Beyond securitisation : Western Mediterranean international relations from a security perspective 1989-2002
Following the end of the Cold War and the ensuing changes to the international landscape, thinking about security has tended to become more discursive and interpretative in nature. What counts as security has increasingly derived from security discourses (that is, 'securitisation') and uncertainty about the multi-faceted future facing various countries and regions. Within this post-Cold War discourse, the Western Mediterranean has emerged as a region fraught with latent and manifest threats in the economic, political, societal and military sectors. Improved access to EU markets for Maghrebi exports; the security of energy supplies to the EU from Algeria and Libya; lack of democracy and the advance of political Islam; the flow of northward migration and worries about law and order in France, Italy and Spain; the growth in military expenditure and weapons proliferation in the Maghreb; all have been central to the securitisation agenda. However, this agenda has often lacked credibility especially when inter-linkages have purportedly been established between economic underdevelopment and political instability, between the advance of political Islam and the threat to energy supplies, or between immigration and the threat to national identity. Such inter-sectoral linkages distract from the credibility of those 'securitisation instances' which correspond to reality; the former linkages have often been exploited by extremist politicians in south-west European countries as well as by regimes in the Maghreb to advance their respective interests. Thus, securitisation may defeat its main purpose; it may generate responses out of keeping with the aims proclaimed at the outset, aims centred on the countering of real threats and the ensuring of greater stability.