(Re)Writing the “National Security State”

Par David Grondin
Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques | UQAM

As a discipline, International Relations is dominated by American scholars and scholars trained in the U.S. (Waever, 1998). As Steve Smith noted in his ISA presidential address in 2003, predominantly American rationalist theories such as neorealism and neoclassical realism enjoy a hegemonic status within the discipline which reduces the theoretical pluralism and diversity of the field (Smith, 2002). In this paper, I adopt a poststructuralist approach with the aim of developing a critical understanding of how the hegemonic status of realist theories serves to legitimize current U.S. national security policy. I focus on two main points. First, I explore how the realism prevalent in the theoretical discourse of IR in the United States is itself a political practice that is constitutive of a particular reality, rather than merely neutrally describing it. Second, I maintain that these realist discourses subjectively and artificially lock U.S. national identity into a Cold War-like national security focus. As such, the United States remains constructed as a national security state in realist discourses. Indeed, realist discourses do not merely seek to explain but also serve to legitimate U.S. national security conduct and its hegemonic power in the wake of 9/11. I want to show how the idea of the U.S. as a national security state is being (re)produced by practices that would neither appear nor claim to do so.

Novembre 2004
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