1. Cyber-Attack on Specific Server/Database
2. Cyber-Attack for purpose of gaining access to a network
3. Cyber-Attack for the purpose of Espionage
4. Cyber-Attack for the Purpose of Shutting Down Service
5. Cyber-Attack for purpose of introducing harmful instructions

(Cordesman 13)

From 1993, when the Gulf War took place, to this 1997 text, one reads a substantial shift
from the conception of information technology augmenting combat operations, to the
more worrying understanding of information technology as a site of potential combat.
Cordesman reports that as hacking became a serious news around the country, and corpora-

tions like AT&T became highly-visibility victims, the U.S. Congress began fearing some-
thing of a “electronic Pearl Harbor” in which it would be caught horribly unprepared and
punished (Cordesman 2). The phrase “electronic Pearl Harbor” immediately suggests that
Congressmen as well as the U.S. military saw the internet as something of a national proj-
ect/space that needed the same protection as the physical country.

An “electronic Pearl Harbor” has never fully materialized, but the U.S. and the world have
been frequent victims of cyber-attacks since the term was coined. Inside Cyber Warfare,
published in 2009, outlines a history of cyber-attacks worldwide. It begins with digital
vandalism and intentional overwhelming of websites (often called DDoS attacks) in Israel
and Palestine in 2000. The U.S. itself was the victim of over 80,000 Chinese hackers in 2001,
when a collision between an American and Chinese Jet in the South Pacific was taken as an
affront on Chinese pride. The New York Times would dub this event “World Wide Web
War I” (Carr 4). Eight years later, when a series of cyber-attacks targeted the websites of the
White House and Congress on the 4th of July, it was America’s turn to feel offended. U.S.
Representative Pete Hoekstra urged the U.S. military to respond in kind to the attack so as
to send DPRK a “strong signal” (Carr 4). What would that signal have been? It’s somewhat
unclear, but the implication is that the United States needs to demonstrate its power online,
just as it does in the physical world, with its military. By asking the U.S. military rather than
the State Department to respond, Hoekstra recalls the “new American Militarism” that
Bacevich outlines, and with it, the imperial impulse to exercise power in an effort to intimi-
date other nations ‘beneath’ American hegemony.

Under the term “cybersecurity,” the Obama presidency has hidden policies regarding cyber-
war within the need the maintaining of America’s role as a world leader. Obama declared the
month of October 2010 “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month,” signaling its immense
importance to his agenda and view of the U.S today.


The growth and spread of technology has already transformed international security and
the global marketplace. So as the United States – the Nation that created the internet and
launched an information revolution – continues to be a pioneer in both technological in-
novation and cybersecurity, we will maintain our strength, resilience, and leadership in the

21st century (Obama 2010).

The emphasis on “international security” and “the global marketplace” immediately recalls
David Harvey’s claim that the U.S.’s “new imperialism” hides behind its role as “chief de-
fender of freedom (understood in terms of free markets)”. The term “international security”
also implies that America’s cyber-security is about protecting American interests in a global
network not just domestically, which means protecting them across and throughout cy-
berspace no matter which nations the servers, computers, and computer users in question
may reside. By maintaining the responsibility of cybersecurity at home and abroad, Obama
promises the U.S. will maintain its “leadership in the 21st century” which surely is a state-
ment of concern for defending its contemporary hegemony.

On June 23rd, 2009 the U.S. Secretary of Defense directed the U.S. Military to found Cyber
Command or, in the parlance of the Department of Defense, USCYBERCOM. Its stated
mission includes the ability to “conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations in or-
der to enable actions in all domains, ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and
deny the same to our adversaries” (Department of Defense 2010). Joining together various
existing cyber commands in the Navy, Army and Marine Corps. including the provocatively
titled 67th Network Warfare wing of the Air Force, USCYBERCOM is a significant impe-
rial action on at least two levels (U.S. Air Force 2010). The first is that as a “joint command”
positioned beneath U.S. Strategic Command, USCYBERCOM is just beneath entire U.S.
military regional commands as AFRICOM, EUCOM (Europe), USPACOM (Pacific) or
CENTCOM (Middle East). The regional commands, according to Niall Ferguson, reveal

an American imperialism rendered in the “Defense Department map of the world” in which
American power is rendered literally global (Ferguson 17). For these commands make the
U.S. at once appear ‘responsible’ for the entire world, and simultaneously partition the
planet and its nations into grand administrative states that U.S. has developed for itself. By
adding cyberspace formally to these command areas, the U.S. military annexes the internet
as another territory it must control and survey as part of its larger military imperialism.

The other significance of USCYBERCOM is nested in the last part of its mission state-
ment. What, we may ask, does “freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our
adversaries” mean as a political statement? The answer is that American military forces, as
they done in Iraq and Afghanistan, are using a very subjective idea of “freedom.” One per-
son’s freedom, we might say, is another’s restraint. From their mission statement, it is clear
that the USCYBERCOM intends to privilege American ideas of freedom in cyberspace,
which they openly admit will be the at the cost of “the same to our adversaries.”
As a military organization, this statement is not altogether unreasonable or unexpected. For
war and combat is predicated on maintaining advantages while denying the same to “adver-
saries.” But the crucial thing to realize about this utterance is how it will change the internet
itself. For whether or not the U.S. military has developed and made strong use of network
technology, the open militarization of it is happening only now. And because authors like
Bacevich, Ferguson, and Harvey believe that the American military engages in an open
imperial project, the formal development of USCYBERCOM represents the beginning of
open imperialism with information networks. U.S. freedom is no longer a simple domestic
expectation, but something that will be enforced within the global purview of the web. It
is worth remembering here that the U.S. army cannot technically operate as a force within
the U.S. proper, but must instead let the F.B.I. and other domestic organizations deal with
policing intra-America cybersecurity. So what then is USCYBERCOM for save enforcing
American policies outside of the nation, in the very pattern of imperial interests throughout
history and as a culmination of U.S. militarization of networks over the past two decades?

the copy-fight for
intellectual property
Examining the United State’s attempted global regulation of intellectual property also re-
veals a distinctly imperialism impulse in the nation’s economic and legal policy. Intellectual
property, just to be clear, can be defined as “a work or invention that is the result of creativi-
ty” to which “one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark,
etc” (Oxford American Dictionary 2010). These last items (“patent, copyright, trademark,
etc.”) are legal constructs designed to protect the exclusive rights of a creator to make profit
and license his/her works. Traditional infringement on intellectual property by illegally
copying and distributing creative works (“piracy”) was punishable by the law, provided the
infringement took place in the same nation or legal context as the protection. But today,
copying and distributing intellectual property (IP) is dramatic aided by digital technology,
and is now being shared across many legal contexts through the internet. The trouble for
American companies and cultural producers is that this global flow of piracy is suppos-
edly costing them money while allowing other nations to benefit from the creative works.
This inverts the original dynamic of Said’s “cultural imperialism” in which certain cultural
products and certain cultural ideals are forced on other nations to promote imperial ideol-
ogy. For while American media companies want their messages and products to reach new
markets (thus promoting American culture) they also want to get to paid for it. Economic
imperialism wants to be an accomplice not a victim of cultural empire.

At the request of President Obama, the U.S. government has directly intervened in this IP
global crisis to guide and enforce stringent IP regulation through the web. In his 2011 “Es-
tablishment of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Advisory Committees,” Obama called
for “the efforts of the Federal Government to encourage innovation through the effective
and efficient enforcement of laws protecting copyright … and other forms of intellectual
property, both in the United States and abroad” (Obama 2011). In point of fact the Federal

Government and its agencies can only legally enforce American IP protection in the United
States. But by including “abroad,” Obama makes it clear that IP is a global issue for the U.S.
government, and though he does not detail how American IP will be protected abroad, the
implication is that it will be.

One Federal organization called “The National Intellectual Property Coordination Center”
has already been active in policing U.S. IP online, and may be evidence of what American
network imperialism means in practice. In “Operation In Our Sites” the IPR cracked down
on a number of websites online by “seizing website domain names, profits, and other prop-
erty from IP thieves” whenever sites were found “offering the content or goods that violate
U.S. copyrights and trademarks” (IPR 2011). One site, was seized in February
2011 for offering links to video streams of sports from around the world, not just Ameri-
can pastimes. But if one takes the IPR on its word, the only thing that matters in acting
on a website is that it offers content violating U.S. copyrights. Which basically means that
the IPR will enforce U.S. copyright protection anywhere on the internet, regardless of the
location of the servers of the website or the nation that has registered the site’s domain. This
essentially elevates U.S. copyright to be more than an American IP protection, for if the
American task forces are willing and have already enforced site seizures across the web, then
the U.S. is clearly setting a precedent that it is willing to police all rather parts of the inter-
net. Putting American economic interests over the sovereignty of nations to police their
own servers, web users, and internet domains also develops the precedent of America acting
unquestioned and unfettered online. This ‘global police mentality’ has frequently been cited
by authors like Harvey and Said as a dominant characteristic of America’s new imperialism.
It also recalls Hobson’s insight that just because nations are federated by the rule of hege-
mon, that does not mean there is “equality of nations.”

Intellectual property piracy is also a major point of contention in the somewhat strained
relationship between the U.S. and China. No doubt mirroring larger political tensions,

President Obama and Chinese leader Hu Jintao’s recent meeting focused heavily on U.S. IP
infringement in China, particularly as the pirates in question were often Chinese govern-
ment agencies (Leonhardt 2011). While IPR might be able to crack down on independent
pirates, wholesale national IP infringement represents an issue of a much higher order. For
if the U.S. attempts to seize, shut-down, or attack (via USCYBERCOM?) such Chinese
piracy, would it be construed as a dramatic imperial overstepping? Or even an act of war?
The economic advantage of not paying for American software, films, etc. is as helpful for an
emergent Chinese economy as it is hurtful for an American economy that needs to mon-
etize the vast population of China. So this is where one current problem for American net-
work imperialism still remains. What does one do when the other global hegemon decides
to consciously undermine your IP protection?

conclusions: internet “freedom”

On February 15, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech on “Internet Free-
dom” that responded to recent unrest in the Middle East and emphasized the importance of
‘free and open access to the internet’ in those countries. Secretary Clinton argued that the
United States government had thought long and hard about what policies it wanted to de-
velop for the internet and concluded “we place ourselves on the side of openness” (Clinton
2011). Clinton then outlined the challenges of U.S. backed ‘internet freedom,’ questioned
the motives and actions of other nations (including Egypt’s use of an internet kill switch),
finally going over the things the U.S. was doing to foster and promote a ‘free’ internet. These
things included grants to technological innovators, NGO’s, and making Government twit-
ter feeds available in more languages. Intellectual property was discussed only once, right
after a statement on child pornography, and cyber war, cyber command, and cyber attack
were never mentioned.

Through this paper’s analysis, I have tried to make clear that the actions and statements of
the U.S. Government towards the information networks of the internet can be included in
the nation’s ‘new imperialism’ as what should be called “network imperialism.” This needs to
be differentiated from nationalism, in which a projected national identity might guide such
actions, and despotism, in which the policies might be highly arbitrary and abusive. To the
contrary, the U.S. Government’s approach to the internet, network technology and war/IP
within these domains has shown itself to be highly bureaucratic, consistent within its own
logic, internationally-oriented, and distinctly pursued for advantage to the American people
and their idea (almost like Said’s “idea of having an empire”) of how the world should work.
It is part of the development of a world system, governed by a central ideology if not a
concrete central location, subjugating the actions of internet users around the world to the
policies and processes of the U.S. government.

Hilary Clinton’s speech made clear that the American government perceives its role online
as the Hobsonian and Harveyian hegemon whose rule allows for peace by taking respon-
sibility for it. What else could she have meant when she concluded “Internet freedom is
about defending the space … against those who we have always stood against, who wish to
stifle and repress, to come forward with their version of reality and to accept none other”
(Clinton 2011). These words echo USCYBERCOM’s mission to maintain US “freedom
of action” online, and the purposes of Intellectual Property Task Forces to protect the ‘free
markets online.’ Is Clinton, or USCYBERCOM, or the IPR really talking about “freedom”
when they advocate for the openness their actions represent? In a way, yes. But they are free-
doms within a cultural logic that has already accepted the necessity of certain un-freedoms,
a conditional view of openness that expects security, and allows for certain activities while
barring others. Freedoms, in short, that will become synonymous with American 21st cen-
tury imperialism, pursued through the information networks that define them.


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essay prepared for master’s
degree work in sociology at the
university of cambridge
// by Zachary McCune
cc feb. 2011 - attribution