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Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security

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of the global powers to them. Against this new freedomwas the
fact that the core was in amore dominant position ideologically
and especially economically in relation to the periphery than it
had been during the Cold War.
� Third, the ending of the Cold War exposed, and in many ways
reinforced, the shift in the nature of the security agenda to in-
clude a range of non-military issues and actors, which had been
visible since the 1970s.
One way of capturing an overview of the post-Cold War world is
through the emergingneorealist consensus that thepost-ColdWar struc-
ture is unipolar (Kapstein andMastanduno 1999). How this unipolarity
is to be understood is still contested. A strong version of US hegemony
would in many ways run parallel to a globalist analysis in terms of
favouring the dominance of the system level, though of course the two
would differ sharply in their understanding of causes. Aweaker version
of unipolarity leaves room for the regionalist view that the ending of the
Cold War created more autonomy for regional level security dynamics.
Another influential interpretation of the post-Cold War world has
been the idea that the international system has divided into twoworlds:
a zone of peace and a zone of conflict (Buzan 1991a: 432; Goldgeier and
McFaul 1992; Singer and Wildavsky 1993; and implicitly in earlier ver-
sions,Deutsch et al. 1957;Keohane andNye 1977). For theWestern states
and their close associates at the core of the global political economy, the
big impact was the sudden, and probably long-term, shift out of heavy
military security concerns and into a much wider, more diverse, and
less clearly understood set of mostly non-military security concerns.
The security community that had consolidated itself among the capital-
ist powers during the ColdWar seemed, after all, not to need an external
threat in order to survive – or at least, it was still in pretty good shape
a decade after the fall of the Soviet Union. These countries therefore
no longer faced the worry of military attacks from within their circle,
which had for so long been their principal preoccupation. For those
in the zone of conflict, the change was less apparent. Military threats
were still a part of everyday life, and many of them had been arguing
A brief modern history of regional security
a case for economic security, and a ‘new international economic order’,
since the early years of decolonisation. In the present era, therefore,
the story of global security becomes more diversified. A relatively uni-
form picture of military-political security dynamics dominated by state
actors gives way to multisectoral conceptions of security, a wider va-
riety of actors, and sets of conditions and dynamics that differ sharply
fromone region to another. Aswe hope to show, the distinction between
core and periphery, although a useful simplification, hides some quite
sharp regional distinctions. In some places conflictual RSCs, with their
predominantlymilitary-political interstate rivalries, remain the order of
the day. In others, RSCs have become security regimes or security com-
munities, and the discourses of security have shifted away from both
states and military issues. And in yet others, the state framework itself
is coming apart at the seams, giving prominence to substate and/or
superstate actors.
Whatever the final interpretation of it, the post-Cold War era seems
clearly to continue the opening up of scope for regional security dy-
namics begun with decolonisation. Decolonisation opened the space
for regional military-political dynamics, and the ending of the Cold
War enabled these dynamics to operate with much more freedom from
high levels of rival superpower military-political intrusion. At the same
time, the growing power of the global market generated regional se-
curity initiatives. The operation of the global market, and its securitis-
ing effects both on the environment and onpatterns of identity, also took
some regional focus. In some regions there was concern about the ways
in which the burgeoning forces of globalisation were impacting on lo-
cal culture. In others, environmental issues took regional forms around
such issues as shared river systems, seas, and air quality. Clearly we are
looking at a new type of interplay between the much-discussed forces
of globalisation on the one hand, and a seemingly paradoxical, but in
fact connected, strengthening of territorialised regional dynamics on the
Had the premodern multiple systems merged by a parallel, balanced
increase in interaction capacity, a global system with multiple regions
might have formed during the previous five centuries. Instead, the
world became unified by the double move of Europe first expanding
to dominate the world and then retracting to leave a world still con-
nected and remodelled into the state format. That second move left
room for evolution back towards a global systemwithmultiple regions.
This odd route left much confusion about how to think about regional
Theories and histories
and global levels and many particular legacies. Nevertheless, it is now
possible to begin more systematically to conceptualise a global world
order of strong regions.
History and diversity: the different state legacies
of regional security complexes
The story just given, with its emphasis on the global and regional levels,
makes it easy to slip into the assumption that the world has evolved
into a fairly uniform system of Westphalian-type states differentiated
from each other principally by their degree of power, their geographical
location, and their cultural background. But it is all too clear that the
state level itself contains variables that play a major role in condition-
ing the how and why of security dynamics in any given region. The
broad-brush account in the previous section already suggests three sig-
nificant dimensions of differentiation: (a) a few states are great powers
while most others are not; (b) many states underwent colonial occu-
pation, while a smaller number of others either did not, or were colo-
nial occupiers themselves; and (c) some states have been established
for a long time and have deep roots, while others are recent construc-
tions of decolonisation, sometimes with shallow roots. Each of these
dimensions can easily be further broken down. The spectrum of pow-
ers from great through middle to small is a well-established conven-
tion, if not very well defined. If looked at by age, a few states can trace
some sort of coherent ancestry goingback severalmillennia (China, Iran,
Egypt, India, Greece), rather more can claim hundreds of years (France,
USA, Ethiopia, Japan),manyhave less than a century (Nigeria, Pakistan,
Finland), and somehave littlemore thanadecade (Kazakhstan,Macedo-
nia, Eritrea). Ex-colonial countries come in all sorts of conditions. Some
are the products of European migrations, which largely displaced the
native populations (most of the Americas, Australia, in someways Rus-
sia). Others resulted from the imposition of European state forms on
to pre-existing state-like cultures (India, Vietnam, Egypt), or the half-
voluntary, half-coerced adoption of European political forms by such
cultures in their attempts to stave off colonisation (Japan, Thailand,
Turkey, Ethiopia). Yet others resulted from the imposition of European
state forms on to previously stateless societies (Central Asia, the Pacific
islands, many parts of Africa). To add to the confusion there are hybrids
of these models such as South Africa, Ireland, and New Zealand, and
History and diversity
variations woven by the slave trade and imperial movements of inden-
tured labour (Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji). The possibilities
for classifying states by their historical legacymultiply endlessly. In this
mode, one could also think of different types of government, different