Vol. 17 No. 1 (January, 2007) pp.51-55
DEMOCRACY, SOCIETY AND THE GOVERNANCE OF SECURITY, Jennifer Wood and Benoît Dupont (ed). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 304pp. Hardback. £45.00/$75.00. ISBN: 0521850924. Paperback. £19.99/$75.00. ISBN: 0521850924. E-book format. $26.00. ISBN: 9780511144981.
Reviewed by Lee P. Ruddin (LL.B: Liverpool); (MRes: London) and (PgCert: Sheffield). Email: leetherudster [at] aol.com.
The repertoire of contributors (professor and research fellow alike) amassed together in this volume by editors Jennifer Wood and Benoît Dupont accentuate the challenge of ‘security’ in a post–September 11 age – juxtaposing security ‘governance’ amid ‘democratic’ morality and law and politics. What is more, this 250 page pamphlet has moved the goal – posts of security dialogue stressing the ‘plurality’ of contemporary security governance. For this edition interprets the promotion of security no longer a state monopoly – with commentators (Les Johnson) subscribing to the Hayekian proposition: that the state’s deficient knowledge and capacity to deliver security to local communities renders it an ‘idiot’ (p.48) (in deep disparity to Ian Loader and Neil Walker).
This bourgeoning area of inquiry (international security and global governance) is grounded in the philosophical lineage and scholarly custom that holds dear the ‘state’ as the chief font for security. Indeed, one only need read (or ‘Google’) Hobbes or Weber to appreciate that (in a post-feudal aeon) a social contract binds citizens together, sanctioning the state to formulate, arbitrate and implement rules to uphold law and order. This was succinctly put by two of the contributors, Ian Loader and Neil Walker: “The state is theoretically reconstructed as the outcome of a national social contract in which individuals agree to trade a quotient of their liberty in exchange for the state’s guardianship of their person and property. . . viewed as emerging via an ‘invisible hand’ from the contest between ‘protective associations’ that the state of nature is assumed to generate” (p.168).
Additionally, the pre-eminence of legal and political philosophy sustains the ‘fiction of the monopoly of the monolithic state over the legitimate provision of security’ (p.241). However, historical detection exposes a web of private (parasite-like) agencies (that live upon their respective host) exploiting the (quasi-perestroika) liberal market economy (for example, South Africa).
‘Criminologist . . . Clifford Shearing only contributes one paper to this edited collection, but his presence is apparent on almost every page.. This was the opening sentence of a review for the matching title in the CANADIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY ONLINE and explicates that this text firmly cements (and updates) Shearing’s ‘nodal governance’ into International Relations (IR) lexicon.
Overturning the centripetal centrifugal polarity, nodal governance is whereby [*52] non-state entities operate ‘not simply as providers of governance on behalf of state agencies but as auspices of governance in their own right’ (p.2). In sum, it is an approach that displaces the state from its long-standing position of exclusive security provider.
Les Johnson archives the augmentation of the ‘international scene of global security conglomerates’ (p.241) that are key players in the ‘War on Terror’ and nation building reconstruction efforts. Not being exclusive to the private sector, Peter Manning elucidates that a ‘plurality of providers is intrinsic to the temporary assemblage of public agencies that provide security for large political or sports events’ (p.241). As the editors note, ‘his case studies illustrate in a vivid manner the multiplicity of organizations that share the responsibility of producing security on behalf of the state’ (p.241). Together these two particular chapters will be attended to in length – nevertheless, beforehand, we ought to voyage through the outstanding contributors’ ocean of knowledge.
The corollary of the tectonic collision between structural and rational plurality is witness to an overt power struggle as evidenced in Benoît Dupont’s chapter encompassing the Australian police commissioner (Chapter Four: pp.86-111) and the lukewarm impact of the governance of security on the governance of health summarized by Scott Burris (Chapter Eight: pp.196-217). Readers may find the association between health and security an unorthodox one – though, to quell any bewilderment the reviewer directs the reader to a recent article by Michael Williams, “Revisiting Established Doctrine in an Age of Risk” (October 2005).
Pluralism is the midwife to fragmentation and the tenets of inclusion and exclusion are escorted by ‘security clubs’ and ‘bad risk’ populations. Such distribution sets the ‘state’ on a downward trajectory, for ‘this exclusionary economy of security is the source of democratic deficits’ (p.242). Ian Loader’s and Neil Walker’s chapter (pp.165-196) illuminates the ‘self defeating nature’ of such an approach. In the most wild and ghastly manifestation (of exclusion) on September 11, 2001, it is abundantly clear that, ‘security cannot be enjoyed by a few in isolation from the rest of society without creating the conditions of more insecurity’ (p.242). Furthermore, the South African context is scholarly portrayed in Monique Marks’ and Andrew Goldsmith’s chapter (pp.139-165) exposing the colonial-style (Saidian) oriental-like policing (p.226) and vigilante groups that undermine the democratization process; for ‘effective state policing becomes . . . [the] sine qua non of democratic government’ (p.157). However, the pair omitted to mention the favourable UN reports followed by the allocation of hosting the Football World Cup in 2010 (p.142).
Now back to Les Johnson’s installment (Chapter Two: pp.33–52): “Transnational Security Governance.” The British professor provides a most absorbing and memorable addition to the omnipresent military-industrial complex, or what Johnson terms the ‘commercialization of military security’ (p.40). Johnson is spot-on when stating [*53] that ‘corporate involvement in the provision of military and peacekeeping services is nothing new . . . the “war against terror” and the post-war “reconstructions” of Afghanistan and Iraq have given major impetus to such involvement’ (p.41). A far superior installment though is provided by James Carter (2006, at 86-110).
A couple of pages on the ‘cloak and dagger’ practices in Iraq are revealed to the reader. Johnson exposes those depths of private personnel in Iraq and their duties. Personnel have been employed (with impunity from the Geneva Convention) to interrogate prisoners at Abu Ghraib (in fact a startling twenty-seven of the thirty-seven interrogators belonged to CACI International – not the CIA: p.44). Johnson rationally states that the ‘distinction between military (soldiers) and civil (guard) functions is increasingly fudged’ (p.45). Johnson scholarly explicates that ‘contractual procedures make lines of authority and communication over-complex’ impeding governmental oversight of the ‘companies on their payroll’ (p.45). Both the contractual processes and the ambiguous civil-military distinctions enabled (and will continue to enable) states to evade public scrutiny retarding legislative oversight. Johnson succinctly writes that ‘by devolving “rowing” functions to the private military sector in the arenas of Afghanistan, Iraq and Colombia, the state was able to “steer” operations against terrorism and drugs behind the backs of the public and its representatives’ (p.48).
The University of Portsmouth professor is right on the mark when dismissing the ‘contradiction’ between ‘nodalism’ and ‘meta-authority’ – for the state will implement ‘regulatory (meta-authoritative) principles for security governance without having to “know” the particular preferences of particular constituencies’ (p.49). This renders the ‘idiot’ argument obsolete (p.175); though, ‘nodal governance’ empowers disadvantaged constituencies under the neo-liberal market economy.
The following chapter (Chapter Three: pp.52-86) is titled, “Two case studies of American anti-terrorism.” Though the reviewer does not concur with the author in regards the terminology of the ‘war on terror’ not being a ‘war,’ he does not even qualify his reasoning to cajole a reader. He seems to have been washed out from the criminal justice beachhead (of safe ground) and is now struggling to stay afloat in choppy IR waters (p.62).
A second issue of contestation revolves around Peter Manning’s interpretation of US history. Manning reasons that, for America’s lack of rich history (as compared to the British and French in Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme), the Iraq War became a ‘revolutionary’ event (p.63). Manning’s language is unclear in this instance, and the reviewer deciphers that he may mean events post-March 2003 are exclusively ‘revolutionary.. However, whether Manning proposes pre-March 2003 to be ‘revolutionary’ or post-March 2003 (or both) – neither is ‘revolutionary.’ Symmetries can be deduced from events in the Philippines a hundred years ago (1902) with that of contemporary Iraq upon reading Stephen Kinzer’s OVERTHROW: AMERICA’S [*54] CENTURY OF REGIME CHANGE FROM HAWAII TO IRAQ (2006). The guerrilla insurgency provides historical lessons; the death tolls are roughly comparable – even the torture at Abu Ghraib was not unprecedented. For torture revelations from Balangiga forced Americans out of their innocence long before Seymour Hersh’s exclusive in 2004.
Most interesting from Manning’s first-hand analysis was the diverse interpretations of ‘risk concern’ in his comparative ethnographic analysis of policing (Winter Olympics: 2002 and the Democratic National Convention: 2004); where Police reacted to the ‘known, visible and traceable’ as compared to the Secret Service who planned for the ‘imagined, the future or the anticipated future-appearing other’ (p.84). It could be stated that the Police force operated on a post-emption basis, whereas the intelligence services where operating on a hyper-vigilant pre-emptive basis. The reader is fortunate for such an unparalleled insight of intelligent officers’ assignments. For ‘because neither of the events saw a politically volatile incident, unlike the Atlanta Games, there was no media-based call for a public accounting of actions, planning or finances of the Boston Convention or the Salt Lake City Games’ (p.85).
‘By invoking “security,” the state activates . . . its sovereign right to “decide on the exception.” Security thus operates as an anti-political political practice wherein state actors declare the problem at hand . . . to call for authoritative decision rather than democratic deliberation . . . , and to warrant the restriction of basic liberties as the price to be paid for the maintenance of public security’ (p.181). Rightly so. Democracy is a secondary – indeed supplementary – value when juxtaposed with vital security concerns. For ‘security’ correctly colonizes public policy.
Each individual essay does stand on its own – for they are written by international scholars – but rather too much. When read from foreword to finale there is a substantial degree of repetition which ought to have been eliminated for an enhanced reader experience. However, the exchange between Ian Loader and Neil Walker and Les Johnson compensates sufficiently, proving an absorbing read with the duo taking the rostrum first followed by Johnson’s rejoinder. This comprehensive exchange is priceless for the axis of academics: students, researchers and professors. After citing the first sentence of the review from the CANADIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY ONLINE we now extract the last for THE LAW AND POLITICS BOOK REVIEW: ‘It is a top-tier collection of papers that will become a recurrent reference point in ongoing discussions about security, policing and governance.’
Carter, James. 2006. in David Ryan and John Dumbrell (eds). VIETNAM IN IRAQ: LESSONS, LEGACIES AND GHOSTS. New York: Routledge. [*55]
Kinzer, Stephen. 2006. OVERTHROW: AMERICA’S CENTURY OF REGIME CHANGE FROM HAWAII TO IRAQ. New York: Times Books.
Williams, Michael. 2005. “Revisiting Established Doctrine in an Age of Risk.” 150 THE RUSI JOURNAL 48-52.
© Copyright 2007 by the author, Lee P. Ruddin.
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