Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security

By Barry Buzan; Ole Wæver | Go to book overview

9
North America: the sole superpower
and its surroundings

Introduction

Most books on regional security omit a chapter on North America. This might reflect American intellectual hegemony whereby 'regional security' comes to mean 'all the other regions as an element in American global policy'. If regional security means 'the rest of the world as seen from here', 'here' is not a region. Furthermore, with a traditional concept of security it is not evident what should be covered under the heading of regional security in North America. Already before the Cold War it was well established that the states in the region did not fear or threaten each other in a military sense; during the Cold War their enemy was the Soviet Union, and since the end of the Cold War the most lively security debate has been in the USA, where the concerns of the official debate are located outside the region. In the field of security as elsewhere, the USA is 'utopia achieved' (Baudrillard 1988: 77) in the sense that the dominant IR vision in the USA right from the start has been to leave the world of security, to create in America a New World freed from the anxiety and corrupting dynamics among the states familiar from Europe. Judging from most books on regional security, this has been a success: there seem to be no such things as regional security problems in North America. We will show here what the securitisation-based story of North America looks like.

North America is among the settler-regions where mainly European immigration replaced indigenous polities with new states. Continuity with pre-settler history is sufficiently thin that a history of the RSC (orientated towards the present as ours is) need not go back to the interplay between 'Indian' tribes. The United States was the first settler-nation to gain independence, and compared to that of most other regions the

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