Implicit Religion, Vol 12, No 1 (2009)

Rogue Agents, Religion, and the Rule of Law: The Limits of Legalism in the Face of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Jenna Reinbold
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2009


This article explores the resurgence of a certain quasi religious discourse of nuclear threat within the post-9/11 policymaking of the Bush Administration; a discourse which has inflected American nuclear policymaking throughout the past sixty years, but which has proven profoundly dissonant within the international legal landscape of the early twenty-first century. Drawing upon Carl Schmitt’s concept of “political theology,” I elucidate the manner in which nuclear weapons technology has served since 1945 to undergird a powerful praxis of American sovereignty—a sovereignty threatened simultaneously by the dissemination of nuclear technology throughout the world, and by the ever-burgeoning regulatory mechanisms of international law. Ultimately, I assert that the concept of political theology not only provides us with an important means of deciphering the Bush Administration’s eschatological policymaking language, but that it clarifies what has proven to be an intimate connection between the discourse of nuclear threat and this Administration’s endeavor to bolster the sovereignty of the US—particularly of its executive branch.

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DOI: 10.1558/imre.v12i1.003


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