Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security

By Barry Buzan; Ole Wæver | Go to book overview

Introduction

Africa and the Middle East are traditionally linked by trade (including the slave trade) and religion (the spread of Islam) stretching back to the seventh century ad (Deegan 1996: 7–27). More relevant to our theme of regional security is that they share a long and ambiguous boundary through the Sahara across which there is significant security interaction. Both share the experience of decolonisation, with the consequence that many of them are shallow-rooted weak states. But this simply makes them part of a wider third world. A more interesting parallel is that both started their post-independence life equipped with pan-regional identity movements: pan-Africanism in Africa and pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism in the Middle East. There was substantial geographical overlap in these movements, most obviously in North Africa. But their main importance was the challenge they raised to the viability of a postcolonial state system based on national identity and sovereignty.

Into this brew of an imposed Westphalian system and pan-regional identities one has to add Krause's (1996: 324–7, 335–42) idea that many postcolonial states escaped from the European process of state development sketched out by Tilly (1990; also Howard 1976) in which the demands of military competition and war fed back into the creation of bureaucratic, then national, and finally democratic states. In this model, the state needed to raise revenue by taxing its population, which gave it an interest in economic development and required it to develop ways of relating to its population in a long-term and stable manner. In both Africa and the Middle East this link between military challenge and state development has not functioned. It has been broken by the presence of a strong international society which supports postcolonial states with a system of juridical sovereignty (more on this in the Africa chapter), and enables regimes, and even nonstate actors, to finance military power

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