This article is a historical study of how states have articulated statements about terrorism since the 1930s; under what conditions these statements have been articulated; and what effects the discourses made up of these statements have had on global politics. This includes the constitutive role of the present discourse on what is posited as a terrorism dispositif. The inquiry is inspired by Foucault’s historical method, and comprises the descriptive archaeological analytic focused on the order of the discourse (including basic discourses in which the terrorist subject is constituted) and the genealogical power analysis of external conditions of emergence and variation of discursive series, whose treatment benefits also from Carl Schmitt’s concept of the nomos.
In post-9/11 America, digital war games have increasingly come to provide a space of cyber-deterrence where Americans are able to `play through' the anxieties that attend uncertain times and new configurations of power. This article seeks to examine the increasingly close relationship between the US military and the digital-game industry, along with the geographies of militarism that this has produced. Focusing on the contribution that digital war games make to a culture of perpetual war and in the manufacture of consent for US domestic and foreign policy, the Pentagon's mobilization and deployment of digital games as an attempt to create a modern version of the noble war fantasy is critically examined. With particular reference to America's Army, the official US Army game, the article seeks to examine the influence of digital war games in the militarization of popular culture and in shaping popular understandings of geopolitics.
Regardless of its cultural and discursive turn, the field of security studies has not yet paid sufficient attention to visual culture. In particular, approaches that focus on the articulation of security have been quite inattentive to images. With respect to post-9/11 security policy, it is argued here that the images of planes crashing into the World Trade Center have become not only a legitimacy provider for security policy but also part of every person's visual reservoir and pictorial memory, on which the successful articulation of security in part depends. It is therefore suggested to link the study of securitization with the study of both images and pictorial memory. The present article, by discussing three visual projects revolving around 9/11, looks for desecuritizing potential in photography and examines the extent to which photography can offer oppositional interventions in security policy. However, the surplus meaning that images inevitably carry with them, while limiting the securitizing potential of images, also reduces the extent to which opposition can rely on images.
The UN Security Council (UNSC) has experienced significant changes since the end of the Cold War. The article surveys key shifts in UNSC attitudes, mandates and activities between 1987 and 1997, nearly all of which stem from the twin phenomena of greater cooperation among the Permanent Five members (P-5) of the Council and of the Council's growing focus on civil wars and intercommunal strife which has launched the Council into new and largely untested waters. It argues that Council decisions since 1987 have profound significance for, and have enhanced the Council's role in, international relations despite several spectacular setbacks, notably in Bosnia and in Somalia. These decisions have eroded and redefined the concept of sovereignty.
In this article, co-authored with David Malone, it is argued that the genesis of the Iraq Crisis of 2003 within the Security Council can be traced to earlier patterns of acquiescence by Council members in US and UK unilateral enforcement action in Iraq. By the time this acquiescence ceased, between 1994 and 1996, UK and US enforcement policy was set and would culminate in Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003.
While the rhetoric of cyber war is often exaggerated, there have been recent cases of international conflict in which cyberspace has played a prominent role. In this article, we analyze the impact of cyberspace in the conflict between Russia and Georgia over the disputed territory of South Ossetia in August 2008. We examine the role of strategic communications, information operations, operations in and through cyberspace, and conventional combat to account for the political and military outcomes of the conflict. The August 2008 conflict reveals some emergent issues in cyber warfare that can be generalized for further comparative research: the importance of control over the physical infrastructure of cyberspace, the strategic and tactical importance of information denial, the emergence of cyber-privateering, the unavoidable internationalization of cyber conflicts, and the tendency towards magnifying unanticipated outcomes in cyber conflicts – a phenomenon we call ‘cyclones in cyberspace’.
This article treats conflict prevention and conflict transformation as foreign policy tools that are available to international actors alongside classical security-based foreign policy measures. It investigates the conflict resolution role of the EU on the Cyprus conflict in the context of EU accession negotiations. For this purpose, the article: (a) depicts the changes in the roles the EU has played on the island within the context of the accession negotiations; (b) illustrates the nature of structural prevention measures that the EU has taken; and (c) describes the consequences of the EU involvement on UN-led negotiation efforts. The results suggest that the EU has treated the enlargement process as a structural prevention mechanism to change the incentive systems of the conflicting parties – neglecting the conflict-transformation aspects of foreign policymaking. Thus far, this has produced inefficient policies and resulted in the EU bringing an aged conflict into its own jurisdiction. Vision-building, capacity-building, and synergy-building are the three strategies that may help the EU to expand its foreign policy toolbox and to become an influential player in world politics.
The impunity of private military companies (PMCs) appears increasingly puzzling. Not only is there widespread awareness and public debate about violations of the spirit — if not the letter — of the law; there is also a ‘mad scramble’ to improve regulation. In spite of this, legal accountability remains problematic. This situation is usually explained either as an expression of the techno-legal difficulties created by the move from government to governance or as reflecting the social, political and economic capital of PMCs. By contrast, this article suggests that the paradox of PMC impunity is best understood by reference to the particular form of authority such organizations enjoy — that is, by reference to their ‘symbolic’ capital. The article shows that PMC authority is grounded in three interrelated discourses/practices relative to risk/security, market governance and exercise of the state’s monopoly on violence. These leave an imprint on the legal accountability sought. The centrality of the risk/security discourse paves the way for exceptionalism; that of the role of market governance for ad-hocism; and that of the discourse of respect for the state’s monopoly on violence for inconsequentialism. The result is the coexistence of PMCs’ relative impunity with intense contestation and legal innovation
This article makes a claim for re-engaging the concept of ‘act’ in the study of securitization. While much has been written about the discursive and communicative aspects of securitizing, the concept of ‘act’ that contains much of the politicality of the speech-act approach to security has been relatively ignored. The task of re-engaging ‘acts’ is particularly pertinent in the contemporary context, in which politically salient speech acts are heavily displaced by securitizing practices and devices that appear as banal, little security nothings. The main purpose of the article is to begin the framing of a research agenda that asks what political acts can be in diffuse security processes that efface securitizing speech acts.
The concept of ‘resilience’ was first adopted within systems ecology in the 1970s, where it marked a move away from the homeostasis of Cold War resource management toward the far-from-equilibrium models of second-order cybernetics or complex systems theory. Resilience as an operational strategy of risk management has more recently been taken up in financial, urban and environmental security discourses, where it reflects a general consensus about the necessity of adaptation through endogenous crisis. The generalization of complex systems theory as a methodology of power has ambivalent sources. While the redefinition of the concept can be directly traced to the work of the ecologist Crawford S. Holling, the deployment of complex systems theory is perfectly in accord with the later philosophy of the Austrian neoliberal Friedrich Hayek. This ambivalence is reflected in the trajectory of complex systems theory itself, from critique to methodology of power.
Even though its focus on emancipation purposefully intends to build upon the intellectual legacy of the Frankfurt School, critical security studies has thus far only interpreted the Frankfurt tradition in a circumscribed manner. That is to say, it selectively drew on some concepts from critical theory that are most associated with Jürgen Habermas and Axel Honneth. However, as a result of this emphasis, Booth and Wyn Jones – the original proponents of critical security studies – give too little attention to thinkers such as Theodor W. Adorno. This article demonstrates that a re-engagement with Adorno’s work not only provides a more complete appraisal of the Frankfurt School’s thought, but also might reinvigorate critical security studies as a ‘critical’ approach to security. It proposes that such a result can be achieved by employing Adorno’s ethics of resistance and through the development of the philosophical construct of a constellation of security.
Urban defences against terrorism have traditionally been based on territorial interventions that sought to seal off and surveil certain public and private spaces considered targets. Lately, though, a much wider range of crowded and public spaces have been viewed as potential targets and thus have been identified as requiring additional security. This has immense implications for the experience of the ‘everyday’ urban landscape. Drawing on contemporary notions that incorporate the study of aesthetics and emotions within critical security and terrorism studies, this article discusses the visual impact of counter-terrorism security measures. It analyses the ‘transmission’ of symbolic messages, as well as the variety of ways in which security might be ‘received’ by various stakeholders. The analysis takes place against the backdrop of concern that obtrusive security measures have the capacity to radically alter public experiences of space and in some cases lead to (intended and unintended) exclusionary practices or a range of negative emotional responses. The article concludes by outlining a ‘spectrum of visible security’ ranging between traditional obtrusive fortified approaches and approaches that embed security features seamlessly or even ‘invisibly’ into the urban fabric.
This article explores the way in which female agency in political violence is enabled through gender. It looks at two examples of heroine stories – the cases of British Navy sailor Faye Turney and the popular film Female Agents (2008) – to illustrate how female agency in political violence is constructed at the expense of motherhood. The article argues that representations of female agency in political violence involve a tension between a life-giving and a life-taking identity, and that agency is only enabled if this tension is removed or overcome. This suggests that heroism, as agency in political violence, is in a symbiotic relationship with motherhood: heroism functions as motherhood’s constitutive other and vice versa. This means not only that the writing of heroines depends on ideas about female bodies’ association with motherhood but also that essentialist ideas about gender are reinforced. Accordingly, this article suggests that female agency in political violence is communicated and negotiated through motherhood, even in cases where this might not be immediately apparent.
The security of civilians in contemporary conflicts continues to tragically elude humanitarians. Scholars attribute this crisis in protection to macro-structural deficiencies, such as the failure of states to comply with international conventions and norms and the inability of international institutions to successfully reduce violence by warring parties. While offering important insights into humanitarianism and its limits, this scholarship overlooks the potential of endogenous sources of protection – the agency of civilians. On the basis of a case study of northern Uganda, we identify and discuss several civilian self-protection strategies, including (a) attempts to appear neutral, (b) avoidance and (c) accommodation of armed actors, and argue that each of these is shaped by access to local knowledge and networks. We illustrate how forced displacement of civilians to ‘protected villages’ limited access to local knowledge and, in turn, the options available to civilians in terms of self-protection. Analyses of the intersections of aid and civilian agency in conflict zones would afford scholars of humanitarianism greater explanatory insight into questions of civilian protection. The findings from our case study also suggest ways in which aid agencies could adopt protection strategies that empower – or at least do not obstruct – the often-successful protection strategies adopted by civilians.
Despite the widespread perception of danger, the aid industry continues to expand within challenging political environments. As a way of reducing risk, this expansion has been accompanied by the ‘bunkerization’ of international aid workers. While this development is largely viewed by the industry as an unfortunate response to a decline in external security, a more holistic approach is used here to explain the consequent paradox of liberal interventionism: an expansion that is simultaneously a remoteness of international aid workers from the societies in which they operate. The demise of modernist legal, moral and political constraints, together with a decline in the political patronage that aid agencies enjoy, has been important in shaping the new risk terrain. At the same time, these changes embody a profound change in the way contingency is approached. Earlier modernist forms of protection have been replaced by postmodernist calls for resilience and the acceptance of risk as an opportunity for enterprise and reinvention. Within the aid industry, however, field-security training represents a countervailing attempt to govern aid workers through anxiety. Resilience, in the form of ‘care of the self’ techniques, becomes a therapeutic response to the fears induced in this way. Viewed from this perspective, apart from reducing risk, the bunker has important therapeutic functions in a world that aid workers no longer understand or feel safe in.
In April 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly declared HIV/AIDS to be a threat to Russia's national security and proposed a guiding strategy to handle it. This move stood in sharp contrast to previous policies of the Russian government. Despite the fact that Russia has experienced one of the fastest growing rates of HIV/AIDS in the world since the turn of the millennium, the government's involvement had previously been minimal, not recognizing AIDS as a national security threat. The question then arises: when is a threat really threatening? This article contributes to the development of theories on threat-framing and security decisionmaking by suggesting an analytical framework that incorporates explanatory variables from different levels of analysis. The adoption of a broad theoretical position facilitates a comprehensive understanding of time and space variations in the securitization of issues. The article demonstrates that norms and identity constructions at the international and domestic levels, combined with their internalization by individual decisionmakers, can together explain Putin's move, and that these factors are of different importance at difference stages of the threat-construction process.
In this article, it is argued that concerns about the impact of HIV/AIDS on national and international security do not adequately address the ways in which people, particularly women, are made vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in conflicts. In fact, policies inspired by the security framing of HIV/AIDS can engender new vulnerabilities in post-conflict contexts. The article analyses the ways in which gender relations create vulnerabilities for various groups when such relations are put under pressure during periods of conflict. Drawing on research conducted in Burundi, the article argues that postulated links between security and HIV/AIDS fail to take into account the vulnerability structures that exist in societies, the ways in which these are instrumentalized during conflict and in post-conflict contexts, and how they are also maintained and changed as a result of people’s experiences during conflict.
In September 2009, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared to the global media that Canada had ‘no history of colonialism’. Such expressions of the post-colonial Canadian imaginary are common, despite Canada’s dubious legacy of settler colonialism. This article uses Canada’s Access to Information Act to examine how mechanisms of security are mobilized against members of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL), whose persistent calls for sovereign control of their land and customary governance system have been translated by Canadian authorities into a security threat to settler society. Contributing to the literature on postcolonialism, as well as works on critical security studies and colonial governmentality, this article suggests that distinct rationalities underline colonial activities in settler states. The authors contend that the term ‘settler governmentality’ is more appropriate for settler states such as Canada, and they present the case study of the ABL to argue that (in)security governance of indigenous groups in Canada incorporates techniques that are necessarily grounded in a logic of elimination. The authors detail how an analysis of the interventions in the traditional governance of the ABL contributes to understanding recent security trends regarding ‘Aboriginal extremism’ and indigenous ‘hot spot’ areas in Canada, which are often framed as matters of ‘national security’.
This article begins by presenting a biopolitical account of assassination and targeted killing events carried out by liberal regimes. It argues that forms of political violence are understood and made meaningful beyond the administrative frameworks and technical rationalizations often privileged in biopolitical analyses. Deploying Alan Feldman’s (1991) argument that political violence is an ‘emplotted action’ alongside William Connolly’s (2005) notion of resonance, it provides a genealogical account of how forms of assassination have been positioned within Western cultural understandings of political violence. The focal point of examination is the biblical heroine Judith, whose story has resonated as a preferred narrative structure for understanding and (de)legitimating acts of assassination among Western publics. Through its reading of the book of Judith, the article highlights the importance of ambivalence for understanding assassination as a form of political violence. The legacy of the moral problematique enabled by Judith is then illustrated in relation to US President Barak Obama’s May 2011 speech announcing the killing of Osama Bin Laden. The article concludes by suggesting that although the story of Judith may underpin contemporary assassination practices, it also offers a means of critically engaging with them.
Urban violence is a major preoccupation of policymakers, planners and development practitioners in cities around the world. Public authorities routinely seek to contain such violence through repression, as well as through its exportation to and containment at the periphery of metropolitan centres. Yet, urban violence is a highly heterogeneous phenomenon and not amenable to reified diagnosis and coercive intervention. Muscular state-led responses tend to overlook and conceal the underlying factors shaping the emergence of urban violence, as well as the motivations and means of so-called violence entrepreneurs. This is very obviously the case of urban gangs in Central America, which are regularly labelled a ‘new urban insurgency’ threatening the integrity of governments and public order. This article considers both the shape and character of Central American gang violence and attempts to reduce it, highlighting the complex relationship between these two phenomena. We advance a threefold approach to measuring the effectiveness of interventions, focusing in turn on discursive, practical and outcome-based criteria. In this way, the article demonstrates how, contrary to their reported success in diminishing gang violence, repressive first-generation approaches have tended instead to radicalize gangs, potentially pushing them towards more organized forms of criminality. Moreover, although credited with some modest successes, more preventive second-generation interventions seem to have yielded more rhetorical advances than meaningful reductions in gang violence
This article is an attempt to interrogate some of the predominant forms of analogical reasoning within current cyber-security discourse, with a view to clarifying their unstated premises, major strengths and, vitally, points of conceptual failure. It seeks to improve dialogue between and across the various epistemic communities involved with cyber-security policy. As we seek to adapt to the new security realities of the information age, it is incumbent upon scholars and strategists to address the benefits of connectivity, in all its dimensions, as much as the threats it presents. Current cyber-security discourse channels us into a winner-takes-all modality that is neither desirable nor necessary in the current strategic reality.
This article examines dynamics of financial surveillance and risk-based regulation in the context of ongoing activities to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Close analysis of the situation in the UK reveals entangled forms of co-regulation and ultimately co-production of surveillance that challenge ‘institutional boundaries’ of the state regarding policing and intelligence practices. It is argued that ongoing transformations in the anti-money laundering field reveal a dual movement that combines forms of indirect administration with a process of ‘neoliberal bureaucratization’. The article aims to show how current policies against ‘dirty money’ still paradoxically work on the basis of heterogeneous goals and misapprehensions between ‘professionals of security’ and ‘professionals of finance’.
This article provides a discursive grounding for understanding the construction of military imaginaries by adding the concepts of ‘antagonism’ and ‘intercalation’ to articulation theory. By examining the cases of industrial-mechanized warfare theory and network-centric warfare theory through the lens of this expanded articulation theory, it is argued that military imaginaries often serve to define and link conceptions of science, technology, society, economy, war, and military organization, thought, and practice into a unified image of the larger security environment – that is, the military imaginary. Military imaginaries often share a common narrative structure that privileges co-periodized change among the elements of the articulation, resulting in the phenomenon of ‘antagonism’ serving as a generic threat used to justify military modernization and even the use of force.