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Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security

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of industrialisation, different degrees of cultural homogeneity,
and so on.
There are no neat correlations among these classifications that would
enable a clear simplification of types. Some colonising states were quite
small powers (Denmark, Belgium), while some ex-colonial states have
become substantial powers (India, USA). Some new states have grown
rich and well ordered (Singapore, Taiwan), while others have remained
chaotic and poor (Somalia, Pakistan). Some old states are rich and stable
(France, Japan), others are not (Russia, Egypt). As demonstrated by the
widely accepted hypothesis of democratic peace theory – that democra-
cies rarely if ever go to war with each other – the variety of state types
clearly does matter to what sorts of security dynamics are likely to de-
velop. It does not seem unreasonable to think that well-established,
democratic, advanced industrial states will tend to have different se-
curity concerns from unstable and underdeveloped third world dicta-
torships. But the number of possible combinations resulting from the
existence of so many seemingly important ways of classifying states
generates a matrix so huge as to be useless for analytical purposes. And
since most of these characteristics do not obviously generate any clear
or determined security outcomes, we are not even going to attempt to
construct a security theory that hinges on classifications of states into
types. Such an approach was tried by Rosenau (1966) and did not prove
a viable path for the development of foreign policy analysis.
That said, however, we cannot just ignore this factor and runwith the
hugely distorting Eurocentric assumption that all states are alike. Part
of our purpose in this book is to set out historical overviews of how
RSCs have evolved, and there can be no doubt that the ways in which
security dynamics have unfolded in different regions are affected by the
type(s) of state to be found within particular regions. Yet we also want
to leave a good deal of room for political choice and particular circum-
stance.Howelse does one explainwhy states as similar inmanyways as
Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia took such different paths to disassem-
bling themselves, or how one group of not very democratic developing
countries in Southeast Asia managed to generate a substantial regional
security regime (ASEAN),while their neighbours in SouthAsia did not?
21
Theories and histories
Weare already on recordwith a concept that offers someway forward
on how to deal with the interplay between types of states and types of
security dynamics: the spectrum of weak and strong states as a way of
thinking about national security (Buzan 1991b: 96–107; see also Krasner
1978: 55–6;Holsti 1996). This spectrum is not about power (weak/strong
powers), but about the degree of sociopolitical cohesion between civil
society and the institutions of government. In a real sense it is about
the degree of stateness (in terms of what Jackson (1990) calls ‘empirical
sovereignty’) that a state possesses. All states can be placed along this
spectrum. Those towards the stronger end, being more internally cohe-
sive, will tend to find most of their threats coming from outside their
borders. Those towards the weaker end lackmuch in the way of empiri-
cal sovereignty, and so in one sense have less claim to stateness. They are
more likely to be forums in which a variety of substate actors compete
for their own security, and/or to capture the state. Because they are fra-
gile and internally divided, weak states will, other things being equal,
be more vulnerable to most types of outside threat. Extreme weakness
results in state failure, which is the collapse of empirical sovereignty.
With this idea in mind, it is easy to see that a region composed entirely
of strong states is likely to develop quite different security dynamics
from one composed entirely of weak states. Reality, of course, is almost
never so neatly composed, and the typical regionwill contain somemix-
ture of state types (Singapore and Cambodia; Angola and South Africa;
Albania and France). Nevertheless, this spectrum will give us some ex-
planatory leverage when we come to consider the security history of
particular regions.
Running in close parallel to the strong/weak state spectrum is the
quite widely used scheme for classifying the contemporary universe of
states into three types: postmodern, modern, and premodern (Holm and
Sørensen 1995; Caporoso 1996; Cooper 1996; Buzan and Segal 1996).
Although presented as a set of three types, this set can also be seen as
positions on a spectrum. Since much of the focus in this book will be on
the contemporary international system and its RSCs, we will use this
scheme in comparing regions.
Thedefiningcentral categoryof this scheme is themodern state,which
represents the European classicalWestphalian ideal type. Until after the
end of the Second World War, modern states were the dominant type.
They are defined by strong government control over society and re-
strictive attitudes towards openness. They see themselves as indepen-
dent and self-reliant entities, having distinctive national cultures and
22
History and diversity
development policies, and often pursuing mercantilist economic poli-
cies. Their borders mark real lines of closure against outside economic,
political, and cultural influences, and their sovereignty is sacrosanct.
The fascist and communist totalitarian states of the twentieth century
represented extreme types of modern state, but pre-Second World War
France and theUnitedStates showthatmodern states canalsobedemoc-
racies. In the early part of the twenty-first century, themost conspicuous
modern states are mostly outside the core of advanced capitalist states:
China, the two Koreas, Iran, India, Burma, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey,
Brazil. Russia hasmany of the qualities of amodern state, as do, in some
ways, the USA and Japan. Modern states can vary quite a lot along the
weak/strong spectrum, though they cannot be too close to the failed
state end. In some (e.g., Iraq, possibly North Korea), repressive author-
itarian regimes may impose modernity without having the consent of
many of their citizens. In others (e.g., revolutionary Iran), even quite au-
thoritarian governments may command a high degree of real support.
In very differentways, India and Singapore demonstrate the democratic
possibilities of modernity. Because of their strong territoriality, modern
states tend to securitise very much in inside/outside terms.
Postmodern states are a relatively new phenomenon, mainly concen-
trated in the capitalist core. All are within the strong state end of the
spectrum, and none are much driven by traditional military security
concerns about armed invasion or massive bombardment. These states
have moved on from the Westphalian model. They still retain the trap-
pings of modernity such as borders, sovereignty, and national identity,
but for a wide range of things, especially economic and cultural trans-
actions, do not take them nearly as seriously as before. Postmodern
states have a much more open and tolerant attitude towards cultural,
economic, and political interaction, and have by and large convinced
themselves that opening their economies, and to a lesser extent their
societies and politics, to a wider range of interactions is good both
for their prosperity and for their security. Necessarily, therefore, they
have desecuritised much of the traditional agenda of threats. But at
the same time they have acquired a new security agenda, which often
focuses on concerns about identity and migration (Wæver et al. 1993)
and about the stability of global economic and environmental systems.
Postmodern states are pluralist and democratic, and civil society actors
from firms to pressure groups are allowed a great deal of liberty to op-
erate both within the state and across its borders.