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This thesis offers a philosophical underpinning to national security, even as it is played out in the marginal practices of nuclear arms control. The thesis argues that national security is as much an issue of identity as of realpolitik.
This thesis has set out to show that the state is linked to the countless processes (or acts) that invoke it. To illustrate this I have taken a small and marginal section of state-making activity - the strategic arms control community - in order to examine in some detail the processes underlying state-making. I have set out to show that, in addition to all of the overt, or surface operations of the arms control community, that there is an unstated, but logically prior agenda which is tied to the nature of political community itself.
At this point it may be useful to render explicit what, until now, has been an implicit thread running throughout the course of this thesis. In so doing I shall locate a set of theoretical and methodological questions that have informed and shaped the direction of my analysis. Moreover, I shall explore both the rationale behind, and the usefulness of, this mode of analysis in relation to the discursive environment for which the SALT SCC was conceived. In the process, I shall locate what I believe to be the strengths and limitations of this mode of analysis. Finally, in a work of this scope I have not intended to give a comprehensive history of the sets of theoretical debates, of which this thesis inevitably forms a part - other works have been and are being devoted entirely to the grand sweep of theory. My aim is more modest. It is to address in a small way the question raised by a specific set of practices within security discourse in terms of the role they play in the constitution of the identity of what I term the 'security state.'
Chapter One introduced the discourse analytic approach, arguing that States become visible through the sets of military/strategic practices by which they enact their boundaries. This is what I have termed the 'security state.' This chapter argues that although States police their boundaries in a literal form, there is, in addition, an underlying and unstated cultural aspect. This cultural 'subtext,' when taken collectively with the countless other state/boundarymaking practices, constitutes the identity of the state. Moreover, I have argued that, if the security state is a product of the practices that enact and maintain it, then one can examine this process by looking at political/cultural micro-structures. One such microstructure is the SALT Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC).
Chapter Two has set out the history, structure and overt function of the Standing Consultative Commission. This chapter noted the importance of privacy for its successful operation insofar as this allows for a degree of frankness in the exchanges between the US and the then Soviet Union. In these terms the SCC has been shown to operate as a boundary space between the two then superpowers. The chapter sketched out the structure of the Soviet SCC bureaucracy in a manner not previously covered in the Western literature. The chapter also covers the procedures insofar as they can be ascertained from the open literature. Finally, the chapter compared the political functions of the SCC with its legal mandate, suggesting that the political constraints that were placed on its operation meant that it was ultimately unable to make full use of its mandate.
Chapter Three expanded the interpretive framework laid out in the introduction. The chapter drew together the relation between discourse analysis and analysis of political 'signalling.' The chapter then considered the conditions that made possible the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks that led to the establishment of the SCC. It did this by outlining a brief history of the development of strategic nuclear arms and the accompanying systems required for their functioning. This was necessary in order to show why particular systems were placed under control. These systems were subsequently raised as compliance questions, so it was important that their role was clearly outlined. The chapter concluded that it was the achievement of nuclear 'parity' that, coupled with domestic political and economic factors, made the SALT Agreements possible.
The chapter examined verification standards as an indicator of the state of relations between the Parties. It argued that where a state is considered to be secure, then arms control can be enacted with confidence under adequate verification to ensure compliance. It is argued that these were the perceptions under which President Carter operated. Verification standard is a political issue which, as Chapter Four shows, is subject to change. The chapter also noted that assessments of the limitations of National Technical Means of verification, the US ability to respond to Soviet cheating and the political and military significance of potential violations would all affect the extent to which compliance issues would be raised and the extent to which these would be pursued through the channel of the SCC.
Chapter three also set out the relevent agreements and their verifiable elements as these form the issue framework for the operation of the SCC. The chapter then presents the empirical data on compliance challenges and their responses in the SCC for consideration on their relative merits. The texts surrounding the compliance challenge debates are analysed, not only for their content, but also for the way their discursive forms insofar as they indicate the philosophical assumptions about Self and Otherness that sustain the statemaking apparatus described in this thesis.
Chapter Three then examined the relationship between compliance challenge and state identity and the politics of treaty language itself. This led to a more sustained and detailed theoretical discussion on the foucaultian relationship between knowledge and power as applied through verification technologies. In this section, verification technologies and institutions are considered as a mode of disciplinary power through techniques of; hierarchical observation, through the role of the intelligence community and the technologies of photointerpretation; normalising judgement and the role of international norms; and forms of examination as a mode of Confession. The chapter concluded with a discussion of Carter's construction of a particular political identity for the United States.
Chapter Four examined the political environment that led to a major ideological shift towards the end of the Carter regime. Ther chapter argues that this was in large measure coordinated by and through the Committee on the Present Danger, founded by Paul Nitze among others. The chapter argues that the CPD, along with other conservative political groups were largely responsible for establishing a climate in which SALT II was doomed to failure.
The chapter further argues that, between Carter's perceived failure on SALT (and on domestic crises, such as the Hostage crisis), coupled with Soviet expansionist activity in Afghanistan, led to the downfall of Carter and paved the way for CPD member, Ronald Reagan. The chapter argues that Reagan's Manachaeist view of US-Soviet relations led directly to the Second Cold War and an almost unprecedented level of rhetorical boundarymaking (leaving Carter's defence policies almost unchanged).
The chapter argued that the decision to uphold SALT II provisions was due almost entirely to the normalising judgement power of international norms under the prionciple of Pacta Sunt Servanda.
Chapter Four considered SCC activity during the Reagan first term and examined the evidence for the US charges of Soviet noncompliance. After considering the long list in general terms on its merits, a detailed discussion of the Krasnoyarsk Large Phased Array Radar was pursued. In so doing, the texts surrounding the dispute were examined both for their content and for their rhetorical modalities that were to indicate in fairly precise ways the shift that had occurred in the state-making practices of the US from Carter to Reagan.
This led to a detailed examination of the structures underlying political discourse, and the relationship between the discursive constitution of the individual and the discursive constitution of states and state-like identity structures.
Chapter Five gestures towards the future. As the Soviet Union was breaking down, or transforming into the Commonwealth of Independent States, this brief chapter discusses the role of the analogous institution to the SCC that was established for START and considers the benefits of this type of institution, and some of the lessons learned from the SCC experience.
My purpose has been to locate the SCC, both as, and in the context of, a set of representational practices through which the US and Soviet security state identities have been enacted. Therefore, this thesis is concerned less with evaluating the 'success' or otherwise of the SCC, than with the kinds of positions that have been invoked in order to effect such an evaluation.
Lyotard has suggested that to speak is inevitably to do so at the expense of silencing or marginalising other positions. Such a view arises from an attempt to provide a theoretical base with some explanatory power in terms of why large social structures (like states) should appear and behave as they do. In other words behind this enterprise lies an attempt at descriptive, rather than prescriptive philosophy.
As I have shown, The SCC has been, on a number of counts, remarkably successful given the political climate in which it was called upon to operate. On other terms the SCC has been an abject failure. The reasons for this have been offered in terms of the domestic political shift that brought Reagan to power. Behind such evaluations rests a range of perspectives, or to borrow from literary philosophy, a range of discursive positions and rhetorical moves.
Insofar as these rhetorical moves have been shown to condition the conceptual environment within which decisions are made and actions are taken, such rhetorical moves can be seen to form the 'stuff' of political forms of life. The methodology I have used has involved and invoked both historical and discourse-analytic modes of analysis. These offer the benefits of combining both a structural and an historical schema. Past modes of analysis have tended to concentrate on one at the expense of the other.
As I have stated from the outset, this thesis is based on assumptions that reject the simple binarism and foundationalism implicit in maintaining a dichotomy between theory and practice. As a result, as far as possible, the theoretical implications of specific practices have been noted within discussion about the practices themselves, rather than in a separate chapter on 'theory' or 'methodology' per se. By doing this I have performed two moves:
i) By focusing on the theoretical implications of practices, an emphasis has been placed on the theory-laden-ness of practice, which is a way of saying that practices are always meaningful - insofar as they are performed within a social context in a socially meaningful way. This move leads to the suggestion that 'real-world' practices are not merely the 'objective' domain of 'truth,' but rather, insofar as they are meaningful, they are what might be termed 'concretised textual practices.'
ii) This approach brings to the surface a problem for another dichotomy. If practice is, as it were 'theory-laden,' then practices within the object domain (the 'real world') are not 'objective.' If, as this approach might suggest, there is a problem with the dualism invoked in the subjective/objective distinction, surely this raises equivalent questions for the agent/structure debate and, along with this, questions for those formations announced by the so-called 'anarchy problematique.'
Throughout the Cold War, simplistically speaking, the world was divided, for Western observers, into a largely binary opposition between the notional 'Self' defined loosely (if uncomfortably) with 'the West', and the Other defined equally loosely as the 'Eastern Bloc.' It was an opposition that at the height of the Cold War was centred largely on two (at least rhetorically) nuclear powers and more specifically on the language by which they were said to possess specific kinds of nuclear weapon. The actual world was and remains, of course, more complex than that. But the language of the Cold War, that set the terms of debate about the actual world, was ultimately not about the actual world, but the cultural world.
Despite the fact that the political world can also be defined as a world of interests and institutions, the political world is perhaps better defined as a conceptual world - a world of meanings - in which action is filtered through institutionalised processes of interpretation on the basis of which other actions are initiated in the actual world. Under this rubric the interests form part of the currency of value and meaning that is exchanged between communities, both within and between states. We have seen also throughout this thesis that institutions can be effectively seen as sub-communities form and are formed by communicative action. The same process, I have argued, forms states and communities of states. This has been shown in Chapter Three, especially in the section on the role of the intelligence community. Thus the world of international relations is also a world of internotional relations. The process of identity-making that this entails, runs as a thematic base throughout human culture in all its formations, from the individual through the family, group, corporation or nation-state. It is a culture based on the twin principles of inclusion and exclusion.
We have seen in this thesis that the process of defining them as opposed to us rests largely upon the perceptions of similarity and difference. Insofar as this process may be seen at the analytic level of the state, the government or chief decisionmakers play an important role in defining the us-ness of us and the them-ness of them.
We have seen that sovereign statehood can be seen in terms of the potential or actual use of the means of force, the study of the means and modalities of force remain an important aspect of international relations. Yet, insofar as a government's decision to act is determined by the way it perceives the intentions of the putative Other, it is appropriate to analyse the factors affecting the processes of perception and the role of a-priori assumptions in shaping perception. In other words in addition to the material aspects of the strategic behaviours of states, they also signify. Indeed, there is a large body of literature within strategic studies on the subject of the signalling , or discursive behaviours of states.
As Foucault notes:
...it is in discourse that power and knowledge are joined together. And for this very reason, we must conceive discourse as a series of discontinuous segments whose tactical function is neither uniform nor stable. To be more precise, we must not imagine a world of discourse divided between accepted discourse and excluded discourse, or between the dominant discourse and the dominated; but as a multiplicity of discursive elements that can come into play in various strategies.551
In this thesis I have examined the interactive behaviours of three such sets of discursive behaviours: that of strategic assets (missiles, radars etc), that of NTMs (satellites, SIGINT etc) and that of the deployment of these within the framework of the Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation (SCC).
The thesis is intended as a contribution to the 'conversation' that is engaging the study of international relations theory under the rubric of the 'third debate'552 and to ground this conversation within the analysis of certain concrete practices that form part of the central concerns of the traditional conceptions of international relations: namely, the concerns of security within a changing pattern of global interrelationships between peoples.
Since nuclear weapons were first used in war, strategists have been caught up in a triple problem that has forced a major re-thinking of the traditional strategic outlook. That problem lies in the enormous destructive potential of these weapons, the fact of their invention, and in the articulation of security/identity through force 553
The late modern, or postmodern inversion of the Clausewitzian formulation stands in recognition of the enormous destructive potential of these weapons, and in recognition of the fact of History: that these weapons, once invented cannot be uninvented, and in the recognition that, beyond a certain point the competitive acquisition of ever larger numbers and increasing size of the these weapons brought decreasing marginal returns in the currency of added security. With the attendant risks of accidental war, the two largest nuclear powers have come to recognise that these weapons must be made to exist in a liminal space that bounded and separated them from so-called 'conventional' forces. They must be controlled.
At the same time, these weapons have been seen as indispensable insofar as they cannot be uninvented, and therefore 'sufficient' stocks of these weapons are seen to be necessary to 'deter' their used by Other powers. This is the dilemma of deterrence, or, in Plato's terms, nuclear deterrence can be viewed as a pharmakon. That is, as simultaneously medicine and poison.
In order to make nuclear deterrence 'credible' (that is to say, that the preferred reading by the ideal reader is that under certain conditions, nuclear forces will be interpreted as usable), force structures and force postures must be such as to indicate a willingness to transgress the boundaries into the liminal space of nuclear strategy. Given the potential global effects of all-out use of the present and planned nuclear arsenals, that liminal space must be defined and maintained rigourously in order to render the world 'secure'.554
As early as 1946 Bernard Brodie555 foreshadowed the problematic nature of nuclear weapons conceived as such.
The awful menace to both parties of a reciprocal use of the bomb may prevent the resort to that weapon by either side, even if it does not prevent the outbreak of hostilities. But even so, the shadow of the atomic bomb would so govern the strategic and tactical dispositions of either side as to create a wholly novel form of war... The conclusion is inescapable that war will be vastly different because of the atomic bomb whether or not the bomb is actually used. [emphasis mine]556
Arms control agreements are not new, even nuclear arms control agreements are not new, but arguably, the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missiles, the Interim Agreement and the SALT I and II Agreements marked a significant shift in strategic thinking about nuclear arms. The difference lay in two critical areas: i) the application of quantitative and qualitative limits on strategic weapons, and ii) in the provisions for verification of the agreement.
The Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM) and related treaties, represented a set of new beginnings for the arms control process, emphasising in their provisions the continuity of arms control as an ongoing process. With the Standing Consultative Commission on Arms Limitation and the unlimited duration of the treaty, the pattern was set for arms control to be thought-of as a continuity, punctuated by agreements. These agreements, coming out of ongoing negotiations represent starting points, rather than end-points of a process.
By framing my work in cultural terms, my intention has been to examine the cultural frameworks surrounding the shift in behaviours represented by the shift in use and function of the SCC between two U.S. administrations under consideration in this thesis.
William J. Durch, writing of verification, points out that "verification is a political and judgemental process that uses intelligence monitoring data to reach conclusions about a treaty partner's compliance with the terms of an agreement."557 Thus, he argues, judgement criteria for verification can change across time despite the relatively stable information acquisition methods. President Carter's criteria centred around a notion of 'adequate' verification (detection of militarily significant breaches within sufficient time to respond) while President Reagan's criteria were more stringent, centring on the term 'effective' verification. This has been interpreted to mean closer to 'absolute' verification (that is, detection of any violation, no matter how small.)
"Once upon a time the world was not as it is." This elegant formulation of the historical process by RBJ Walker (1989) condenses several processes that I have delved into in the course of this thesis. The first of these is the seemingly self-evident one that events happen, and that the fact of these events happening changes things.
The study of International Relations represents a particular genre of sets of organisational structures by which we can construct meaning for, or interpret, a particular subset of events-in-the-world. The interpretive principle referred-to here, is the Peircean one which suggests that "a sign is something by knowing which we know something more."558 Unpacking Walker's formulation a little further we can see that, in order to construct a schema by which the 'salience' of specific observable events may be identified, it is necessary to select first the particular articulation of 'world' according to which these events may be rendered 'salient'. International relations then, for all the claims of 'Realism', represents a selection process which also entails a process of interpretation.
As I complete this thesis the world continues to rearticulate its political spaces. In the context of the subject matter of this thesis this process is most dramatically represented by the dissolution of what had been known for more than seventy years as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On December 25, 1991 the era of the USSR ended with the resignation of President Mikhail Gorbachev. In its place, and largely within the old boundaries of the USSR (without the Baltic States and without Georgia) the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) continues to enact the notional boundaries constraining the possession and deployment of strategic nuclear arms.
The strategic offensive arms look from this vantage point to be set to remain under centralised control - the one Soviet identity that remains little changed by the emergent independence of the former Soviet Republics. That this has occurred is testament to the continuing power of the referent of the nuclear weapon articulated as a sign system. The establishment of the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC) to complement the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) represents a positive sign of commitment by both Parties, however named, to uphold and continue to maintain the principles enacted within the currently active nuclear arms control agreements. This above all has been the value of the SCC's contribution to the process of state-making initiated by the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
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