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Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security

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The EU represents
the leading edge of this development, with its member states having
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Theories and histories
created a thick layer of institutions among themselves, and being
generally embarked on an open-ended experiment to invent a post-
Westphalian form of international relations. But the North American
states also have some postmodern qualities, as, to a lesser extent, does
Japan, and these are reflected in the security community that links these
three centres together. Since the postmodern states represent the major
centres ofpower andwealth in the international system, theyalsoproject
strongly the values of openness into the rest of the international system.
Because they pursue elements of openness, postmodern states have less
of the inside/outside preoccupation of modern states, and more of a
concern with the security of the structures that link them together.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, scattered throughout the third
world, but most notably in Africa and Central Asia, are states that can
loosely be described as premodern, defined by low levels of socio-
political cohesion and poorly developed structures of government.
These are all weak states. Some of them are premodern in the sense
that they aspire to modernity, and are headed in that direction, but have
yet to consolidate themselves sufficiently to qualify. Others are failed
states, where the colonial state transplant has broken down, and there
is little other than external recognition to sustain the myth of statehood.
Premodern states are most numerous in Africa, but can also be found
in Asia (Afghanistan, Tajikistan), the Americas (Haiti), and Europe
(Albania). Weak states have many vulnerabilities, and securitisation
may well begin to move away from the state to substate actors.
All of these state types have their security environment shaped both
by the regions within which they sit, and by the international system
that contains them. At the regional level, conveniently for our purposes,
there is a marked, though by no means perfect, geographical clustering
of states according to these three types. Sub-SaharanAfrica contains pre-
dominantly premodern states. The Middle East, South and East Asia,
South America, and Eastern Europe all contain predominantly modern
states. North America and, more so, Western Europe are dominated by
postmodern states. These clusterings arenot pure, and theydonotdeter-
mine the dynamics of security in these regions. But they do predispose
them in significant ways, and so provide useful starting points for our
comparative analysis.
At the global level, all of these states have to operate in the strong
international system that has grown up during the last half-century,
but they do so under very different conditions. By ‘strong’ interna-
tional system, we mean the globalist package of intensified interaction
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History and diversity
capacity in transportation and communication; the expanding commu-
nities of common fate; the shrinkage of time and space; the interlinkage
of production, trade, finance, and environment; and the increasing im-
position of the systemic on the local. The strong postmodern states re-
late to globalisation as its principal generator and beneficiary, though, as
sensitivities about things such as migration, terrorism, economic cycles,
‘democratic deficits’, and sovereignty attest, they can also feel threat-
ened by it.
For modern states, globalisation poses two seemingly contradic-
tory threats: exclusion and inclusion. The threat of exclusion is most
strongly felt bymodernist states adjacent to thepostmoderncore, suchas
Mexico, Turkey, and many Central and East European countries. States
that straddle the border line between post-modern and modern state-
hood often face particularly intense dilemmas and might even become
‘torn states’ (Aydınlı 2002). For these states, exclusion means relegation
to second-class status, and denial ofmany benefits ofmembership in the
core.The threatof inclusion isgeneral tomodernist states andarises from
conflicts between their indigenous cultural anddevelopmentprojects on
the one hand, and outside influences and penetrations on the other. The
longstanding debate in Russia betweenWesternisers and Slavophiles is
a classic example of such tensions (Neumann 1996b). For manymodern
states, the price of economic and political relationswith the postmodern
core is exposure to demands for openness and ‘standards of civilisation’
that amount not just to an assault on sovereignty, but in some cases
(most notably Islamic ones) to an assault on identity. Recognition, aid,
and trade may be made conditional on legal reforms (particularly for
property rights), human rights performance (reflecting liberal values of
individual rights), currency reform, adherence to norms of multiparty
democracy, and reduction of restrictions on themovement of goods and
capital. As Iran, North Korea, Libya, the former Soviet Union, and to a
lesser extent Argentina, China, and India can attest, the liberal core is
actively hostile to rival modes of development.
For premodern states, the threat from globalisation is broadly defined
by an inability to measure up to international standards of good gov-
ernance. The danger is either that they will be demoted in the ranks of
international society to some sort of trusteeship status, no longer recog-
nised as legally equal and capable of self-government, or that they will
simply be neglected and allowed to fall into chaos. It may not be pos-
sible for some societies quickly or easily to develop modern (let alone
postmodern) forms of social and political life when they are exposed to
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Theories and histories
the rigours of a global market and the seductions of a wealthier, more
powerful, global culture.
These ideas enable us to take substantial account of unit level factors
in thinking about contemporary international security, without getting
mired in the hopeless analytical complexity of myriad different types
of state. They provide a broad-brush sketch of the main features of the
contemporary international security environment, and give us some
handles with which both to compare regions and to relate the regional
securitydynamics to theglobal ones.Butwearenotgoing togodownthe
road of trying to cast these factors as determinative of security dynam-
ics. Certainly they shove and shape in important ways as ‘facilitating
conditions’. But as we have argued elsewhere (Buzan et al. 1998), and
will continue to argue here, leaders and peoples have considerable free-
dom to determine what they do and do not define as security threats.
Since it is these definitions that underpin security policy and behaviour,
they, and the processes by which they are made and unmade, are what
must ultimately lie at the heart of security analysis.
Conclusions
This chapter has established the plausibility of taking a regional ap-
proach to international security. It has related such an approach to neo-
realism and globalism, and shown the complementarities among them.
It has also set out a historical account, which, by showing the salience
of the regional level, validates the task of developing a theory to take it
into account. Both neorealism and globalism seek to continue the Cold
War IR tradition of finding one dominant story to impose on the whole
international system. This is an intellectually attractive strategy, but our
argument is that it was a flawed one even during the Cold War, and
is increasingly so since. There are distinct stories at several levels with
none holding the master key to a full interpretation. The task is to find
coherent theoretical tools for keeping these stories in view together, and
making sense of the way they interact with each other. A structured
approach to regional security can do this. Since a regionalist approach
is by definition dependent on an ability to distinguish the regional