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SECURITIZING

DEMOCRACY
HOW THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN TRANSFORMED

INTO A DEMOCRATIC PEACE-BUILDING MISSION

J.H. BERGHUIS
Master Thesis prepared for the LL.M
in Law and Politics of International Security 2008/2009
February, 2010

VU University Amsterdam
Faculty of Law (International Law and Comparative Law)
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel. 0031 20 598 6301 or 598 6207
E-mail: Secretariaat7a-42@rechten.vu.nl

Supervisor:
Prof. dr. W.G. Werner.

I would like to thank Wouter Werner for guiding me in the process of writing this thesis. He was of great
help in formulating the initial research question and structuring the thesis. Above all, he was a source of
inspiration and stimulation and I always enjoyed the discussions we had during our meetings.

Author:
J.H. (Jonathan) Berghuis, student nr. 1665790
Europaplein 253
3526 WE Utrecht
E-mail: j.berghuis@gmail.com
Web: www.jonathanberghuis.com
Tel. +31 645388414

Cover photo: Afghanistan 2009 - ‘Go vote!’ by Todd Huffman. Description: "The ‘Go Vote’ posters have
a distinct message - armed guards are prominent on either side and in this case there’s a real one at the
base." Date: August 12, 2009. Source: originally posted to Flickr as ‘Voting’:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/99287245@N00/3820021436/. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
License.

2010, J.H. Berghuis.


Some rights reserved. Creative commons. You are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this work under the condition that you
attribute the work to the author, do not use this work for commercial purposes and distribute derivative work only under the same or
similar licence to this one.
The best protection for the people is not necessarily to believe everything
people tell them.

Demosthenes.

Perhaps the ultimate image of the ‘local population’ as homo sacer is that of the
American war plane flying above Afghanistan: one can never be sure whether
it will be dropping bombs or food parcels.

Slavoj Žižek, 2002.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction 5

I. Democratizing Security: The Democratic Peace Ideology 10


Introduction 10
The Genesis of the Democratic Peace ‘Thesis’ 11
The Objectification of the Democratic Peace 13
Democratic Peace Theorizing and Democratization 16
The Normative Explanation 16
The Structural Explanation 17
Two Types of Democratization 18
Democratization Policies 19
United States 20
North-Atlantic Treaty Organization 23
European Union 25
Conclusion: The ‘Unknown Known’ of the Democratic Peace 27

II. Securitizing Democracy: The War in Afghanistan 30


Introduction 30
Securitization and the Logic of Protection 32
“Why do they hate us?” – The Anti-Democratic Threat 35
“What is expected of us?” – The Logic of Protection at Home 39
Liberating ‘Women of Cover’ – The Logic of Protection Abroad 42
‘Democratic Peacebuilding’ – Securitizing Afghan Democracy 47
“It’s Blair the Nation Builder” 48
The Bonn Agreement and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) 50
UN: ‘Democratic Peacebuilding’ with a ‘Light Footprint’ 54
US: ‘Axis of Evil’, ‘Rogue States’ and the Democratization of the Middle East 57

Conclusions 63

Bibliography 66
INTRODUCTION

Problem statement

On December 7, 2009, United States President Barack Obama announced he wanted to


set a deadline to start withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan. In an interview with
CBS News he said that the Afghans should not assume that their country would be ‘a
permanent protectorate’ of the United States. Obama: “There are I think elements in
Afghanistan who would be perfectly satisfied to make Afghanistan a permanent
protectorate of the United States, in which they carry no burden, in which we’re paying
for a military in Afghanistan that preserves their security and their prerogatives”.
However, as Obama argued “that’s not what the American people signed up for when
they went into Afghanistan in 2001. They signed up to go after al-Qaeda. And now we
do have genuine obligations in Afghanistan, as part of an international force.” (CBS
2009).

Indeed, the US did not justify the start of the war in Afghanistan as an intervention
to ‘protect’ the Afghan people. The war was originally presented as a necessary act of
self-defense against a new enemy: terrorism. However, in course of the war it became
increasingly justified and seen as a ‘nation building’, ‘peace building’ or ‘democratization’
mission; to protect its newly established democracy. This thesis aims to gain an
understanding of this transformation in the justification of the war. Thus, our research
question is: How did the justification for the war in Afghanistan, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks,
transform from a war of self-defense against terrorism to a war for democracy building in Afghanistan?

Part One

We propose that the transformation process, towards a war for democracy building, can
be understood in the light of the new ‘Western’ security ideology after the Cold War.
This is the ideology of the ‘democratic peace’. The hypothesis of the ‘democratic peace’
is that liberal democracies do not go to war with each other. In the first part of this

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thesis we analyze how this new security ideology surfaced and became the norm in the
academia and in ‘Western’ organizations and administrations after the Soviet downfall.
We answer the following sub-questions: Where did the idea of ‘democratic peace’ come
from? How did it develop into a scientifically verifiable hypothesis and ‘fact’? How did
this ‘fact’ influence the democratization policies of the US, NATO and EU after the
Cold War? The main question, however, is how this ideology created new group
identities, specifically: How are ‘democratic peace’ research and democratization policies of the US,
NATO and EU drawing new demarcation lines, identifying ‘us’, ‘our kind’, ‘America-like’ countries
and ‘them’, ‘our enemies’ in a time when Cold War identities lose their usability?

In part one we analyze the discourse of the ‘democratic peace’ from the last years of
the Cold War (+/- 1985) up until about the year 2004/2005. This time period covers
the genesis, ‘objectification’ and ‘normalization’ of the ‘democratic peace’. The analysis
is largely done in a chronological order, first focussing on the academic discourse of
‘democratic peace’, then on the political discourse of ‘democratization’. We aim to track
the ‘objectification’ of the democratic peace in often-cited academic texts and the
‘normalization’ of this research in the democratization policies and speeches of three
major Western organizations and administrations: the US, NATO and EU. The major
social science articles developing the democratic peace thesis are discussed in very much
the same way as the political speeches and documents. Thus, we ask what group
identities are created.

The purpose of part one is not to challenge the statistical findings of ‘democratic
peace’ research. Rather, it is to expose the subjective and normative aspects of their
development. We are interested in the kind of world-view it made possible. The
‘democratic peace’ is approached as an ideology. The analysis of ideology here takes the
form of an ideology critique. The theoretical origins of this approach are in the work of
Karl Marx. He reminds us that there is a difference between criticism and critique.
Criticism entails “the designing of the future and the proclamation of ready-made
solutions” (Karl Marx 1843). On the other hand, critique seeks to push the world to live
up to its own professed standards. While criticism sets external standards, critique finds
them internally. Ideology critique, thus, is an ‘immanent’ critique: it aims to show how
the self-understanding strains at its own limitations. The concept of ideology subscribed

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to here is that of Slavoj Žižek, for whom ideology are those suppositions we are not
aware of adhering to because we perceive them as timeless and universal (Žižek 2005: 9-
10). We criticize the ‘democratic peace’ for its ideological effects. The ‘democratic peace’
perceives itself as timeless and universal, but it bears the mark of a subjective, value
laden, regional and historical perspective. It created new group identities for the West;
new friend and enemy-distinctions after the Cold War.

Part Two

In part two we analyze the discourse of the transformation of the Afghanistan war from
a war of self-defense against terrorism to a war for democracy building in Afghanistan.
The discussion of group identities in the ‘democratic peace’ ideology in part one will
help us recognize the construction of group identities by the US and their allies after the
terrorist attacks of September 11 2001. The transformation of the justification for the
war in Afghanistan can be understood through an analysis of these identities. To answer
the research question we address the following sub-questions: What image of the enemy
threat is constructed immediately after 9/11 2001? How did this enemy threat justify
extraordinary measures at home and abroad and create a protector-protected
relationship between the US state and its citizens? How does the self-presentation of the
US and the UK as liberators of Afghan women after the start of the war create a
protector-protected relationship with respect to Afghan women? How is the newly
established Afghan democracy presented and ‘protected’ by the UN, NATO and the
US?

The discourse of the Afghanistan war is approached as the gradual construction of a


‘protector-protected’ relationship between the ‘international community’ of the
UN/NATO/US and a newly established Afghan democracy. For this we use the
framework of two related theories: securitization theory and the ‘logic of masculinist
protection’. Both these approaches ask the following question: How does it change
action if we present an issue as a security issue? This process is called securitization. In the
discourse of the Afghanistan war the issues presented as security issues are, in
chronological order: terrorism, women emancipation and democracy. When an issue is

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securitized it is presented in the form of an existential threat. Security justifies the use of
extraordinary measures to handle this threat. By saying ‘security’, a state representative
declares an emergency condition. This emergency condition can have lasting effects on
interunit relations, most importantly between the state and its citizens. Securitization
theory helps us to understand the extraordinary measures and sharp friend-enemy
distinctions that were constructed in response to 9/11.

The ‘logic of masculinist protection’, provides more insight in the effects on


interunit relations during the securitization process of the war in Afghanistan. It
describes the public life, specifically “the relation of a state to its citizens, when state
officials successfully mobilize fear” (Young 2003: 7). In such a security state, the
government assumes the role of a “courageous, responsible, and virtuous man”; that of
a protector of the population. In return for the promise of protection and security, the
protected concedes a distance from the decision-making of the protector and is made
dependent (Young 2003: 4). The logic “helps explain this state’s righteous rationale for
aggressive war” (Young 2003: 10). Specifically, it helps explain how the justification for
Afghanistan war could change from defense to building democracy abroad; from
protecting the homeland, to protecting Afghan women, to protecting Afghanistan’s new
government.

In this second part we analyze the end of the 1990’s until about 2005, mostly in
chronological order. We are primarily concerned with the transformation process of the
Afghanistan war from a war of self-defense against terrorism to a war for democracy
building, thus from 9/11 2001 onwards. Although it would also be interesting to look at
‘peacebuilding’ in Afghanistan after 2005, the focus is on the transformation. To go
beyond 2005 is thus not strictly necessary. We restrict the analysis to the organizations
and administrations of the US, the UK and the NATO alliance (and to a lesser extent
the UN); as these were the main actors in the early discourse of the Afghanistan war.
Our primary sources in the second part will be policy documents and speeches, with
particular focus on the US and UK’s rhetoric justifying warfare. As Ferguson reminds
us: “Rhetoric is never merely rhetoric; it constructs a particular (if incomplete)
worldview that enables us to see certain connections, yet occludes others”, “Like a
picture frame, the rhetorical framing of political issues shapes and contextualizes the

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perspective of the audience” (Ferguson 2005: 13). We ask how these texts and speeches
shape and contextualize the perspective of the audience; enable group identities and
reframe an aggressive war as a humanitarian mission.

A Remark on the Use of the ‘West’ as a Concept

This thesis is mostly restricted to ‘Western’ justifications for warfare after the Cold War,
except for the views of UN agencies. We analyze the development of the ‘democratic
peace’ ideology in a ‘Western’ context. The use of the ‘West’ as a category of countries is
inherently problematic. Often it is used in binary oppositions; in contrast to the ‘East’,
‘developing’ countries or even ‘Islam’. Its meaning is not static and it can best be treated
as a social construction. Throughout history what the ‘West’ is and stands for has been
subject to contestation and change. Thus, the focus here is on how ‘Western’
organizations and governments constructed their common position in the world during
post-Cold War period. These are the organizations and administrations of the US, the
UK, the EU and the NATO alliance.

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I.
DEMOCRATIZING SECURITY:
THE DEMOCRATIC PEACE IDEOLOGY

Introduction
On the road to the 2003 War in Iraq US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld tried to
convince the general public that Saddam Hussein was providing Al Qaida with ‘weapons
of mass destruction’. In that effort he explored some amateur philosophy: “as we know,
there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are
known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there
are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks
throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category
that tend to be the difficult ones.” (US Department of Defense 2002, emphasis mine). It
was, according to Rumsfeld, in particular within this last category of unknown unknowns,
the ultimate uncertainty, that the real danger of Saddam Hussein lied. He might have
something terrible in store for the US we don’t even know we don’t know.

The philosopher Slavoj Žižek noted that Rumsfeld had missed a logical fourth
category: that of unknown knowns. This category of things we don’t know that we know,
the knowledge which doesn’t know itself, describes what is called ideology (Žižek 2005: 9-
10). Ideological are the suppositions we are not aware of adhering to because we
perceive them as timeless and universal. In this chapter we are interested in the unknown
knowns of the liberal security discourse after the Cold War. We will analyze what

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Rumsfeld could mean with the latter and seemingly unproblematic part of his statement:
‘the history of our country and other free countries’. What ‘history’ of the United States
does he mean and why does he connect that history to a group of ‘free’ countries? We
contend that American history itself is redrawn after the Cold War: it is objectified,
universalized and made to appear ‘normal’ in the so-called ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic peace’
proposition. In addition, we will argue that ‘democratic peace’ research and
democratization policies of the US, NATO and EU are drawing new demarcation lines,
identifying ‘us’, ‘our kind’, ‘America-like’ countries and ‘them’, ‘our enemies’ in a time
when Cold War identities lose their usability.

The Genesis of the Democratic Peace ‘Thesis’


The ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic peace’ is a combination of two ideas and fields of research,
one focussing on the political explaining variable (e.g. democracy) and one focussing on
the economic explaining variables (e.g. economic interdependence, free trade etc.). The
field of research focussing on the political variable usually refers to it as the ‘democratic
peace’ (Chan 1997). The field of research focussing on the ‘economic’ variable
sometimes refers to it as the ‘capitalist peace’ (Gartzke 2007). In this thesis we will use
the terms ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic’ peace interchangeably. The general proposition of this
‘liberal’ or ‘democratic’ peace is that liberal (and thus market) democracies do not go to
war with each other.

The idea of a liberal ‘zone of peace’ is not new and can already be attributed to
Immanuel Kant (Kant 1795 [2006]). Also, the related idea of democratization, if
necessary by force, is not new, but already present in United States President Wilson’s
imperative of 1917: “The world must be made safe for democracy” (Wilson 1917)1. So,

1 President Wilson’s war address calling for action against Germany, delivered by him to the
Congress in special session on April 2, 1917: “A steadfast concert for peace can never be
maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be
trusted to keep faith within or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honor, a partnership
of opinion”. (…) “The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon
the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no
conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the
sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the right of mankind. We
shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of
nations can make them.”

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what then distinguishes the new, post-Cold War, debate from the earlier use? To answer
this question let us look first at the origin of this debate. One scholar in particular was
responsible for triggering the current academic debate on the democratic peace: Michael
Doyle.

Doyle’s influential piece ‘Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs’ published in
1983 introduced Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace as the genesis of the democratic peace
idea (Doyle 1983a; 1983b). Kant’s Perpetual Peace, written in 1795, is now seen as the
prime source of the ‘democratic peace’ thesis. In this philosophical ‘sketch’ Kant
predicts a widening pacification of a liberal pacific union. Like Hobbes, Kant claims that
‘the state of nature (…) is not a state of peace among human beings who live next to
one another but a state of war’, meaning that ‘the state of peace has to be established’
(1795 [2006]: 8:349). Thus, to Kant, real peace is not simply the absence of war. It
requires the global rule of just law within the state, between states and between states
and foreigners (Kleingeld in Kant 1795 [2006]: xv). The perpetual peace is guaranteed by
the acceptance of ‘three definitive articles of perpetual peace’. The first article
establishes a ‘republican’ civil constitution in the state. By ‘republican’ Kant means a
representative government with a separation of powers, preventing tyranny within the
state. But as Kant clarifies “one does not (as often happens) confuse the republican
constitution with the democratic constitution” (1795 [2006]: 8:351). Democracy is
according to him “necessarily a form of despotism”, because it would make possible
that “‘all’ make decisions (…) against one” (Kant 1795 [2006]: 8:352). Thus, for Kant
‘democracy’ had a negative connotation. The second article establishes a pacific
federation or union (foedus pacificum): a mutual non-aggression pact or collective security
agreement in a federation of liberal republics. The third article establishes a
‘cosmopolitan law’ that is concerned with the “right of a stranger not to be treated in a
hostile manner by another upon his arrival on the other’s territory” making it possible
“to establish commerce with one another” (Kant 1795 [2006]: 8:358).

Doyle’s piece ‘Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs’ not only introduced Kant,
but was also first to make the move from the democratic peace ‘idea’ to an empirically
verifiable democratic peace ‘thesis’. In the first of his two articles Doyle claimed that
Kant’s predictions of a separate liberal peace are supported by the historical record of

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international relations: “even though liberal states have become involved in numerous
wars with non-liberal states, constitutionally secure liberal states have yet to engage in
war with one another” (Doyle 1983a: 213). In the second article Doyle emphasises a
darker side of the democratic peace: “the very constitutional restraint, shared
commercial interests, and international respect for individual rights that promote peace
among liberal societies can exacerbate conflicts in relations between liberal and non-
liberal societies” (Doyle 1983b: 324-325). Although Kant disapproved imperial
intervention, it is also liberal practice to reject the right of some non-liberal states to be
free from foreign intervention. Writing in 1983, Doyle points to United States’
communist rivals as examples of non-liberal states not free from intervention. At the
same time liberal states don’t expect to be free from foreign intervention from non-
liberal states in return. Conflicts of interest with non-liberal states are more likely to be
interpreted by liberal states as campaigns of aggression (Doyle 1983b: 325). This second
effect, that Doyle labels as Hume’s ‘imprudent vehemence’, has received less attention
in the current liberal peace debate than the peaceful effect2.

The Objectification of the Democratic Peace


Doyle already displayed some simple ‘evidence’ of the separate liberal peace: a list of a
rising number of liberal regimes throughout history combined with a list of
chronologically ordered international wars (table 1 and 2, Doyle 1983a: 209-212, 214-
215). After the Cold War Doyle’s proposition is further put to the test in far more
rigorous statistical analyses (for example Russett 1993; Ray 1995; Oneal and Russett
1997; Maoz 1998). The proposition now relied on another source: the maintenance of
databases in which information about war and democracy is stored, primarily the
Correlates of War (COW) project and the Polity data set. The variable of ‘peace’ is
captured in COW, not as peace and not in its opposite ‘war’, but in the presence of
Militarized Interstate Disputes (MIDs). The COW project defines a MID as “a set of
interactions between or among states involving threats to use military force, displays of
military force or actual uses of military force.” (Gochman and Maoz 1984: 586). The

2 Although there are some exceptions, such as Geis et al. (2006) and Barkawi & Laffey (1999).

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actual amount of inter-state wars is of course very low3. Therefore, to include more
cases and strengthen the significance of the democracy-peace correlation the bar was
deliberately lowered from ‘wars’ to ‘disputes’. In the Polity data set, states are coded on
a scale in which democracy is minimally or ‘procedurally’ defined, taking as its defining
empirical features competitiveness and fairness of electoral processes and constraints on
the freedom of executive action (Oren 1995: 149; Gurr 1990 (Polity II); Marshall &
Jaggers 2001 (Polity IV)). In particular democracy as participation is omitted in the
Polity data set (Munck and Verkuilen 2002: 11).

Thus, what is new in the post-Cold War presentation of the democratic peace? The
newness of the current academic debate is that it led to the objectification of the idea of
the democratic peace, along with its main concepts: democracy and peace. In the
process of resource mobilization (Kant and quantitative data sets) the democratic peace
was established as a fact. The statement went from ‘there might be a relation’, to ‘a
relation under conditions X and Y’ to ‘there is a relation’ (fact). It meant a shift from
philosophical thought to an objective statement, from a value to a fact (Büger and
Villumsen 2007: 431-432). Alternative ideas such as the monadic peace (the inherent
peacefulness of democracies) and the autocratic or socialist states peace (Oren and Hays
1997) did not gain widespread dissemination. However, the statement that ‘democracies
do not go to war with each other’ was an established matter of fact; to hold irrespective
of context, time or space.

While considered an objective measure by its proponents, the ‘democratic peace’


itself embodies their subjective presuppositions. America and many European countries
receive perfect scores on the Polity scale. Thus, their countries’ polity serves as the
norm against which others are measured. These values are projected backward and
compared with other policies, past and present (Oren 2003: 15-16). The backward
projection of these values does injustice to history. As we have seen already, Immanuel
Kant in his Perpetual Peace referred to his polity as republican, not democratic (Kant 1795
[2006]: 8:352). Democracy for him and many other liberal thinkers in the 19th century
3 In his 1983 article Doyle only lists 121 international wars (table 2, 213-214). The latest version of
the COW Inter-State War Data set (v3.0), covering 1816-1997, only lists 79 inter-state wars. In
contrast, in the latest COW MID Data set (v3.10), there are more than 2000 MIDs. The data
sets of the COW project are available at http://correlatesofwar.org/.

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was a form of despotism, a mass tyranny that would subvert individual liberty.
Democracy in the 19th century was associated with socialism more than liberalism. It
was the rule of the majority working class, the demos. Only around the turn of the
century would the term be appropriated by the liberal elites (Oren 1995: 151).

Among the first to use ‘democracy’ with approval was political scientist and US
president Woodrow Wilson. Wilson’s legacy to ‘make the world safe for democracy’ is
embraced by democratic peace proponents4. However, his understanding of ‘democracy’
was both different from Kant’s and the current understanding. In his racialist-
hierarchical framework democracy was appropriate for a ‘nation’ ripe for it. The free
‘constitutional’ nation-state, with America as the prime example, was the pinnacle of the
political development of the ‘Aryan’ race. He downplayed elections: “Not universal
suffrage constitutes democracy. Universal suffrage may confirm a coup d’état which
destroys liberty” (Wilson 1968: 85; Oren 1995: 173). Thus, democracy was to be a
meritocracy. Above all, foreign affairs was a matter “of too delicate a nature to be
publicly discussed in Parliament” (Wilson 1968: 85; Oren 1995: 173). Democracy was
made safe for the world, before the world could be made safe for democracy.

The objectification meant a restriction to one distinct version of the democratic


peace. Macmillan argues that the version of liberalism and democracy in the democratic
peace corresponds closely to the conservative ‘minimalist’ strand of liberal
internationalism. Unlike left-liberals and radical liberals who seek to reform or transform
the state in the interest of society’s more disadvantaged groups, conservative liberals
have a strong stake in the existing social and political order, particularly in the defense of
private property rights (MacMillan 2004: 475). From the 1950s onwards American
political scientists expected that the road to ‘totalitarianism’ would be paved with
progressive redistributive policies. Inspired by Joseph Schumpeter (and later Karl
Popper) they abandoned substantive visions of democracy in favour of procedural
definitions (Oren 2003: 12). The resemblance between the ‘democratic peace’ and the
conservative strand of liberal internationalism is no coincidence. It can only be
understood in the ideological battle for the meaning of democracy in the Cold War

4 See for example the motto of the first chapter of Russett 1993.

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context. The democratic peace is a victor’s peace with the ‘free world’ universalizing and
normalizing its specific conception of democracy across space and time.

The subjective content of the democratic peace sketched here was hardly
acknowledged by its proponents, presenting it instead as “close as anything we have to
an empirical law in international relations” (Levy 1988: 662) or as something that may
“well be a law of nature” (Bueno de Mesquita 2002: 5).

Democratic Peace Theorizing and Democratization

Although the proponents of the democratic peace all essentially use the same rules for
coding regimes and ‘military disputes’, there have emerged two lines of explanation: one
that highlights the normative respect that democracies harbor toward each other and one
that emphasises the institutional or structural characteristics of democracies (Oren 1995:
149; Maoz and Russett 1993). These two lines of argument largely correspond to two
types of democratization policies. Let us first examine the two lines of explanation.

The Normative Explanation

The normative explanation is characterized by the emphasis put on norms of peaceful


conflict resolution that have become a part of liberal democracies’ political culture. The
normative assumption can be formulated as: “States, to the extent possible externalize
the norms of behavior that are developed within and characterize their domestic
political processes and institutions” (Maoz and Russett 1993: 625). Scholars in the
‘normative’ tradition claim that the democratic norms only enable non-violent
resolution of conflicts between democracies (Doyle 1983a; 1983b; Maoz and Russett
1993; Owen 1994; Risse-Kappen 1995). Thus, the pacifist preference only translates into
peaceful relations with other democracies. Democratic states among themselves create a
separate liberal zone of peace, a pacific union, because of the mutual respect for liberal
principles and institutions (Doyle 1983a: 213). Democratic states which rest on consent
also presume foreign democratic states to be consensual and thereby transcend the
Realist world of prudent, strategic calculation (Doyle 1983a: 230, 235). However, when
democratic states are confronted with non-democratic states then the non-democratic
norms will prevail: “the anarchic nature of international politics implies that a clash

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between democratic and non-democratic norms is dominated by the latter, rather than
by the former” (Maoz and Russett 1993: 625). In the anarchic system states are primarily
interested in their survival which would be endangered if they apply democratic norms
when confronted with a non-democratic rival (Maoz and Russett 1993: 625).

Extending on this normative explanation Risse-Kappen argues that ‘democracies to


a large degree create their enemies and their friends – ‘them’ and ‘us’ – by inferring
either aggressive or defensive motives from the domestic structures of their
counterparts’ (1995: 492). In their interactions with other democracies they will
externalize their own internal ‘compromise-oriented and non-violent decision rules’
(Risse-Kappen 1995: 492). Perceptions should also be taken into account in the
normative explanation. Owen claims that “for the liberal mechanism to prevent a liberal
democracy from going to war against a foreign state, liberals must consider the foreign
state a liberal democracy” (1994: 96). Liberal leaders in democratic states will trust those
states they consider liberal and mistrust those they consider illiberal (Owen 1994: 103).

The Structural Explanation

The structural explanation is characterized by the emphasis put on the role of domestic
democratic institutions, elections, open political competition, free media or a
combination of these, constraining bellicose governments (Wagner 2007: 9). This
explanation comes in two versions. The first version focuses on institutions and is build
upon the structural model. The structural model holds that international action in a
democracy requires the mobilization of general public opinion and a variety of checks
and balances of institutions. This implies that there are few goals to justify fighting wars
and that the process of mobilization will be slow and cumbersome. In non-democracies,
however, the government can ignore public opinion and only has to gain support from
key legitimizing groups which in many cases will benefit from the use of force. As a
consequence, in a conflict between two democracies it will take a long time before they
are militarily ready, giving diplomats a chance to find a non-military solution. In a
conflict between a democracy and a non-democracy the democratic state finds itself in a
no-choice situation and its leaders are forced to circumvent the due political process
(Maoz and Russett 1993: 626). Others regard democracies particularly capable of

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maintaining institutions and thus being reliable partners. Four institutional attributes
stand out: transparency, creating trust in public statements; audience costs, foreign
policy commitments by leaders cannot be retracted by leaders without losing reputation;
constitutional procedures, binding parliaments and opposition to international law; and
continuity, successor governments remain bound to obligations undertaken by its
predecessors (Lipson 2003: 4-7, 11-15).

The second version of the structural explanation focuses on elections and starts
from the assumption that democratic leaders face a higher risk of being removed from
office than autocratic leaders when they lose in conflict. Bueno de Mesquita et al. argue
that the separate peace among democracies can be explained by one single institutional
attribute. Political leaders in democracies depend on large ‘selectorates’ (the proportion
of society selecting the leadership) because they need the majority support of the
electorate. The political survival of democratic leaders hinges on successful policies.
Democracies thus are better off providing public goods (such as peace and economic
growth) instead of private goods (Bueno de Mesquita et al. 1999: 800). It follows that
democratic leaders will only initiate wars they expect to win and once involved in a war
will try harder to win than autocracies. In a ‘game’ of two countries in dispute
democratic leaders “prefer to negotiate when they do not anticipate military success”
while “autocrats do not try as hard in war” and are, thus, attractive targets for
democracies. There are thus barely conditions for a war between two democracies
(Bueno de Mesquita et al. 1999: 799).

Two Types of Democratization

These two explanations broadly correspond to two types of democratization policies.


The structural understanding of the democratic peace tends to understand democracy in
a relatively minimalist way. A regime is a democracy if it abides by structural thresholds:
free and open elections, autonomous branches of government, division of powers,
checks and balances and constraint in the form of press freedom5. The world view in

5 For an author in the structural tradition giving press freedom a central position in his
explanation see van Belle 1997: 406: “open news media that is relatively free of government
control is the fundamental domestic political structure preventing war between democracies
while still allowing, and possibly encouraging, war between democracies and non-democracies”

Securitizing Democracy | 18
this understanding is conservative in nature and sceptical about human nature. Because
human action is driven by a desire for power, there is a perpetual danger of social and
political destabilization and dictatorial concentration of power. The structural
explanation endows peace with a specific, minimal meaning, not completely but close to
the realist ‘absence of war’. The reason is that, if democracy is a structure, it is relatively
easy to build but also easy to dismantle. The stability of the peace is not guaranteed, as
human nature cannot be fully trusted. Thus in the structural paradigm, democratization
will mean building the democratic structure, emphasizing the formal and procedural (Ish-
Shalom 2006: 577-579).

The normative understanding of the democratic peace demands that a democracy is


‘deliberative’ and ‘participatory’. It emphasizes a society of individual citizens, not a
system, guided by democratic norms and a culture of political rights, tolerance,
openness, participation and civic responsibility. In short, democracy is a set of
embedded norms and cultures. The world view in this understanding is optimistic on
the potential of human rationality. Because human action is driven by rationality and by
that are able to control the blind emotional desire for power. The paradigm is focused
on civic rights, seeking to enlarge citizens’ political participation, broadening the
meaning of democracy. Consequently in the normative explanation peace is much more
stable and comprehensive once achieved, but democratization is a long and arduous
process. The norms have to be embedded in the minds and behaviour of citizens. Thus
in the normative paradigm, democratization will mean constructing a democratic
community, and requires the dissemination of democratic values to foster a democratic
society and culture (Ish-Shalom 2006: 577-579).

Democratization Policies

The academic objectification of the democratic peace was as much inspired by the
changing US-European security environment after the Cold War, as the post-Cold War
US-European security policies were inspired by the objectification of the democratic
peace in the academia. Here, we discuss the dissemination of the ideas of democratic
peace and democratization in the security policies of three Western institutions: the
United States, the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.

Securitizing Democracy | 19
United States

The concept of ‘democracy’ has been a source of US identity at least since President
Wilson wished to differentiate a democratic America from an autocratic Germany when
it entered into World War I in 1917 (Oren 1995: 148, 155). The democratic peace thesis
and the idea of democratization had found fertile ground in US foreign policies at least
since the Reagan administration (Russett 2005: 395). Already in June 1982 Reagan,
seeing a ‘turning point’ in Soviet Russia, connected ‘democracy’ with ‘peaceful’
intentions: “Historians looking back at our time will note the consistent restraint and
peaceful intentions of the West. They will note that it were the democracies that refused
to use the threat of their nuclear monopoly in the forties and early fifties for territorial
or imperial gain. Had that nuclear monopoly been in the hands of the Communist
world, the map of Europe - indeed, the world - would look very different today. And
certainly they will note it was not the democracies that invaded Afghanistan or
suppressed Polish Solidarity or used chemical and toxin warfare in Afghanistan and
Southeast Asia. (…) The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the
infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties,
universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own
culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means” (Reagan 1982).

Probably the most important factor contributing to the widespread dissemination of


these democratic peace ideas was the end of the Cold War. In the Cold War the fear of
an all out third world war had facilitated the acceptance of realist IR theories and a
foreign policy of containment. The euphoria at the end of Cold War was much more
susceptible to optimistic liberal IR theories, such as the democratic peace (Ish-Shalom
2006: 580). The end of the Cold War also meant an ideological identity crisis for the
neoconservatives in the US, for whom the primary source of existence was fierce
anticommunism. Prominent neoconservative thinkers, such as Muravchik and
Gershman, aligned themselves around the new democratic peace theory and called for
the revival of Wilsonian democratization: “the more democratic the world, the more
peaceful it is likely to be. Various researchers have shown that war between democracies
has almost never occurred in the modern world” (Muravchik 1991: 8; see also
Gershman 1990: 86). As Bush Jr. later did in 2005, the neoconservatives argued that

Securitizing Democracy | 20
there is no real gap between morality and interest in foreign policy, and that
democratization will lead to an expansion of the zone of peace.

In the 1992 presidential election the neoconservatives found an unlikely ally in the
candidate Bill Clinton, who presented himself as an ardent supporter of promoting
democratization abroad. He proclaimed that if he would become president he would
fight tyranny from ‘Baghdad to Beijing’ and in ‘Haiti and Havana’ (Clinton 1992a),
attacking Bush Sr. with liberal rhetoric: “President Bush seems too often to prefer a
foreign policy that embraces stability at the expense of freedom: a foreign policy build
more on personal relationships with foreign leaders than on consideration of how
leaders acquired and maintained their power”6 (Clinton 1992b; Auerswald 2003: 3-11).
In his attempt to win as much of the electorate as possible, Clinton attracted the
support of some neoconservatives disappointed in Bush Sr. who had refused to topple
Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (Ish-Shalom 2006: 581). Leading neoconservatives,
such as Muravchik, endorsed him publicly (Muravchik 1992). During his term Clinton
repeated his commitment to democratization: “Our strategic interests and moral values
both are rooted in this goal. As we help democracy expand, we make ourselves and our
allies safer. Democracies rarely go to war with each other or traffic in terrorism”
(Clinton 1996: 270). The democratic peace thesis found its way into national security
documents, such as the 1995 national security report. The promotion of democracy was
explicitly linked to security (White House 1995)7. The democratic peace and
democratization became normalized and depoliticized; it was no longer a normative
choice: “We do so not just because it is right, but because it is necessary. Our own
security as a nation depends upon the expansion of democracy worldwide” (US
Department of State 1999, quoted in Büger and Villumsen 2007).

6 Another telling quote from the same speech: “Mr. Bush’s ambivalence about supporting
democracy, his eagerness to defend potentates and dictators, has shown itself time and again. It
has been a disservice not only to our democratic value, but also to our democratic interest. For
in the long run, I believe that Mr. Bush neglect of our democratic ideals abroad could do more
harm as our neglect of our economic needs at home”.
7 White House 1995: “Promoting democracy does more than foster our ideals. It advances our
interests because we know that the larger the pool of democracies, the better off we, and the
entire community of nations, will be. Democracies create free markets that offer economic
opportunity, make for reliable trading partners and are far less likely to wage war on one
another”

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The neoconservative agenda of toppling Saddam Hussein by force remained
unchanged throughout the 1990’s. It was during the presidency of Bush Jr. that it
became realized. Like the neoconservatives in the early 90s he committed himself to a
‘moral’ foreign policy instead of a policy of containment8 (Bush 2005, March 8). With
that came a faith in “the ability of liberty to transform societies, to convert a hostile
world to a peaceful world”. Bush used the democratic peace as a justification for the
2003 invasion of Iraq (a democratic Iraq would promote the democratic peace).
However, Russett points out that the democratic peace justification for the Iraq invasion
emerged only post hoc as primary justification of the war; only after the ‘Weapons of
Mass Destruction’ threat was found to be nonexistent (Russett 2005: 395-397). The
democratic peace used as war justification was a specific version of the democratic
peace. According to Russett their ‘creation’ had been ‘perverted’. It had lost a second
principle: that “The model of ‘fight them, beat them, and make them democratic’ is
irrevocably flawed as a basis for contemporary action” (Russett 1993: 135-136).

Ish-Shalom provides more insight in the version of democratic peace used by the
neoconservatives in the Bush administration. This version was born out of an attempt
to reconcile two influential theories in the neoconservative movement in the late 90s:
Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man and Samuel Huntington’s The
Clash of Civilizations (Ish-Shalom 2006: 585). Fukuyama’s book declared a moral
universalism and the victory of the Idea of capitalism and liberal democracy.
Huntington’s book, on the other hand, is relativistic and the decline of the West among
incompatible civilizations is anticipated. Already in 1997, the neoconservative Richard
Pipes tries to combine the two ideas (Pipes 1997: 65)9. Later, the structural version of the
democratic peace is used to reconcile the relativism and optimism. If democratization
was structural instead of normative, then it could easily encompass other civilizations. The

8 Bush 2005, March 8: “By now it should be clear that decades of excusing and accommodating
tyranny in the pursuit of stability have only led to instability and tragedy. (...) It should be clear
that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that respect the rights of
their people also respect the rights of their neighbors”
9 Richard Pipes: “the two books complement each other. Fukuyama seems to me correct in
predicting the ultimate triumph of westernization, but he is oblivious of the immense difficulties
which the west will have to overcome – difficulties which Huntington spells out in a very
persuasive manner”

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aspiration for freedom then is the only necessary normative foundation; all other
foundations are structural: the separation of power, checks, and balances and periodic
elections (Ish-Shalom 2006: 586). Since only the structure would have to be provided
democracy becomes easy to transfer. It opened the way for the practice of regime
change. In the process, the democratic peace is simplified and even more certain and
undeniable: “The strategic value of democracy is reflected in a truth of international
politics: Democracies rarely, if ever, wage war against one another” (Kaplan and Kristol
2003: 104, emphasis mine).

Russett, of course, adheres to a different kind of democratization policy than Bush:


one of democracy by example and incentives instead of by force, and one carried out
preferably by intergovernmental organizations composed primarily of democratic
countries. However, also in this normative version war is not excluded altogether.
Invoking Immanuel Kant, Russett singles out the 2001 US-led war in Afghanistan. He
argues that in a defensive war the victor has the responsibility to put the defeated country
back together, imposing a democratic government: “I believe that was the case when the
United States invaded Afghanistan” (Russett 2005: 405).

North-Atlantic Treaty Organization

Like the neoconservatives, the identity of the NATO during the Cold War was
constructed around a common enemy: Soviet communism. Ever since the end of Cold
War the NATO has been looking for a ‘new strategic concept’ or encompassing
doctrine. In this search it has been suggested that a common identity might be found in
democratic principles. As the 1949 preamble to the treaty already stated, parties are
“determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their
peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”
(NATO 1949). In the 1990s NATO’s references to democracy were intensified, in
particular with regard to its policies in (Eastern) Europe. US President Clinton argued
that NATO could “do for Europe’s East what it did for Europe’s West: prevent a
return to local rivalries, strengthen democracy against future threats” (Sjursen 2004:
691). US Depute Secretary of State Talbott claimed membership of the alliance itself
was a force for peace: the alliance had “made respects for democracy and international

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norms of behavior explicit preconditions for membership, so that enlargement of
NATO would be a force for the rule of law both within Europe’s new democracies and
among them” (Sjursen 2004: 692). References to democracy as a central element of the
NATO present themselves also in NATO’s own redefinition of its ‘security concept’ of
1990 and 1999. In NATO’s strategic concept of 1999, for example, it is argued that
“through outreach and openness, the Alliance seeks to preserve peace, support and
promote democracy, contribute to prosperity and progress, and foster genuine
partnership with and among all democratic Euro-Atlantic countries” (NATO 1999).

Not only NATO’s language focused on the link between democracy and security. It
also came to institutionalize the democratic peace and democratization. First, because
membership of NATO was preconditioned on the adherence to democratic principles.
The NATO enlarged its membership to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech
Republic in 1997, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia
in 2003 and Albania and Croatia in 2009. A key argument for this enlargement was the
potential for spreading democracy (Sjursen 2004: 691). Second, democratic states of the
former Eastern block were invited to take part in the ‘Partnership for Peace’ (PfP)
programme at the NATO headquarter in Brussels. This programme was extended in
1997 to include Russia in a Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). In 1994 it was
stated that the link between democracy and peace was a shared value in the programme:
“... peace through democracy [is a] shared value […] fundamental to the Partnership”
(NATO 1994: 1). By 1998 the link was no longer stated as a value but as a fact: “Military
forces which are accountable to a democratic civilian government are much less likely to
be used for purposes that run counter to peace and stability” (NATO 1998: 2, in Büger
and Villumsen 2007: 436). Third, military operations in the Balkan area were carried out
with reference to the link and the institutionalization was underpinned by concrete
military practices. At the same time when NATO was bombing Serbia, it formulated the
strategic concept of 1999, in which it committed itself to “support and promote
democracy” and to “provide one of the indispensible foundations for a stable peace (…)
security environment, based on the growth of democratic institutions” (NATO 1999:
para 33 and 10). In the face of the Balkan atrocities, NATO came to see itself not only
as a promoter of democracy, but of a standard of civilization (Huysmans 2002;

Securitizing Democracy | 24
Rasmussen 2003, in Büger and Villumsen 2007: 436). In terms of the securitization
framework developed by the Copenhagen School (Buzan et al. 1998), NATO called for
emergency actions to enforce civilized behavior, securitizing human rights in the community
of European democratic states.

The terrorist act on September 11, 2001 instantly created a new threat and enemy of
the NATO. September 12, 2001 became the first and only time Art. 5 of the treaty, “an
armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be
considered an attack against them all”, was evoked. Ironically, it was not evoked against
a state, as was its original purpose, but against a type of violence: terrorism. Ever since,
starting with the task force ‘Active Endeavour’, NATO has been present in Middle East
region. In 2004 at the summit in Istanbul, NATO committed itself to democratization
in the Middle East. Due to a mayor controversy on the war in Iraq between the US and
several European states, no shared NATO position has been formulated (Tanner 2004:
105). However, on the issue of Afghanistan the International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) was established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001
and took over by NATO on 11 August 2003. It was NATO’s first deployment mission
outside the Euro-Atlantic territory.

European Union

As with the US and NATO the notion of ‘democracy’ has been a longtime source of
identity for the EU. In 1973 the ‘principles of representative democracy’ were asserted
to be a fundamental element of European identity (Smith 2003: 125-126). However, the
promotion of democracy as a foreign policy objective only made a first and brief
appearance in the 1986 Statement on Human Rights, in which foreign ministers
reaffirmed “their commitment to promote and protect human rights and fundamental
freedoms and emphasize the importance in this context of the principles of
parliamentary democracy and the rule of law” (European Political Cooperation 1986).
The promotion of democracy only became an issue for the Community or European
Political Cooperation in the mid-1980’s. Before the 1980s the Community preferred to
urge governments to protect human rights, which was considered less intrusive than

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promoting democracy. Also, it strategically supported totalitarian Romania because of
its anti-Soviet tendencies (Smith 2003: 126).

After the Cold War, the promotion of democracy became more prominent and a
distinctive objective for the EU. Like the US and the NATO, the EU was guided by a
new orthodoxy: that there is a relation between democracy and development, human
rights and conflict prevention. The EU policy came to broadly accord with the
democratic peace proposition. Spreading peace and prosperity required democratization.
In 2001 the Commission argued that “democratic, pluralistic governments which
respect the rights of minorities are less likely to resort to nationalism, violence or
aggression, either internally, against their neighbours or further afield” (European
Commission 2001: 4; Smith 2003: 130). Instead of identifying military threats, the
Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) established in 1991 emphasized a ‘softer’
security, inter-linking economic, political and security issues; a security policy with
civilian means. An important goal of the CFSP as well as development cooperation was
“to develop and consolidate democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights”
(Olsen 2000: 143). Democracy and ‘good governance’ became a concern in relations to
developing countries and was accompanied by an increasing use of conditionality, as
respect for democratic principles became a condition for aid, agreements and diplomatic
recognition (Smith 2003: 129).

In comparison with the US and the NATO, the EU has been more reluctant in
linking democracy with security as a military policy. Rather, the promotion of
democracy as a foreign policy had two advantages of a ‘civilian’ character. First, because
EU’s international power is of an economic nature, ‘democracy’ and economic
assistance were probably the most effective civilian means that the EU had at its
disposal to promote a stability as to enhance European security. In addition, the EU
members have great difficulty to agree on a common military security policy. Second,
the positive attitudes towards democracy in Europe could create and strengthen popular
support for a Common Foreign and Security Policy. The promotion of democracy as a
shared value and prominent theme in foreign policy could contribute to an ‘European’
identity, thus furthering the European integration process (Olsen 2000: 144). In 1998
the EU declared: “The universality and indivisibility of human rights and the

Securitizing Democracy | 26
responsibility for their protection and promotion, together with the promotion of
pluralistic democracy and effective guarantees for the rule of law, constitute essential
objectives for the European Union as a union of shared values and serve as a
fundamental basis for action.” (European Union 2001: 111; Smith 2003: 125).

For the EU an obviously important area for democratization during the 1990s was
Eastern and Central Europe. The European Community coordination of international
aid to Poland and Hungary was the beginning of what became known as the ‘Phare
programme’, later extended to include Russia under the name ‘Tacis’. The primary goal
of these programmes was not ‘democracy’ per se but economic: to support the transition
to market economies. We can distinguish two sets of EU policies aimed at promoting
market democracies in Eastern and Central Europe: economic and technical assistance
combined with trade agreements and the possibility that some countries can one day
become full EU members. The Phare and Tacis programmes stated that they “aim[ed]
to contribute to the consolidation of pluralist democratic procedures and practices as
well as the rule of law”. Strong emphasis was put on strengthening civil society, by
focusing on activities as promoting non-governmental organizations, independent media
and parliamentary representation. Most of the aid, however, was channeled to economic
restructuring and markets reforms. The EU hoped that via the development of market
democracies, democracy would follow. If they wished to enjoy the economic assistance
of the EU, the countries of Eastern and Central Europe had no real alternative other
than a pluralist democracy and liberal market economy (Olsen 2000: 149). For 10
countries, this was further enhanced by the prospect of finally becoming a full EU
member. A stable democracy, the rule of law, respect for the protection of minorities
and the existence of a well function public administration as well as a functioning
market economy were important categories of the so-called ‘Copenhagen criteria’ for
membership (Olsen 2000: 150-151).

Conclusion: The ‘Unknown Known’ of the Democratic Peace

How would we call a body of thought that bears the mark of a national and historical
perspective, while not acknowledging that perspective? How would we call a
perspective-bound thought that abstains from self-examination, perceiving itself as

Securitizing Democracy | 27
timeless and universal? Probably the best way to describe such a body of thought is as
‘unknown known’, as ideological. In the tradition of Karl Marx and Karl Mannheim we
can understand ideology as “knowledge embedded in particular social and historical
circumstances that its purveyors falsely, if sincerely, believe to be universal” (Oren 2003:
16). In this sense the post-Cold War democratization policies and the research program
of democratic peace are ideological.

We have characterized the development of the research program on the democratic


peace as a move towards objectification. The liberal idea was stripped from its normative
content and made to be seen as a ‘fact’ or ‘scientific law’. It was also ahistoricized,
meaning that the democratic peace and the concept of democracy itself were
disconnected from history; it was made universal across space and time. Through
repetition in the academy and in the democratization policies after the Cold War the
democratic peace was made to seem ‘normal’ to the point where it appears natural and
is taken for granted.

However, this knowledge believed to be universal is in fact embedded in particular


social and historical circumstances. It is knowledge of and for a particular group. As
Oren (1995) showed, the scientific search for a democratic peace is not value-free, not
even about democracies per se, but about identifying the ‘friendly’ countries that are
‘America-like’ or of ‘our kind’. First, America, with perfect scores on the Polity scale,
serves as the new norm against which others are measured. Second, these American
values are projected backward and compared ahistorically with other policies, past and
present. Third, the democratic peace proposition is tautological: the current definition
of democracy is the product, more than a determinant, of America’s foreign relations. Its
definition was not static but shaped by the needs to resemble America to its allies and
distance it from its adversaries, in particular WWI Germany (e.g. by President Wilson)
and Cold War Soviet Communism. The current definition of democracy as a procedure
is the product of the ‘Cold War of words’ meant to undermine the connection between
democracy and utopia’s of socioeconomic equality (Oren 2003: 15-16, 175-176).

The function of the democratic peace in the post-Cold War world then is two-faced.
Internally, it normalized and neutralized democracy in America and ‘America-like’ states

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receiving perfect scores in the process of codification, to the point that their democracy
is taken for granted. In addition, the democratic peace normalized peace amongst the
‘free world’. As acknowledged by Russett it was endowed with a self-fulfilling prophecy:
“Repeating the proposition that democracies should not fight each other helps reinforce
the probability that democracies will not fight each other. A norm that democracies
should not fight each other thus is prudentially reinforced, and in turn strengthens the
empirical fact about infrequent violent conflict” (Russett 1993: 136). While Russett does
not embark on it, the self-fulfilling prophecy works in an opposite way as well. The
democratic peace does not only normalize peace amongst democracies, but also
violence between democracies and non-democracies, indirectly blaming the violence on
the non-democracies (MacMillan 1998: 23; Büger and Villumsen 2007: 433). The
certainty of the democratic peace increased the uncertainty of the relations between
democratic and non-democratic states. It did not only identify the ‘friendly’ countries
that are ‘America-like’ and of ‘our kind’ but also border cases of democratizing states
and not-yet democratizing ‘enemy’ states subject to diplomatic pressure or against
whom even military intervention could be necessary. The democratic peace identified
‘our’ history as well as ‘our’ international security concerns.

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II.
SECURITIZING DEMOCRACY:
THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Introduction
In the first part we have seen how research on ‘democratic peace’ provided Western
states and organizations with new means of distinguishing friends and enemies after the
Cold War. In this second part we analyze how this idea transformed modern Western
warfare to a nation- or (democratic) peace-building effort. Our case is the war in
Afghanistan by the US and NATO in response to the attacks on 9/11 2001.

While this case is examined as an example of a war for democracy, building or


protecting democracies abroad was not the original foreign policy goal of the United
States’ Bush Administration: “The president must remember that the military is a special
instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a
political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society”. These
are not the words of a contemporary critic of ‘nation-building’ in Afghanistan and Iraq,
but of Condoleezza Rice. It appeared in an article in Foreign Affairs of January/February
2000 when she was a Political Science professor and foreign policy adviser to the
Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush (Rice 2000). She was responding to
Clinton’s ‘humanitarian interventions’ in Somalia and Kosovo. Far from building
nations abroad, the ‘national interest’ now had to be limited to ‘strategic’ concerns,

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which would mean that “U.S. intervention in these ‘humanitarian’ crises should be, at
best, exceedingly rare” (Rice 2000).

After the 9/11 attacks the Bush Administration was hesitant to justify the attack on
Afghanistan as a humanitarian intervention or democracy building mission. Rather, the
war was presented as a necessary act of self-defense against a new enemy: terrorism.
However, in course of the war it became increasingly justified as a ‘nation building’ or
(democratic) ‘peace building’ mission. Thus, while the Bush government was opposed
to wars becoming an effort to build a nation, the war became exactly that: a war for
building a democratic state in Afghanistan. Our research question is geared towards
gaining understanding of this transformation: How did the justification for the war in
Afghanistan, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, transform from a war of self-defense against terrorism to
a war for democracy building in Afghanistan?

We argue that the key to this transformation process lies in the construction of
group identities following the 9/11 attacks. First, an existential threat is constructed: the
anti-democratic terrorists and their supporters. Second, extraordinary measures at home
and abroad are justified, adjusting power relations, as the US government assigns itself
the role of protector over a protected and dependent US civil population. Third, having
mostly defeated the enemy regime in Afghanistan, a new protector-protected
relationship is established: the US and the UK as liberators of Afghan women and girls
that were formerly repressed by the Taliban. Fourth, the new Afghan democracy that is
being established is viewed as in need of protection by the ‘international community’,
foremost the US and other NATO member states, against a still present threat of the
anti-democratic enemy.

Our analysis of the war in Afghanistan will be guided by two theories: the
securitization theory of the Copenhagen School and ideas on the logic of masculinist protection
as developed by feminist scholars. We start with a short introduction to these schools of
thought.

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Securitization and the Logic of Protection
The end of the Cold War was celebrated by Fukuyama as the end of ideological
competition and the global victory of liberal democracy as a political system (Fukuyama
1989). But the perceived victory also meant the loss of the Communist enemy image. As
George W. Bush had argued during his election campaign, in the Cold War “it was us
versus them; and it was clear who them was”, “today, we’re not so sure who they are,
but we know they’re there” (Bush 2000). In search for new threats and enemies, national
and international policymakers in the 1990’s started presenting issues and values as
democracy, human rights and climate change as the new international security issues. In
the first part of this thesis we described how ‘democracy’ became an important
international security issue. A similar process happened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in
2010. Bush now knew who ‘they’ were and presented terrorism as the top international
security issue.

How does it change action if we present an issue as a security issue? A group of


scholars, known as the Copenhagen School, analyzed this process. They called it
securitization. Securitization can be compared to Carl Schmitt’s realm of ‘the political’:
one of a friend-enemy distinction and existential threats. The securitizing move is the
exception to ‘normal’ or non-conflictual political moves. Any public issue can be either
nonpoliticized, meaning the state does not deal with it nor is it an issue for public debate,
or politicized, meaning that an issue is part of public policy and public decision-making.
In contrast, when an issue is securitized it is presented as an existential threat. ‘Security’ is
about survival: “an issue is presented as posing an existential threat to a designated
referent object” (Buzan et al. 1998: 21). Because of this, security justifies the use of
extraordinary measures to handle threats. By saying ‘security’, a state representative
declares an emergency condition (Buzan et al. 1998: 21). A successful securitization
consists of three steps: 1) identifying existential threats (and the enemy), 2) emergency
action, and 3) effects on interunit relations by breaking free of rules. When an issue is
successfully securitized the securitizing will govern its actions by its own priorities
discarding the shared rules of the community (Buzan et al. 1998: 26). Securitization
theory will help us understand the extraordinary measures and sharp friend-enemy

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distinctions that were constructed in response to 9/11. We analyze how the rhetoric of
defense of the US/Western civilians against the terrorist threat justified extraordinary
measures in the homeland and the start of a war abroad.

A gender perspective, on the ‘logic of masculinist protection’, provides more insight


in the nature of interunit relations in a state in a securitization process, particularly the
relation between the state and citizens. The ‘logic of masculinist protection’, first put
forward by Stiehm (1982) and developed further by Tickner (1992, 2001), was applied to
the war in Afghanistan by political theorist IM Young (2003). The model of masculinity
Stiehm had proposed was not one of male self-conscious domination, but rather of the
male as protector of the family and, by extension, of the population. This is a more
benign male image, associated with ideas of chivalry; a “courageous, responsible, and
virtuous man” (Young 2003: 4). These men can only be good if we assume male
aggressors lurking outside. The ‘protective’ masculinity therefore constitutes the
‘dominative’ masculinity as its other. But there is another relation: the protected is
subordinated in relation to the protector. In return for the promise of protection and
security, the protected happily concedes a distance from the decision-making of the
protector (Young 2003: 4). Stiehm, writing in 1982, had argued that this three-way
relationship is actually more complicated. Instead of this relationship:

(1) The Protector vs. The Threat

The Protected

the reality is closer to the one below, because the (military) protector of one nation is
also the (military) threat of another (Stiehm 1982: 368).

(2) Protector (Threat) vs. Threat (Protector)

Protected (Protected)

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Young employs this perspective to interpret and critique the rationale for security
and the war in Afghanistan. For her, the logic of protection describes not so much the
private, but rather the public life, specifically “the relation of a state to its citizens, when
state officials successfully mobilize fear” (Young 2003: 7). The security state that is build
up has two faces, one facing inward to keep the protected under necessary control, and
the other facing outward to defend against enemies (Young 2003: 16). The security state
is constituted by the enemy outside. Although militaristic the security state never sees
itself as the aggressor. They do not pursue conquest, but appeal to the role of protector.
Internally, the protector has to eliminate the enemy within. For the sake of safety
members of democracy are demoted to dependents. Good citizens are cooperative,
patriotic and obedient (Young 2003: 8-9). The ‘logic of protection’ illuminates the
effective appeal of a security state; why leaders believe what they are doing is right and
citizens accept their actions. Crucially for us, the logic also “helps explain this state’s
righteous rationale for aggressive war” (Young 2003: 10). Specifically, it helps explain
how the justification for war could change from defense to building democracy abroad;
from protecting the homeland to protecting Afghanistan’s new government. It explains
how in the discourse of the Afghanistan war the subject in need of protection, the
‘protected’, was redefined.

In the address of 20 September 2001 Bush characterized the 9/11 attacks and their
instigators and announced that the US was preparing to go to war with Taliban regime
in Afghanistan. By ways of analogy we will now present the early discourse (before the
war) along the questions posed and answered by Bush in this speech: 1) “Who attacked
our country?/Why do they hate us?”, 2) “How will we fight and win this war?”/“What
is expected of us?”. These questions did not only structure the speech, but at the same
time can be seen to follow the three steps of securitization: 1) identifying the existential
threat/enemy, 2) emergency action, and 3) effects on interunit relations by breaking free
of rules. We present the early discourse as the construction of a ‘logic of protection’,
characterizing the interunit relations between the US state and its citizens as a protector-
protected relationship. The later discourse (during the war) will be presented as building
upon this protector-protected relationship, but redefining the protected, first as Afghan

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‘veiled’ women, then as the Afghan democracy itself. These relations are depicted in the
scheme below:

(1) Enemy Threat:


Protector: US gov. Terrorists-and-the-
and NATO Taliban

(3) Protected:
Afghan women

(4) Protected:
(2) Protected: Afghan
US citizens democracy

“Why do they hate us?” – The Anti-Democratic Threat


In his September 20 speech Bush addressed a pertinent question: “Americans are
asking: Why do they hate us?” His answer is revealing: “They hate what they see right
here in this chamber – a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed.
They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to
vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” (Bush 2001, September 20, emphasis
mine10). Bush’s question did not actually elicit an answer and held US innocence high.
Rather, his answer can be seen as a further substantiation of his answer to the preceding
question: “Americans are asking: Who attacked our country?”. The answer to that
question was al Qaeda, whose goal is “imposing its radical beliefs on people
everywhere” (Bush 2001, September 20). Although Bush recognized that the terrorist
group is “linked to many other organizations” with “thousands of these terrorists in
more than 60 countries”, the ‘war on terror’ was to begin with the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan because al Qaeda “supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that
country” (Bush 2001, September 20). We argue that the answer to “Why do they hate

10 We chose to add the date to the references of speeches to clearly place them in the chronological
context.

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us?” was to further characterize the terrorists and their supporters as the negation, the
exact opposite, of American values. It was not meant to gain understanding of, let alone
sympathy for, the motivation that drove these people to kill thousands of American
civilians, but to invoke a specific friend-and-enemy grouping.

In the polemic The Concept of the Political legal and political theorist Carl Schmitt
characterized the political realm by way of distinction: “the specific political distinction
to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy”
(Schmitt 1929 [2007]: 26). The sovereign would decide “the extreme case and
determines the decisive friend-and-enemy grouping” (Schmitt 1929 [2007]: 43). Sharp
friend/enemy distinctions became apparent in the rhetoric and action of the US
government following the extreme circumstances after the terrorist attacks on 9/11
2001. Those behind the attack were immediately put in a larger group of ‘terrorists’ with
‘terrorism’ in general identified as an existential threat and set against a group of
America and its ‘friends’. The severity and international ramifications of the event were
emphasized by framing it as a ‘war’ against terrorism: “America and our friends and
allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand
together to win the war against terrorism.” (Bush 2001, September 11, emphasis mine).
The US did not allow for any gray or neutral areas between friendly and enemy states:
“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or
you are with the terrorists.” (Bush 2001, September 20), and “We will make no
distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor
them.” (Bush 2001, September 11). As a consequence the Taliban and the terrorists are
constantly conflated, becoming almost one word; the-Taliban-and-the-terrorists (Abu-
Lughod 2002: 784).

However, the terrorist was not just described as the enemy other, but as pure evil
and not a part of civilization; a barbarian. Schmitt had argued that the political enemy
did not need to be evil, ugly or an economic competitor, but is nevertheless the ‘other’
“so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible” (Schmitt 1929 [2007]: 26).
He warned that rhetoric of civilization and humanity would logically lead to a
dehumanization or ‘barbarisation’ of the enemy image. Already in Bush’s first reaction
to 9/11 the terrorists were portrayed as the embodiment of pure evil: “Today, our

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nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature” (Bush 2001, September 11). A day
later he announced it will be “a monumental struggle of good versus evil” in which
“good will prevail” (Bush 2001, September 12). Rhetoric on civilization also surfaced in
several statements. It appeared above all in the condemnation of the act by several state
leaders and organizations. In the first statement after 9/11 by NATO Secretary General
Lord Robertson he spoke of “barbaric acts” constituting “intolerable aggression against
democracy” (NATO 2001a, September 11). In another statement it was reiterated that
the battle against terrorism was “a battle that the NATO countries – indeed all civilized
nations – must win” (NATO 2001b, September 11). The European Commission in the
person of President Prodi spoke of a “barbaric crime” that “was directed against the
free world and our common values” (European Union 2001, September 12). US
Secretary Powell generalized the support by states and international organizations:
“They want to work with us – not only in this specific case of what happened on the
11th of September, but in response to the general recognition that terrorism is a crime
against all civilization. […] And we must see it in that context and that’s why we are
calling it a war” (Powell 2001, September 13). As terrorism is posed as a crime against all
civilization, supporters for American ‘war against terrorism’ are equated to civilization:
“The civilized world is rallying to America’s side.” (Bush 2001, September 20).

Perhaps, the famous quote of Walter Benjamin, that “there is no document of


civilization that is not simultaneously a document of barbarism” (Benjamin 1969: 256),
can be inverted in this case. For it is through the ‘barbaric’ act of terrorism that the
values of the ‘civilized world’ were reinstated. The terrorist is presented as the complete
negation of America’s own values, above all the values freedom and democracy. The
terrorists have no history on their own, but are in a cultural no man’s land; they do not
represent or protect anybody. They do not represent Islam: “The terrorists practice a
fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast
majority of Muslim clerics, a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of
Islam.”; even more “the terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to
hijack Islam itself.” (Bush 2001, September 20). The Taliban also does not represent the
Afghan population: “It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people
everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists.” (Bush 2001,

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September 20). To see al Qaeda’s ‘vision for the world’ one would only have to look at
Afghanistan: “Afghanistan’s people have been brutalized; many are starving and many
have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a
television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in
Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.” (Bush 2001, September 20). The terrorists
are in a void, expressing only their destructive negativity (Ifverson 2005: 12). Bush likens
them to “all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century”, because “by sacrificing
human life to serve their radical visions – by abandoning every value except the will to
power – they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism, and totalitarianism.” (Bush 2001,
September 20).

In contrast to the pure destructive negativity the US is presented as the normalcy


against which the rest of the world is measured. Already in Bush’s first statement the US
was hailed as the ‘brightest beacon’ of civilization (Bush 2001, September 20).
Civilization is in fact equated with the universal American values of democracy and
freedom: “This is not (...) just America’s fight. And what is at stake is not just America’s
freedom. This is the world’s fight. This is civilization’s fight. This is the fight of all who
believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.” (Bush 2001, September 20).
His language opened up the possibility of a special ‘civilizing’ role of the US: “in our
grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. (...) The advance of human
freedom – the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time – now
depends on us.” (Bush 2001, September 20). The role of the EU in this US mission is
supportive, as President Prodi stated they are committed “to working together with
President Bush and the U.S. Government to build a safe, democratic world for all our
peoples” (European Union 2001, September 12).

The sharp friend/enemy distinction is a social construction and as every us-versus-


them dichotomy it needs to be contested. As Edward Said argued “to build a conceptual
framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal
consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilization is known and accepted,
theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them
is belligerent, constructed and situational” (Said in Gregory 2004: 24). The question
“why do they hate us?” is not rhetorical, but can provoke an answer. The answer could

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lie in the fact that America cannot actually be hold to its own proclaimed values of
freedom and democracy. As novelist Arundhati Roy argued: “Could it be that the
stygian anger that led to the attacks has its root not in American freedom and
democracy, but in the US government’s record of commitment and support to exactly
the opposite things – to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military
dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide?” (Roy in Gregory 2004: 24).
While the dichotomy constructed after 9/11 does injustice to reality, its importance lies
in the intervention it made possible. The portrayal of the terrorists and the Taliban
regime as the embodiment of pure destructive evil, as barbarians in a cultural no man’s
land, as the heirs of totalitarian ideologies, as unrepresentative of anybody and as
inherently anti-democratic, left a governmental void in Afghanistan. Although the
intervention in Afghanistan was not justified as a democracy-building mission before the
war, the civilization rhetoric laid a basis for the civilizing role the US and NATO would
take up during the war. Before we analyze this process, we will first discuss another
socially constructed relationship; one that came to define the relationship between the
US government and its citizens.

“What is expected of us?” – The Logic of Protection at Home


According to Bush in his September 20 speech ‘Americans are asking’ two other
questions as well. The first of these is “How will we fight and win this war?” His
answer: “We will direct every resource at our command – every means of diplomacy,
every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial
influence, and every necessary weapon of war – to the disruption and to the defeat of
the global terror network” (Bush 2001, September 20). One goal of his answer was to
prepare citizens for more wars and interventions to come as “Americans should not
expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign” (Bush 2001, September 20). The other goal
was to declare an emergency situation. Every resource of the state was to be
subordinated to that of security. An emergency situation, as Schmitt described it “a case
of extreme peril, a danger to the existence of the state, or the like” (Schmitt 1922 [2005]:
6), entrusts the state with a greater decision making power. This situation does not
necessarily follow objectively, rather it is constructed by the sovereign “who decides on

Securitizing Democracy | 39
the exception” (Schmitt 1922 [2005]: 5). The sovereign decides “whether there is an
extreme emergency as well as what must be done to eliminate it (…) it is he who must
decide whether the constitution needs to be suspended in its entirety” (Schmitt 1922
[2005]: 7). The process described here by Schmitt is closely related to the concept of
securitization developed by the Copenhagen School. We discussed the first step of
securitization above. The Unites States, NATO and the EU designated terrorism as the
existential threat of democracies or the ‘civilized world’. As a second step, the portrayal
of terrorism as an existential threat justified extraordinary emergency measures inside
and outside the US.

A characteristic of the terrorist enemy that has not been covered yet is important to
highlight here: that the terrorist is a highly ‘invisible’ actor. On several occasions Bush
had underlined the elusiveness of the terrorist: “This enemy hides in shadows, and has
no regard for human life.” (Bush 2001, September 12). The terrorist has the ability to
cross borders and operates from within civil society: “The threat hides within many
nations, including my own. In cells and camps, terrorists are plotting further destruction
and building new bases for their war against civilization” (Bush 2001, September 12).
Unorthodox measures would be needed in order to make the elusive enemy visible
among the US population and abroad.

On the day of 9/11 Bush already announced emergency measures: “Immediately


following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans.
Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared.” and “I have directed the full resources of
our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring
them to justice.” (Bush 2001, September 11). Furthermore, soon a new institution was
created, the ‘Office of Homeland Security’. It would centralize the chain of command
with respect to security: “Today dozens of federal departments and agencies, as well as
state and local governments, have responsibilities affecting homeland security. These
efforts must be coordinated at the highest level. So tonight I announce the creation of a
Cabinet-level position reporting directly to me – the Office of Homeland Security.”
(Bush 2001, September 20). The week following September 11 a resolution was passed
by the US Congress, waving its constitutional power to deliberate and decide on
whether to go to war (Young 2003: 11)..

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Also on the international level an emergency situation was declared. September 12,
2001 became the first and only time Art. 5 of the NATO treaty, “an armed attack
against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack
against them all”, was evoked. That same day the UN Security Council would adopt
resolution 1373 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, meaning the Security Council
could take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security”.
The resolution required all states to take all necessary steps to stop the financing,
planning, preparation and perpetration of terrorist acts. In the preamble it both
reaffirmed that terrorist acts “constitute a threat to international peace and security” and
the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense”, thereby opening the way for
the US to legitimately respond militarily by ways of self-defense (Art. 51 UN Charter).
Thus, Bush spoke of the action against the Taliban regime as a defensive action: “Tonight
we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief turned to
anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice
to our enemies, justice will be done.” (Bush 2001, September 20)

In his September 20 speech Bush demanded the Taliban to “deliver to the United
States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land,” or otherwise share
in their fate (Bush 2001, September 20). Bush made clear that the US army was
preparing for war: “I’ve called the Armed Forces to alert and there is a reason. The hour
is coming when America will act, and you will make us proud.” (Bush 2001, September
20). The Taliban responded by claiming that they had received no evidence linking
Osama bin Laden to the 9/11 attacks. One day before the attack the White House
rejected an offer from the Taliban to try Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan under Islamic
law (CNN 2001). On 7 October 2001 US and UK forces launch air strikes against
Afghanistan in what the US called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’. The ‘war on
terrorism’ was not going to be fought in Afghanistan alone, as was clear in the speech of
September 20: “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It
will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and
defeated.” (Bush 2001, September 20).

The speech of September 20 did not just define a new friend-enemy relationship,
but also a new relationship between the US state and its citizens. For the sake of safety

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the citizens of the US are demoted to dependents, in need of protection. The answer to
Bush’s question “What is expected of us?”, suggests that good citizens are, above all,
cooperative and patriotic: “I ask you to live your lives and hug your children. I know
many citizens have fears tonight, and I ask you to be calm and resolute, even in the face
of a continuing threat. I ask you to uphold the values of America and remember why so
many have come here” (Bush 2001, September 20). Furthermore, Bush asks: “the
thousands of FBI agents who are now at work in this investigation may need your
cooperation, and I ask you to give it. I ask for your patience with the delays and
inconveniences that may accompany tighter security and for your patience in what will
be a long struggle.” (Bush 2001, September 20). After the start of the war, the USA
Patriot Act, was quickly passed and signed on October 26 with little debate. The Act
greatly increased the possibilities of executive powers to keep individuals and
organizations under surveillance, seize their assets and monitor their activities and
correspondence. At the same time it severely reduced the powers of courts to review
and limit executive those actions (Young 2003: 11).

Liberating ‘Women of Cover’ – The Logic of Protection Abroad


As we have seen above the war in Afghanistan was justified as a defensive action in
response to the 9/11 attacks. The attacks were believed to be coordinated by al-Qaeda
and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was seen to be actively supporting that
organization. Along with this justification a protector-protected relationship was created
between the United States government and its citizens. A relationship in which the
citizen is made more dependent and civil criticism is downplayed. However, soon after
the start of the US ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ in Afghanistan ‘the protected’ was
reconstructed. In the course of the war Afghan (‘unveiled’) women and girls and later
the new Afghan democracy were presented as in need of protection by the ‘international
community’. We will first discuss the construction of Afghan (‘unveiled’) women and
girls as in need of protection.

The focus on women and girls was a particularly effective way to shift the
justification of the war from a defensive to a humanitarian war; to protect not just US
citizens but also the Afghan people. Afghan women were considered to be the ultimate

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victims of the Taliban, so the US would be their ultimate protector (Young 2003: 17).
Apparently, bringing the story to press was a task to be done by First Ladies, as both
Laura Bush, wife of George W. Bush, and Cherie Booth-Blair, wife of Tony Blair (UK),
were the main proponents. Laura Bush’s speech was a radio address to the nation on
November 17, 2001. It was the very first time a First Lady of the United States delivered
the entire radio address of her husband. She announced the “kick off a world-wide
effort to focus on the brutality against women and children by the al-Qaida terrorist
network and the regime it supports in Afghanistan, the Taliban” (L. Bush 2001,
November 17). A few days later Cherie Booth-Blair followed with a press conference on
‘Taliban and Women’ together with UK Secretary of State for Overseas Development,
Clare Short, UK Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, and a few Afghan
women; refugees only mentioned by their first names Wahida and Alia (UK
Government 2001, November 19).

As Ferguson argues, the rhetoric on women rights after 9/11 appears in a discourse
of chivalrous respect for women (Ferguson 2005: 21). In these and other speeches Afghan
women issues are cast in the earlier friend-enemy distinction between good and evil,
between democracy and totalitarianism and above all between civilization and
barbarism. Laura Bush connected the civilizational standing of a state to the political
empowerment of women (Towns 2009: 682). The terrorists-and-the-Taliban, she argues,
inhabit a different kind of world than that of civilized people: “Civilized people
throughout the world are speaking out in horror - not only because our hearts break for
the women and children in Afghanistan, but also because in Afghanistan we see the
world the terrorists would like to impose on the rest of us.” (L. Bush 2001, November
17). The repression of Afghan women is evidence of the ‘barbarism’ of Taliban rule. She
goes as far as calling it a central goal of the terrorists: “Afghan women know, through
hard experience, what the rest of the world is discovering: The brutal oppression of
women is a central goal of the terrorists.” (L. Bush 2001, November 17).

One particular symbol of barbarous ‘horror’ draws the attention in the brief radio
address: “Only the terrorists and the Taliban threaten to pull out women’s fingernails
for wearing nail polish.” (L. Bush 2001, November 17). The right for a woman to wear
nail polish was also an example that appealed to Cherie Booth-Blair as she noted: “In

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Afghanistan if you wear nail polish, you could have your nails torn out. Well, that may
seem a trivial example, but it is an example, nonetheless, of the oppression of women”
(C. Blair/Booth in UK Government 2001, 19 November). However, “nothing more”,
Booth-Blair thought, “symbolises the oppression of women than the burqa which is a
very visible sign of the role of women in Afghanistan” (C. Blair/Booth in UK
Government 2001, 19 November). Thus, respect for women is a sign of civilization,
while ‘veiled’ women are a visible sign of non-Western male domination.

Having identified the Taliban-and-the-terrorists as male aggressors, the Afghan


women were constructed as in need of our active protection. The respect that ‘we’ have
for women at home legitimizes us to intervene on behalf of women abroad. Laura Bush
hails the US military for ‘liberating’ Afghan women: “Because of our recent military
gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They
can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment.” (L. Bush
2001, November 17). Afghan women are now ‘rejoicing’. However, the ‘war against
terror’ is not over. It now has a double mission: “the terrorists who helped rule that
country now plot and plan in many countries. And they must be stopped. The fight
against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” (L. Bush 2001,
November 17). The ‘war against terror’ is thus presented as also an effort to protect
women rights in many countries.

Like her American counterpart Cherie Booth-Blair depicted Afghan women as in


need of Western protection. Referring to the Afghan women refugees present at the
press conference she argues: “The women who are here today prove that the women in
Afghanistan still have a spirit in them which belies their unfair, downtrodden image. But
we here need to help free that spirit, and give them back their voice at home, so that
they can help build the better Afghanistan that we all want to see.” (C. Blair/Booth in
UK Government 2001, 19 November). However, the emphasis in her speech is
different than that of Laura Bush. Rather than underlining that the whole ‘war against
terror’ is in and by itself a fight for women rights, the focus on women is to help build
the nation of Afghanistan. The differences in emphasis between the radio address of
Laura Bush and the press conference of Cherie Booth-Blair are depicted in figure 1. The
sizes of the words are relative to the times they are used. Laura Bush often used the

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words ‘terrorists’ and ‘Taliban’, while Cherie Booth-Blair used more ‘humanitarian’
words such as ‘food’, ‘education’ and ‘school’.

Figure 1. ‘Wordles’ of Laura Bush (left) and Cherie Booth-Blair (right)

Source: These depictions are made using the original texts and the online tool www.wordle.net. The sizes
of the words are relative to the times they are used in the text.

It is not hard to see why the appropriation of the language of women empowerment
for the justification of war by the Bush and Blair administrations created uneasiness
among feminist scholars. As Lila Abu-Lughod put it: “Like many colleagues whose
work has focused on women and gender in the Middle East, I was deluged with
invitations to speak (...). My discomfort led me to reflect on why, as feminists in or from
the West, (...) we need to be wary of this response to the events and aftermath of
September 11, 2001.” (Abu-Lughod 2002: 783). Feminists in the US have been lobbying
to gain support for the cause of Afghan women before 9/11, yet back then the Clinton
and Bush administrations showed little concern. The appeal to women rights of the
administration after 9/11 thus seems a cynical attempt to gain support for the war
among liberal countries (Young 2003: 18).

Many feminist scholars voiced their criticism. Afghan women are constructed as
exoticized others, ‘women of cover’ as George W. Bush called them, and ‘paradigmatic
victims in need of salvation by Western feminists’ (Young 2003: 19). The focus on
‘veiling’ caused explanations for women suffering to be sought in the religio-cultural
instead of the political or historical sphere (Abu-Lughod 2002: 784). The rhetoric
created two worlds: one ‘in which First Ladies give speeches’ and another ‘where

Securitizing Democracy | 45
women shuffle around silently in burqas’ (Abu-Lughod 2002: 784). It deflects attention
from the suffering connected to gender-based violence and poverty. It also contains a
suggestion that the battle ground of feminism is now abroad, not at home. Estelle
Morris, UK Secretary of State for Education, was very explicit on this during the press
conference: “it is not just in developing countries that people have had to fight for
women to have opportunities in education. I think that countries are at different stages
in how they tackle this. (…) It just happens that in some countries - the developed
countries - that the battle was fought many a long year ago and has been won, but it is a
battle that is fought in almost every country.” (E. Morris, Secretary of State for
Education, in UK Government 2001, 19 November)

Crucially, the rhetoric tends to view Afghan women as objects rather than subjects.
It fails to consider the Afghan women as equals. Western politicians (and journalists) are
speaking both ‘on behalf of’ and ‘in place of’ Afghan women (Ayotte and Husain 2005:
116). This ventriloquism is not resolved by inviting Afghan women refugees to a press
conference, as in the case of Cherie Booth-Blair. This is not to suggest that the stories
of these Afghan women are false, but they are edited, prompted by a certain demand of
information and mediated in a discourse of paternalist militarism masked as pure
benevolence (Ayotte and Husain 2005: 116).

The discourse of chivalrous respect for women positions the ‘West’ as the male
protector against evil and barbaric aggressors. Concerns for the well-being of women
are employed in a setting of superiority and subordination. Afghan women are
objectified and serve as handmaids of the military protector. The similarities with 19th
and 20th century colonialist ideologies are striking and real reason for concern. The
colonialist ideologies similarly portray the intervening Western power as the carrier of
civilization and enlightenment, enriching the backward, barbaric and irrational regions
with economic and political institutions. Military troops are necessary to bring order
while foreign aid workers bring wealth and education. The protectorate ‘protection’
would last for only a period, until the people show the ability to run their own affairs
(Young 2003: 19).

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In the colonialist ideologies the lack of respect for women was a sign of
backwardness. Leila Ahmed tells the story of Lord Cromer, the British consul general in
Egypt. For Lord Cromer it was necessary that the Egyptians “be persuaded or forced
into imbibing the true spirit of western civilisation” (Cromer 1908, part 2:538). To
achieve this, the position of women in Islam had to be changed. The practices of veiling
and seclusion are, according to Cromer, “the fatal obstacle” to the Egyptian’s
“attainment of that elevation of thought and character which should accompany the
introduction of Western civilisation” (Cromer 1908, part 2:538-39). The cynical use of
women issues for military purposes abroad is exposed when we find that Lord Cromer
was a founding member and president of the Men’s League for Opposing Women’s
Suffrage back home (Ahmed 1993). The same type of ‘colonial feminism’ present
among officials could also be found among missionaries and the feminist movement of
the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, the European feminist Eugenie Le
Brun inducted young Muslim women into the need to cast off the veil as an essential
first step in the fight for women liberation (Ahmed 1993). The historical precedent set
in colonial times should make us wary of military forces disguising themselves as
liberators and protectors of suppressed ‘women of cover’ today.

‘Democratic Peacebuilding’ – Securitizing Afghan Democracy


The new Afghan democracy being established by the Bonn agreement followed a similar
path as Afghan women and girls. It too became constructed as in need of protection by
the ‘international community’. As argued above, in her justification for the Afghan war
Cherie Booth-Blair had focussed on helping to build the nation of Afghanistan. Here
she followed earlier statements made by her husband on the need for nation building.
We will first discuss these statements; the vision Tony Blair had for Afghanistan.

Securitizing Democracy | 47
“It’s Blair the Nation Builder”11

The Bush administration had always avoided speaking of nation building and was
vehemently against Clinton’s ‘humanitarian’ intervention in Kosovo. Blair, however, had
learned a different lesson from Kosovo. He himself was involved in authorizing the
NATO bombing and used that moment “to step back and look at what is happening in
Kosovo in a wider context" (Blair 1999). He introduced a new idea and called it the
‘Doctrine of the International Community’, but it became more well-known as the ‘Blair
Doctrine’. Blair described this doctrine as “the explicit recognition that today more than
ever before we are mutually dependent, that national interest is to a significant extent
governed by international collaboration and that we need a clear and coherent debate as
to the direction this doctrine takes us in each field of international endeavour.” (Blair
1999).

The ‘debate’ is set in context of the Kosovo intervention. It is broadly acknowledged


that the UN Charter currently only allows for two exceptions to the prohibition on the
use of force (Art. 2 (4)): self-defense under Art. 51 and with authorization by the UN
Security Council under Chapter VII. The NATO intervention in Kosovo failed to meet
one of these exceptions. It clearly was not an act of self-defense and it was not
authorized by the UN Security Council because of a lack of support from the
Permanent Members Russia and China. Thus, the kind of ‘international community’
Blair envisioned was different then the current UN. Although Blair was not clear on
how exactly, he wanted “to find a new way to make the UN and its Security Council
work” so that “we are not to return to the deadlock that undermined the effectiveness
of the Security Council during the Cold War” (Blair 1999). He argued that “the principle
of non-interference must be qualified in important respects”, and “when regimes are
based on minority rule they lose legitimacy - look at South Africa” (Blair 1999).

The ‘Blair doctrine’ is characterized by just war rhetoric. The Kosovo intervention is
seen as “a just war, based not on any territorial ambitions but on values”, because “we

11 The title is taken from a UK newspaper article by Andy McSmith and Anton La Guardia in the
Telegraph, published online 11 Oct 2001, available at
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/1359140/Its-Blair-the-nation-
builder.html

Securitizing Democracy | 48
cannot let the evil of ethnic cleansing stand.” (Blair 1999). The focus is on criteria for
intervention rather than the formal decision-making process in the Security Council. In
his speech at the Chicago Economic Club Blair outlined new circumstances that would
allow the ‘international community’ to intervene in the internal affairs of nations: “First,
are we sure of our case? (...) Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options? (...)
Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military
operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? Fourth, are we prepared for the
long term? (...) And finally, do we have national interests involved?” (Blair 1999).

Especially the fifth and last criterion is interesting. The ‘Blair Doctrine’ allowed for
the merger of values and interests in a very similar way as the democratic peace and
democratization policies. The spread of ‘democratic’ values would make the world a
safer place. It is useful here to quote Blair at length: “we may be tempted to think back
to the clarity and simplicity of the Cold War. But now we have to establish a new
framework. No longer is our existence as states under threat. Now our actions are
guided by a more subtle blend of mutual self interest and moral purpose in defending
the values we cherish. In the end values and interests merge. If we can establish and spread the
values of liberty, the rule of law, human rights and an open society then that is in our
national interests too. The spread of our values makes us safer.” (Blair 1999, emphasis mine).
The Kosovo intervention was the starting point of “a new Marshall plan for Kosovo,
Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia too if it turns to democracy” and a crucial
test case because “if NATO fails in Kosovo, the next dictator to be threatened with
military force may well not believe our resolve to carry the threat through.” (Blair 1999).

On October 2, 2001, five days before the US-UK attack Blair announced his vision
for Afghanistan. What according to Blair ‘goes without saying’ is nevertheless reiterated:
the Taliban regime is ‘undemocratic’ and America “is a free country, a democracy, it is
our ally” (Blair 2001, October 2). Blair saw his justification for attacking Afghanistan in
the line with the Kosovo intervention: “People say: we are only acting because it’s the
USA that was attacked. Double standards, they say. But when Milosevic embarked on
the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kosovo, we acted.” (Blair 2001, October 2). In
similar fashion as in the case of Kosovo, Blair argued that the national interests were
one and the same as that of the ‘world community’: “The critics will say: but how can

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the world be a community? Nations act in their own self-interest. Of course they do.
But what is the lesson of the financial markets, climate change, international terrorism,
nuclear proliferation or world trade? It is that our self-interest and our mutual interests
are today inextricably woven together.” (Blair 2001, October 2).

Other than Bush, Blair already made a promise before the war: “To the Afghan
people we make this commitment. The conflict will not be the end. We will not walk
away, as the outside world has done so many times before.” (Blair 2001, October 2).
The longer stay of the British army had the purpose building a new government. This
new government is not described as a full-fledged democracy, but rather as ‘broad-
based’ and uniting ‘all ethnic groups’: “If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with
you to make sure its successor is one that is broad-based, that unites all ethnic groups, and
that offers some way out of the miserable poverty that is your present existence.” (Blair
2001, October 2, emphasis mine). However, Blair saw the war in Afghanistan as part of
a grand democratization mission: “I believe this is a fight for freedom. And I want to
make it a fight for justice too. Justice not only to punish the guilty. But justice to bring
those same values of democracy and freedom to people round the world.” (Blair 2001,
October 2).

The Bonn Agreement and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

On October 4 Blair stated to the House of Commons Blair that he had a ‘detailed
consultation’ with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and UN High Commissioner for
Refugees Ruud Lubbers and that Kofi Annan had appointed Lakhdar Brahimi as the
Special Representative for Afghanistan (Blair 2001, October 4). On October 8, four days
later and one day after the start of the war in Afghanistan, UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan pleaded for a fast humanitarian response to the people of Afghanistan, seen as
separate from the Taliban: “The people of Afghanistan, who cannot be held responsible
for the acts of the Taliban regime, are now in desperate need of aid. The United Nations
has long played a vital role in providing humanitarian assistance to them, and it is my
hope that we will be able to step up our humanitarian work as soon as possible.”
(Annan 2001, October 8). On top of humanitarian assistance, Annan announced that
the UN would also have a role in building the new government in Afghanistan: “It is

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also vital that the international community now work harder than ever to encourage a
political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan.”(Annan 2001, October 8). He
described the outlines of this government in very much the same terms as Blair had
done earlier: “The United Nations is actively engaged in promoting the creation of a fully
representative, multi-ethnic and broad-based Afghan Government.” (Annan 2001, October 8,
emphasis mine).
The reluctance of the Bush administration towards ‘nation building’ in Afghanistan
was again highlighted on October 11. A journalist confronted Bush with Blair’s plan for
a new government in Afghanistan. Bush responded by saying that his “focus is bringing
al Qaeda to justice and saying to the host government, you had your chance to deliver”,
but that we “should learn a lesson from the previous engagement in the Afghan area,
that we should not just simply leave after a military objective has been achieved” (Bush
2001, October 11). Bush claimed that he appreciated Tony Blair’s “vision about
Afghanistan after we’re successful”. However, he preferred to talk of a ‘stable’ future
government rather than of ‘nation building’: “It would be a useful function for the
United Nations to take over the so-called ‘nation-building,’ - I would call it the
stabilization of a future government - after our military mission is complete” (Bush
2001, October 11). To Bush that stability was not part of a democratizing mission, but
above all needed to prevent terrorism: “I’ve talked to many countries that are interested
in making sure that the post-operations Afghanistan is one that is stable, and one that
doesn’t become yet again a haven for terrorist criminals.” (Bush 2001, October 11).

While the US-UK armies were still fighting the Taliban in most of the country a UN
diplomatic effort led by Lakhdar Brahimi was started to form a new government. A
conference was organized to get Afghanistan’s different political factions together,
except for the Taliban. The conference was concluded on December 5 with the signing
of the ‘Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-
Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions’, better known as the ‘Bonn
Agreement’. It recognized that not all segments of the Afghan population were present
at the UN Talks and called on the participants to ensure broad representation. The
people of Afghanistan were to determine their own political future “in accordance with

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the principles of Islam, democracy, pluralism and social justice” (United Nations 2001a:
preamble).

The Bonn Agreement outlined a process of state building to be concluded with


general elections. Several state institutions would be established in a matter of years. An
Interim Authority, consisting of an Interim Administration, a ‘Special Independent
Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga’ and a Supreme Court was
to be established on December 22, 2001. This Interim Authority would then
immediately be ‘the repository of Afghan sovereignty’ (United Nations 2001a: I, 3).
Then, within six months of the establishment of the Interim Authority, an ‘Emergency
Loya Jirga’ had to be convened. That body would decide on a Transitional Authority
replacing the Interim Authority, “including a broad-based Transitional Administration,
to lead Afghanistan until such time as a fully representative government can be elected
through free and fair elections to be held no later than two years from the date of the
convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga.” (United Nations 2001a: I, 4). In addition,
within eighteen months after the establishment of the Transitional Authority a
‘Constitutional Loya Jirga’ had to be convened, in order to adopt a new constitution for
Afghanistan (United Nations 2001a: I, 6). With assistance of the UN also a ‘Central
Bank of Afghanistan’ (United Nations 2001a: III, C, 4), a ‘Civil Service Commission’
(United Nations 2001a: III, C, 5), and a ‘Human Rights Commission’ (United Nations
2001a: III, C, 6) would be established.

The Bonn Conference ended December 5, thus after the “world-wide effort to focus
on the brutality against women and children” led by the First Ladies Laura Bush and
Cherie Booth-Blair. In accordance with this effort, at different places in the Bonn
Agreement attention is drawn to the need of women participation in the new Afghan
government. It speaks of the selection of the Interim Administration as “with due
regard to the ethnic, geographic and religious composition of Afghanistan and to the
importance of the participation of women.” (United Nations 2001a: III, A, 3). Also, the
‘Special Independent Commission for the Convening of the Emergency Loya Jirga’ was
to be committed to the “representation in the Emergency Loya Jirga of a significant
number of women” (United Nations 2001a: IV, 2). In the preamble of the Bonn
Agreement we see the future Afghan government described in exactly the same terms as

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Kofi Annan had used at the start of the war (‘broad-based’, ‘multi-ethnic’ and ‘fully
representative’). However, the term ‘gender-sensitive’ is now added to the list: “Noting
that these interim arrangements are intended as a first step toward the establishment of
a broad-based, gender-sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully representative government” (United Nations
2001a: preamble, emphasis mine).

The crux of the Agreement is found in Annex I. In Annex I, the new Afghan
democracy-to-be is described as in need of temporary protection by the ‘international
community’. Although the Interim Authority received immediate sovereignty over
Afghanistan and the participants recognized “that the responsibility for providing
security and law and order throughout the country resides with the Afghans themselves”
(United Nations 2001: Annex I, 1), it was argued that “some time may be required for a
new Afghan security force to be fully constituted and functional and that therefore
other security provisions (…) must meanwhile be put in place” (United Nations 2001a:
preamble). Therefore, the participants of the conference requested “the assistance of the
international community in helping the new Afghan authorities in the establishment and
training of new Afghan security and armed forces.” (United Nations 2001a: Annex I, 2).
Furthermore, the participants requested “the United Nations Security Council to
consider authorizing the early deployment to Afghanistan of a United Nations
mandated force”. This UN force would only take care of the security in Kabul and its
surroundings, but could “be progressively expanded to other urban centres and other
areas” (United Nations 2001a: Annex I, 3).

The UN mandated force was established by the United Nations Security Council on
20 December 2001 and was called the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
(United Nations 2001b, S/RES/1386). The UK had announced that it was willing “to
become the initial lead nation for the International Security Assistance Force for Kabul
and its surrounding area under the terms of annex I to the Bonn Agreement.” (United
Nations 2001c, S/2001/1217). It noted that the “United States Central Command will
have authority over the International Security Assistance Force to deconflict
International Security Assistance Force and Operation Enduring Freedom activities and
to ensure that International Security Assistance Force activities do not interfere with the

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successful completion of Operation Enduring Freedom” (United Nations 2000c,
S/2001/1217).

NATO took over control of ISAF after almost 2 years on 11 August 2003, turning
the six-month national rotations to an end. It was NATO’s first deployment mission
outside the Euro-Atlantic territory. That year in October UN Security Council
Resolution 1510 authorized the expansion of NATO to other parts of Afghanistan
outside Kabul and its surroundings (United Nations 2003, S/RES/1510). However, it
would take NATO another three years before it took responsibility for the entire
country. The operation was done in four phases, mostly by taking over responsibilities
of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) set up under the command of Operation
Enduring Freedom: to the north completed on 1 October 2004 (phase 1), the west
completed in September 2005 (phase 2), the south implemented on 31 July 2006 (phase
3) and finally the east implemented on 5 October 2006 (phase 4) (NATO 2010). ISAF is
presented by NATO as both a security and nation building mission, committed to building
a stable democracy in Afghanistan: “NATO reaffirms its long-term commitment to
supporting the Government of Afghanistan in building a stable and democratic
Afghanistan, respectful of human rights, capable of securing itself, and at peace with its
neighbours” (NATO 2008: para 5).

UN: ‘Democratic Peacebuilding’ with a ‘Light Footprint’

The 2002 Human Development Report of United Nations Development Programme


titled ‘Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World’ provided a rationale and
justification for the ongoing war in Afghanistan from the viewpoint of the UN. Chapter
4 ‘Democratizing security to prevent conflict and build peace’ of this report introduces
the notion of ‘democratic peacebuilding’. The notion was presented earlier in an article
by Michael Doyle and Nicholas Sambanis but left undefined (2000: 795, 800). The term
is however a conflation of two already existing post-Cold War ideas: the ‘democratic
peace’ (as discussed in part I) and ‘peacebuilding’.

The term ‘peacebuilding’ gained significance in 1992 when UN Secretary General


Boutros Boutros-Ghali coined it in his An Agenda for Peace. He defined ‘peacebuilding’ as
“action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify

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peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict” (Boutros-Ghali 1992: 11). Combining
these two ideas, the UNDP describes ‘democratic peacebuilding’ as: “Securing a just,
sustainable peace in conflict-prone situations means building strong, transparent states
with professional, civilian-led military and police. It means developing a democratic
framework that tolerates diversity. It means building an open civil society that promotes
democratic governance and personal security. And it means instilling in all state
institutions – but especially the security forces – a culture of democracy rooted in
respect for the rule of law and individual rights and dignity. This is the essence of
democratic peacebuilding.” (UNDP 2002: 99). Richard Ponzio, co-author of the report,
summarized it as “a fundamental belief, rooted in empirical research, that building stable
and democratic governing institutions is essential to assuage competing domestic
interests and to consolidate peace by tackling the root causes of a conflict”. It referred at
its core “to a dynamic, long-term process of institutionalizing and expanding democratic
authority within a weak state or territory to reduce the propensity toward violent
conflict” (Ponzio 2007: 257).

The notion is argued to be based on two types of ‘recent evidence’. Democratic


peace research is invoked: “in the international realm research has (...) shown the near
absence of war between democracies that supports the notion of democratic peace”
(UNDP 2002: 85, emphasis in original). A second type of ‘evidence’ is research on a
democratic ‘civil’ peace, “showing that established democracies are unlikely to
experience civil war – and that less rooted democracies are still better able than
authoritarian regimes to cope with political unrest”. The reason for this according to the
report is that “democracies, unlike dictatorships, offer non-violent ways of resolving
political conflicts, and opposition groups have reason to hope that their turn will come”
(UNDP 2002: 85).

Afghanistan serves as a prime case in the report. It is being described as one of the
‘newest’ democracies in a “post-conflict situation (…) where the foundations of
governance and public order have to be rebuilt” (UNDP 2002: 86). Ponzio characterizes
Afghanistan as a typical post Cold War intervention, going beyond traditional
peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations and aspiring to restructure local
political authority within a democratic framework (Ponzio 2007: 255). The ‘democratic

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peacebuilding’ agenda was driven by the need of an effective political response to the
Taliban and a “preconceived ideology that democratization, at least in the medium-to-
long term, contributes to better forms of governance and socioeconomic development,
including in fragile states” (Ponzio 2007: 258). Building an Afghan democracy as
through the Bonn process is thus seen as mutually constitutive with building a peace,
guaranteeing the security and protection of the people of Afghanistan. As a
consequence of this ‘logic of protection’, the response of the ‘international community’,
Western governments and later the NATO alliance, involved an extensive intrusion into
the domestic affairs of Afghanistan.

However, in practice the extent and pace of Afghan ‘democratic peacebuilding’ was
limited. As argued above the ISAF mission was restricted to the capital until the end of
2003 and would not cover the whole of Afghanistan until late 2006. Furthermore, the
UN followed a strategy of democratization with a ‘light footprint’ during a low-intensity
insurgency (Ponzio 2007: 255). The ‘light footprint’ approach was particularly
characteristic of United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA)
established on March 28, 2002 by UN Security Council resolution 1401. This UN
mission led by Lakhdar Brahimi aimed “to provide support for the implementation of
the Bonn Agreement processes” (United Nations 2002, A/56/875–S/2002/278: para.
98). The ‘light footprint’ approach meant that UNAMA would “bolster Afghan capacity
(both official and non-governmental), relying on as limited an international presence and
on as many Afghan staff as possible, and using common support services where
possible, thereby leaving a light expatriate ‘footprint’” (United Nations 2002,
A/56/875–S/2002/278: para. 98). The approach aimed at building a partnership with
the Afghans, but also had a financial advantage as it limited the need for UN staff. The
reconstruction of Afghanistan was strongly under-resourced compared to other post
conflict settings. On an annual per-capita assistance basis the US and its allies spent
$679 in Bosnia, $233 in East Timor and $206 in Iraq compared to only $57 in
Afghanistan (see figure 2, Dobbins et al. 2005: xxviii). The total budget for UNAMA
from April 2002 to December 2005 was only $193 million (Ponzio 2007: 259). To place
this amount into context, consider the costs of the US war in Afghanistan in January
2002 as acknowledged by President Bush: “It costs a lot to fight this war. We have spent

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more than a billion dollars a month - over $30 million a day - and we must be prepared
for future operations.” (Bush 2002, January 29).

Figure 2. Average Annual Per Capita Assistance over First Two Years

Source: Dobbins et al. 2005, see figure 12.10.

US: ‘Axis of Evil’, ‘Rogue States’ and the Democratization of the Middle East

The US under the Bush Administration moved from a nation building strategy of
overwhelming preponderance to one in favour of a ‘small foot-print’ or ‘low profile’
force (Dobbins et al. 2005: xxix). However, the US meant something different with this
‘small foot-print’ approach than the ‘light foot-print’ approach of the UN. As the US
Envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins, explains this approach meant that the US
administration was not going to embark on or even endorse a nationwide peacekeeping
mission and was not interested in taking the leadership role in the civil sphere (Dobbins
2008: 125). The US had no plans in that direction and also had not set any money aside
for it. Dobbins recalls: “Rumsfeld’s preference, which General Franks shared, was to
continue to rely on the local warlords who controlled indigenous Afghan forces to hunt
down the remaining al Qaeda and Taliban elements” and “U.S. troop levels would be

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kept to the absolute minimum necessary” (Dobbins 2008: 125). This preference for a
large part explains the late expansion of ISAF outside of Kabul: “Rumsfeld and Franks
had gone along reluctantly with deploying international peacekeepers in Kabul, but they
still objected to dispatching them elsewhere and opposed having American troops
undertake this role” (Dobbins 2008: 125).

In a 2009 interview former UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar


Brahimi, voiced a similar frustration with the lack of progress in nation building in the
first years of the Afghanistan war: “The ISAF was created in Bonn with 5,000 soldiers,
and it was to be deployed only ‘in the capital and its immediate surroundings.’ It was
agreed, however, that if we felt the need to expand ISAF in numbers and out of Kabul,
that would happen. It almost immediately became abundantly clear that there was a
crying need for such an expansion. Kofi Annan publicly asked for more troops for
ISAF and for them to expand outside of Kabul. That appeal and numerous others we
made were rejected or ignored.” (Brahimi 2009)

Another reason for the lack of progress in Afghan ‘democratic peacebuilding’ was
that the Bush Administration was already “looking to carry the war on terror to other
theatres” (Dobbins 2008: 125), e.g. Iraq. Also Brahimi notes in hindsight: “We didn’t
know then, but everyone does know now, that from September 11, 2001, the US
administration was looking much more to Iraq than to Afghanistan. They were not
really interested in working seriously to stabilize Afghanistan. They had already decided
to invade Iraq, and they were looking toward Baghdad, not Kabul.” (Brahimi 2009).

As early as January 29 2002 in a State of Union address, within four months after the
start of the war, Bush shifted the focus to Iraq as part of an ‘axis of evil’. Bush explicitly
connected terrorism with the threat of regimes with ‘weapons of mass destruction’, for
the goal now was “to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or
our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction” (Bush 2002, January 29). Iraq
was the third mentioned ‘regime’ in the ‘axis of evil’, after North Korea and Iran, and
dealt with most extensively in the speech. Iraq was presented as to support terrorism
and as opposed to the ‘civilized world’, like was done earlier with the Al Qaeda and the
Taliban: “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror.

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The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons
for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands
of its own citizens - leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children.
This is a regime that agreed to international inspections - then kicked out the inspectors.
This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.” (Bush 2002, January
29).

The concept of the ‘axis of evil’ had the purpose of categorizing specific regimes,
most notably Iraq, and terrorism under the same heading. It simplified the enemy image;
the enemies are not many, but only one and the same: “States like these, and their
terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By
seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.
They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their
hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of
these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.” (Bush 2002, January 29).

In the course of the year 2002 the attention of the Bush Administration (as well as
the Blair Administration) shifted more and more to Iraq. On 17 September 2002 a
doctrine of pre-emptive strike was presented in the Nation Security Strategy (NSS
2002), usually referred to as the ‘Bush Doctrine’. Within this context a new foreign
policy of democratization and ‘democratic peace’ promotion is revealed. The NSS
promulgated the promotion of democratic institutions as the main strategy in combating
global terrorism. Liberal democracy is presented as the only international norm left:
“The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended
with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom - and a single sustainable model for
national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.” (NSS 2002: preface).
Echoing the ‘democratic peace’ thesis, “democracy and economic openness” are
according to the NSS “the best foundations for domestic stability and international
order.” (NSS 2002: preface). The ‘democratic’ norm would be the focus of future US
action, aiming ‘‘to create a balance of power that favours human freedom’’ and to
“extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent”.
Furthermore, “the United States will use this moment of opportunity to extend the
benefits of freedom across the globe. We will actively work to bring the hope of

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democracy, development, free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world.”
(NSS 2002: preface). Even the ‘war against terrorism’ is now presented as part of that
larger mission: “In the war against global terrorism, we will never forget that we are
ultimately fighting for our democratic values and way of life.” (NSS 2002: 7).

The NSS also introduced a new concept: the ‘rogue state’. The concept of the ‘rogue
state’ seems to replace the ‘regimes’ of the ‘axis of evil’: “new deadly challenges have
emerged from rogue states and terrorists”. Their threat is not the sheer destructive
power as was posed before by the Soviet Union, but “the nature and motivations of
these new adversaries, their determination to obtain destructive powers hitherto
available only to the world’s strongest states, and the greater likelihood that they will use
weapons of mass destruction against us, make today’s security environment more
complex and dangerous.” (NSS 2002: 13). These ‘rogue states’ share five characteristics
according to the NSS: They 1) “brutalize their own people and squander their national
resources for the personal gain of the rulers”, 2) “display no regard for international law,
threaten their neighbors, and callously violate international treaties to which they are
party”, 3) “are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, along with other
advanced military technology, to be used as threats or offensively to achieve the
aggressive designs of these regimes”, 4) “sponsor terrorism around the globe”, and 5)
“reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it
stands.” (NSS 2002: 13-14). Especially the last of these five is interesting, as it makes the
US the norm against which ‘rogue states’ are measured and makes it impossible for the
US ever to be a ‘rogue state’.

Against the backdrop of these ‘rogue states’ the doctrine of pre-emptive strike is
introduced: “Given the goals of rogue states and terrorists, the United States can no
longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past. The inability to deter a
potential attacker, the immediacy of today’s threats, and the magnitude of potential
harm that could be caused by our adversaries’ choice of weapons, do not permit that
option. We cannot let our enemies strike first.” (NSS 2002: 15). We are not dealing here
with just any enemy, as “enemies of civilization openly and actively seek the world’s most
destructive technologies” (NSS 2002: 15, emphasis mine). Thus, the NSS argues: “To

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forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if
necessary, act preemptively.” (NSS 2002: 15).

In the years following the publication of the NSS, the Bush Administration would
often employ the language of democratization and the ‘democratic peace’, specifically
with regard to the whole of the Middle East. In November 2003, after the invasion of
Iraq, Bush referred to the democratic institutionalization in Afghanistan as the way
forward in Iraq. In line with the structural explanation of the ‘democratic peace’ the
focus is on the institutional aspects of democracy: “With the steady leadership of
President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful
government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to
approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral
parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan’s Muslim identity,
while protecting the rights of all citizens. Afghanistan faces continuing economic and
security challenges - it will face those challenges as a free and stable democracy.” (Bush
2003, November 6). Iraq would need to set an example for the region: “Iraqi democracy
will succeed - and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -
that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the
heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.”
(Bush 2003, November 6).

In 2005 Bush would use the narrative of ‘democratic peace’ in full force: “It should
be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that
respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors.” (Bush 2005,
March 8). When applied to the Middle East it would serve both America’s interests and
values: “when freedom and democracy take root in the Middle East, America and the
world will be safer and more peaceful.” (Bush 2005, March 29).

The use of the ‘democratic peace’ as justification for the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq is often in conjunction with other, previous narratives. A press conference in
March 2004 provides a good example of a ‘democratization’ narrative in combination
with narratives of ‘civilization’ and ‘women liberation’. Referring to the movie ‘Osama’,
George W. Bush uses both the narrative of ‘civilization’ and ‘women liberation’: “You

Securitizing Democracy | 61
heard Laura talk about the movie, ‘Osama.’ See it. It’ll help enrich the words I’m about
to say: The Taliban were incredibly barbaric. It’s hard for the American mind to
understand ‘barbaric.’ Watch the movie. Women were forbidden from appearing in
public unescorted. That’s barbaric. Women were prohibited from holding jobs. It’s
impossible for young girls to get an education. That’s barbaric. It’s not right.” (L. Bush
and G.W. Bush 2004, March 12). Then Bush goes on, now also employing the
‘democratization’ narrative: “Today, the Taliban regime is gone, thank goodness. Girls
are back in class. The amazing accomplishment, though, is that Afghanistan has a new
constitution that guarantees full participation by women. The constitution is a milestone
in Afghanistan’s history.” (L. Bush and G.W. Bush 2004, March 12). Finally, Bush goes
on to generalize the political development in the whole of the Middle East. Before
mentioning ‘democratic’ developments in Qatar, Yemen and Jordan, he argues: “The
momentum of liberty is building in the Middle East. Just think about what’s taken place
recently. In 2002, Bahrain elected its own parliament for the first time in nearly three
decades. Liberty is marching. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens. On
Monday, the Sultan appointed the nation’s first female cabinet minister. We’re making
progress on the road to freedom.” (L. Bush and G.W. Bush 2004, March 12). Thus, the
narrative of ‘democratic peace’ is able to encompass both the narrative of civilization
and of respect for women. The ‘democratic peace’ provided a framework in which
previous narratives could fit.

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CONCLUSIONS

We can now return to the research question: How did the justification for the war in
Afghanistan, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, transform from a war of self-defense against terrorism to
a war for democracy building in Afghanistan?

This transformation can be viewed in the context of the post-Cold War construction
of friend-enemy identities. The post-Cold War democratization policies and the research
program of ‘democratic peace’ created ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ relationships. The ‘democratic
peace’ was objectified, stripped from its normative content and seen as an ahistorical
and universal ‘fact’ or ‘scientific law’. It was made to seem ‘normal’ to the point where it
appears natural and is taken for granted. However, the knowledge produced by
‘democratic peace’ research is ideological knowledge. While believed to be universal it is in
fact embedded in particular social and historical circumstances. It is knowledge of and
for a particular group as it identified the ‘friendly’ countries that are ‘America-like’ or of
‘our kind’. The function of the democratic peace in the post-Cold War world became
two-faced. Internally, it normalized and neutralized democracy in America and
‘America-like’ states receiving perfect scores in the process of codification, to the point
that their democracy is taken for granted. The democratic peace normalized peace
amongst the ‘free world’. Externally, the democratic peace normalized violence between
democracies and non-democracies. The certainty of the democratic peace also increased
the uncertainty of the relations between democratic and non-democratic states. .

The ideology of the ‘democratic peace’ appeared only ex post, after the start of the
military invasion, as justification of the Afghanistan war. The transformation of the
Afghanistan from a war of self-defense against terrorism to a war for democracy
building was one of many phases. The key to this process is the construction of group
identities; ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ relationships. The first identity constructed was that of the
enemy threat: the terrorists-and-the-Taliban were presented as the embodiment of pure
destructive evil, as barbarians in a cultural no man’s land, as the heirs of totalitarian
ideologies, as unrepresentative of anybody and as inherently anti-democratic. This threat

Securitizing Democracy | 63
justified extraordinary measures at home and abroad, adjusting domestic power
relations, as the US government assigns itself the role of protector over a protected and
dependent US civil population. After the start of the war in Afghanistan the US and the
UK viewed themselves as liberators of Afghan women and girls who were formerly
repressed by the Taliban. The US and the UK present themselves as protectors of ‘veiled’
Afghan women and girls in need. However, a difference is noticeable. While the Bush
Administration emphasizes that the whole ‘war against terror’ is in and by itself a fight
for women rights, the Blair government’s focus on women is to help build the nation of
Afghanistan. While the US remained reluctant throughout the whole of the discourse to
adopt a strategy of ‘nation building’ or ‘peace-keeping’ in Afghanistan, Blair vowed not
to ‘walk away’ from Afghanistan after the war would be over. The new Afghan
democracy that is being established during the Bonn process is viewed as in need of
protection by the ‘international community’. The UK would be the first state to be the
‘leading nation’ in the ISAF mission. In the 2002 Human Development Report the UN
would hail the political process in Afghanistan as an example of ‘democratic
peacebuilding’. This ‘peacebuilding’ is, however, underresourced and the ISAF mission
would not cover the whole of Afghanistan until late 2006. The main reasons for this
failure is the continued lack of interest in nation building of the US, the continuation of
the US war against al Qaeda and the Taliban outside Kabul and the early shift of
(military) attention of the US towards Iraq. It is during this shift of attention towards
Iraq that the Bush Administration finally introduces a narrative of ‘democratic peace’. It
would appear first in the National Security Strategy of 2002. From then on the
‘democratic peace’ is used as justification for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the
larger Middle East.

The function of the ‘democratic peace’ in the transformation process, from self-
defense against terrorism to a war for democracy building, is thus to provide a general
framework in which previous narratives can fit. The UN introduced the notion
‘democratic peacebuilding’, combining the scientific ‘evidence’ of the democratic peace
with the already present narrative of ‘peacebuilding’ within UN agencies, which was
coined in the 1992 An Agenda for Peace of UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The government did not need just to be stabilized for peace, it needed to be democratic.

Securitizing Democracy | 64
In fact, being democratic actually meant being stable. The ‘democratic peace’ merged the
realism of international stability with the idealism of liberal democratization. It
legitimized an extensive intrusion of the UN into the formation of the government and
into the domestic affairs of Afghanistan. For the US the use of the ‘democratic peace’
also is in conjunction with other, previous narratives, in particular on ‘civilization’ and
‘women liberation’. The ‘democratic peace’ framework works with dichotomous group
identities; a democratic ‘Us’ versus an authoritarian ‘Them’. This dichotomy blended
well with other dichotomous narratives that erupted after 9/11: the civilization narrative of
‘barbaric’ anti-democratic terrorists-and-the-Taliban versus the ‘civilized and democratic
world’ and the women liberation narrative of terrorists-and-the-Taliban whose ‘central goal’
was to suppress women versus the West where First Ladies have the luxury to focus on
saving women abroad. While the actual democratization and stabilization of Afghanistan
was slow-paced and underfunded, the rhetoric of democratization of the Middle East
justified an extension of military involvement in Iraq and the whole region.

Securitizing Democracy | 65
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