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Anthony Burke “Security Cosmopolitanism”

Burke, Anthony 2013. Security Cosmopolitanism. Critical Studies on Security 1(1): 13-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21624887.2013.790194

[…] the argument put in this article is threefold. First, the globalization of insecurity in such complex interconnected forms must be acknowledged and better understood, and requires both a change in state approaches and commitments, and serious efforts to extend and improve global security governance. Second, understanding and addressing the globalization of insecurity must involve a normative agenda that reflects the central tenets of the cosmopolitan worldview, albeit critically. Third, such a cosmopolitan approach to global security will involve a profound transformation of the framing narratives and ontologies of national and international security. (14)

As a potential policy agenda, security cosmopolitanism will attempt to bridge three important spaces of governance and activity: global security governance through treatymaking, transnational institutions, international law, and collective action; state security policy through diplomacy, aid and military action; and civil society and community activity, whether this takes the forms of self-government, participation in national and transnational governance, or forms of popular resistance. (15)

In his argument for a world security built‘on a platform of growing world community…a community of emancipatory communities’, Ken Booth metaphysically grounds his theory in a collective human power to imperil the biosphere and its own life process. Never before, he argues, have‘we,the collective of global human society, been able to inflict as much decisive damage on each other and on the natural world on which we utterly depend’(Booth 2007, 1). He thus argues that world security will need to be cosmopolitan, relying upon‘emancipatory global governance’and ‘cosmopolitan states’: ‘institutional nodal points [that] will be bound by commitments to promoting equality, humanizing power, and embedding human rights without presuming particular collective institutional forms’ (Booth 2007, 141–148). (16)

Globalized human existence is understood not as relations between bounded subjects (be they individuals or nations) in an anarchic system of cooperation and alienation, but as a networked set of interdependencies and obligations beyond all borders. It reflects a view that human existence is fundamentally one of being in relation with others, a view which draws upon a range of continental philosophers and political theorists (Levinas 1985; Esposito 2009; Connolly 2002; Butler 2004) and is reflected in important feminist revisions of security (Robinson 2011). When states draw on the same water sources, experience a common climate, depend on global prices and currency values, transmit conflict and weapons beyond their borders, and threaten and affect the lives of others far away, enclosed or circular models of moral community –however generous–fail to reflect an urgent reality. It is no longer a matter of deciding whether national interests and global goods must clash, but of honoring the common space of life and death that we have created. (17)

When multiple and often anonymous human actions collectively produce such profound changes to the biosphere and climate that many now term ours a new geological era–the ‘Anthropocene’–national borders lose their claim to define and enclose human existence, and humanity must be thought in non-anthropocentric terms (Ganguly and Jenkins 2011; Alberts 2011). Through interlocking historical, social, and systemic processes–imperialism, world war, decolonization, capitalism, cold war, globalization, migration, terrorism, nuclear strategy, intervention, and environmental degradation – human beings have effectively unified their life and death process on a planetary scale and extended it to other species and life forms. (17)

[…] as international relations grow in complexity and danger, and an international law based on the sovereign equality of peoples organized into states becomes normatively dominant with the establishment of the United Nations and the emergence of the post-World War II national security state, the Hobbesian imaginary mutates: the nation-state comes to be thought of as a contained and vital body that must be immunized, or secured, against threats that come from without as well from within. This national body has integrity, sovereignty, borders–and international society, as Hedley Bull explained, comprises such ontologically separate body-politics linked together by a spiderweb of international law, strategic balances, and mutual interests. There is no common humanity, merely an anarchical society of states regulated by a minimal set of agreed rules (Bull 2002, 82). National enclosure becomes paired with anarchic balancing, strategic cooperation, and Realpolitik: this is the ontology that structures and animates dominant state approaches to both national and collective security, across the entirety of the security agenda. (18)

First, the very constitution of the state and the national body can be a source of threat–to ethnic, religious, or sexual minorities, dissidents, indigenous peoples, the poor, and women – who become targets of exclusion, marginalization, discipline, violence, and repression. Masculinist and totalizing metaphors of state and communityas bodythen mobilize their own violence, seeking to homogenizeandexclude those designated as the other –the virus or cancer –of the state. (18)

Second, dominant patterns of insecurity and threat–whether one thinks in terms of their causes, scope, or effects –develop within and across borders in ways that render containment models of national security inadequate, and are in fact exacerbated by the perseverance of such models. (18)

The antagonistic structure and ontology of international society here presents a profound obstacle to cosmopolitan ends: the result is what writers such as Esposito and Jacques Derrida have called‘autoimmunization’, an immune response that threatens to destroy the social body rather than protect it (Esposito 2008, xiii–xix, 2011; Derrida 2005; Borradori 2003, 100–102). (19)

Hence in security cosmopolitanism the founding narrative of security changes: insecurity does not arise before or external to a state that (in the classical narrative) acts as a double guarantee of both security and modernity, butarises out of that very modernityas a function of its histories, choices, powers, relations, and systems. It is not the enemy in possession of nuclear or conventional weapons that is the fundamental source of insecurity, but the weapons system itself; not the forced migrant or the massive storm creating insecurity for the nation-state, but the human interaction with the climate system; not the terrorist en route to an attack, but an historical system of injustice, geopolitics, and ideology around violence that enables terrorism as a normative choice and a social phenomenon. (19)

[…] the potential of insecurity is immanent to political power, social organization, and cultural, industrial, and military activity under the conditions of modernity on this earth, not external to them. (19-20)

[…] we cannot place our trust in such a cosmopolitan dialectic of history. Security cosmopolitanism is not going to arrive; it must beimagined andcreatedwith a combination of creativity, agency, and moral and strategic caution. We could thus turn Beck’s [in Cosmopolitan Vision] schema on its head: rather than risk-awareness ineluctably creating cosmopolitanism, security cosmopolitanism is in fact needed to regulate the conceptualization and securitization of global risks to ensure that they are addressed in ways that promote, rather than undermine, enduring security for all human beings. (20)

Ethics of security cosmopolitanism:
First, the responsibility of all states and security actors is to create deep and enduring security for all human beings in a form that harmonises human social, economic, cultural and political activity with the integrity of global ecosystems. (21)

Second, all states and security actors have fundamental responsibilities to future generations and the long-term survival of global ecosystems: to consider the impact of their decisions, choices and commitments through time. (22)

Just as the insecurities we face today are the complex product of myriad choices and interactions dating back decades and sometimes centuries, our collective choices shape the potential of security for future generations: nuclear weapons and climate change are just two examples of such futuristic temporal reverberations. In such cases the potential for security and insecurity endures throughindefinite time, if we consider the almost geological‘half-lives’of high-level radioactive waste, which extend from hundreds to millions of years, or the scientific projection of anthropogenic climate change though hundreds of years (IPCC 2007, 46), leaving an enduring legacy of past decisions that future generations must cope with. (22)

The global categorical imperative would thus state:act as if both the principles and consequences of your action will become global, across space and through time, and act only in ways that will bring a more secure life for all human beings closer. (23)

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