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This section is about the texting of history, the use of a discourse analytic approach to the study of the operation of a political community in the context of the sets of relations between that political community and those other political communities that, through a complex of kinship networks makes possible the operation of this particular political community. That community is the Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC). And finally this section is about the materiality of discourse and the view of text seen as an essentially political activity - a process, rather than a noun, a process that is, moreover, constitutive of the specific domain of political practice delineated by the broad term 'arms control.' Kenneth Dyson states:
Words are a part of human behaviour. They are mental categories which both represent, and are part of, the world and which impose intentionality and coherence on that world. Language is not just an intellectual activity distinct from the reality of the material world. Concepts and contexts are inseparable. Language is part of the social and political structure; it reveals the politics of a society. Hence analysis of political discourse will indicate how the political world is perceived, and a diachronic analysis of concepts can be helpful in uncovering long-term structural changes by showing how words acquire new meanings in the context of such changes.525
This chapter has set out to show something of the complexity and scope of the range of discourse communities that feed into the process of constituting an event as a potential arms control compliance violation. This section seeks to explore some of the deeper issues at work in constituting an event in this way. I want to argue here that the political process and orientation of the administration, in each of its bureaucracies, not only influences the way in which an event is treated as a violation, but in the way in which the event is constituted as such - an event. This section is not only about the SCC as a conduit for policy, but about the SCC as representative of the constitution of a whole domain of policy, a space for action in which are brought together a number of other policy domains. The chapter as a whole has sought to bring together a range of sub communities, within the wider domains of the defence and foreign policy community. At this point it seems reasonable to draw together a range of themes arising from these various domains of policymaking into building a picture of the operation of the field in which identity is articulated as the practices of military security.
Reading a set of concrete practices author-ised by one state, through the framework and ideological habits of another state give rise, not only to the potential for conflict, but these practices of reading in themselves, are constitutive of the reality in which arms control is itself articulated as a practice of boundary-making and therefore of identity-making. By identifying (and demonising) the Other, the sense of Self is strengthened and security, (itself articulated as the integrity of the state), is, thereby, maintained.
The narrative I have been engaged in writing to this point concerns, broadly speaking, an examination of the changing conditions that make possible the turning of an event (such as the building of a large concrete structure) into an issue (a sign worthy of the gaze of those concerned with arms control compliance). In the course of this narrative I have examined some of the factors driving the constitution of the 'world-view' of the administration, and the role of the Committee on the Present Danger in promoting a particular ideological view of the Soviet Union as Manichaean Other. In so doing, I have examined the factors leading to the rise of what has been termed the 'second Cold War.' I have briefly looked at the principles of international law that led both the United States and the Soviet Union to continue to uphold the SALT II Treaty, despite its non-ratified status, and the SALT I Interim Agreement, and I have analysed some of Ronald Reagan's rhetoric and that of the Committee on the Present Danger that brought him to power. Within the context of these developments, the analysts within the intelligence community, who, in their turn have been formed within, and who in their turn reproduce the ideological formations that influence the manner in which the raw intelligence data is interpreted.
We have seen also, how the decisions concerning resource allocation that author-ised the development of specific intelligence asset forms, are themselves the product of specific and ultimately political decisions, taken many years before. These intelligence assets, in the technological forms that permit, or privilege, the gathering of specific kinds of information, as opposed to other kinds, provide the raw data for interpretation by intelligence analysts, who, themselves are the product of particular kinds of schooling, of selection criteria set by the intelligence organisations themselves and of the regime to whom the final, digested intelligence product is submitted.
We have seen also, how these satellites, their support systems, and the specificities of their technologies made possible the discovery and observation of activities and events within the Soviet Union (and, by the Other, of the United States) that could be compared with past patterns of behaviour (situated within discursive continuities, or identified as discontinuities with past practices) in order to constitute these events as meaningful within the discursive constellation of activities inscribed526 in terms of arms control compliance. As Dyson notes:
Reality is a function not just of sense data but also of the conceptual apparatus that men [sic] have developed, for concepts shape experience by providing categories in terms of which, men [sic] see and understand the world.527
The dispute over LPARs and ABM treaty compliance, mediated through the Standing Consultative Commission represents an example of the materiality of discourse. The purpose of the LPARs was to discipline and maintain the integrity of the boundaries between Self and Other. The ABM Treaty limitations on LPARs, in turn, serve to discipline the practice of disciplining the boundaries. By situating the LPARs away from the territorial peripheries, either by placing the LPAR gaze within the boundary - as in the Soviet Union - or outside the territorial boundary - as in the United States' Thule and Fylingdales Moor radars - the boundaries become problematised. At this point a process of boundary-making negotiation is indicated. The forum for this negotiation is required to be a liminal space between boundaries. The Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC) is the space designated by the ABM Treaty regime to serve this function. It can serve this function because it exists between states, like an amoebic pseudopod extending out across the boundaries to 'test the waters' as it were. This space is especially disciplined because it lies at the cutting edge of the boundaries between states528, particularly as its functions concern the issue of narrowly defined security of states - military security.
Interestingly, and the reason for dwelling at some length on the issue of the Krasnoyarsk Radar, the constitution of that event as an ambiguous event and therefore an object of interest to the Standing Consultative Commission (represented as a possible violation) reveals the gap between the event and its interpretation. That is to say, that the technology was not merely 'objectively there' but functioned as a cultural artefact that required interpretation according to a set of interpretive schema. That the technology was produced by a culture other than the United States rendered the object of knowledge, in part, incomprehensible, as it did not neatly fit the interpretive schemata of the United States according to which particular characteristics were required for particular functions. What has clearly happened in this instance is that, by existing outside of the United States' interpretive schema, the Soviets' radar at Krasnoyarsk was rendered as ambiguous.
This raises the question of
...the extent to which it is safe to assume that Soviet designers with the same goals as their American counterparts would make the same technical decisions 529
In the case of the Krasnoyarsk radar it is clear that the Soviets made quite different technical decisions to their American counterparts - a point seemingly lost on the team of US observers who visited the Krasnoyarsk radar site in 1987. Their surprise seemed greatest at the lack of blast or EMP hardening exhibited in the Krasnoyarsk structure. However, as Desmond Ball530 pointed out, it remains doubtful how long even a hardened LPAR could remain functional in the face of quite modest overpressures, so it seems not unreasonable that the Soviets could have decided that the potentially marginal benefits of hardening did not justify the cost. This is borne out in the decision to build outside of the permafrost zone, sacrificing around six minutes of warning time for a saving of two-thirds of the cost of building on permafrost. Cost was a clear factor in the decision to build at Krasnoyarsk, rather than at Noril'sk; cost may well have been a factor in the decision not to harden the structure.531
What seems increasingly clear from all of this is that the SCC is engaged in both the operation and application of sets of knowledges, while at the same time it is engaged in the production and dissemination of knowledges. The SCC in this sense is constituted by and constitutive of particular subject positions. The SCC Commissioners literally 'speak the state' - hence their status as Ambassadors. As the Commissioners deal with the negotiation of activities that affect [ultimately] the integrity of the state, they are therefore constitutive of the boundaries between states. This analysis of the role of the SCC thus ontologically goes beyond traditional frameworks of interpretation and interpretive communities. It goes beyond simple policy analysis, instrumental rationality and problem solving, although the SCC is, as we have seen, engaged in all of these. It goes beyond traditional frameworks of interpretation by linking the macro and microstructures of state making and institutional practice as viewed through the SCC.
The United States and the Soviet Union, having been constituted throughout the Cold War as Manichæan Other to each other - in a system dependent upon modernist conceptions of power articulated as military force - the advent of nuclear weapons was early recognised as the postmodern wild-card in the modernist world order. As Bernard Brodie recognised as early as 1946, nuclear weapons were and remain too powerful, too potentially destructive to ever be used again as weapons in the modernist sense of the word. Their value lay in their use as tokens of discourse, as signifiers of power, of superpower status. Moreover, the shift in world-view ushered in by the 'postmodern'532 weapon led, in an ironic twist, to the notion that military security depended upon ensuring that nuclear weapons would not be used.
The consequences of this shift in thinking led to a view that ultimate security lay along the path of ultimate vulnerability. With the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction coupled with the limitation on anti-ballistic missile systems through the ABM Treaty, it was clear that if the Treaty were to remain for all time in a changing world, it was clear that a space was needed in which the United States and the Soviet Union could explore the extent to which a jointly produced discursive economy could be established and maintained such that these states as speaking subjects could be construed as self-policing subjects within a new regime of normalising and disciplinary control. The SCC established this space. Although other international fora existed, the SCC was and is unique insofar as it represents a space in which the two adversarial powers could negotiate on an ongoing basis their mutual vulnerability to each other.533
The maintenance of such a space exacts a price - the ability to raise issues that at times has required the exchange of information that remains classified to their own side, but is necessary in order to account for behaviours that would otherwise be construed as ambiguous with respect to compliance with the Treaty. In order to protect that level of openness, the space itself must be highly disciplined, maintaining full confidentiality with respect to the negotiations, the procedures and, in many cases, with respect to the agreements themselves that are negotiated within the SCC.534
The ABM Treaty formalises more than one kind of vulnerability, insofar as it not only formalises the principle of defencelessness, but it also formalises vulnerability to the gaze of the Other through the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of national technical means of verification (NTM) and through non-interference clauses with respect to this vulnerability.535
While it lacks specifically juridical powers to sanction violations of arms control agreements, the SCC is not without power. Taken in concert with the other arms of the security state that is articulated as much through arms control as through military power, forms of normative power operate to maintain compliance with at least the spirit of the agreements and Treaties that stand between unrestrained arms racing and a fairly stable deterrence regime.
What is not addressed adequately in the literature on arms control is the operation of compliance with arms control agreements in the absence of specified sanctions. While this is not central to this thesis, some aspects of the kind and scope of analysis used in Section III of this thesis may go some way towards pointing toward the mechanisms at work behind the operation of compliance. Here I refer to the disciplinary power embodied in the verification regime of observation, and the normalising gaze of 'world opinion' articulated at several levels, from quiet diplomacy within the SCC that has operated to great effect over, for example the SA-5 radar issue and the concurrent testing of air defence elements with elements of a ballistic missile defence, to the publication of treaty 'violations' over a period of years, to, ultimately the expression of normalising judgement in terms of the potential for trade sanctions, tit-for-tat counter-violations, or at the extreme, abrogation of the Treaty under the principle of rebus sic stantibus. Interestingly, even in the most oppositional times of the first term of the Reagan administration and its rhetoric of the 'evil empire,' both Parties to even the unratified SALT II Treaty gave unilateral undertakings not to undercut the terms of the Treaty under the international law principle of pacta sunt servanda. Could it be that the Word is mightier than the Bomb?
At the heart of this range of options for response, the SCC operates as the front-line forum for response. It is a space in which ambiguous compliance activities are raised before they are fully formed - named - as violations. The need for such an organisation, small as it is, arises because, despite the technical form of the treaties under its care, arms control is more about human behaviour than about the purely technical. The decisions about whether or not a particular activity is to be deemed a violation are ultimately political, and rest with the White House and the Kremlin respectively. These decisions are informed by a range of inputs from a variety of sources, ranging from the intelligence community to the representatives of the military industrial complex, to security analysts within the State and Defence Departments, and, in the case of the United States, from community lobby groups that themselves seek to promote particular political positions. Each of these groups represents a knowledge-producing community536 with a range of backgrounds and political positions. As MacKenzie notes:
What we find ... is that there is no simple continuum whereby the closer we approach to 'use' the less problematic becomes the knowledge generated. Knowledge is indeed a network wherein different kinds of tests are performed against differently constructed backgrounds, with no one test ... and no one background being accepted by all as the ultimate arbiter.537
In each case of a suspected violation of the SALT Treaties, the SCC mediates538 between a multiplicity of cultures. Not merely the cultures of the United States and the Soviet Union, but of the cultures within these larger cultural formations articulated as states: - the culture of the security state, the culture of the policymaking communities, the culture of the strategic analysts, the culture of the arms control communities, the culture of Congress and of the Senate and of the range of Committees that have an input into the arms control process. Also implicated are the cultures of technology that construe the activities of the Other in terms of assumptions about technical facticity that is itself the product of political decisionmaking. At the end of the day, two people face each other across the table as Commissioners in the Standing Consultative Commission, charged with negotiating the meaning of a set of behaviours that are ambiguous with respect to compliance with the SALT Treaties.
These two people operate at the extreme ends of their respective pyramids of bureaucratic and technical support to enact and to maintain the boundaries between their respective states. They represent one site among uncountable sites. For the purposes of the present analysis, and because this site operates to maintain one of the many layers of the boundaries of the security state, this study has focused upon the SALT Standing Consultative Commission (SCC). It is part of the mechanism by which two security states secure their identity. This is supported through a network of interlocking knowledge-producing mechanisms, ranging from the electro-optical physics that led to the production of high-resolution surveillance satellites, to the administrative apparatuses that serve to process the surveillance data within a regime of normative behaviours against which the behaviours of the Other, so construed as an object of knowledge and hence of surveillance, may be assessed.
We have, in effect, examined the relations between institutions in terms of how their behavioural patterns and systems of norms, their modes of classification (taxonomy) and the relations of economic and social processes have converged at an historically specific space and time and under specific sets of conditions, in order to produce an object of discourse - the security state articulated in relation to the Other, the non-self. This other has been identified in terms of its resemblances (LPAR design, surveillance technologies, its goals and aims - security, integrity); its proximity as other but still Western, as other but still sharing a common boundary (NATO, WTO); its distance (physically, ideologically); and its transformations - its symptoms of expansionism, of the changes that may presage the development of a ballistic missile defence system, its increased defence spending and production, and so on.
We have seen how the discursive object, so construed, operates as an actant (not as monolithic, unitary actor) in terms of engaging in activities and gestures that the Self (articulated as The West, or The United States) interprets as meaningful behaviour - signals. We have seen how these signals (themselves neither unidirectional, or unitary) are 'sent' or at least received and interpreted (thereby 'produced') at particular sites that legitimate the authority of those signals. Such sites include, but are not restricted to the Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC). The SCC is, therefore one of the institutional sites within which particular patterns of discourse are legitimated in order to articulate state interests in terms of the practices of maintaining the boundaries, both physical and notional/conceptual.
Within these formalised institutional settings there are enacted a finite set (at any given place and time) of available subject positions that are rigidly defined by grids of specification and regimes of interrogation. For each instance of ambiguous behaviour with respect to arms control compliance, the SCC operates as a mechanism within which the Self may interrogate the Other, such that the burden of proof rests with the Other539 to demonstrate that such and such behaviour is in compliance with such and such an Article of the SALT Treaties.
As was pointed out before, and running as a thread of continuity throughout the author's interviews with arms control negotiators and policymakers in the US, UK, NATO, and the Soviet Union, the treaty-making process is exactly that - a process. It is not a fixed object. Even after a Treaty is signed, ratified and in force, there are still ongoing regimes of verification to monitor compliance, there are ongoing questions of definition of ambiguous terms within the treaty, and there are ongoing negotiations towards the next treaty. All of these activities (for such they are) represent ways of articulating boundaries - stating and re-stating the State. We have also seen how the very process of constituting an activity as one of 'violation' also represents a practice of boundarymaking.
I want to argue here that the boundary-making process itself is an integral part of the process of 'creating' the Subject - the United States security state, for example. Moreover, I want to argue that the process of enacting the state is analogous to (indeed, is another form of) the process at work in the constitution of the individual subject in classic realist novels. Given the common historical and philosophical ground upon which both the classic realist novel, and classic realist political theory, are based, this should not be too surprising.
Catherine Belsey points out that the conceptual framework of classic realism is founded upon the consistency and continuity of the subject. But, as she further states:
it is characteristic of ... the narrative process itself to disrupt subjectivity, to disturb the pattern of relationships between subject-positions which is presented as normal in the text. In many cases the action itself represents a test of identity, putting identity in question by confronting the protagonist with alternative possible actions ... to this extent classic realism recognizes the precariousness of the ego.540
The importance of returning the subject to a fictive closure is central to the control of anarchy in the subject - the maintenance of identity:
... the movement of classic realist narrative towards closure ensures the reinstatement of order, sometimes a new (world?) order, sometimes the old restored, but always intelligible because familiar. Decisive choices are made, identity is established.541
It was precisely this form of closure that was practiced, by the Committee on the Present Danger, and in the rhetorical strategies of President Reagan in order to maintain an increased level of defence expenditure, while promoting the sense of a strengthened American identity. As Belsey notes:
Harmony has been reestablished through the redistribution of the signifiers into a new system of differences which closes off the threat to subjectivity, and it remains only to make this harmonious and coherent world intelligible to the reader (voter), closing off in the process the sense of danger to the reader's subjectivity.
The US domestic polity as 'reader' of the discourse of danger promulgated by President Reagan, can rest assured that the dangers posed by Soviet noncompliance with arms control treaties will be met, in an 'anarchical' world with
...our own actions, either to produce agreement by the other side to cease and correct the problem, or to offset the consequences by our own unilateral steps.542
What is left to us here is to trace the links between the creation and operation of figurative texts such as novels with the figurative in the constitution of the real that may go some distance towards explaining how subjectivity, central to the formation of identities and speaking positions, is equiprimordial in the formation and constitution, not only of individuals as subjects, but also the formation of states as subjects. I want to stress here, that this represents a departure from classic realist political theory that operates a model of states as (relatively) unitary actors within a uniflow communication model. In the past, analyses of the individual/state dichotomy have tended to look for the sources of change in social theory - in analyses that addressed 'society' rather than the individual. Other modes of addressing the same dichotomy have oversimplified articulations of the state by viewing the state as a unitary and coherent actor, analogous to the modernist, humanist, individual. This thesis has set out to operate a theory of the state which effectively collapses the dichotomy between state and individual by positing both the individual and the state as persona ficta each produced by and through the same sets of processes. That is to say that under this rubric both the state and the individual are at once constituted by, and constitutive of, social practices. The theory of the state as subject operated within this thesis rests upon the premise that the individual is a non-unitary actor, and that subjectivity is construed by and through the signifying processes, of which language forms a part. This formulation combines elements of Lacan's and Foucault's theories of subjectivity. At this point it seems useful to step through the assumptions and argument upon which this premise is based.
The Individual/State analogue
1. The individual enters the social world in two ways:
a) via what Lacan terms the 'mirror stage' by which the child sees herself as other, exterior to the child who does the seeing. This necessitates a division between the 'I' that is seen and the 'I' that does the seeing, and
b) through language which necessitates a division between the 'I' of discourse (that is, the socially construed idea of what the term 'I' means) and the 'I' who speaks.
2. Of the two 'I's of language, only the 'I' of discourse (the concept) is fully represented to the conscious self. The self that speaks engages in a selection process in order to speak, necessitating the silencing of the other possibilities in order to construe what is to be spoken. For Lacan the unconscious comes into being in the gap which is formed by the division between the 'I' of discourse and the 'I' that speaks. The unconscious is thus an aspect of the subject's entry into the symbolic (hence social) order. The constitution of the unconscious at the same moment as the subject's entry into the symbolic order, creates a problem for the subject. By entering the symbolic order the speaking subject can articulate desires and hence assert full consciousness or autonomy over the immediate present. Nonetheless, however desires are articulated, they remain metonymic of the structure of desire itself, leaving unarticulated those aspects of desire that remain in the unconscious, and are thus,by definition, unaddressable. As Belsey points out:
The subject is ... the site of contradiction, and is perpetually in the process of construction, thrown into crisis by alterations in language and in the social formation, capable of change.543
... the displacement of subjectivity across a range of discourses implies a range of positions from which the subject grasps itself and its relations with the real, and these positions may be incompatible or contradictory. [t]hese incompatibilities and contradictions within what is taken for granted ... exert a pressure on concrete individuals to seek new, non-contradictory subject positions.544
3. In the same way in which individuals enter the social world, (in the process establishing/maintaining subjectivity,) so too, the social world construes sites at which subjectivity can be enacted in particular forms. The individual thus represents a social formation within the symbolic order.
4. Individuals articulate their identity across a range of discourses. Among the subject positions available are those subject positions which require the subject to 'speak for' or 'in the place of' other individuals (as, for example the family as a site of intervention for a range of practices concerned with health, economic viability, social conformity within normative frameworks, and so on).
5. Insofar as the individual represents and is represented by and in a range of discourses, the subject cannot be said to be unitary, continuous or cohesive, except, provisionally, and for the purposes of analysis, the subject may be said to articulate a particular position at a particular point in time within specific boundaries of operation. It follows, then, that the individual speaking subject may be construed as such only insofar as the subject enacts a specific regime of boundaries, establishing and maintaining the identity of self in opposition to the anarchic exterior.
6. Subjectivity, a function of the socially/historically construed symbolic order, is enacted by individuals or groups of individuals (who in their authorisation are empowered to speak), in the course of which, are produced individuals (through boundaries established between self and other) and collective subjects (through boundaries enacted through 'us' and 'them'). In each case any attempt to maintain the dichotomy between the individual and the social symbolic orders remains artificial and arbitrary.
The linguistic and other semiotic means by which we operate a shared social and political world form in fact the currency by which the values that define our shared sense of community. As Terence Ball argues:
It has long been a truism that our being moral and political creatures presupposes a shared capacity for communication. We therefore live, not as a luxury but as a logical (indeed ontological) necessity, in a world of words. It is by virtue of being communicating creatures that we are tied together not by physical bonds but by the words which are our bonds. ... Who and what we are, how we arrange and classify and think about our world - and how we act in it - is deeply delimited by the conceptual, argumentative and rhetorical resources of our language. The limits of my moral and political language are the limits of my moral and political world545
In the context of this thesis it would seem more useful to render Ball's use of the term 'words' as 'signifying elements' insofar as they can, in addition to words, be realised as actions (examples being troop deployments, 'gunboat diplomacy' and so on). Thus Ball's use of language can be broadened semiotically to mean any signifying system.
What is important to note here is that the meanings explored in the articulation of the security state seen through the practices of arms control compliance at the site of the Standing Consultative Commission, is that these meanings are never divorced from the practices that produce them, and that discourse (and its boundaries so enacted) represents an active struggle for and against the production of particular types of statements. Moreover, the state so construed is operable for only as long as particular kinds of representation delimit the state in that form.
These practices of representation are always material. That is to say that they go beyond the bare expression of a system of ideas. They also occur within a context. As Tilley notes:
The use, production and meaning of material culture is not a context-free event. Equally, material culture does not simply consist of a set of signs to be read in which inheres a teleology of intentional meaning.546
As a result, the state as a material cultural artefact cannot be reduced to a system of ideas, either at the level of the individual or at the level of social theory. As both product of and producer of practices of representation, the state cannot be reduced to simple utilitarian or social functions. The state is neither a-historical, nor immutable - that is it cannot occur without a context in which it is produced and sustained - therefore it cannot be used or understood in precisely the same way across cultural boundaries.547 We have seen how this has led, between the United States and the Soviet Union to much misreading of each other's practices and motives. Nor can the state be construed in evolutionary terms as the 'high-point' for civilised governance. As Tilley notes:
Material culture ... exists in a space falling between rules and principles for action and actual social practices ... These practices are to be linked with power-knowledge strategies both producing material culture and constraining the forms it may take according to context. So the use and form of material culture can be understood in relation to power and knowledge as can the social practices producing it.
In the context of this thesis, the importance of the ABM Treaty was precisely the recognition that meanings can change across time. If the Treaty were to stand for all time (unlimited duration) then mechanisms would need to be set in place for the constant renegotiation of the meaning of essentially or at least contingently contested terms. That mechanism was, and remains, the Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC). The narrative invoked by this thesis is precisely the story of the charting of political change. We have noted the change in how the United States has defined itself in relation to its dominant Other - the Soviet Union - through the practices of one of the mechanisms charged with the enactment of the boundaries of the United States as speaking subject within the discourse of arms control compliance. The time-scale I have examined has been roughly the period between 1975 and 1985 which saw the transition from the practice of the United States under President Carter, to the practice of the United States under the first term of President Reagan. The changes wrought in these states so enacted have been felt in the practice of the ongoing negotiations within the SCC over the subject of compliance with the SALT Agreements. As we have seen this mechanism does not operate in a context-free environment any more than any other practice of identity creation and maintenance.
In the conclusion that follows I shall draw together many of the threads that have been woven throughout the thesis so far. I shall make explicit what has to this point remained largely implicit and set this within the theoretical framework that has underpinned this research. I shall conclude the conclusion with a gesture towards the role played by the SCC and, within the START regime, of the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC), and their importance for the future of the arms control process.
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