The conditions and prospects for building durable peace between neighbouring states, and the interplay between domestic and regional security, has received renewed attention from a variety of perspectives within International Relations. 1 In the Middle Eastern context, the practical implications of this debate have been dramatically underlined by the American-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein from power, in part on the grounds that he posed a direct threat to regional security.
In this case, scholarship and practice are intimately connected, for our understanding of the underlying conditions for regional security have direct implications for the process of domestic reconstruction in Iraq. Little work, however, has attempted to bridge the gap between International Relations debates on security-building, and the premises underlying post-conflict reconstruction and state (re)building programmes.
Within International Relations, liberal or second-image perspectives (such as the democratic peace argument) challenge structural realist claims about the impossibility of building durable zones of peace. 2 Although the mechanism behind the democratic peace remains unclear, many authors have moved away from purely structural explanations (i.e. the nature of domestic institutions) towards including more normative, cognitive or 'identity' factors.
Drawing on the work of Karl Deutsch, for example, Emanuel Adler and Michael Barnett have explicitly incorporated normative factors to explore the concept of 'security communities' as a means to understand regional security-building processes around the world. 3 Similarly, Bruce Cronin's