THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS IN NATIONAL SECURITY
"Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of facts" (George Santayana)
This lecture is a rather ambitious attempt to familiarize the reader with all the various theories, paradigms, frameworks, and approaches in the field of national security. There is a need for greater attention to theoretical issues in this field. There are not all that many theoretical frameworks anyway, and some would characterize what there is as IR theory in any event, or what others might call approaches in the area of foreign policy studies. Yet, development of conceptual frameworks to facilitate the understanding and explanation of political world events is urgently needed. What exists are large, grand theories which are not very tidy. Some have tried to synthesize the literature from a legal perspective. For example, Claude's (2005) review of the classical approaches is helpful, and innovations like John Norton Moore's (2005) incentive theory might be inspirational, but for the most part, there's room for both old and new groundbreaking. It's customary to note that many of the theoretical approaches to be discussed are "borrowed" from diverse disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, and political science, and it is also essential to note they are not borrowed without revision. Let's begin by reviewing what is necessary to understand the main contributing disciplines (as relevant fields of study), and then let's review the contributions of other disciplines in the context of what might form the beginnings of a "jurisprudence" of national security law.
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
Political science has been an academic discipline ever since Herbert Baxter Adams first coined the term in 1880 at Johns Hopkins University. The period from the ancient Greeks thru the Arab golden age thru the Italian Renaissance and on up to the English Enlightenment is regarded as the "classical" era in political theory. The discipline is recognized as having many fields and subfields. It shares a close working relationship with other disciplines, especially sociology, economics, history, anthropology, psychology, and statistics. It has long been a field tolerant of diverse ways of doing social science research. In fact, normative (value-laden) deliberations are usually tolerated (it is often said that international law itself is a normative discipline) which means that relevance (in being able to affect policy decisions) is more important than rigorously following the traditional scientific method of empirical verification and statistical interpretation. A better way of saying this is that political science is more concerned about modes of inquiry than research methods. Some background on methodology may be helpful, and any reading of a good book on modes of inquiry or methodology would help with understanding (e.g., Greer 1970; Cook & Campbell 1979). For familiarity with specific analytic methods and dataset in the study of international relations, see Paul Hensel's IR data site. Below is a list of specific fields in political science.
civics and comparative politics -- the comparison of different forms of government; also includes what some call the fields of regional studies, area studies, and (to a lesser extent) cultural studies
international relations -- the study of the dynamics of economic, political, and social relations between state actors; also includes transnational issues (like terrorism and the environment); field is rapidly moving toward the study of substate or intrastate actors
political economy -- technically the study of relationships between buying and selling to laws, customs, and governments, but most commonly defined as the study of how political institutions and the political environment influence market behavior; contains much Marxist-inspired thought; tries to understand the normative implications of economic structures and theories
political philosophy -- a "history of" field, for the most part, which studies normative questions about the goodness of things such as government, power, justice, wealth, ideology, and social change; contains much Marxist-inspired thought, but more liberal philosophers are prevalent; criminal justice as a academic discipline of study is ultimately derived from this field
political psychology -- the study of political behavior by voters, lawmakers, organizations, and associations; in recent years has moved into the study of elites and/or the profiling of political leaders
political theory -- involves the study of normative questions of government, ideology, regimes, social movements, and much of what political philosophy studies; uses comparative approaches toward theories of the state and/or public administration; includes many "lost" subfields such as political geography, peace and conflict studies, and/or security studies
public administration -- studies the implementation, determination and outputs of public policies; seeks to explain the role of political structures, bureaucratic politics, and interest group activity
public policy -- studies policy making by governments, particularly those policies (laws, plans, actions, behaviors) that involve choices, are characterized by a government claim to authority and responsibility, and have import over a large group of individuals
foreign policy -- studies the motivations and processes that animate or facilitate the processes of decision making at the boundary or intersection of the domestic environment and the external (or global) environment, or in the case of Chittick (2006), those value orientations (security, economic, and community) which underlie perspectives and theories
THE IMPORTANCE OF THEORY
National security (and to some extent, the whole field of foreign affairs) can be described as practice in search of theory. Sure, it can be carried out without theory, but you'll end up with some value-ridden, ideological policy that is highly divisive and controversial. Theory solves that by being value-neutral. Why else is theory important? In political science, the simple answer is to better inform policy. In sociology and psychology, the answer is to provide puzzles which unlock what makes the best sense out of ordinary (and seemingly extraordinary) phenomena. In law (and especially international law), the answer is to find out why you are there trying to resolve a dilemma and if the solution resonates with all that has gone before and what most people would agree is the way to go. In criminology and criminal justice, the answer is to predict (as best you can) the unpredictables as well as explain or understand (verstehen) constructs (vague images or thoughts in the mind that are hard to conceptualize). There are many good reasons to have theory, and perhaps the best reason to have one in national security law is to fine-tune what works, is known to be true, and makes the widest possible application of the better ideas in behavioral and social science. We shall see, however, that the behavioral and social sciences are not the only contributors, and are, in fact, probably minority contributors in light of "traditionalist" (or non-scientific) approaches which are based on idiosyncratic, highly personalized insights. After all, one of the sources of international law is academic insight alone.
CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES TO NATIONAL SECURITY
Much of what qualifies as "theory" is "strategy" or more precisely, grand strategy (which can be defined as the integration of military, political, and economic means to pursue states' ultimate objectives in the international system - Hart 1954; Kennedy 1991). Each nation usually has an explicit or implicit strategy for how it will deal with the rest of the world, and most nations usually have a forum where experts get together (like the National Security Council for the United States). Grand strategy is usually the domain of scholars (e.g., Waltz 1979; Gaddis 1982; Heymann 2003; Ikenberry 2002; Mead 2004; Nye 2002) as well as anyone else, it seems, who writes on related subjects like global terrorism or geopolitics (e.g, Clark 2003; Frum & Perle 2003; Kagan 2003; Brzezinski 2004; Cronin & Ludes 2004; Etzioni 2004; Ferguson 2004; Hart 2004; Stevenson 2004; Barnett 2005). Strategy is the domain of military science, and grand strategy usually assumes war is too important a business to be left to the military. What is "grand" about it involves a reliance on soft power (some countries being more manipulated by a carrot than a stick), and the non-military notion that the best policies extend across many years or even multiple generations. Grand strategic thinking is not always theory (it's history), but it's chief benefit is to provide some options that will play out well in the long run. An example would be Biddle's (pdf) (2005) assessment of the only two coherent choices in how to fight global terrorism: rollback and containment.
rollback -- retaining any ambitious goals implicit in declaratory policy, including a redoubled commitment to nation building, accelerated onset of great power competition, heightened incentives for proliferation, increased risk of WMD by terrorists in near-term, but in exchange, the possibility of a mid-term and long-term terrorist threat mitigation
containment -- withdrawal or retrenchment from any nation building efforts, particularly in the Middle East, slow onset of great power competition, moderate risk of near-term WMD terrorism but persistent risk of major terrorist attack for indefinite future, extended duration of intra-state conflicts
Asymmetric warfare (which terrorism is a psychological variant of) opens up a lot of possibilities for grand strategy. Metz & Johnson (2001) do a good job of reviewing the background concepts of strategic asymmetry (the use of some sort of difference to gain an advantage over an adversary), and Walt (2005) does a good job of presenting the Realism view that GWOT (a Global War on Terrorism) should be driven by how other countries see their own interests, not ours. Walt (2005) looks at examples of a whole range of possibilities, from "balancing" (including asymmetric strategies), to "balking" (footdragging), "binding" (to alliances, institutions and norms), and delegitimation (what in sociology is called a "framing" strategy). Walt (2005) says "offshore balancing" (balancing being a term from balance of power theory - explained below) is the ideal U.S. strategy. It has been adequately demonstrated historically, and consists of a kind of neo-isolationist doctrine based on U.S. primacy and the minimization of permanent commitments and bases in places where our allies ought to take up their share of the burden. Much of neo-isolationist reasoning is simply a rehash of old ideas. Isolationism and exceptionalism have always been undercurrents in any foreign policy debate (see Wikipedia entry on American exceptionalism if you are unfamiliar with these terms). Hook & Spanier (2006) describe "new" American "styles" of American exceptionalism coming out all the time, mostly because so many conflicts nowadays are asymmetric and unconventional.
Much of what passes for grand strategy really consists of big ideas for understanding the world and/or moving beyond Cold War strategies that keep us tied to outdated commitments, like Taiwan, for example. Thomas Barnett's (2004;2005) famous PowerPoint is illustrative of this approach (see Barnett's blog site) as is Thomas Friedman's "the world is flat" thesis. Huntington (1998) and Ferguson (2004) are also full of big ideas to some extent. Such desires to understand globalization or global stratification in the context of American hegemony is reminicent of Wallerstein's (1974) attempt to understand world-systems (as a unit of analysis) and make core, semiperiphery, and periphery distinctions. However, unlike Wallerstein (1974), an advocate of socialism who bemoans the fact that capitalism has remained essentially the same since 1500, the "newer" stratificationists sound much like neoconservatives who want to export American-style democracy as rapidly as possible (e.g. Frum & Perle 2003) or as practically as possible (e.g., Carothers 2004). For example, Barnett (2005) uses vocabulary like the following:
core -- or more precisely, the functioning core, or those parts of the world which have actively integrated their economies into a global economy; e.g., the G20 nations with the biggest economies in the world; North America, Europe both “old” and “new,” Russia, Japan and South Korea, China (although the interior far less so), India (in a pockmarked sense), Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, and the ABCs of South America (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile)
gap -- or more precisely, the non-integrating gap, or those parts of the world disconnected from the global economy where things like dictatorships and genocide go on; e.g., the Caribbean Rim, Andean South America, virtually all of Africa, portions of the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and most of Southeast Asia
seam states -- countries that ring the Gap such as Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Some are already members of the Core, and others are serious candidates for joining the Core; are important to international security because they provide terrorists geographic access to the Core; U.S. strategy ought to be geting them to increase their security practices
leviathan -- the US military's warfighting capacity which is without match in the world today, leaving adversaries the only choice but to wage asymmetric warfare against us, but is on good for ruling the "first half" of war and is poorly suited for the "second half" of peace, or postconflict stabilization and reconstruction
system administrators -- the “second half” blended force that wages the peace after the Leviathan has successfully waged war; a force optimized for “stability and support operations,” postconflict stabilization and reconstruction operations, “military operations other than war,” “humanitarian assistance/disaster relief,” and any and all operations associated with low-intensity conflict, counterinsurgency operations, and small-scale crisis response; and likewise providing a non-military civil security police component, as well as civilian personnel with expertise in rebuilding networks, infrastructure, and social and political institutions
What, then, qualifies as theory? We can follow Moore & Turner's (2005) synthesis, and identify six (6) different approaches. It may be helpful to list them at first, and then explain them.
of Power approach -- a Machiavellian approach based on power politics
(2) Collective Security approach -- a peace theory based on reciprocal assistance from coalition nations
(3) World Federalist approach -- a Constitutionalist approach that is an alternative to collective security
(4) Functionalist approach -- a regional security approach that strives to achieve synergy
(5) Democratic Peace approach -- the idea of spreading democracy far and wide
(6) Incentive approach -- an Administrative law mix of positive rewards and negative sanctions
(1) The balance of power approach has been the most influential and popular approach in the field. The phrase goes back to 1740 when Frederick the Great (1712-1786) first coined it in his book, Anti-Machiavel, co-authored with Voltaire. The basic idea is that a balance of power exists when there is "a parity or stability between competing forces." The theory posits, more or less, a "just equilibrium" doctrine or axiom which is intended to prevent any one nation from becoming sufficiently strong so as to enable it to enforce its will upon the rest. The world is seen as made up of rational state actors who do what comes naturally by uniting in alliances or coalitions with one another to counter a threat. Technically, "alliances" (like most international organizations) are formalized in treaty and endure over the long term; while "coalitions" are generally less formal, issue-specific, and in it for the short-term. There is some debate over how many nations are necessary to sign on for a coalition to be truly multinational as opposed to unilateral, with Lansford et. al. (2006) recommending at least 10. Alliances are what helped Europe to defeat Napoleon and for Europe to become what it is today. Balance of power was also the stated British objective for much of the 18th and 19th centuries. Most writers on the subject agree that it takes at least five states to form an effective alliance or coalition. In today's world, there are seven great powers which control over half the world's GDP and have military power projection capabilities, but there are only three great alliances that currently exist: (1) NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; (2) the U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty; and (3) the CIS, or Commonwealth of Independent States made up of 12 former Soviet republics. Within the realist tradition of international relations (e.g., Waltz 1979 or any way of seeing international relations solely in terms of power), when nations join a weak coalition to fight a stronger enemy, this is called balancing. When they join the strong coalition, this is called bandwagoning. Balancing can occur internally or externally. Internal balancing is when a state strengthens itself via greater mobilization of resources within its own borders, and external balancing occurs by forming coalitions with allies to pool resources against a common enemy. Historically, power transitions brought on by the rapid growth of a challenger to a great power have often spurred threatened hegemons or great powers to strike before the challenger becomes too strong, and for this reason, sometimes the criticism is made that the mere existence of a benign hegemonic or great power is an invitation to war. Independent, non-aligned states can also exist, and theoretically prosper, under balance of power approaches, but what is more likely to happen are: (a) regional alliances (such as the struggling African Unity or Union movement); (b) informal alliances (such as the loose alliance between China and Pakistan or the anti-Israel alignment in the Middle East); and (c) hegemony, where one state becomes predominant and attempts to provide world stability, but with drawbacks. Hegemony is the quickest way to reduce anarchy, but the drawbacks for a hegemon state include overextending itself militarily and being perceived as unjust in almost everything it does. Wars are not supposed to happen in balance of power theory because each state is constantly vigilant and attentive to each others' alliances. However, the claim that balance of power is a peace theory forms the basis for the most fundamental criticism of it (other than the rational actor assumption), and something called power transition theory has led to the discovery that wars often result from rather mild shifts in the international distribution of power. There are at least six different distinct "balance of power" configurations, and as Zinnes (1967) suggested, they can all be represented mathematically:
|Mathematical Expressions of Balance of Power|
|No alliances, all states equal
A = B = C = D = E
|Two alliances, one non-aligned
state that matters
A + B + E > C + D or A + B < C + D + E
|Two alliances, equal in power
A + B = C + D + E
|No alliances, but power of each
less than sum of all nations
Sum of Xi > Xj for j=1,...N where N = when i is not equivalent to j
|Two alliances, one non-aligned
A + B = C + D; E
|One alliance most powerful, but
such that above condition met
Sum of Xi > Xj for j=1...N where N = total number of nations, and
A > B > C > D > E
Various notions about multilateralism and cooperation make up the fastest growing part of balance of power theory (see Ikenberry 2002 or Nye 2002), and it is widely accepted that multilateralist policies do induce some increase in cooperation from other states, but the degree to which the payoff is worth the cost is a matter of debate between conservatives and liberals, and there has not been as much scholarly attention to the measurement of gains and costs as there ought to be.
(2) The collective security approach was devised in 1914 during World War I as a substitute for the balance of power approach, although historically the origins of the idea go back to Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who first proposed an alternative to just war theory based on an ethical obligation toward mutual disarmament and renunciation of aggression. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) could also be seen as having made some philosophical contributions in this direction, although Grotius is better known in balance of power theory. If one goes back far enough, the ancient Greek Stoics could be mentioned for their "international citizenship" concept. The basic idea is that a peaceful arrangement can exist among nations if each accepts that the security of one is the concern of all. Collective security also, to some extent, sees national security as a side benefit of world order to be managed by some transcendent authority from above. It is the theoretical foundation upon which the organizations known as the League of Nations and the United Nations were built. It is important to note that the United Nations is only an example of collective security, not the embodiment of it. It rejects the notion that alliances and neutrality can work, and substitutes the idea that "an attack against one is an attack against all." The basic idea is to relieve nations from the burden of having to provide national security by themselves because weaker nations cannot possibly defend themselves, and stronger nations often become involved in never-ending arms races which usually detract from their security over the long term. It tries to encourage cooperation and peaceful change, and as such, is a peace theory that can be distinguished from the notion of "collective defense" which it is often confused with. Organizations like NATO are collective defense institutions (which protect member nations from outside threats) while organizations like the U.N. are collective security institutions (which protect member nations from inside threats). A fundamental collective security principle, as Claude (2005) points out, is that violence in pursuit of change should be a last resort, and any demands for change should first have their perceptions of interest and claims of justice expressed peacefully in some kind of world forum. If this peace process doesn't work or proves impossible, the status quo must be respected, and far more important is the pledge that nations make to one another in the name of collective security. While there are many contemporary proponents of collective security (Alderson & Hurrell 2000) and even an area called collective security law (White 2003), criticisms have occurred on many fronts (Claude 2006). The easy criticism is that a lot of states don't like the idea of giving up their sovereign immunity to some international body like the U.N., particularly when that organization hasn't lived up to its ideals and promises. One of those promises is that short notice would be needed to act in the name of collective security. As Morganthau (1948) noted, a prerequisite for collective security theory to work is that the system must be able to quickly assemble a military force in strong enough numbers to deter an aggressor. Another promise is that victims would be made stronger afterwards, presumably through humanitarian intervention. The ideal of the U.N. having timely, flexible interventions has not yet been achieved. Some successes exist, however, in getting nations to not take sides in conflicts, or at least participating in peace processes as a prelude to conflict. Organski (1958), the great founder of power transition theory (which holds the view that balances of power are inherently unstable because of rising challengers to dominant nations) said there are five preconditions or prerequisites for collective security theory to work, as follows:
In an armed conflict, member states must agree on which nation is the aggressor
All states should be equally committed to contain and constrain the aggression, irrespective of its source or origin
All member states should have identical freedom of action and ability to join in proceedings against the aggressor
The cumulative power of the alliance should be adequate and sufficient to overpower the might of the aggressor
The collective might of the alliance or coalition should make the aggressor nation modify its policies
(3) The world federalist approach advocates a democratic system of coequal provinces, regions, or communities of global citizens to replace nation-states as the predominant form of government in the world. It doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of a central world government. It simply offers itself as an alternative to the kind of world government the United Nations represents. The word federal comes from the Latin foedus, meaning covenant, signifying a binding partnership among co-equals in which the parties retain their individual identity (indigenous rights) while creating a new entity, such as a body politic, which has its own identity as well. The spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law is believed to have more power in being respectful of diversity and distinctiveness both within and between nations. The basic principles of federalism include the ideas that all decisions in society should not be made on a higher level than necessary, and that each and every individual has the right to exercise maximum influence over all matters which concern them. Certain expressions of the basic idea can be found in places like Federalist Paper No. 20 written by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, where the authors are addressing the citizens of New York on the possibility of the U.S. adopting the federalist form of government found in the Netherlands. The last paragraph is worth an excerpt (below):
Federalist Paper No. 20 (December 11, 1787)
|No apology is made for having dwelt so long on the contemplation of these federal precedents. Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred. The important truth, which it unequivocally pronounces in the present case, is that a sovereignty over sovereigns, a government over governments, a legislation for communities, as contradistinguished from individuals, as it is a solecism in theory, so in practice it is subversive of the order and ends of civil polity, by substituting violence in place of law, or the destructive coercion of the sword in place of the mild and salutary coercion of the magistracy.|
The words in italics (sovereignty...from individuals...ends of civil polity) best express the belief that the best government is one that deals directly with individuals, not with nation-states (i.e., a purely democratic model). The word "solecism" means mistake or theoretical blunder, and the founding fathers are saying that a federalism model is a good idea (not utopian by any means), but that it has never been perfected in theory nor practice. Note also the emphasis on law and the magistracy, because this is the basis for predominant thinking about a concept known as Rule of Law. As Claude (2005) points out, for at least a hundred years before WWI (when the idea of a global policeman took hold), the most favorably looked-upon institution that the U.S. had to offer was its judiciary system, particularly the Supreme Court model. Even today, Rule of Law often means to transplant the American judiciary model overseas (world federalists have reservations about emulating America's police and prison institutions). There are, of course, many other precursors to the idea of world federalism, and Baratta (2003) attempts to trace its history as far back as Dante (1265-1321), up through Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the atomic scientists movement, and the contemporary world federalist movement (www.wfm.org) as well as the forum of federations (www.forumfed.org). As a movement, world federalism draws its inspirations from globalism and multiculturalism, replacing international law (which applies to states) with global law (which applies to individuals), and urging reform of the U.N. to play a greater role with social, ecological, and human rights (especially minority rights) issues. The most visible achievement of the world federalism movement is the Rome Statute of 1998, which led to the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002. However, world federalists are divided among themselves as to how important it is to have police-like mechanisms for law enforcement (they much prefer using judicial mechanisms for settling disputes but are not opposed to force), and they are also divided over whether a constitution is a good thing or not for world government (since constitutions typically imply a certain relationship between the individual and the state).
Some ideas associated with the world federalist approach are derived from notions of cosmopolitanism, especially as espoused by the famous deconstructionist, Jacques Derrida (2001) who advocates cities of refuge and asylum/hospitality for immigrants caught up in globalization conflicts. Another term, cosmopolitics, is sometimes used by those who protest exploitation of labor and the environment at IMF, G7, and G8 summits. Scholarly attempts at working out the details for making global democracy a reality can be found in the writings of Segall (1991), Archibugi & Held (1995) or Linklater (1998). Many, but not all, federalists usually advocate things like appeasement with terrorists, especially those with nationalist or separatist motivations. Cosmopolitanism, for its part, usually advocates peaceful coexistence as a means for achieving global security, although there is a place for collective force as a last resort after all other forms of negotiation and sanction have been exhausted (Held 1995).
(4) The functionalist approach, in the field of global politics, aims at establishing a steady, predictable pattern of growth and development in the world by creating a series of necessary and sufficient international organizations which address critical needs or important tasks which need to be carried out in certain sectors or regions of the world in the name of human welfare. Common needs unite people across boundaries. The approach should not be confused with regional integration theory which exists in the field of international economics and is the presumed basis for organizations like the EU, nor should it be confused with neofunctionalism in sociological criminology which is based primarily upon the social systems ideas of Talcott Parsons (O'Connor 1994; Alexander 1997; Fox et al. 2005), although the connection between Parsonian sociology and international relations is clearly attributable to the work of the founding father of Integration Studies, Karl Deutsch (1966). Neofunctionalist sociology can play a role in global neofunctionalist approaches, but the former might be best restricted to a macro crime control theory while the latter is primarily a "civilized state" theory of governance. All neofunctionalist ideas rest upon the notion of synergy (the whole being greater than the sum of parts) where specialized, well-designed institutions and organizations work in carefully-crafted interlinked ways to fulfill vital functions that a state needs to assume responsibility for. As a global peace theory, functionalism is best elaborated in the works of Mitrany (1966; 1976), Sewell (1966), and to some extent in Ashworth & Long (1998). Some basic theoretical ideas include the notions that form follows function (hence function, or what gets done, is more important than how) and scale to function (vital things get greased, not just the squeeky wheels). Another important concept is functional spillover (an international economics term sometimes referred to as interpenetration or ramification) which describes the implications (social or psychological) when a highly interdependent system regulates action in one sector which carries over to easier regulation in another sector. Spillover effects are kind of like feedback loops since they can be positive or negative, and often functionalists talk about equilibrium like balance of power theorists do (e.g. Goertz 2003), at least in the sense that sanctions sometimes shape nation-state behavior. However, functionalists have more in common with federalists in hoping that nation-states will wither away one day and people will come to recognize their basic needs are better taken care of by international organizations, and that nation-states will come to cooperate with such organizations, and that economic cooperation will lead to political cooperation. The functionalist approach in this sense is the politics of pluralism, where a framework of interaction between people of different types leads to mutual respect, tolerance, and cooperation (instead of competition -- the unfettered striving for, of course, is the cardinal root of all evil in anomie-strain-functionalist theories). Within such a framework, people are seen as shifting loyalties toward whatever agency or organization best helps them enrich their lives, achieve human dignity, or seek higher values. Enforcement doesn't take place by judge, policeman, or soldier, but by ethical and effective civil servants working in the global bureaucracy which makes up the series of necessary and sufficient international organizations for functionalism to work. This bureaucratic emphasis in functionalism is also its biggest criticism, that the theory lends itself to the possibility of rule by technocratic elites. There have been many attempts over the years to model functionalism and test for integrative effects (e.g., Smoker 1967; Munch 1987), and the following diagram is taken from my own study on martial law in the Philippines under the Marcos regime (O'Connor 1994):
An Example of Neofunctionalist Analysis
|Persons familiar with Parsonian sociology will instantly recognize the AGIL schema where A stands for Adaptation, G stands for Goal-orientation, I stands for Integration, and L stands for latency, or pattern maintenance. Institutions or organizations which operate in the A sector would deal with everyday physical needs, such as food and shelter. Institutions in the G sector would work with personality development, such as education or family. Institutions in the I sector deal with role opportunities, such as jobs. Institutions in the L sector work with cultural activities, such as recreation. Norms emerging from the I-G direction in this model have implications for self-orientation (the middle of the diagram), but there are other patterns of interdependence between sectors that the model points out. Basically, all crime and conflict originates in the L sector and spreads in a LIGA direction while all crime control policies originate in the A sector and spread in an AGIL direction.|
(5) The democratic peace approach is a theory of "responsible government" based on the idea that democracies almost never go to war with one another, a statement first expressed by the philosopher Immanual Kant (1795) in an essay entitled Perpetual Peace (available online). Scholar Jack Levy (1988) has called this idea the closest thing we have to a law in the field of international relations, and indeed, it is borne out as true when one looks at the data, as Prof. Rummel (2003) has (see author's webpage on it where between 1816-1991, there were no wars between democracies, 155 wars between democracies and nondemocracies, and 198 wars between nondemocracies). The evidence is overwhelming that democracy enlargement ought to be the long term goal of every nation. It might even make a good basis for foreign policy (helping out transitional democracies), if democracies were good at that sort of thing (note to reader, the idea that democracies are better at domestic policy than foreign policy is known as the de Toqueville thesis). Moore (2005) goes further and says that democracies are not only good at preventing war, but they are good at achieving various peacetime goals too -- things such as human rights, economic development, environmental protection, famine avoidance, control of terrorism, corruption avoidance, and ending mass refugee flows. However, the data showing democracies don't go to war is disupted by some (called neorealists who also often take issue with neoliberals advocating federalist or functionalist approaches), and these neorealists argue over what defines a democracy and what counts as war. Usually some liberalism like frequent elections and constitutional rights count in defining a democracy, but there are many control variables. On the other hand, a war can be rather arbitrarily defined as anything over 1000 dead. A Hoover Institution page debunks the myth that democracies don't go to war, although the critique is aimed more at democratic pacifism (a term less commonly used than democratic peace or DPT for democratic peace theory); and this article called Democracies Don't Make War or Do They offers a more balanced critique. Contemporary spokespersons for the DPT approach include Doyle (1997), Russet (1994), and Rummel (2003) who all, more or less, see democracy as a method of nonviolence, and (if one can get past the warcounting debates), argue that what makes democracies so great is: (a) the Rule of Law, a complex concept, but one that can be quickly defined as no one gets punished unless in accordance with written laws which were adopted through fair procedures; and (b) the culture of democracy, or a tendency to not see enemies and/or not risk war by putting the nation's youth at risk. DPT theory is currently the most frequently theorized and debated approach in the field of international relations, is quite influential in the subfield of peace studies, and is the subject of much ongoing research involving case studies and the analysis of systems theory concepts like equifinality.
(6) The incentive approach is the name Moore (2005) gives to his democratic governance (or state failure) theory that the best foreign policy consists of a focus on rule of law (not necessarily free elections, but a certain mix of principles mostly having to do with freedom of expression), bilateral trade agreements, and the wealth of nations (i.e., enhanced economic growth and concomitant environmental standards). Not all nondemocracies are seen as a threat to peace, but democracies usually go to war as defenders rather than aggressors against the illegal acts perpetrated by dictators in nondemocratic regimes who capitalize on the incentive that democracies provide in not having a tendency to go to war. The concept of deterrence (as externally supplied incentives against war and terrorism) plays a key role in this theory, at least for the explanation of where, geographically and strategically, democracies go to war. Deterrence alone is never a good idea as the sole basis for an overall foreign policy, however. The basic idea is that there are settings where democracies have failed to deter a potential aggressor, either through sanctions, diplomatic actions, or otherwise. Wars are predicted to occur precisely when and where a potential nondemocratic regime sees an opportunity to take advantage of an absence of deterrence on the part of democracies. It is important to point out that Moore (2005) is not advocating deterrence in the classical Sun Tzu (The Art of War) sense, nor is he advocating wholesale regime change and democracy building. Well-managed trade agreements might do the trick, but far better would be a full-spectrum international system of sanctions which represents the totality of incentives that may be waged externally against potential, high-risk aggressors before it is too late. It is obvious that this approach has some resonance with the war on terrorism, and how that war could be incorporated into foreign aid and foreign policy, but at least three questions remain about the theory: (1) how the theory might apply to civil (as well as interstate) conflicts; (2) how it bridges the gap between realism and idealism in international relations theory [see Lecture on IR Theory]; and (3) how any mix of "incentives" (the term usually referring to what nations want in return for complying with US policy, like nonproliferation policy) would prevent conditions of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) blackmail from arising as well as other unfavorable competition effects from occurring. On the issue of economic sanction effectiveness, see Daoudi & Dajani (1983) or Doxey (1996).
UNCONVENTIONAL APPROACHES TO NATIONAL SECURITY THEORY
One way of addressing the more-or-less "unconventional" or non-traditional theories is to point to a loosely organized set of ideas found in an academic field called "cultural studies" which is a new and increasingly influential area of scholarly inquiry, emerging late in the second half of the twentieth century. Cultural studies takes as its object of study the production and circulation of meanings regarding cultural practices of all kinds; e.g., mass media representations, literary texts, leisure, psychoanalysis, political ideologies, oppositional subcultures, and aspects of everyday life. It is, by design, a volatile field which, by design, hopes to preserve much of the "volatility" in what it studies. Today, you can get a Ph.D. in cultural studies at places like George Mason, but such academic programs are (unfortunately) rare. In academe, it is the field where a lot of well-known, inter-disciplinary programs vanished or transmogrified into from the 1970s; programs like African-American studies, Women's studies, Marxist studies, Literary studies, Cinema Studies, Native American studies, Middle Eastern studies, Queer studies, Chicano studies, etc. Most students are likely to encounter the field for the first time when they run across a professor who claims to teach about post-modernism, post-structuralism, neo-Marxism, feminism, deconstructionism, globalization, or multiculturalism. Another place where one might find such things is the academic field of Justice Studies, such as at Arizona State or NCWC. It's also probably certain that most IR departments will have classes on such subjects.
There is good use and bad use of theory in alternative approaches (Brooker 2003). Bad use consists of regurgitating theory for its own sake or making it so intimidating that it is indifferent to readers and the world at large. Good use consists of tracking debates, questioning the coherence of concepts, and thinking through the implications for analysis. It is important to note that scholars who work in alternative traditions usually value "critique" rather than criticism. According to Eagleton (1991), the difference is that criticism assumes a disinterested vantage point while critique always takes a position within the object of study to elicit its contradictory tendencies. This dialectical method of combining theory and practice (praxis) is but one of several Marxist concepts that have stood the test of time, and other important ones include Gramsci's notions of civil society (as hegemony) and Baudrillard's inversion of the Marxist model of base and superstructure. Studies of Imperialism (Said 1978; 1993) have also made significant contributions, as have Hegelian notions of totality found in world-systems analysis. There is no agreed-upon set of useful concepts in radical scholarship. What might be best hoped for here are not "theories" in the classic sense at all, but a theoretical vocabulary that enriches many possible pathways of understanding. Toward that end, let's explore some theoretical approaches which might be viable candidates for making sense of the world and/or the jurisprudence of national security law.
Chaos Theory -- chaos is a concept developed in the mid-1970s on the basis of Mandelbrot's findings in fractal geometry. Pay no attention to dictionary definitions of the term since any mathematician will tell you that chaos systems are actually very smooth and ordered. Chaos is extremely sensitive to initial conditions, and chaos also refers to the question of whether or not it is possible to make good long-term predictions about how a system will act. Among international relations scholars who have dabbled in it, and there have been many (see Clements 2002 or Cutler 2002), the preferred term appears to be "complexity theory" which entails the study of complex systems which have multiple interacting components where the system (like a foreign affairs policy) can be described as learning on its own in places where chaos and order interact and are always on the edge of each other. The most commonly seen concepts of chaos theory are the "butterfly effect" (unforeseeable effects follow from small causes) and "strange attractors" (certain forces that trigger instability from the "magnetic basins" at the heart of the system). The most common mistake most people make is confusing the concept of chaos with the Marxist concept of overdetermination (when contradictions are internalized by further contradictions). Most debates over chaos theory are debates over how much the concepts are based on exact mathematics or how much the concepts are just literary metaphors (Hayles 1991). Theoretical developments tend to be in the direction of portraying national security law (among other things) as having a predisposition for disorder, complexity, and unpredictability, despite being bound by deterministic, fundamental laws of nature.
Game Theory -- although strict adherents to game theory would say they are more traditionalist than unconventional, the fact remains that relatively recent developments (and much dissertation research), such as the "theory of moves" (Brams 1994) and n-person, mixed motive games tend to push beyond the standard levels of precision found in pure microeconomic examples such as Prisoner's Dilemma and "Chicken" and critics such as Chamberlin (1989) can probably no longer say that "due to the egoistic nature of actors, political dilemmas cannot easily be solved through the use of game theory. It is indisputable that game theory has been an essential tool in analyzing national security, international trade, and the global environment since Neumann and Morgenstern introduced it more than 45 years ago. It can at least be said that the game metaphor is (or should be) of interest to cultural studies since there are scholars not only interested in game semantics (logic) but game semiotics (as iconic images, mythologies, or signs). We'll skip over the formal aspects of game theory except to explain a couple of basic terms: minimax (the rule of rational behavior, or rational decision-making in situations of conflict); and zero-sum (a situation of pure conflict where a gain by one is a loss by another, but the gains and losses added together equal zero). For those inclined to learn about the Prisoner's Dilemma, Chicken, and Nash Equilibrium, see the Wikipedia Article on Prisoner's Dilemma. In the field of international relations, game theory is not without its critics (Schelling 1960; Rapoport 1960) as lacking the concept of trust, but it has also been used since 1983 to model terrorism (Sandler et al. 1983) and formal game-theoretic modeling is a common enough approach that it is taught in introductory international relations courses (de Mesquita 2005). The most currency that game theory has is its ability to distinguish the best counterterrorism (non-concessionary or concessionary) strategy once terrorist (insurgent) hard-liners and moderates can be identified. Game theory has also contributed greatly to models of deterrence, arms race spirals, and the central problem of when an actor such as a state needs to rationally decide when to collaborate and when to "defect" and go it alone. Theoretical developments tend to be in the direction of explaining cooperation in international politics.
Globalization Theory -- Globalization is the process of forming global institutions, and global institutions are those that operate as though the world were a single place. The term became popular in the mid- to late-1990s and has come to describe the co-evolution of global politics and economics in a postmodernist, late capitalism era of information technology, free trade markets, and reign of multi-national corporations. There are many definitions of globalization, and there is much debate over whether it is good or bad, but Prof. Lechner's website (Lechner & Boli 2000) seems to be influential at organizing the scholarly literature, no easy task since there are just as many proponents of the theory trying to reverse the globalization process as there are those who want to encourage it. Brushing aside the debates, it may be helpful to focus on the "mega-cities" idea in the work by Castells (1996) on how the Internet is changing the way we self-identify and relate to others. The theory posits that with proliferation of the Internet (e.g., in third world countries), there will be a decrease in nationalistic competition and conflict, and that the transparent yet anonymous nature of the Internet will help establish some new age of self-reflexive accountability along with increased "flow" of financial services, images, and culture. Another of the theory's proponents, Friedman (2000), has postulated a "Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Resolution" which holds that no two countries that both have a McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's. Democratic peace approach theorists also advocate the Golden Arches Theory, but since at least three exceptions have been found (Panama, Pakistan, and Yugoslavia), the paradigm has shifted to the Greens Peace Theory, which holds that golf-playing countries never fight each other. Globalization theory tends to hold a lot of intuitive appeal for some, and others are quick to jump on its bandwagon or buzzword aspects to make tie-ins with other things they're studying, like transnational crime, the gap between rich and poor, executive pay, genetic engineering, the growing monopolization of water, or a wide variety of other globalization topics. Specific theoretic developments cannot be readily discerned at this time, and it is apparent that the word "globalization" is often simply used as a synonym for any sort of futuristic vision an author has at any time.
Postcolonialism Theory -- Postcolonialism is the study of the ideological and cultural impact of western colonialism, and in particular its aftermath, which can be either neocolonialism (continuing influence) or the emergence of newly articulated identity politics. As a field of study (in literature mostly), it had its own online journal called Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies which made a good run from 1997 to 2003 despite being opposed to the Internet on principle that binary (computer-based) models of thinking were what was wrong with the world. Postcolonialism is also heavily involved in historical revisionism, since for most nations in the world to escape the profound experience of colonialism, they have to escape their own actual history, a resented past that, paradoxically, provides national identity. For our purposes, the theory can be traced to a long legacy in the study of imperialism, with the most popular scholar being Edward Said (1978; 1993), but one might even go further and include certain anti-colonialist tracts by Frantz Fanon (1952). The basic idea is multicultural, that by merely describing something (or someone), you are engaging in a (neo)colonialistic labeling process. Said's (1978) Orientalism book was quite influential in this regard, arguing there's no way to fully get rid of that stereotype that Asians are somehow exotic, devious, and untrustworthy. As a theory of identity politics, it is a theory of doing away with social injustices of all kinds by organizing regional resistance movements that happen to have self-liberation effects. Contemporary relevance includes the fact that Edward Said's ideas are quite popular in the world of Islam and especially among Palestinian activists. Theoretical development will almost certainly be in the direction of sorting out how much this theory aids or abets terrorism or has other utility.
Neo-Marxist Theory -- The basic Marxist model has undergone some complex changes, most notably a distancing of itself from class politics and an embracing of Frankfurt School approaches toward the study of fascism and totalitarianism. Other variants have emerged, but the critique of fascism (as the root cause of evil in the world) has some remarkable currency. As such, it is a critical theory of unrelenting denunciation and opposition to mass conformity (Cutler 1999). Neo-marxist research tends to not just focus on authority, however, as interventionist policies in the name of national security are often questioned (Robinson 1996). Gramscian analysis of hegemony will likely continue to characterize most theoretical developments for years to come since the basic question Gramsci asked - how conventional and dissident impulses could co-exist side-by-side in a conflict-ridden world the masses come to take as normal and "the way things are" -- has never been answered. Neo-marxism needs to evolve, since its emphasis on conflict is quite compatible with the realist or power-politics school of thought in international relations.
Feminist Theory -- Other than easy critiques of manliness and the glorification of soldiers, serious, modern feminist scholarship concerned with IR theory is usually focused, in the postpositivist sense, with a changing awareness of the many subtleties of identity (of being a woman) and allied affirmations involving overlapping statuses. No better description of "identity politics" is to be found than in feminism, where some descriptive factor is chosen from among many and where one factor does predominate but other factors are possible. Other areas where theoretical development might be expected would be something called "neo-feminism" where canonical texts are re-read and re-interpreted (text-analysis). There is unfortunately a shortage of feminist viewpoints in the field of international relations, but some readers (e.g. Smith, Booth & Zalewski 1996; Zalewski & Parpart 1998) contain interesting articles. It is too soon to tell which theoretical directions feminist theory will take and/or if it can break out of its marginalized status in academe.
American Grand Strategy after 9/11 (pdf)
Asymmetry and US Military Strategy (pdf)
Best of the Web: Political Science
Blueprint Magazine's National Security Issue
Chaos Theory and Fractals
Collective Security and Humanitarian Intervention (pdf)
Collective Security Defined at Colorado's Conflict Research Consortium
European Social Integration: A Neofunctionalist Analysis (pdf)
Federalist Papers at Founding Fathers
Four Dimensions of Globalization
Future of the U.S.-Japan Alliance
IR Theory Knowledge Base
JEF-Europe's About Federalism Page
Large List of Political Philosophers
Nationmaster Encyclopedia Entry on Game Theory
Naval Postgraduate School's Balance of Power Revisited Project
Postmodernism and International Relations Theory
Prof. Rudy Rummel's Website
Progressive Policy Institute
Sample pdf Chapter of Goldstein's International Relations on Power Alliances
Some Literature Relating to David Mitrany and Functionalism
Terrorism and Game Theory (pdf)
Univ. of Virginia Library Article on Balance of Power
Wikipedia Article on Collective Security
Wikipedia Article on Democratic Peace
Wikipedia Article on Political Science
Wikipedia Article on World Federalism
World Federalist Movement
Worldgov's List of Favorite Links and Resources
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Last updated: November 1, 2013
Not an official webpage of APSU, copyright restrictions apply, see Megalinks in Criminal Justice
O'Connor, T. (2013). "National Security Theory," MegaLinks in Criminal Justice. Retrieved from http://www.drtomoconnor.com/3040/3040lect02.htm.