SECURITIZATION OF NATIONAL INTERESTS In the decades following the end of the cold war, the field of security studies has seen new ways of thinking about international security. Dominant paradigms have been challenged by academics unsatisfied with existing concepts, looking to explain security in a transformed and globalized world. Primarily, they sought to move security studies beyond theories that recognized only military threats as challenges to State security.
One leading approach to conceptualizing security is that of the Copenhagen school and their theory of securitization. Buzan, Weaver and Jaap de Wilde are the main proponents of Copenhagen School; their aim has been widening and deepening the concept of security to accommodate it to a new, post-cold war global political order. Securitization theory radically diverts from the traditional realist and neorealist principles in that it adopts social constructivism to understanding security.
Unlike these earlier traditions, securitization theory conceptualizes security as discursively established, dismissing outright the notion of objective threats. It also breaks from realist and neorealist traditions in introducing the concept “society” alongside the State as an object that can be threatened and therefore needing analysis. When security is considered a process that is subject to moral evaluation, this idea or concept is called securitization.
This paper will use constructivism theory to show how national interests are securitized because Constructivists hold that state interests are not “discovered” but “constructed” and that national security policy is not “formulated” by rational actors, but it’s shaped by contested identities and other social factors such as the norms and cultures within a society. According to McSweeny, Constructivism forces us to not only consider a wider variety of threats, but gives us ways to better understand the concept of Securitization.
Buzan and Waever claim, for instance, that securitization is ‘constructivist all the way down’ with Weaver insisting that moreover it is ‘radically constructivist’ In, “Security: A new Framework for Analysis”, Barry Buzan, Ole W? ver, and Jaap de Wilde argue that security can be broadened to include other threats beyond the traditional military and political domain. In general, Buzan et al, argue that security depends on the character of the referent object in question, meaning that Buzan et al understood the significance of core values, threats and capabilities.
Securitized, according to Buzan et al, means that the issue is “presented as an existential threat, requiring emergency measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure and defining securitization as a successful speech act through which an inter-subjective understanding is constructed within a political community to treat something as an existential threat to a valued referent object, and to enable a call for urgent and exceptional measures to deal with the threat. In order to understand why certain threats are securitized, further explanation is necessary. Firstly, an existential threat is more important than other issues, thus taking priority due to its incompatibility with the actor’s core values. Secondly, extraordinary measures are warranted in order to counter the objective or subjective threat. This suggests that an actor can break normal political rules such as, “commanding secrecy, levying taxes or conscription, placing limitations on otherwise inviolable rights, or focusing society’s energy and resources on a specific task”.
This, according to Buzan et al does not mean that an actor must adopt extraordinary measures, “only that the existential threat has to be argued and just gain enough resources for a platform to be made from which it is possible to legitimize emergency measures or other special measures that would not have been possible had the discourse not taken the form of existential threat, point of no return. ”. The difference between emergency measures and special measures both being categorized as extraordinary needs further classification.
The scale of the threat is paramount in order to distinguish between the two. The term ‘emergency measure’ implies large-scale action like nationwide action, or troop deployment, whereupon ‘special measures’ suggests more moderate action like new legislation, campaigns, regional or provincial based action. Furthermore, the audience must accept these emergency measures or special measures. This point is of paramount importance in order to understand successful securitization.
According to Buzan et al “accept does not necessarily mean civilized, dominance-free discussion; it only means that order always rests on coercion as well as consent since securitization can never only be imposed, there is some need to argue one’s case”. In a sense the “securitizing agent needs to obtain permission from its audience to override rules that would normally bind it and at some point it must be argued in the public sphere why a situation constitutes security and therefore can legitimately be handled differently. Securitization is not fulfilled only by breaking rules nor solely by existential threats but by cases of existential threat that legitimize the breaking of rules. Buzan et al also make an important distinction by stating that there are cases where the violation of rights and other extraordinary means are commonplace and where security arguments are not needed to legitimize such acts like autocratic states, such as North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, have, a tendency of non-adherence to rules.
Nevertheless, Buzan et al state that “rules exist in all societies, and when an actor uses the rhetoric of securitization, the issue in question is placed beyond normal bounds of political procedure. ” It should also be noted that there are significant differences between autocratic states, some are ruled by a dictator, (North Korea, Turkmenistan) others by a party (China, Singapore). Autocracies ruled by a party tend to be much more concerned with establishing legitimacy for their actions than states that are run by dictators.
Thus Buzan suggests that successful securitization has three general steps, existential threat, emergency action or special measures, and acceptance by the unit by breaking free of rules. Successful securitization is then based on unit acceptance. Without this cohesion, Buzan et al argue that a threat has only been subjected to a securitizing move (an actor presents an issue as a threat) not of an object being securitized.
From the foregoing securitization theory, in order to answer the question of why and how national interests become securitized, one must focus on the different types of interests that exist and the US national interests will be used as an example. American national interests stretch from vital interests through extremely important and important interests to less important or peripheral interests. Thus, vital American interests are only those that are strictly necessary to safeguard and enhance Americans’ survival and wellbeing in a free and secure nation.
Extremely important interests are precisely that—no less, but no more. They are interests or conditions that if compromised would severely prejudice, but not strictly imperil, the ability of the US government to safeguard and enhance Americans’ well-being in a free and secure nation. Important interests are again not irrelevant but also not critical to the survival, or even prosperity, of Americans.
Compromise of important interests could, however, have negative consequences for the safeguarding and enhancing of Americans’ well-being. Finally, interests listed under less important or peripheral are intrinsically desirable but have no major effect on the ability of the US government to safeguard and enhance the well-being of Americans. In considering whether an interest is vital, the question is whether the preservation of this interest, value, or condition is strictly necessary for the United States to safeguard and enhance.
Vital US interests exist to: Prevent, deter, and reduce the threat of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons attacks on the United States or its military forces abroad; Ensure US allies’ survival and their active cooperation with the US in shaping an international system in which we can thrive; Prevent the emergence of hostile major powers or failed states on US borders; Ensure the viability and stability of major global systems (trade, financial markets, supplies of energy, and the environment); and Establish productive relations, consistent with American national interests, with nations that could become strategic adversaries like China and Russia.
Instrumentally, these vital interests will be enhanced and protected by promoting singular US leadership, military and intelligence capabilities, credibility (including a reputation for adherence to clear US commitments and even-handedness in dealing with other states), and strengthening critical international institutions— particularly the US alliance system around the world. Extremely important US interests intend to: Prevent, deter, and reduce the threat of the use of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons anywhere; Prevent the regional proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems; Promote the acceptance of international rules of law and mechanisms for resolving or managing disputes peacefully; Prevent the emergence of a regional hegemon in important regions, especially the Persian Gulf; Promote the well-being of US allies and friends and protect them from xternal aggression; Promote democracy, prosperity, and stability in the Western Hemisphere; Prevent, manage, and, if possible at reasonable cost, end major conflicts in important geographic regions; Maintain a lead in key military-related and other strategic technologies, particularly information systems; Prevent massive, uncontrolled immigration across US borders; Suppress terrorism (especially state-sponsored terrorism), transnational crime, and drug trafficking; and Prevent genocide. Important national interests are conditions that, if compromised, would have major negative consequences for the ability of the US government to safeguard and enhance the well-being of Americans in a free and secure nation.
Important US interests are intended to: Discourage massive human rights violations in foreign countries; Promote pluralism, freedom, and democracy in strategically important states as much as is feasible without destabilization; Prevent and, if possible at low cost, end conflicts in strategically less significant geographic regions; Protect the lives and well-being of American citizens who are targeted or taken hostage by terrorist organizations; Reduce the economic gap between rich and poor nations; Prevent the nationalization of US-owned assets abroad; Boost the domestic output of key strategic industries and sectors; Maintain an edge in the international distribution of information to ensure that American values continue to positively influence the cultures of foreign nations; Promote international environmental policies consistent with long-term ecological requirements; and Maximize US GNP growth from international trade and investment. Instrumentally, the important US national interests are to maintain a strong UN and other regional and functional cooperative mechanisms. Less important or peripheral national interests are not unimportant. They are important and desirable conditions, but ones that have little direct impact on the ability of the US government to safeguard and enhance the well-being of Americans in a free and secure nation.
They include: Balancing bilateral trade deficits; Enlarging democracy everywhere for its own sake; Preserving the territorial integrity or particular political constitution of other states everywhere; and enhancing exports of specific economic sectors for American’s survival and well-being in a free and secure nation. With the above mentioned interests in mind, the process of securitization does apply to every national interest including the peripheral. This process starts with the speech act, also called framing and problem definition. The speech act can be explained as a rhetorical act, where an actor or actors formulate an issue in a manner that commands national attention. Buzan states that it is the utterance itself that is the act.
Eriksson and Noreen suggest that “it is a question of depicting and representing an issue, a phenomenon – for example, something that is perceived as threatening – in such a way that others listen and are convinced or are at least persuaded to pay attention to the issue. ” It must be observed that framing is linked to cognition. This is because cognition, which can be defined as the collective term for an individual’s cognitive and memory functions, is followed by an actor’s verbal expression of thought. According to Eriksson and Noreen, “it is our basic conceptions that determine how we perceive an event; the event is filtered through our prism of preconceived notions. ” Thus cognition is an additional basis for an actor’s speech act. For example, a tank crossing a national border.
This tank can either be categorized as hostile or friendly (peace keeping mission), thus it is not the vehicle that is the attribute of this categorization but the socially constructed relationship as advanced by social constructivists, that is formed in an actor’s cognitive and memory function. It must be noted that certain threats – mostly relating to military and political threats, have been institutionalized. Institutionalized threats are also related to cognition, in the sense that states can take emergency measures to defend themselves against military attack. This kind of threat does not need to be accepted by the people because extraordinary measures have been adopted by the state in the past and are automatically regarded as legitimate.
For example the people of Poland automatically accepted emergency measures conducted by the State in the late 1930s as a result of fears related to foreign occupation. Same emergency measures have been adopted and accepted by the people of Kenya for example the government had quickly use the Kenya Defense Forces to go to Somalia and defend Kenya from Al-shabaab terror attacks. Through the speech act, national interests have been securitized by national actors in positions of power by being generally accepted voices of security and having the power to define it. For example, the Islamic states that have expressed fears of western cultural icons like pop music and clothing, have led to the prioritization of this national interest, leading to its securitization.
This point has been stressed by Ullman, who defined a threat to security as: an action or sequence of events that threatens drastically and over a relatively brief span of time to degrade the quality of life for the inhabitants of a state or threatens significantly to narrow the range of policy choices available to a government of a state, or to private, nongovernmental entities (persons, groups, corporations) within the state. Although there is a case to be made that military threats in the twenty-first century are as apparent as ever, and maybe even greater than during the Cold War, the simple fact remains that they are not the only threats that face states, people and the world as a whole. Throughout history people have been killed by things other than weapons and states have been weakened or destroyed by things other than military conflict.
Ullman argued that the security implications for states of demographic pressures and resource depletion need to be taken on board alongside military threats from other states. This logic was developed further in a seminal article by Mathews towards the end of the Cold War which highlighted the need for states to give proper concern to the newly apparent threats posed by environmental problems such as ozone depletion and global warming. A case on securitization of environmental interests can be cited of Kenya in 2010 during the restoration of the Mau forest. It was labeled a security issue and received the same political attention and the same access to problem-solving resources that military issues have traditionally received. After the end of cold war, many other ‘wideners’ emerged in Security Studies literature.
Ayoob highlighted that internal rather than external threats were the principal security concern of most Less Developed Countries, making their national interests shift from military to economic thus securitizing economic interests like trade and equitable distribution of resources. Other scholars have also made the same point with reference to the most developed and powerful state, the USA, positing that a crisis in education and a growing economic ‘underclass’ should be understood as threats to national interests. Lynn-Jones and Miller addressed the need to give attention to a range of previously neglected internal and external threats such as virulent nationalism and the social impact of migration.
Though such threats to national interests need to be looked at, it should be noted that, threats and vulnerabilities can arise in many different areas, military and non-military, but to count as security issues they have to meet strictly defined criteria that distinguish them from the normal run of the merely political. They have to be staged as existential threats to a referent object by a securitizing actor who thereby generates endorsement of emergency measures beyond rules that would otherwise bind. This framework of analysis has represented a significant shift from the traditionalist, ‘narrow’ conception of security since it not only brought non-military issues into focus but has argued that issues can be considered matters of security even if they are not threatening states. A key influence on this was the largely unforeseen revival in nationalism being played out in the post-Cold War landscape of Eastern Europe, particularly in Yugoslavia.
The fact that conflict and the disintegration of a state occurred not as a result of a state security dilemma but because of internal societal security dilemmas prompted an attempt to incorporate sub-state groups into security analysis. National interests play a critical role; therefore they must be carefully justified, not merely assumed. When leaders are asking people to die for something, they have to be able to explain it in terms of the national interest. Vital interests are any resource, mineral or otherwise for which shortage has military and economic implications. In the US for example, these interests are often expressed in the inaugural addresses of incoming presidents: the Kennedy doctrine which asserts that, “let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any urden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty”. The Carter doctrine also states, “the overwhelming dependence of Western nations on vital oil supplies from the Middle East, and the pressure of change in many nations of the developing world constitute a threat to global peace, to East-West relations, and to regional stability and to the flow of oil. ” In securitizing of its national interests America has used the political classes who have used the speech act to ensure securitization takes place. Recent example includes the Bush’s doctrine which did shape America’s national interests over the last decade.
The preemptive doctrine which is the idea that the best defense is a good offense, or under international law, the doctrine of anticipatory self defense or a preemptive war that arises when one side decides there is a very great risk its adversary will attack within days or hours, and that the attack will cripple its ability to defend itself or retaliate. This was followed by the spreading of democracy with the idea that the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in the entire world, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny and dictatorships in every nation and culture. Bush’s last doctrine was the non-neutrality doctrine which was the idea that today’s terrorists threaten all nation- states as well as international justice, and no neutrality can be permitted (you are either with us or against us); that states who support or host terrorists are the de facto enemy of the United States and can face American military action.
Securitization has brought up what has been termed as “morality-based interests” which can be and are defined more broadly to encompass intangible values like human rights, freedom from economic deprivation, and freedom from disease. While military power could still be the national power element of choice, morality-based interests would promote concepts such as “the values of national self-determination and economic egalitarianism. ” There has been a surge in support for these kinds of morality-based interests through the execution of humanitarian intervention in places like Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo and recently in Libya, Mali, Sierra Leone and Central African Republic. Humanitarian intervention is armed interference in sovereign state by other states with the objective of ending or reducing suffering within the first state. That suffering may be the result of civil war, humanitarian crisis, or crimes by the first state including genocide. Morality-based interests are not developed only to benefit the actor that crafts the interest. Rather, they are designed so other actors in the international system are also likely to benefit. This is the reason behind cries of citizens in many nations calling for their governments to intervene in Syria and reduce human suffering and deaths. Happymon Jacob of Jawaharlal Nehru University asserts that, claims of national interests usually lead to depoliticisation of issues leading to their instant securitization.
While politicization of issues engenders participatory public spheres generating debates on relevant issues, when these issues are securitized, there will be a lack of such discussions in the public sphere. And when issues are securitized and defined in the language of national interest, they are not only depoliticized and often readily accepted by the people but also forms the bedrock of assumptions which will then classify what is right and wrong, good for the country or bad, patriotic acts or unpatriotic ones. Once these sets of bedrock national interest assumptions become part of the larger social constructiveness, it becomes difficult at times even for the ruling class to change it when they want to securitize newer national interests.
Happymon cites the example of how many times it’s been said that the Indian government wants to talk peace with Pakistan, but it is concerned about the potential negative reactions from the people, or it wants to adopt a give-and-take policy with the Chinese to resolve their border conflict, but it’s unsure of its acceptance domestically. This happens because when contents of national interest are securitized they tend to assume fixed meanings and when confronted with the challenge of change at a later date, there will be a great deal of resistance. The twenty first century has seen a lot of attention been given to issues of human security. It’s the new popular buzzword that holds that a people-centered view of security is necessary for global stability. The
United Nations has embraced this view in the form of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the largest multilateral source of development assistance in the world. The basic idea of human security is that today’s security threats do go beyond defense threats and include poverty, economic inequality, diseases, human rights abuses, environmental pollution, and natural disasters. Advocates of human security have followed the securitization process to ensure that these issues of concern to them do get accepted and given the needed priority by allocating resources to them and bringing them to the realm of national interests that are securitized and of concern to all.
However, achieving goals like “freedom from want and freedom from fear” has been termed over-idealist making many to argue that human security agenda may be nothing more than a way for activists to champion some particular cause in some particular context. This paper has tried to show the path that is followed by actors to securitize national interests whereby everything is socially constructed. In order to sum up how national interests get prioritized, it’s important to analyze the threats to these interests in order to get a clear glimpse of what nations give priority to. Abbot, Rodgers and Sloboda attempt to answer this difficult question about what are the biggest threats in the world today.
They argue that there are few of them: climate change; terrorism; competition over resources; marginalization of the world’s population; and global militarization. From this prioritization, there is consensus that multiple challenges or threats exist, and the only real way of measuring the response is to look at how much money states appropriate towards such problems. Some security threats to states national interests have been categorized in terms of who is the most threatened and or who exactly benefits. Hough provides that the nations of the world spend an average of 3% of global Gross Domestic Product on military expenditures and spend on average of 8% of global Gross Domestic Product on health expenditures.
The fact that according to Hough, governments on average spend more on health than on military, do mean that protecting people from diseases and invasion are the two main priorities of government. Though this paper has demonstrated how national interests are securitized through the use of the Copenhagen School’s securitization theory advanced by Buzan, Weaver and de Wilde, it’s important to note that this process it’s not easy . Krause and Williams point out that questions about “what” is to be secured and by “whom” and “how” are likely to continue in debates over the construction and practice of securitization of national interests. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Buzan Barry, Ole Weaver and Jaap de Wilde. “Security: A New Framework for Analysis” (1998) London: Lynne Rienner Publishers p. 3-24 2. McSweeny, B, “Security, Identity, and Interests: A Sociology of international Relations”, New York: Cambridge University Press (1999) p. 18 3. Waever, O. “Slippery? Contradictory? Sociologically Untenable? The Copenhagen School Replies,” Review of International Studies, 23, 2: 241-250. Campbell, D. (1992) Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 4. Buzan, B. , “People, States and Fear” London: Lynne Rienner Publishers(1991) p. 204 5. Trubowitz P. , “Defining the National Interest: Conflict in American Foreign Policy” University of Chicago Press (1998) p. -5 6. Eriksson, Johan. Erik Noreen. , “Setting the Agenda of Threats: An Explanatory Modal”, (2002)
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Contradictory? Sociologically Untenable? The Copenhagen School Replies,” Review of International Studies, 23, 2: 241-250. Campbell, D. (1992) Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. [ 5 ]. Buzan et al. , “Security: A New Framework for Analysis” Op. cit. , p. 24 [ 6 ]. Buzan, B. , “People, States and Fear” London: Lynne Rienner Publishers(1991) p. 204 [ 7 ]. Buzan et al. , “Security: A New Framework for Analysis” Op. cit. , p. 24 [ 8 ]. Ibid p. 24 [ 9 ]. Ibid p. 25 [ 10 ]. Buzan et al. , “Security: A New Framework for Analysis” Op. cit. , p. 24 [ 11 ]. Trubowitz P. “Defining the National Interest: Conflict in American Foreign Policy” University of Chicago Press (1998) p. 4-5 [ 12 ]. Ibid. ,p. 4-5 [ 13 ]. Trubowitz P. , “Defining the National Interest: Conflict in American Foreign Policy” Op. cit,. p. 5 [ 14 ]. Eriksson, Johan. Erik Noreen. , “Setting the Agenda of Threats: An Explanatory Modal”, (2002) Uppsala Peace Research Paper. no 6 [ 15 ]. Eriksson, Johan. Erik Noreen. , “Setting the Agenda of Threats: An Explanatory Modal”, Op. cit. , no. 6 [ 16 ]. Ullman, R. “Redefining Security”, International Security(1983) 8(1): p. 133 [ 17 ]. Ibid. , p. 133 [ 18 ]. Mathews, J. “Redefining Security”, Foreign Affairs 68(2) (1989): 162–177 [ 19 ]. Ayoob, M. The Third World Security Predicament: State Making, Regional Conflict, and the International System”
Lynne Rienner, (1997) p. 56 [ 20 ]. Wyn-Jones, R. , “Security, Strategy and Critical Theory”, Boulder, USA: Lynne Rienner (1999) p. 87 [ 21 ]. Robert J. , “A Grand Strategy for America” (New York: Cornell University Press, 2003), p. 45. [ 22 ]. Weldes J. , “Constructing National Interests: The United States and the Cuban Missile Crisis” Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, (1999), p. 4 [ 23 ]. Fitzsimons L. , “The Kennedy Doctrine”, Random House Publishers (1972) p. 46 [ 24 ]. Dumbell J. , “The Carter Presidency: A Reevaluation”. Manchester University Press (1995) p. 105 [ 25 ]. Kaufman R. “In Defense of the Bush Doctrine”. University Press of Kentucky (2008) p. 79 [ 26 ]. James F. Miskel, “National Interests: Grand Purposes or Catchphrases,” Naval War College Review (Autumn 2002): 9, Navy War College [ 27 ]. Happymon J, “In the Name of National Interest” Seminal Paper Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 2011 [ 28 ]. Abbot c. , Rodgers P. and Sloboda J. , “Beyond Terror: The Truth about the real threats to the world” London: Random House (2008) p. 78 [ 29 ]. Hough P. , “Understanding Global Security” New York: Routledge (2004)p. 46 [ 30 ]. Krause K. and Williams M. , “Broadening the Agenda of Security Studies” Mershon International Studies Review 40:229-54