Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Series in Critical Security 2

Recently finished Cynthia Enloe's Ethnic Soldiers: State Security in Divided Societies (1980 - University of Georgia Press). In this text she makes the interesting distinction between the semantic differences of "national security" and "state security." For Enloe, "state security is a formula for maintaining the authority of hierarchical structures," while, "national security is a formula for protecting the shared interests of a horizontally bonded citizenry" (p. 232). This is an important distinction for many obvious reasons. First, most claims of "national" security are actually "state" security programs. Second, state security formulas rarely, "protect the shared interest of a horizontally bonded citizenry." Third, the concept of a horizontally bonded citizenry is a sort of neoliberal political myth that all Americans are just Americans, which seems to be an intentional political strategy designed to make "security" into a public good that benefits everyone - so the theory goes. Through these distinctions, the use of "security" rhetoric and discourse by governments can be seen as a mode of social control and method of building hegemony. Which is basically saying that the use of references to national and state security is often in the service of preserving a particular hierarchical social order and socializing individuals to accept that social order as benign or benevolent.

In regards to this explanation of (nation-) state security policy, Samuel Huntington (pictured below) in 1957 wrote in The Soldier and the State, that, "the ordering of civil-military relations [are] basic to a nation's military security policy," (p. 2) and he continues this line of thought by asking, "what pattern of civil-military relations will best maintain the security of the American nation?" (p. 3) If we are to follow Huntington's logic, then we can understand that both the state and the nation must be structured in a way that preserves the so called "order" of both. In addition, it is the purpose of security policy to establish the capabilities of maintaining that order through civil-military relations. To contemporary policy analysts, this description of security may seem reasonable, even practical, but behind the normative language of Huntington's security concepts lie the historical foundations of a rigid American racial hierarchy, vicious genocide, white supremacist colonization, and imperial domination. If these historical foundations are the tenets to the the particular ordering of civil-military relations that Huntington claims must be maintained, then the security policies which he believes in must be related to the preservation of the governmental capacity to create and maintain a system of racial domination domestically (reference Huntington's Who Are We), as well as internationally (reference Huntington's Clash of Civilizations).

Enloe's work pivots on a useful concept she coins as, "ethnic state security maps" (p.15). She contends that these mental maps, "trace the expectations that elites have regarding the political dependability of various ethnic groups. Such mental maps become the basis for state elites structuring inter-ethnic relations in a fashion that best secures the current state structure" (p. 15). According to Enloe, "Military policies operationalize state security maps. Officials' choices in recruiting, promotions, assignments, and field deployments all articulate what state elites are usually restrained from spelling out programatically" (p. 16). Enloe has been ahead of the game for some time now. She developed these ideas nearly 30 years ago, which also speaks to enduring influence of "national security" programs in American history.

Recognizing that Enloe wrote Ethnic Soldiers in the late 70's, means that her thoeries of civil-military relations and state security did not incorporate theoretical advancements; notably critical race theory and the theory of racial formation. To me, it is interesting that her work did not recieve much aclaim. Her idea that state security policies shape and are shaped by the "ethnic identities" of groups in relation to the (nation-) state in an important theoretical contribution. Incorporating racial formation theory with Enloe's "ethnic state security maps" means describing security policies in terms of, "reproducing structures of domination based on essentialist categories of race" (Omi & Winant, 1994, Racial Formation in the U.S. p. 71). According to racial formation theory, "a racial project is simultaneously an interpretation, representation, or explanation of racial dynamics, and an effort to reorganize and redistribute resources along particular lines. Racial projects connect what race means in a particular discursive practice and the ways which both social structures and everyday experiences are racially organized, based upon that meaning" (p. 56).

In Ethnic Soldiers, Enloe categorizes ethnic groups that figure prominently in "state security maps," the following are particularly relevant for understanding the intersection of "national security" and the current immigration debate.

  1. groups residing along sensitive frontiers
  2. groups fulfilling strategic economic roles
  3. groups with sufficient political resources to challenge the existing political order

On all three accounts Latino's, specifically Mexican@s, would and do figure prominently in "national security" policies. Some policy analysts argue that 9/11 and international non-state terrorists caused immigration to be subsumed by security policies. Explaining immigration policy in this way contributes to the racial project of immigration control by obscuring the historical roots of racist immigration laws and the daily terror thier enforcement creates for immigrants of color. Rather, race has always been central to "state security" in the U.S. and regulating the colorline through laws about citizenship and immigration have always been transposed onto notions of "national security."


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