Based on geo- and biopolitical analyses, this book reconsiders how security policies and practices legitimate state and non-state violence in the Colombian conflict, and uses the case study of the official Democratic Security Policy (DSP) to examines how security discourses write the political identities of state, self and others. It claims that the DSP delimits politics, the political, and the imaginaries of peace and war through conditioning the possibilities for identity formation. The book offers an innovative application of a large theoretical framework on the performative character of security discourses and furthers a nuanced understanding of the security problematique in a postcolonial setting.
This chapter contextualises the release of the Democratic Security Policy (DSP) in Colombia, and also describes how the options peace or security were articulated as exclusive and definitive. The end of the peace talks between the government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias-Ejército del Pueblo in February 2002 signalled the foreclosed possibility of a peaceful transformation of the armed conflict. The crisis of the end of peace turned into an opportunity to assert state identity, heightened by hot electorate debates during the presidential campaign of 2002, in which the main decision for the voters was peace or in/security. Peace was to be postponed for the day in which in/security brings freedom. The electoral victory of Alvaro Uribe in May 2002 changed the discursive articulation of the Colombian subjectivity. The precedents for releasing the DSP presented the historical and social circumstances that legitimised the in/security discourse in Colombia.
This chapter reviews the discursive effects that the Democratic Security Policy (DSP) has on the construction and production of political identities. It investigates the discursive formations which characterise ‘state’, ‘nationals’ and ‘others’, and the material practices that hail collective subjects to adopt those specific subject positions. By spreading in/security practices throughout society, the DSP discloses how the power of in/security is a force that mobilises and produces. It became the instrument that enabled the exceptionality of war to become the normalcy of politics. It is shown that peace appears to be a derivative of security. Since Colombia appears to be a democratic nation under the threat of terrorism, peace and politics have to be sacrificed until security is achieved. A secure peace is one of the effects of the logic of in/security depicted in the DSP.
This chapter is concerned with the analysis of discourses that have emerged in resistance to the Democratic Security Policy (DSP), and argues that the resistance discourses of armed groups reproduce the violent logic of in/security from the margins. It then discusses how those discourses have reworked the very matrix of power relations of the DSP to counter-propose different understandings of peace and in/security. The concept of reading resistance discourses in a contingent way might already be the first entry point for constructing a theoretical frame to investigate discourses contesting the DSP. The DSP discloses the power over life in multiple biopolitical practices. Analysing the nonviolence programme of the Congruent Peace Plan of the Province of Antioquia revealed that qualified state nonviolence does not serve as an alternative to the DSP, but merely as a way of filling in its gaps.
The main concern of this book is the violent spiral of war that is created by the security programme of the Colombian state. The thesis is that the state security discourse contributes to shaping political identities in such a way that the writing of war is intermingled with the writing of peace, ultimately involving the moulding of political imaginaries in Colombia. The book concentrates on the Democratic Security Policy (DSP) as an example of how security discourses constitute political identities, illustrating how the promise of in/security written into the DSP ultimately feeds the violence it pledges to halt. It then describes how the danger of narco-terrorism contributes to the creation of attributes of both ‘self’ and ‘other’. This chapter provides an overview of the chapters included in the book.
This chapter reports the in/security discourse of the Colombian government. Colombia can be represented as a new war, as a situation of violence fed by criminals in search for profit, as a society at war, as a fragile state or as an internal armed conflict. In the particular case of Colombia, the thesis of state weakness is presented in a direct relationship to the emergence of guerrilla and paramilitary groups. Most of the analyses of the Colombian conflict merge several explanations (new wars, search for profit and failed states), and do not affirm one and only one cause or characterisation of violence. The Democratic Security Policy is the favoured ‘weapon’ of the Colombian government to fight the narco-terrorist threat. Colombian administrations have transformed the representation of the conflict from a communist struggle to a war against narco-terrorism, hand in hand with US foreign policy priorities.
This chapter highlights how the writing of in/security discloses several notions of peaces that are constituted and constitutive of political identities and imaginaries in the Colombian context. By recognising the danger of narco-terrorism as posing a vital threat to the Colombian state and its people, the state has been able to reshape its own subjectivity and those of ‘nationals’ and ‘others’. The idealised constructions of identity categories in the Democratic Security Policy (DSP) for state, nationals and others disclosed an understanding of peace, politics and freedoms as postponed. The discourse of the Province of Antioquia had severe limitations. The congruent peace proposed by this state office put forward the limits of qualified state nonviolence. The Paeces del Cauca reject enrolment in the ‘army of good people’, to be ruled according to the in/security concerns of the DSP. The politics of affinity is finally addressed.
This chapter addresses the theoretical framework needed to approach the Democratic Security Policy (DSP). It reviews the conventional understanding of security policies according to mainstream views in international relations (IR), determining the main pillars that give them grounding in this logic. These pillars of security discussions in IR include: 1) defining the concept of security, 2) the anarchical international system, 3) the state of nature, 4) the sovereign state and 5) threats and vulnerabilities. The DSP shapes, moulds and changes politics such that political violence is reproduced by the very promise of halting it. It is also a grammar of war and peace that closes down the spaces for politics and actually inflicts harm. The political violence that the DSP produces is explained. It is noted that insecurity is not a paradox of security, but rather is the very condition of its possibility.