Redefining Security in the Middle East

Redefining Security in the Middle East

Redefining Security in the Middle East

Redefining Security in the Middle East

Synopsis

This book addresses the need to redefine security in the Middle East. The contributors to the volume come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but have a common interest in dialogue in support of peace in the Middle East. To attempt to redefine security in a time of flux and confusion is a difficult but necessary undertaking, but this book aims to put forward new concepts, new policies, and new discourses about security.

Excerpt

Tami Amanda Jacoby

Brent E. Sasley

IN ITS FORMATIVE stages, the study of the theory and practice of security in all the world's regional subsystems, including that of the Middle East, was defined primarily by the logic of superpower rivalry. For over five decades, the Cold War security agenda was distinguished by the principal strategic balance, that of a structure of bipolarity, between the United States (US) and the Soviet Union (USSR). It also served as the core framework of analysis. In that respect, the `core' was prioritized, both analytically and politically, over what were considered local or regional disputes raging in an area broadly defined as the `Third World', now more widely known as the developing world. The latter category was considered theoretically insignificant insofar as conflict in the `periphery' did not escalate to the point of threatening superpower relations and international stability in the core. For this reason, conflicts in the developing world, whether as proxy wars, internationalized civil conflicts or disputes local in character, were considered either as secondary or superfluous to the international system as a whole.

This exclusion of the developing world from mainstream analysis in international relations (IR) was based on a particular understanding of `the politcal' in international affairs. Structures representing significant political authority were rendered equivalent to the state system, the military — industrial complex, inter-state war and the diplomatic arena. In particular, the international system and its component parts were defined, for the most part, by the nation state as it developed historically in Europe and was institutionalized through the hegemony of academic and policy-oriented elites in the United States in the post- Second World War era. These Eurocentric and, later, American hegemonic origins were developed as a field of study by, first, realist (Morgenthau, 1973; Carr, 1964) and, later, neorealist (Walt, 1987; Waltz, 1979) scholars who occpied the dominant schools of thought in the field of international relations. According to the realist worldview, security is defined as the protection of the boundaries of a nation state from external military threat with a key focus on . . .

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