From the traditional to postindustrial state: geopolitics and security in the globalization era
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Deputy Director, Institute of Strategic Studies of the Caucasus, Executive Secretary of the Central Asia and the Caucasus Journal of Social and Political Studies
FROM THE TRADITIONAL TO POSTINDUSTRIAL STATE: GEOPOLITICS AND SECURITY IN THE GLOBALIZATION ERA
How do geopolitical factors affect the conceptualization of the security sphere and how does the level of such influence differ from one type of state to another? The author holds that the development trend toward postindustrialism weakens the effect of geography-related
factors on security. At the same time, a question is raised of how sustainable this trend is- an attempt is also made to retrace factors contributing to the restoration of dominant influence of geopolitics in the way security is perceived in the states of the globalizing world.
I n t r o d u c t i o n
Today, the international political system as a whole and the state as its component are living through changes that are normally comprehended in the context of globalization. These transformations have inevitably affected the concepts of security that are gaining ground in various societies, and the extent to which security is influenced by geopolitical factors. In classical interpretation, security and geopolitics are intertwined so closely that it is sometimes hard to distinguish between them. In the absence of globalization, the problem of delimiting these two concepts would have been less important. In the new type of postindustrial states, security and geopolitical factors are interconnected in a different way from in the traditional states. This developed against the background of traditional ideas about the state.
At first glance, this discrepancy presupposes that the geography-related factors have become less important with respect to security perception in postindustrial societies. Is this really a sustainable and irreversible process? What can revive the classical ideas about the security-geopolitics tandem in the postindustrial world? These and other issues related to the development specifics of the security sphere (which is living through a period of globalizing transformations in the international system) in different types of states are the key realia discussed in this article.
Geography and Security
Anyone analyzing the role of geography in state security inevitably comes to grips with the question posed by the historical evolution of each state, as well as the ideas about security. We all know that the social and political systems of states progressed from the preindustrial to the postindustrial stage together with readjusted ideas about the threats and the role of geography. Under Louis XIV, the French ideas about security differed greatly from what this nation thinks about its security today. This observation is not limited to the relatively secure modern European states.
In fact, it was not so much their geography that changed as the political component of their relations with the neighboring states. There is any number of theoretical explanations of this. Some academics point to intensified and qualitatively different trade and economic contacts, as well as to interstate relations and so-called complex interdependence.1 Others point to the emerging intersocial contacts of trust, mutual respect, unity, and the «community feeling» based on the internal sociopolitical, institutional, and socioaxiological development of states.2 From the empirical point of view, this relates to the states/regions normally described as Western or, to be more exact, to those that belong to the Western civilization. Today, Western Europe and North America are the most graphic examples of the already developed regional interstate constellations. On the whole, however, the states found in less successful regions (South Asia, the Middle East, and Central Eurasia) also have their share of changed perceptions of security, albeit of a less radical nature.
The impact of geography on the securitization process and the relevant behavior of the states are best illustrated by N. Spykman’s famous formula «geography is the most fundamental factor in foreign policy because it is the most permanent. «3 The relative stability of the states' geographical context imposes more or less immutable ideas on society about its vulnerabilities and threats, as well as about the mechanisms it should use to prevent the threats or at least reduce the risks. We tend to agree with one of the theses on which the classical geopolitical doctrine rests about the different political lines of island (maritime) and continental (land) powers, which also betrayed themselves in their rivalry.4 This is graphically demonstrated by the traditional stakes they placed either on navies (maritime powers) or on land forces (continental powers).
Security for the Traditional State
The traditional states are affected to the greatest degree by their geographical context, which determines the stable perception of security, and corresponding securitization5 of threats and vulner-
1 See: R.O. Keohane, J. Nye, Power and Interdependence, Third Edition, Longman, Boston, 2001, pp. 21−22.
2 For more detail, see: K. Deutsch K. et al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area, Greenwood Press, Princeton, 1957, p. 5.
3 N.J. Spykman, The Geography of the Peace, Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1944, p. 41.
4 H. Mackinder goes even further by ascribing inborn political regimes to the two types of powers.
5 The phenomenon of securitization in its original form as the process through which society/the state comprehends certain phenomena as existential threats to their security was developed in the works of the Copenhagen School (for more
abilities, i.e. geosecuritization. This means, in theory, that any state that moves away from traditional sociopolitical and economic organization undermines its geosecuritization.
As a whole, to better comprehend the development of the state from the traditional to postindustrial stages, as well as the changes in its perception of security, we should turn to the typology used by B. Buzan and O. Weaver based on the identification of three types (development levels) of states: premodern, modern, and postmodern. 6
The state structures of the premodern states are fairly amorphous with respect to the range of the subjects they control, which means that there is not enough centralization and sustainable perceptions of national security (including those related to geography). In the premodern state, the ideas about threats differ from one domestic group to another for the simple reason that they do not originate outside the state, but are generated by rivaling subnational groups.
The modern and postmodern states, on the other hand, have physically, institutionally, and ideologically strong state structures, which means that they are centralized enough and are fairly consistent when it comes to assessing national security threats. The impact of geographic factors, or rather the perception of geography-related threats and vulnerabilities, differs from country to country.
This means that the modern state is much more inclined toward geosecuritization, which is explained not only by the specifics described above: indispensable development priorities, such as sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and self-sufficiency. It should be said that the regions with modern states normally consist of modern states, which means that all of them, or at least most regional states, share development priorities and strive to achieve similar goals. Theoretically this can create the following situation:
1. To strengthen their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, these states will build up their might (in the military-technical sphere, as well as in other spheres), which will develop or intensify the security dilemma in their relations. Placing stakes on the continued closed nature of their societies (in an effort to isolate them from the outside world or, rather, from one another) will contribute to the general atmosphere of mistrust and mutual threats and exacerbate the security dilemma.
2. Placing stakes on the mercantile strategy of economic security will undermine economic dependence among the regional states. This will prevent the emergence of the «complex interdependence» mechanism, which, according to R.O. Keohane and J. Nye, reduces the threat of war. 7
3. The policy of strengthening national identity, ethnic and cultural isolation, and limited ethnocultural mobility in the ethnically and/or religiously heterogeneous regions will increase the conflict potential both inside the states and in their relations with one another.
detail, see: B. Buzan, O. Weaver, J. de Wilde, Security. A New Framework for Analysis, Rienner Publishers Boulder, London, 1998- O. Weaver, B. Buzan, M. Kelstrup, P. Lemaitre, Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe, Pinter, London, 1993, and also B. Buzan, O. Weaver, Regions and Powers. The Structure of International Security, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2003, and others).
6 B. Buzan and O. Weaver distinguish three types of sociopolitical development of contemporary states: premodern states (with a very low level of inner sociopolitical cohesion and state organization, weak governmental control over territory and population) — modern states (with strong governmental control of society, limited openness, sanctity of sovereignty and independence complete with their attributes-including territory and borders, placing stakes on self-sufficiency, self-assistance, and national identity), and postmodern states (a moderate attitude toward sovereignty, independence, and national identity, economic, political and cultural openness when dealing with the outside world) (for more detail, see: B. Buzan, O. Weaver, op. cit., pp. 23−24).
7 See: R.O. Keohane, J. Nye, op. cit.
This creates a more or less clear picture: the modern states have to accept the lot of living in the Waltzian World, 8 the world of wars, balance of power, and self-help, in which external (military) threats dominate on the national security agenda. This makes the closest neighbors, the size of one’s own territory which permits adequate defense, natural obstacles which might prevent an aggressive war on one’s own territory, an outlet to the sea, and many other geographic factors critically important.
Geopolitical Security Factors for the Postindustrial States
The world of the postindustrial or postmodern states reveals or, at least, presupposes a cardinally different picture. Any researcher will probably find it much more difficult to support his theoretical constructs with empirical data: as distinct from the preindustrial and industrial stages, this stage is far from being completed. It was relatively recently that the world crossed the threshold of the postindustrial stage, which means that an assessment of the impact of the geography-related factors on the security perceptions in the postindustrial state and the specific features that place them apart from the two other types will necessarily be more speculative.
On the whole, the movement toward postindustrialism was accompanied by a gradual movement away from the traditional national security paradigms, as well as the de-securitization of certain threats and vulnerabilities from which these paradigms had emerged in the first place. Significantly, it was the military threat (the main one within the traditional approaches to security) or the war aggression that was mainly affected by de-securitization, while the economic, ecological, and sociocultural threats gradually moved to the fore. Naturally enough, this also affected the perception of the vulnerabilities. Threats and vulnerabilities are not merely interconnected, they form the key parameters of the assessment of the national security state. 9
We all know that any threat is really dangerous under conditions of certain weaknesses or inadequate development of one of the security sectors, which creates vulnerabilities the perception of which is as stimulating as the perception of threats. The modern, or industrial, state that operates using traditional approaches finds it natural and logical to remove or decrease military threats. This means that is should also work toward decreasing its vulnerability in the face of external aggression. K. Holsti describes vulnerability within the traditional approach as «potential avenues for military invasion. «10 From this it follows that vulnerability in the face of military threats is largely geography-related vulnerability, while the state’s efforts to reduce such threats primarily stem from the conceptualization of geography.
The postindustrial states that shift the accent from the traditional military aspects of security to the economic, ecological, and social sectors are shifting their attention from the factors (geographic factors included) that determine security in the military sphere to the sectors that look more security-related at any given moment. For example, 100 or even 50 years ago, Switzerland looked differently than it does today (when it joined the postindustrial epoch) at its stronger neighbors (where the classical parameters-territory, population, resources, industrial potential, etc. -are concerned) and the natural obstacles (the mountains that made military aggression less possible).
8 For more detail, see: K.N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics, McGraw-Hill, Boston, 1979- idem, «The
Emerging Structure of International Politics,» International Security, Vol. 18, No. 2, 1993, pp. 44−79- idem, «Structural
Realism after the Cold War,» International Security, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2000, pp. 5−41.
9 See: B. Buzan, People, States and Fear. An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era, Second Edition, Lynne Rienner Publishers Boulder, Colorado, 1991, p. 112.
10 K.J. Holsti, International Politics, A Framework for Analysis, Sixth Edition, Prentice-Hall of Indio Private Limited, New Delhi, 1992, p. 84.
Development and qualitative changes in the postindustrial states' economic and political regime played a central role in de-securitization of the military security sector. Postindustrialism, together with other economic dimensions, made the key sources of the states' material prosperity transnational and de-territorial. The same happened to the postindustrial states' political regimes: functional democracy developed into the political regime paradigm.
By developing the commonly accepted thesis about the «peaceful nature of democracies,"11 Max Singer and Aaron Wildavsky offered an interesting explanation of the fact that the postindustrial democracies are less inclined toward aggressive wars than the traditional industrial states: «High-quality economies also tend toward peace because they greatly reduce the importance of some of the things that people used to fight about. Modern mass wealth does not come from physical resources, which can be taken from others and must be defended- it comes primarily from people’s productive behavior, from a society and culture that encourages productive relationships. Countries become rich essentially by learning how to develop attitudes and relationships that enable people to work productively… One implication is pervasive: it does not make sense to sacrifice people to get territory or raw materials because people are more valuable. «12 This means that countries which seek continued prosperity of their societies (this happens under conditions of functional democracy) that are not territorially generated and therefore should not be protected against encroachments and the military-strategic vulnerability of which should be reduced are less exposed to geographic factors and their impact on the national security agenda.
Energy Security as the New «Link» between Geopolitics and Security
It would be too hasty to believe that geopolitics (geography interpreted in political terms) no longer affects the current security ideas in the postindustrial states. Its impact, however, on this process has lost some of its former urgency.
At the same time, geography remains more or less topical in the postindustrial states-it has not been removed from the political and security agenda altogether. In the short-term perspective, energy or, rather, access to its sources (particularly gas and oil) will remain the link between geography and security. This is true not only of the postindustrial states. Energy as a whole is coming to the fore as a security and geopolitical factor. The states with traditional societies are much less exposed to the energy-related content of geopolitics and security in the sociopolitical plane than the postindustrial states. We all know that the largest share of energy resources is found in states that have not yet reached the postindustrial stage, which means that until the postindustrial states create
11 The explanations the authors supplied to clarify the thesis include other points related to the specifics of sociopolitical development and the attributes of the political regime. They have identified four reasons why democracies tend to avoid war with each other: 1. «In democracies, major national decisions reflect the feelings of the people, and most people are reluctant to go to war. -» 2. «. the political behavior and attitudes needed to succeed in democracies tend to produce leaders whose strengths are in the use of political methods and whose experience leads them to search out nonviolent methods of solving conflicts-» 3. «. it is hard for democracies to make minorities do what they oppose. The democratic system requires a high degree of unanimity for decisions that affect the whole population, such as decisions to go to war-» 4. «. because strong emotions are necessary to generate enough unanimity to authorize a war, democratic publics normally will only support wars against countries that they see as different and despicable.» (M. Singer, A. Wildavsky, «Why the Great Democracies Will Stay Democratic,» Democracy in the 1990s. A Special Issue of Global Issues in Transition, No. 6, January 1994, p. 28).
12 M. Singer, A. Wildavsky, The Real World Order, Zones of Peace/Zones of Turmoil, Revised Edition, Chatham House Publishers, Chatham, New Jersey, 1996, pp. 17−18.
profitable alternative energy sources, as M. Singer and A. Wildavsky noted, they will inevitably remain involved in the struggle for the traditional energy sources and the geographic territories on which they are found.
It goes without saying that the de-territorial nature of the main sources of the national wealth of postindustrial societies has made them less sensitive to geographic issues than the industrial countries. In real life, however, this is possible only if they enjoy constant access to the key resources not found in the postindustrial world. So far, energy can still be described as one of the key «physical resources» and one of the sources on which the wealth of the postindustrial states depends. This dependence will increase in parallel to the depletion of nonrenewable resources. Energy has obviously preserved its traditional territorial-geographic nature, which means that to maintain continued access to this critically important resource, the postindustrial states should demonstrate not only inordinate foreign economic, but also geopolitical activity- they should strive for sustainable political control over the corresponding geopolitical expanses.
In postindustrial societies, securitization of the energy sphere leads to re-securitization of the geographic factors, and, hence, further depletion of the world energy resources would favor the enhancement of the significance of the traditional geopolitical components in the security agenda of the postindustrial states. It is probable that these processes may be accompanied by re-securitization of military threats and vulnerabilities, if not in their classical, then, at least, in a more moderate form «diluted» by antiterrorist rhetoric. Are all postindustrial societies prepared to revive the logic of political realism with its military-determined security model? Rather «No» than «Yes. «
Of all these societies, the United States is the only country that has demonstrated its ability to mobilize society in an active military strategy- its success, however, is accompanied by scores of problems, including the strengthening of antiwar rallies, economic slump, complicated political relations between Congress and the executive branch, etc. In all other postindustrial states, de-securitization of the military sector proved to be so deep-seated13 that it became hardly possible to involve these states in any energy-related geopolitical confrontation without causing serious internal sociopolitical crises.
Nevertheless, the international practice of the globalizing world, however, testifies that such definitions as «energy geopolitics» and «energy conflicts» are acquiring urgency. Today, there is any number of cases of states using their geopolitical advantages to realize their energy security interests (the United States in the Middle East) or of energy-related advantages being used to protect geopolitical interests (Russia in the post-Soviet expanse). This behavior will inevitably produce adequate responses from other states. This, in the final analysis, will restore the vicious circle of the security dilemma, about which K. Waltz wrote at one time14 and from which the states with developing postindustrial societies began to distance themselves.
C o n c l u s i o n
So far the international system is still preserving its diversity, even though there is an obvious trend toward the development of «unified globalization standards.» Rather, this is the only historical stage at which the industrial, preindustrial, and postindustrial states co-exist. At the same time, the states' historical movement toward postindustrialism is accompanied by noticeable shifts in the security sphere, the most significant of them being associated with re-consideration of traditionally dominant geopolitical factors of security.
13 This is testified in particular in the extent to which the EU countries were involved in joint military operations in the Balkans and the Middle East.
14 See: K.N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics, p. 186.
The early postindustrial development stages demonstrated a trend toward de-securitization of the geography-related factors along with appreciable easing of military threats and vulnerabilities. Today this still remains to be one of the key features of the security sphere of the postindustrial states, which distinguishes them from the traditional states. It would be appropriate to speak of sustainability of this tendency, if not a few «but's"-irreversibly reducing energy resources of the planet, rise in consumption and related impetuous and universal securitization of energy problems. The postindustrial states have not yet learned to substitute oil and gas reserves, the basic element of the contemporary energy sphere. They remain territorially-conditioned, which adds a geopolitical dimension to the rivalry over access to them. This, in turn, makes it possible to newly comprehend interrelation between security and geopolitics in the world moving toward globalization.
D. Sc. (Political Science), associate professor at the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University
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A b s
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r a c t
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