Chapter 5 analyses the ways in which the taboo has had a detrimental impact on the Syrian conflict. In particular, it focuses on the how specific weapons are perceived within a conflict, where the taboo causes chemical armaments to be prioritised over others via inappropriate hierarchies of threat. The way in which the taboo has dominated understanding of Syria has seen other threats ignored – notably the vast numbers being massacred with conventional devices, but also the significant biowarfare threat that exists in the country. This means that policymakers have focused on the wrong issues in respect to Syria, a situation that precludes ever finding workable solutions to the crisis. Simply put, policymakers are not seeing the real problems. The taboo blinds them; or rather, applies a lens through which they can only see the chemical threat and none of the other issues driving this conflict.
This chapter analyses the chemical weapons taboo – the idea that chemical weapons are so abhorrent that they cannot be tolerated. In particular it engages with the work of Richard Price. It reinterprets the taboo from the perspective of Quentin Skinner and his concept of the ‘innovating ideologist.’ Instead of viewing the taboo as a social construction, this analysis argues that actors can exert significant agency over the taboo and the way in which it is employed in political discourse.
During World War II, because of the intensive bombing attacks experienced by the civilian population, some, like the United Kingdom, set up trained units to work in the field of civil defence, assisting those injured or rendered homeless because of air raids. Civilian civil defence personnel may carry light individual weapons for their own protection or to preserve order, but not weapons like fragmentation grenades or those intended for non-human targets. Military personnel assigned to civil defence duties may perform the duties only within their own national territory and must not commit any act outside those duties which might be inimical to the adverse party. If the parties to the conflict are not parties to the Protocol they are not bound by any treaty regulations concerning the activities or rights pertaining to civil defence.
One of the oldest rules of the law of war provides for the protection of the civilian noncombatant population and forbids making civilians the direct object of attack. The Geneva Convention IV applies only to civilians in the hands of or under the physical control of an adverse party or an Occupying Power. Those in their own territory are protected only by the general rules limiting warlike acts and methods of combat. As with other protected persons, civilians in enemy hands, whether in national or occupied territory, are entitled to respect for their persons, honour, family rights, religious convictions and practices, manners and customs. When imposing punishment it must be remembered that non-national civilians owe no allegiance to the Detaining Power, which nevertheless retains the right to punish offences against its security.
This chapter presents two significant points. Firstly, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is a very significant case for demonstrating that even with the 'war on terror' on the political agenda, the asylum policy in its first phase remained within the constraints of the Geneva Convention, and actually strengthened it. Secondly, the role of the EU institutions in EU asylum and migration has been significantly underestimated. The first serious attempt to shape the EU asylum agenda was the Commission's famous 'White Paper' on the completion of the Internal Market in 1984. In 1991, the Commission took the next steps in its persuasion strategy, constructing the link to both the single market and international refugee norms. The chapter assesses the extent to which the European Commission, in both its normative and policy dimension, has been able to play the role of a supranational policy entrepreneur (SPE) with regard to the CEAS.
The Belfast Agreement, ‘equivalence of rights’ and the North–South dimension
The Belfast Agreement requires Ireland to provide an equivalent level of protection for human rights as applies in Northern Ireland, a requirement which would appear to cover the right to equality and non-discrimination. The lack of serious engagement with the North-South dimension is particularly notable given that the Belfast Agreement requires Ireland to provide an equivalent level of protection for human rights. The Belfast Agreement can be said to be explicitly founded upon a set of foundational general principles. Considerable emphasis is placed on the importance of equality as a key animating principle in the text of the Agreement. This reflects the reality that the history of segregation and discrimination in Northern Ireland means that any successful peace process will inevitably have to engage with the lack of equality that has and continues to burden the province.
This chapter outlines the paradigm and applies it to a preliminary analysis of the national security of Israel and a nascent Palestinian state. The problem with the realist approach to conceptualizing national security was vividly demonstrated by the implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Adopting the state as the level of analysis creates a problem for exploring the national security of the Palestinian entity, which at time of writing has not achieved de jure recognition as a state. In contrast to a number of Middle Eastern states that have serious ethnic divisions, the Palestinian state is blessed with a relatively homogeneous ethnic that is Arab, population. The Palestinian economy ranks among the poorer economies of the developing world, being even below the average for the Middle East and North Africa.
This conclusion presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book details the causes of political violence. Through a careful analysis of the official language of counter-terrorism, it argues that the discursive strategies employed by the American and British administrations to construct the 'war on terrorism' were the same as those used by leaders and political entrepreneurs in these other conflicts. Importantly, the observation that large-scale political violence is a discursive construction is more than simply ontological; if a campaign of violence like the 'war on terrorism' can be socially and politically constructed, it can also be deconstructed. And, the discourse of counter-terrorism is vulnerable and full of instabilities; it contains contradictions, moral hypocrisies, deliberate deceptions, fabrications and misconceptions which can be exploited.
From its inception, European integration has served first and foremost the national interests of its member states. The push for deeper integration also reflected the desire to find an internal solution to the security dilemma vexing Europe since German unification in 1871. The milieu policies of prevention and assurance possess a high degree of publicness; the rationale for the EU as a security actor is compelling; and the Community method prevents free-riding. Institutional innovations in the policies of prevention have primarily assumed the character of instruments managing the preaccession process and implementing the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and economic development policies. The goals that the Commission and the member states have set for the EU in the security policy arenas serve as the benchmarks for measuring the EU's performance.
When the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) undertook military action without an explicit mandate from the United Nations Security Council, it entered a kind of international no-man's land between upholding the sanctity of state sovereignty and that of human life. While NATO members asserted that the humanitarian and strategic imperatives of saving Kosovar Albanian lives and preventing destabilisation in South East Europe drove the action, states such as Russia and China saw the Kosovo conflict as an unacceptable violation of the former Yugoslavia's state sovereignty. NATO's military action best met the description of being an intervention, but this descriptor itself was full of variations, including the one that has been subject to the widest debate: humanitarian intervention. This book has argued that the Kosovo crisis played a smaller and more indirect role in helping initiate the development of the European Union's European Security and Defence Policy than many have assumed. It has also discussed the Atlantic Community, the Euro-Atlantic Area, and Russia's role and place in European security affairs.