Drawing on extensive research in the archives of the US Army Corps of Engineers, this article again draws on my concomitant interest in militaries and infrastructure. “The infrastructural power of the military: The geoeconomic role of the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Arabian Peninsula” is inspired by the writings of Neil Smith and Deb Cowen on geoeconomics, and was published in the European Journal of International Relations 24(4) in 2018 and can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066117742955
Abstract: In analysing the role of the US in the global expansion of capitalist relations, most critical accounts see the US military’s invasion and conquest of various states as paving the way for the arrival of US businesses and capitalist relations. However, beyond this somewhat simplified image, and even in peacetime, the US military has been a major geoeconomic actor that has wielded its infrastructural power via its US Army Corps of Engineers’ overseas activities. The transformation of global economies in the 20th century has depended on the capitalisation of the newly independent states and the consolidation of liberal capitalist relations in the subsequent decades. The US Army Corps of Engineers has not only extended lucrative contracts to private firms (based not only in the US and host country, but also in geopolitically allied states), but also, and perhaps most important, has itself established a grammar of capitalist relations. It has done so by forging both physical infrastructures (roads, ports, utilities and telecommunications infrastructures) and virtual capitalist infrastructures through its practices of contracting, purchasing, design, accounting, regulatory processes and specific regimes of labour and private property ownership.