Institutions of violence, great power authority, and the war on terror

Oded Löwenheim*, Brent J. Steele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This article suggests that institutions of violence in the international system sanction Great Power (GP) authority in this system. We argue that the degree to which Great Powers (GPs) construe various threats as challenges to their international authority informs their use of force against the sources of these threats. Serious challenges to GP authority prompt punishment not only to achieve rational and utilitarian ends (such as secession of harm or deterrence), but also to reproduce authority and reify it. We examine in this respect the US-led War on Terror and argue that the US response to the 9/11 terror attacks was largely constituted by the acute and unprecedented challenge to America's GP authority that these attacks symbolized. We conclude by reflecting upon the dilemmas the United States now faces to its GP authority.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)23-39
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Authority
  • Deviance
  • English School
  • Great Powers
  • International society
  • Punishment
  • Terror

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