Building Regional Security in the Middle East: International, Regional and Domestic Influences

By Zeev Maoz; Emily B.Landau et al. | Go to book overview

2

Taboos and Regional Security Regimes

JANICE GROSS STEIN


A SECURITY REGIME: AN UNCOMFORTABLE PLACE TO BE

Security regimes, especially in their early stages, generally reflect an uneasy compromise among the participants. Regimes are conventionally defined as those principles, rules, and norms that permit nations to be restrained in their behavior in the belief that that others will reciprocate. 1 A security regime is an uneasy compromise where the relationship among the parties is generally undefined, limited in scope, and transitional.

The relationship is undefined, because the parties are usually former adversaries who, for the moment, do not think of war as a feasible or practical, or, under some conditions, even a possible instrument. Yet they are far from allies. Indeed, no descriptors adequately capture the relationship of parties in the early stages of a security regime: although they are neither allies joined in a common project nor adversaries actively preparing for war, they are not indifferent to one another. Indeed as former adversaries, attention continues to be sharply focused on one another.

The relationship is also uncomfortable because it is limited. What happens inside the regime is only part of what happens in the larger relationship. Participation in a regime does not imply clear behavioral expectations outside the security arena. Egypt and Israel, for example, have been members of a security regime at least since 1974, if not earlier. 2

The norms and convergent expectations focus explicitly on behavior that is permissible within the security arena. Economic, political, and cultural relationships are not governed by the regime, unless the parties decided explicitly to the contrary. Even then, some areas of their relationship, by definition, remain outside a security regime. When Israel adopts policies

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