The contemporary military doctrine of “network-centric warfare” has favored a decentralized approach to both humanitarian interventions and “warfighting.” In reframing enmity as network antagonism, the United States has focused on a new type of anti-American enemy: the terrorist network. This essay contends that, instead of instrumentally mobilizing networks to fight networks, the work of the critical imagination is better served by isolating the deep specificity of networks in their formal deployment across a number of discursive fields. To that end, the essay explores “network aesthetics”—an analytic that informs a wide range of contemporary theory, fiction, film, and new media, and that is a necessary corollary to an era in which interconnection has become a dominant architectural mode, a multivalent metaphor, and even a weapon. A reading of several post–9/11 texts, including the U.S. Department of Defense's 2003 strategic military plan “Information Operations Roadmap,” Marc Sageman's 2004 sociological study Understanding Terror Networks, and Stephen Gaghan's 2005 film Syriana, analyzes the rhetoric that frames terrorist networks and suggests how aesthetics of interconnection might help us better understand the entangled webs of transnational capitalism.

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