Securitization of National Interests

Topics: Human security, National security, Security Pages: 15 (4915 words) Published: May 6, 2013
In the decades following the end of the cold war, the field of security studies has seen new ways of thinking about international security. Dominant paradigms have been challenged by academics unsatisfied with existing concepts, looking to explain security in a transformed and globalized world. Primarily, they sought to move security studies beyond theories that recognized only military threats as challenges to State security. One leading approach to conceptualizing security is that of the Copenhagen school and their theory of securitization. Buzan, Weaver and Jaap de Wilde are the main proponents of Copenhagen School; their aim has been widening and deepening the concept of security to accommodate it to a new, post-cold war global political order. Securitization theory radically diverts from the traditional realist and neorealist principles in that it adopts social constructivism to understanding security. Unlike these earlier traditions, securitization theory conceptualizes security as discursively established, dismissing outright the notion of objective threats. It also breaks from realist and neorealist traditions in introducing the concept “society” alongside the State as an object that can be threatened and therefore needing analysis. When security is considered a process that is subject to moral evaluation, this idea or concept is called securitization. This paper will use constructivism theory to show how national interests are securitized because Constructivists hold that state interests are not “discovered” but “constructed” and that national security policy is not “formulated” by rational actors, but it’s shaped by contested identities and other social factors such as the norms and cultures within a society. According to McSweeny, Constructivism forces us to not only consider a wider variety of threats, but gives us ways to better understand the concept of Securitization.Buzan and Waever claim, for instance, that securitization is ‘constructivist all the way down’ with Weaver insisting that moreover it is ‘radically constructivist’ In, “Security: A new Framework for Analysis”, Barry Buzan, Ole Wæver, and Jaap de Wilde argue that security can be broadened to include other threats beyond the traditional military and political domain. In general, Buzan et al, argue that security depends on the character of the referent object in question, meaning that Buzan et al understood the significance of core values, threats and capabilities. Securitized, according to Buzan et al, means that the issue is “presented as an existential threat, requiring emergency measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure and defining securitization as a successful speech act through which an inter-subjective understanding is constructed within a political community to treat something as an existential threat to a valued referent object, and to enable a call for urgent and exceptional measures to deal with the threat.” In order to understand why certain threats are securitized, further explanation is necessary. Firstly, an existential threat is more important than other issues, thus taking priority due to its incompatibility with the actor’s core values. Secondly, extraordinary measures are warranted in order to counter the objective or subjective threat. This suggests that an actor can break normal political rules such as, “commanding secrecy, levying taxes or conscription, placing limitations on otherwise inviolable rights, or focusing society’s energy and resources on a specific task”.

This, according to Buzan et al does not mean that an actor must adopt extraordinary measures, “only that the existential threat has to be argued and just gain enough resources for a platform to be made from which it is possible to legitimize emergency measures or other special measures that would not have been possible had the discourse not taken the form of existential threat, point...
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