International Relations

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Harm and emancipation

Making environmental security ‘critical’ in the Asia-Pacific

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Lorraine Elliott

This chapter deploys a critical security studies approach to 'unpack' environmental security in the Asia-Pacific. A critical approach resists a disciplinary neo-liberalism as the paradigm for achieving 'freedom' or overcoming environmental harm. As Axel Honneth suggests, harm is implicated in the problems of recognition. Environmental harm arises in part through the costs to life and health associated with environmental degradation and unsustainable development. Environmental degradation and resource decline, and the important matter of how to overcome them, have become crucial challenges for the Asia-Pacific. The chapter claims that 'emancipatory change constitutes the primary purpose' of critical security studies. A human security approach provides a broader window on the relationship between environmental decline and insecurity. The human security dimension of environmental degradation is acknowledged in the Asia-Pacific, in official policy discourse and in what might be called the 'commentary' and research community.

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Michelle Bentley

Chapter 3 examines Obama’s rhetorical employment of the taboo as the situation in Syria progressed. Whatever his views against intervention, Obama would engage with the taboo as a core theme of his rhetoric on Syria. This is explained as a strategic move on the part of Obama; explicitly, that it comprises the construction of a strategic narrative. While his inadvertent reference to the taboo forced him towards a more interventionist stance, this also gave him the discursive tools to limit expectations for greater action to a policy that – while this did not reflect his preferences perfectly – was a significantly better fit with his desires than full-on intervention.

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Jaewoo Choo

This chapter assesses the rising geostrategic and geoeconomic importance of Central Asian oil and natural gas for China and the United States, the most transparent source of Sino-American conflict in this region. The oil-rich states of Central Asia have been accorded a privileged place in the American and Chinese foreign policy calculations. As a consequence, these states may become the fodder in any Sino-American competition for geopolitical and geoeconomic predominance in the region. American diplomatic activity in Central Asia prior to September 2001 focused on creating an environment that would privilege American corporations in the exploitation of regional economic and financial opportunities. There has been a progressive realignment of the American military presence in Asia during the past decade. The United States has very slowly crept into the Chinese neighbourhood, from Singapore to Indonesia, from the United Arab Emirates to Oman, and from Uzbekistan and Pakistan to Kazakhstan.

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Geopolitical constraints and institutional innovation

The dynamics of multilateralism in Eurasia

Sean Kay

This chapter assesses the relationship between traditional state-based security concerns and the development of multilateral institutions in Eurasia from 1992 to 2002. In Eurasia, the security dilemma drives the nature of state choices for international cooperation. Much strategic analysis of Eurasian geopolitics focuses on access to oil and related transportation routes. Many strategists thus predict increased competition over natural resources in a new 'great game', as historically practised between Great Britain and Russia in the nineteenth century. Russia's residual hegemony in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is primarily economic and is exercised through pre-existing, Soviet-era personnel networks and bilateral linkage strategies. The most significant attempt at regional balancing against Russia's residual hegemony is the GUUAM grouping of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is viewed in western circles as a potential balancing mechanism designed by China and Russia to frustrate American global dominance.

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Tami Amanda Jacoby

In this chapter, Israel is the immediate context for exploring gender roles ascribed by national security, and the cleavages that result from a society in constant state of war. It explores the gendered aspects of national security in Israel and considers the ways in which women are domesticated within their protection systems. The chapter also considers how current gender boundaries have developed historically and in relation to the political process in Israel. It discusses the politics of women's resistance in order to explore women's alternative understandings of security. Israeli women have organized around two main responses to the gendered structures of war, responses that correspond to the mainstreaming versus independence debate in feminist theory. Israeli women have always had a difficult relationship with the Israeli military-industrial complex. Since the 1990s, significant changes have taken place in the Middle East military-industrial arena because of the evolution of the strategic environment.

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‘Freedom from fear’

Conflict, displacement and human security in Burma (Myanmar)

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Hazel J. Lang

This chapter emphasizes the significance of a human security framework for examining the widespread and devastating implications of internal conflict for civilian populations living in the war-affected regions. It conceptualizes Burma's internal conflict and displacement within the context of critical security studies, with particular reference to a human security approach. Attention to the human security dimensions of internal conflict and displacement is vital for present and future efforts in resolving conflict, building durable peace and achieving a sustainable repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). With some exceptions, Thailand has adhered to the principles of refugee protection. The chapter outlines the nature of conflict in Burma, and provides an analysis of the key dimensions of the militarized entanglement of civilian populations in insurgency and counter-insurgency dynamics. With the unitary Burmese state as the primary referent, the regime's 'national security' ideology conflates the state with the regime and the tatmadaw.

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Raymond Hinnebusch

It is frequently claimed that foreign policy making in Middle East states is either the idiosyncratic product of personalistic dictators or the irrational outcome of domestic instability. This chapter notes that it can only be adequately understood by analysis of the multiple factors common to all states, namely: foreign policy determinants (interests, challenges) to which decision-makers respond when they shape policies; and foreign policy structures and processes which factor the ‘inputs’ made by various actors into a policy addressing these determinants.

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Flawed intelligence, limited oversight

Official inquiries into prewar UK intelligence on Iraq

Mark Phythian

This chapter considers both the reliability of UK intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and explanations for flaws in it. It assesses the effectiveness of the different forms of inquiry held into intelligence on Iraqi WMD in providing a full explanation of how the UK came to go to war on what Robin Cook famously termed a "false prospectus." The chapter focuses on the inquiries conducted by: the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and the British government (the Butler Report). In its investigation, the ISC sought, "to examine whether the available intelligence, which informed the decision to invade Iraq, was adequate and properly assessed and whether it was accurately reflected in Government publications." The most thorough and revealing inquiry into the intelligence underpinning the UK government's case for war was that headed by Lord Butler.

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Eurasian security governance

New threats, institutional adaptations

James Sperling

The postwar security system encompassing the Eurasian landmass was governed by the stable crisis produced by the bipolar distribution of power and the alliance system it spawned. Security governance has received increasing attention since 1989. Its rising conceptual salience is derived in large measure from the challenges presented by the 'new' security agenda. A weak system of security governance in Eurasia could be founded upon a system of alliances. Alliance theory has provided the framework for understanding not only the evolution of the postwar European security order, but that of the European state system since 1648. This chapter also presents key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book investigates the important role played by identity politics in the shaping of the Eurasian security environment.

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Phil Williams

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not only the most audacious and successful terrorist attacks the world has yet seen, but also marked the maturation of what had been described as the 'new terrorism'. There had been voices in the national security community, including on the National Security Council itself, warning about transnational threats such as terrorism and organised crime. If the potential for Atlantic divisions remained very considerable, however, the common interests of the United States and its European allies in combating the challenge from radical Islamic terrorism are difficult to overestimate. This chapter provides a conceptual analysis and assessment of terrorist threats. It considers the nature of the responses that are required as both the United States and European governments adapt to what is a very different kind of security challenge from that for which they prepared during the Cold War.