<< zurück / back

Prof. Dr. Cafer Tayyar Ari (Uludag University, Turkey)

At the Crossroads of Systemic Transformation: Security or Democracy


Collapse of Soviet Union and the end of the cold war caused for all of us that the world will be more secure and stable place to live together in accordance with the rules of international law thought as the base of rights and responsibilities for a common world. In this climate, the students of theories of international relations began to discuss that liberalism would be the main criteria to advance the peace and cooperation to solve the problems which may arise and to cope with potential questions such as ethnic and religious based nationalism, proliferation of nuclear weapons and poverty causing many problems in many countries. In the first hand, the collective behavior which demonstrated against the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait consolidated our solidarity for other similar situations such as using power and military means to reach foreign policy aims and trying to be a hegemonic power. Unfortunately, after a very short time the silence and ineffectiveness of international society and the failure to enhance the collaboration to overcome the facing problems, disappointed the world society and increased the suspicions about the expectation of liberal and plural theories contemplated as a framework of promotion of cooperation and peace among international communities.

This concise study will try to discuss this dichotomy in terms of choice between realism and liberalism/pluralism in the context of increased security problems by taking power of Bush team in U.S., in the beginning of 2001, particularly aftermath of terrorist attacks to twin towers in New York and Pentagon in 9/11. We hope to share our anxieties about the developments in the international relations as a way that security problems will be basic agenda that none of us is willing to drag into.

As I stated above, after the disintegration of Soviet Union, all the people throughout the world expected that the world would be changed to a very peaceful environment. They hoped that security considerations of the states were over, and the agenda of the international system had been changed or varied. They thought that security and military issues weren’t primary issues, since using of force or threat to use of force wouldn’t be seen. Security related subject wouldn’t dominate the agenda, and expansionist policies wouldn’t be pursued. Mutual suspicions and fears would transform to the mutual confidence and trust. They estimated that the concept of self-reliance replaced with mutual reliance, and honest and sincere relations would be dominant rather than conflictual relations.

These expectations were supported at the beginning with Kuwait crisis since all the international society cooperated to end the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. At the level of international organizations all the old enemies by forgetting their enmity, they unanimously adopted the resolutions without using veto powers. But, the same collaboration of the major powers couldn’t be achieved in other regional questions. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina conflict, international society intervened the war after 200.000 people died. All the world public opinion was disappointed and the result get them thought that all the optimistic expectations were only illusion. Particularly in the mid-1990’s there was a real uncertainty in which direction the developments would happen and what the end result would be. However taking power of Putin and Bush, the discourses of the leaders shuttered the illusion. Especially after 9/11, the structure of international relations has been radically changed even it reminded the Cold War. Because, unfortunately the basic agenda has returned to security and military issues and the new basic concept we discussed has been terrorism. In fact this process was started after with taking power of Bush in the beginning of 2001 and the new foreign policy jargon which depends on security related concept. For example Bush, first of all, asked to repeal or to change the ABM Treaty of 1972. He declared to adopt the new anti-missile project (NMD) analogous to Reagan’s Star Wars Project. Such policies triggered the change in the existing structure. After a short time, as we know, 9/11 occurred and determined all the agenda of international relations. After Afghanistan operation, the US government started the process of occupation of Iraq without regarding support of international society and world public opinion. Unfortunately in spite of the all protests in the world, Bush team executed all the plans step by step and eventually they completed this process. I wouldn’t discuss the reasons of this process. Since the realities are obviously known by everybody and everything was discussed with all dimensions. At least but not the last, we know that the real reason is not to democratize the Iraq, disarm of Iraq from WMD and/or end the connections of Iraqi government with terrorist organizations.

Bush government is prosecuting to use the discourse of violence even though the objections of regional governments of the Middle East. They try to dominate so called Greater Middle East and North Africa initiative to get the region democratized and economically developed. Such plans aren’t regarding the regional and local conditions especially peculiar features of regional countries. Some of whom don’t have any economic problems such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Sheiks are not willing too much to be democratized and we know that US government will not enforce those countries of whom have very close relations with the White House. Despite the basic agenda of the region is Palestine question, it is being consciously ignored by the Washington. On the other hand, persisting support of US for Israel and the authoritarian regimes in the region are also provoking the anti-Western oriented feelings and emotions.

In this respect, these are two alternatives the scientist to choose. Either we are going to resume the existing conflict based remarks and analyze the foreign policies by helping or encouraging the policy makers in this favor or we encourage the peace and cooperation-oriented discourses and object the use of force or threat to use of force and also encourage the decision makers to get them develop peaceful methods to resolve the existing questions. The basic problem in fact what amount the process can be transformed from security oriented, self-reliance based, conflict led zero-sum game situation to the non-zero sum game situation.

The question is relevant to the theoretical approach that you choose to analyze the outstanding relations. Whether we resume to analyze the ongoing developments from the perspective of security related conceptualization of realism or the cooperation oriented framework of liberalism is the critical subject. Since the point of view and the conflict resolution methods you prefer, dominate the results you reach. In this vein, a comparative approach showing the weak and powerful aspects of liberal and realist theories is the best way to pursue. Basic purpose of this study is to underscore a comprehensive solution of security issue which we are facing. The world society is at the crossroad to arrive a decision for security problems whether by consolidation the democratic ideals of the world public opinion or by strengthening the military policies and the conventional security measures.

On the other hand, the end of the Cold War and disintegration of the Soviet Union triggered the contention between realist and liberal perspectives. As we know, realism maintains focusing largely on the balance of material forces in the international state system, though liberalism focuses on the individual freedom and the potential effects of international institutions on conflicts between states. Traditional narrow definition of security tends to focus on material capabilities and the use and control of military force by states. This contrasts with the distinctions among military, political, economic, social, and environmental security threats, which affect not only states but also groups and individuals, as well as other non-state actors.

Despite the traditional strategic studies continues to be an important part of the field of security studies, and the state continues to be an important actor on questions of security, changes in world politics have broadened the security agenda that confronts states, and non-state actors are of great relevance to traditional issues of military security. In the light of recent political and theoretical developments, it serves no purpose to restrict scholarship to only one part of the field of national security studies. So, security studies should not be narrowly restricted to states and questions of military security only.

In this context, it should be noted that traditional disagreements between realism and liberalism about the security issues are deep. The skepticism of realists is rooted in their analysis of bloody and often evil conflicts in world politics. By contrast, the optimism of liberals derives from the existence of embryonic communities of humankind. Since World War II, international relations scholars have drawn a sharp distinction between a realist stance that took note of the shattering political experiences of the 1930s and 1940s and an idealist or legalist stance that did not.

Like other subfields in international relations, security studies are influenced by the major theoretical debates in international relations. Structural neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism as the two dominant paradigms agree on the central importance of international anarchy for the analysis of international politics. Even though neoliberalism to date has had little direct influence on national security studies, indirectly, through this shared assumption, it has helped consolidate the orienting Hobbesian framework that motivates most studies of national security.

To sum up, democracy and security are not the concepts, which are contrary to each other. Security can be realized without sacrificing from democracy. Democratic governments’ approach to security issues differ from the authoritarian governments since for authoritarian regimes’ security are the top issue because of the fact that they don’t feel themselves secure and they perceive threats from within or outside. These situations compel them or they think they are compelled to adopt and/or execute military policies either to its own people or to some other countries. However in democratically elected governments, of which don’t feel or perceive the same threats, political decisions are likely taken after a comprehensive and intensively debated process.