SECTION A

SECTION A

1.Why is international security a contested concept among academics? What factors are involved in defining international security as a field of study?  To what extent can these various views be reconciled through the use of ‘grand theories’?

Why is international security a contested concept among academics?

1.It has changed. It is less to do with military, and more to do with various threats, the protection of values, and how to achieve various definitions of security.

The meaning of “security” is often treated as a common-sense term that can be understood by “unacknowledged consensus”. The content of international security has expanded over the years. Today it covers a variety of interconnected issues in the world that affect survival. It ranges from the traditional or conventional modes of military power, the causes and consequences of war between states, economic strength, to ethnic, religious and ideological conflicts, trade and economic conflicts, energy supplies, science and technology, food, as well as threats to human security and the stability of states from environmental degradation, infectious diseases, climate change and the activities of non-state actors.

There are a number of interpretations of what the definition of security is or should be. Some have described these divergent interpretations as toxic for security studies, maintaining that the field should be concerned strictly with ‘the conditions that make the use of force more likely, the ways that the use of force affects individuals, states, and societies, and the specific policies that states adopt in order to prepare for, prevent, or engage in war’ (Walt 1991: 212).

In contrast, others assert that security is an ‘essentially contested concept’, understanding the meaning of security as something that is not objectively definable, and inherently disputed. There is an extensive literature disputing what constitutes an ‘essentially contested concept’ – ‘as follows: one in which there is a general consensus that a concept exists, but that there is no agreement upon what the term’s meaning is. Moreover, all meanings of the term have inherent issues, whether they be conceptual, practical, or operational, and this is why there is no agreement on the meaning of such a term.

Level of analysis: (definition): In political science we use three widely accepted levels of generalization (or abstraction) to help understand highly complex problems in world politics. They are the individual, state (or, society) and the international system. In addition, radical scholars such as Marx and Lenin have amended these categories to account for economic problems by focusing on the category of class. Finally, alternative approaches have emphasised text.

A positive theory is a theory that attempts to explain how the world works in a value-free way. A normative theory provides a value-based view about how the world ought to be or how it ought to work. Positive theories express what is, while normative theories express what ought to be.

International Security: politics, policy and prospects Defining international security as an academic subject first involves considering three related debates about the appropriate boundaries of the field. The first debate involves how to balance the analysis of tangible trends, decisions and policies against speculation about what the world should be doing about certain security problems, whether actual or potential. More simply, this is the question of balancing description/explanation against prescription/advocacy, although both approaches are related.

The second debate involves the appropriate frame of reference in terms of who or what, exactly, should be secured, and how. Specifically, ‘international security’ can be conceived more narrowly as states and the state system itself, or far more broadly in terms of just about any valued thing on the planet. As problem management involves politics and policy, it is appropriate to structure the discussion around the role of states as key referent objects to be protected, whether in terms of their territories, their citizens, their governments or their sovereignty as political communities – or all of the above.

The third debate involves the role of force or violence in identifying major threats and in determining the most effective response to dealing with those threats. Again, this question can be framed more narrowly in terms of military threats met with a military response, or more broadly in terms of a range of threats, both military and non-military, met with a much wider range of policies.

States are not only charged with providing security for their citizens, they also have the authority to set public priorities, make security policy, apply force and extract private resources, in terms of physical and human capital, from the societies they ostensibly protect.

To the extent that international security problems, whether in part or in total, are explicitly delegated to states for resolution, we must pay attention to processes of national policy formation and international cooperation when analysing those problems. Thus, although many potential security problems and referent objects may appear on the scene or attract the attention of security specialists, my primary concern here is with how these problems are ‘politicized’ into important international security issues.

Finally, once states have become involved, it then follows that their policies can be hacked up by the threat of force as they continue to claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. Although some security scholars define ‘force’ or `violence’ in military terms, this volume takes a broader view to encompass policing, border control, travel restrictions and other types of official force to determine just how seriously the international community defines a specific threat.

What factors are involved in defining international security as a field of study?

Traditional IS was different because international security opened itself up, and varies in at least three major conceptual dimensions: domestic/international, economic/social/political, and public/private spheres.

A.Domestic/international - we study international security. What is considered international and what is considered a mere domestic concern? Some actions will be limited to certain countries, e.g. crime, domestic economics etc, whereas some aspects will have inevitable consequences on the international system e.g. Hitler invading Poland. Drawing the line between domestic – and therefore irrelevant - and international – and therefore relevant – is an issue of debate. Do you simply approach everything with the international perspective.

B.Social (NGO)/economic/political – what aspects of social life, social groups, everyday behaviour, economic activities of private firms, political decisions ought to be analysed? What is relevant?

C.Public (government) old school /private (private security, private military firms). Do you strictly look at what the governing bodies of states do? Do you also involve private entities? What about when private firms provide security?

Three approaches:

a)Values/interests (humans’ life/freedom/European style of life)

b)Threats (what will harm values)

c)Change vs. Status quo postures (keep things as it is)

d)Primacy of national politics/policy

Defining international security as an academic subject first involves considering three related debates about the appropriate boundaries of the field. The first debate involves how to balance the analysis of tangible trends, decisions and policies against speculation about what the world should be doing about certain security problems, whether actual or potential. More simply, this is the question of balancing description/explanation against prescription/advocacy, although both approaches are related.

The second debate involves the appropriate frame of reference in terms of who or what, exactly, should be secured, and how. Specifically, ‘international security’ can be conceived more narrowly as states and the state system itself, or far more broadly in terms of just about any valued thing on the planet. As problem management involves politics and policy, it is appropriate to structure the discussion around the role of states as key referent objects to be protected, whether in terms of their territories, their citizens, their governments or their sovereignty as political communities – or all of the above.

The third debate involves the role of force or violence in identifying major threats and in determining the most effective response to dealing with those threats. Again, this question can be framed more narrowly in terms of military threats met with a military response, or more broadly in terms of a range of threats, both military and non-military, met with a much wider range of policies. In order to have another peace project like the EU cooperation is required and cooperation requires war in order to reach sustainable political leadership.

Theory trends:

1. Marxism (1900-18): Hobson, Lenin, rise of Left parties until WWI

2. Liberalism (1920s): Academic IR, League of Nations, Kellogg-Briand Pact

3. Realism (1939-60s): Morgenthau, Cold War

4. Neo-realism vs Neo-liberalism (1980s): Ken Waltz vs Robert Keohane/John Ruggie

5. Anything goes (1990s-): Fragmentation & fads; limited common IR ‘knowledge’

International security, also called global security, is the measures taken by states and international organizations, such as the UN, EU, etc., to ensure mutual survival and safety. These measures include military action and diplomatic agreements such as treaties and conventions. International and national security are invariably linked. International security is national security or state security in the global arena.

With the end of WWII, a new subject of academic study focusing on international security emerged. It began as an independent field of study but was absorbed as a subfield of international relations. Since it took hold in the 1950s, the study of international security has been at the heart of international relations studies. It covers labels like “security studies”, “strategic studies”, “peace studies”, and others.

To what extent can these various views be reconciled through the use of ‘grand theories’?

The grand theories approach is a waste of time. So what do you do? You tone it down. These views can be reconciled through the use of middle range theories. You have a specific set of questions about the phenomenon that are answered by a middle range theory. You look at specific cases and try and find causal relationships. One variable should not hold all explanatory weight. When analysing issues in international relations, one should incorporate a comprehensive set of variables in order to try and explain phenomena.