A Critique of the Militarisation of Social Conflict and the Securitisation of Everyday Life
Assessment of the Strategy Papers of the ‘Future Group’ (on the future of EU Home Affairs policies) and the ‘new strategic directions’ of NATO, put forward in the publication, ‘Towards a Grand Strategy in an Uncertain World’
Proposal for a campaign against the new EU policies to be ratified under the Swedish Presidency of the EU in 2009
Recent unrest due to food price hikes, protests against rising energy costs, visions and realities of a climate crisis and growing concerns over scarce resources, in conjunction with the continued turmoil of financial markets, are creating a sense of insecurity for a neoliberal regime in severe crisis. The G8 states and their allies are seeking to contain these conflicts and the evident accumulation crisis of the global economy through market-orientated solutions in order to restore economic growth whilst calls for more state intervention in the regulation of financial markets are rife. At the same time, the ‘war on terror’ serves to justify ever-more militarisation of all spheres of life. Wars are waged to secure new markets, transport routes and resources. New techniques of governance are emerging within a logic of waging war against who- or whatever cannot be made profitable.
In 2009, a number of security policy changes whose consequences are as yet unclear, are planned for the EU.
Under the banner of ‘civil-military cooperation’, internal and external security are to be merged into a ‘comprehensive’ and supra-national ‘security architecture’. With a view to the US ministry, the ‘Department of Homeland Security’, founded after September 11th 2001 and comprising governmental, business and research organisations, EU security authorities are pushing for similar policy approaches for the European Union. ‘Homeland Security’ is to form the basis of the global security architecture of the most dominant states and richest economies, incorporating supranational institutions and multilateral agreements.
At the beginning of April, NATO will meet for its Spring conference in Strasbourg and Kehl at the Franco-German border. At the last NATO summit in Bucharest 2008, many of the discussions were postponed to 2009, when final decisions concerning a new strategic direction for the 26 member states of NATO will be taken. Former NATO chiefs of staff 1 published a discussion paper in April 2008, ‘Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World’, in which they argue for a comprehensive transformation of NATO:
“To be prepared for what cannot be predicted is going to be one of the foremost challenges in the years ahead. […] What the Western allies face is a long, sustained and proactive defence of their societies and way of life. To that end, they must keep risks at a distance, while at the same time protecting their homelands“.
What this means is that internal security and military interventions will no longer be considered separate spheres of activity and will be “merged”. One of the strategically important partners within this process is the USA, the other is the EU, which cannot maintain its continued integration in the global market economy, nor its internally open borders, without a common security architecture. The strategy paper stipulates asserts that a fundamental change in contemporary “threats, risks and dangers” has occurred. The paper’s aim is to argue for the inevitability of a ‘Comprehensive Approach’ which envisages the coordination of the military, foreign policy, ‘Homeland Security’, civil defence and development policy. NATO should no longer simply respond to threats but predict them, intervene with preventive and pre-emptive military strategies or carry out proactive first strikes so as to prevent dangers from emerging in the first place.
Similar projects are being proposed for the EU by a number of EU Home Affairs ministries. In a paper titled, ‘Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an Open World’, the ‘Future Group’, initiated by German Home Secretary Wolfgang Schäuble in 2007, demands are made for a profound change of course in EU Home Affairs towards ‘Homeland Security’ (although the precise term is not used). Europe is to take the lead in the response to “security, migration and technological challenges”. Priorities are:
“Police cooperation, the fight against terrorism, management of missions in third states, migration and asylum as far as border management, civil protection, new technologies and information networks“.
Every five years the EU decides upon new guidelines for the ‘internal security’ of its member states. Following the Tampere Programme (1999-2004) and the Hague Programme (2004-2009), the current paradigm shift is to be implemented in the second half of 2009 during the Swedish presidency. Characteristic for this paradigm shift is an “early strategic diagnosis” to prepare for “threats” that are not yet reality but are imaginable. Through the use of “risk analysis” dangers are projected that ‘necessitate’ ever-more militarised internal security carried out in close cooperation with think tanks and civil defence authorities.
As in the NATO paper, foreign, internal, defence and development ministries are supposed to work closely together in order to secure the “rule of law” in “third countries” and to prevent threats to Europe.
“This will make external relations a priority for the future design of European Home Affairs“.
In the following, we analyse the papers of NATO and the “Future Group”, in order to comprehend the radical changes in security policy that are taking place, and to suggest common and urgent points of intervention for social movements.
“Transforming the Data Tsunami into Intelligence”
The EU Strategy paper, ‘Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an Open World’ 2
The changes to Home Affairs policies stipulated in the Hague Programme have already been implemented by many member states: Harmonisation of terrorism legislation, data retention, development of existing databases with common access, cross-border police cooperation, for example during sporting events or mass political protests. ‘Border management’, finger-printing when applying for an EU visa, as of 2009 biometrical identification in new passports and ID cards, development of security research, cooperation in crime management, police missions abroad etc. On the level of the EU new institutions have been founded and existing ones have been granted more responsibilities.
Many of the regulations described above were announced as temporary measures in the ‘war on terror’ following 9/11. Today this state of exception has become the norm and is being further exacerbated. According to EU papers, other principle threats to the “European Model” are migration and “organised crime”. In their paper, ‘Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an Open World’, the ‘Future Group’ suggests three “horizontal demands” for European security and proposes “the development of Europe’s position in a globalised world”:
“preserving the ‘European model’ in the area of European Home Affairs by balancing mobility, security and privacy
coping with growing interdependence between internal and external security
ensuring the best possible flow of data within European-wide information networks”
The changes in European Home Affairs policy are directly connected to discussions regarding the EU Lissabon Treaty that seeks to create EU-wide organisations to strengthen the economic competitiveness of the EU. The “convergence principle” enables the dismantling of intra-state and legal “obstacles”, legislation is to be “harmonised” and “simplified”, equipment and personnel is to be “pooled”, education and training is to be standardised with the aim of “interoperationability” between existing systems. As with many areas within the EU, the decision-making structures for Justice and Home Affairs are not transparent.
The stated goal of the EU Treaty is to create a space of ‘Freedom, Security and the Rule of Law’. Since 2008, Jacques Barrot is the ‘Commissioner for Freedom, Security and the Rule of Law’. He took the place of Franco Frattini who became the ‘Forza Italia’ foreign minister of Italy within Berlusconi’s new cabinet. Together with the German Home Secretary Wolfgang Schäuble, Frattini played a central role in developing the current European security policy. In the area of inner security the relatively young EU institutions are to receive more operative competencies in order to keep social discontent within the EU under control: the European police academy CEPOL, the European Gendermerie EGF, the police agency Europol, the EU “Situation Centre” (SitCen) for the analysis of current situations and for the evaluation of intelligence and the border protection agency Frontex. They are to have access to all “relevant information”. Following Germany’s example, all member states should set up “anti-terrorism centres”, merge police and intelligence services and exchange information on an EU-wide scale (so long as the respective ‘national interests’ are not endangered by the exchange of intelligence). The intention is to create an overarching ’Committee for Internal Security” for all EU police authorities. This is a step towards a common “EU Home Affairs Ministry”, beyond the existing “Standing Committee on Internal Security” (COSI).
The coordination amongst EU security authorities is conducted by so-called “Liaison Officers” who already have a large number of responsibilities and competencies with a department in each member state. The ‘Future Group’ advises expanding and strengthening their network.
Following the logic of ‘Homeland Security’, internal security is not merely a matter of Home Affairs, but is a common effort comprising of policy-making, military forces, police, civil defence, the security industry and think tanks. The intention is to “blur” the boundaries between these authorities and recognise how they are “intrinsically linked“ due to the need for a “comprehensive global approach”.
Consequently, under the primacy of security, different policy areas are interwoven:
“The Group strongly advocates developing a holistic concept covering e.g. development, migration, security, economic, financial, trade and foreign policy aspects in this regard, allowing the European Union to play a responsible and credible role in international relations“.
As a contribution to the ‘global security architecture’, internal security should also be organised between different states. The main focus is the USA with whom the EU already has a number of bilateral agreements with respect to data exchange, Europol, extradition, mutual assistance, passenger information, SWIFT transactions and container security.
“In the area of freedom, security and justice, actions and measures have to follow strict geographical prioritisation and political differentiation: the European Union first has to define its key strategic interests. […] At a second stage the European Union has to identify which third countries are of vital interest for cooperation.“
“Geographical challenges” are “candidate countries”, the West Balkans, neighbouring countries of the EU, the Mediterranean region, Russia, Africa, Latin America, Afghanistan, Iraq and its neighbouring countries, China and India. The ‘Future Group’ concludes that “the blurriness of internal and external threats” and an “internationalisation of conflict resolution” makes “interventions outside of the EU“ necessary. The aggressive foreign policy of the EU is nothing new, but the fact that Home Affairs ministers now consider it one of the highest priorities, marks a new era.
The EU police mission EULEX deals with tasks such as fighting insurgency, protecting private property and maintaining public order. The common “European Gendarmerie Force” (EGF) which has its base in Vicenza in Italy, is to be incorporated more in foreign missions. Police deployments are understood as “civil interventions”. In future, all forces operating abroad (military, police, diplomatic services, development ministries, civil defence, “institutions for the rule of law”) are to have recourse to knowledge and information they need in the planning stages already, and operate together in ‘Mission Situation Centres’, making their information available to other EU authorities. Potential operating areas are:
“Institution-building, rule-of-law missions, election monitoring, democratisation, civil society and humanitarian aid. […] The vast variety of threats ranges from war situations to terrorist attacks, organised crime, violent demonstrations, natural or man-made disasters and usual police tasks.“
Within member states, but also on an EU level, new decentralised “competency centres” will be developed in order to bundle common tasks. The increasing interweaving of police and intelligence work necessitates common surveillance centres for the whole range of telecommunication surveillance. At the external borders of the EU, common “Police and Customs Cooperation Centres” (PCCC) are to be installed.
EU ministers have declared migration an “inherent phenomenon in our increasingly globalised societies and economies“. The economic aspects of migration are at the forefront of their considerations. Demographic developments are registered with concern, whilst prognoses are made regarding the increase in much-needed labour migration. Thus, so-called “legal migration” is to be further strengthened in order to provide labour for the EU labour market. The relationship between “supply and demand” between the EU and workers from “third countries” will form a back-door option to ‘return’ migrants in accordance with demands of the labour market:
“The Group suggests that Member States should fully exploit all possibilities of intra-European economic migration.“
In third countries more EU migration authorities will be installed,
“with responsibility for advising on visa and related questions and recruiting possible immigrants.“
The EU is to implement an “Entry-exit” system similar to the US ESTA system (“Electronic System for Travel Authorisation”) that will be operationalised on January 12th 2009. The US system is designed for tourists and business travellers. Mobility is a central issue for labour market policy and tourism and thus has a security dimension:
“If citizens do not feel secure, then it is highly likely that they would not wish to travel at all”.
Having an EU travel document should facilitate the crossing of borders:
“A one-stop approach integrating all checks and controls carried out for different purposes, i.e. relating to persons, goods, veterinary and phyto-sanitary, pollution, terrorism and organised crime.“
Here, new ‘border management’ technologies are to be introduced (e.g. biometrics, x-ray technologies, RFID chips). Further to the harmonisation of asylum laws, the “fight against illegal migration” requires an “effective European return policy”. The European border control system (EUROSUR) is to be expanded,
“to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the European Union by improving situational awareness at external borders and increasing the reaction capability of information and border control authorities.“ 3
For this, existing institutions and programmes will be further networked. The focal point for this will be the “border protection agency Frontex” in the “fight against migration”, “organised crime”, drug trafficking and terrorism.
“The success of Frontex missions to date is undermined by the lack of precise legal provisions on, for example, the regime governing Frontex measures with regard to e.g. sovereign action executed by national ships or planes and responsibilities for refugees, asylum seekers and castaways. Therefore, priority should be given to the development of such common rules.“
Accordingly, member states should do more to grant Frontex more responsibility in short-term “missions”, in setting up regional departments and providing technical assistance and other materials. Frontex should not only train national border protection troops, but also inspect and evaluate them. More deportations (“return flights”) are to be carried out under the independent “initiative, organisation and coordination” of Frontex. The aim is to develop a common “corporate identity” of all EU border troops as “European border guards”. EU border troops should also operate outside of the EU, for example between Lybia, Niger and Chad. At sea their responsibility should be expanded to the “territorial waters of affected third countries”.
Of great concern to Home Affairs ministers is the standardisation of security technologies. Civil and military research should be further merged in the “European Security Research Programme” (ESRP, the ESRP alone has a budget of 1.4 billion Euros for 2007-2013). The links between national and supra-national authorities, private businesses and think tanks are evident in the example of how Germany contributes to the ESRP; through representatives of the BKA (Federal criminal investigation authority), the ‘Fraunhofer Gesellschaft’ (a leading scientific think tank), the arms companies Siemens, Diehl and EADS.
European police authorities are irritated by data protection, the increasing use of encryption software and encrypted telecommunication (PGP, Skype). The proposal is to develop standards for the future that make it easier to carry out bugging operations. Also in the area of video surveillance the intention is to harmonise the systems in order to diminish technical problems that stand in the way of common access to biometric data for example. More research is to be undertaken regarding police deployment of “un-manned systems” (so-called “Unmanned air vehicles” (UAV), remote controlled “drones” with cameras installed). A number of police forces in Europe are testing the use of UAVs within police operations more generally. The use of UAVs in Switzerland has already led to arrests of migrants along the “green border”.
Data bases and new technical developments play a central role in the redesign of EU Home Affairs. This logic ensures that security and individual rights can only flourish in an “atmosphere of collective security”, as the former EU Commissioner Frattini explains. His words are echoed in the strategy paper; New technologies and common databases,
“ensure more security for citizens and at the same time greater protection of their right to privacy.“
The argument of critics, that access to the data of all EU citizens by hundreds of thousands of European security personnel is in itself a security risk, is turned on its head in the most absurd way.
The repression authorities are no longer confronted with the problem of gathering data in light of the many ways in which data is currently generated and collected: registration and revenue offices, provider data, banks, user profiles on the internet (MySpace, Facebook, Second Life), e-government, travel profiles, telecommunication surveillance, video surveillance, GPS. To be ‘armed’ in “the era of cyber-space” rests on adequate administration if data and the ability to make ‘sense’ of it. The talk is of an “almost limitless amounts of potentially useful information”.
“Information is the key to protecting the public and in an increasingly connected world in which public security organisations will have access to almost limitless amounts of potentially useful information. This is a challenge as well as an opportunity – public security organisations will need to transform the way they work if they are to master this data tsunami and turn it into intelligence that produces safe, open and resilient communities.“
To facilitate European-wide data exchange interior ministers have already agreed to 6 of 49 “types of relevant information”. DNA, finger-printing, Ballistics, vehicle registration, telephone numbers and registration data. This catalogue is to expanded to a “Top-Ten” list in 2009. A severe problem are the different standards that exist within the member states with respect to hardware, software, format, but also the systematisation of data. The ‘Future Group’ would like to set up a “European Union Information Management Strategy” (EU IMS) in order to develop standards and promote system cooperation.
“The key to effectiveness will be using technology to connect the capabilities of a multitude of stakeholders and ensure the right information gets to the right person in the form they are best able to use.“
An “interoperable platform” should facilitate better communication between the different police forces of the member states and the EU institutions. Existing databases such as the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), the Frontex-Portal Border Technet, the Europol Network European Information System (EIS) or the biometric visa database VIS are to be connected as “convergent networks”. With this, a surveillance network of previously unknown dimensions will be created, and will function as a central nodal point of Europol, as a “competence centre for technical and coordinative support“. In the long-term, Europol is to develop a “security partnership with Interpol” (the second-largest international organisation, second only to the UN) and cooperate closely with SitCen, the exchange platform for intelligence.
The paper proposes that data exchange should also be extended to “third countries”. The focus for this is the USA whose regulations already allow the release of data to other authorities and countries. The intention is to decide upon setting up “Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation” by 2014. Real-time data flows will play an important role in this, whereby access to large volumes of data by the authorities will be possible from any place in Europe, also during police operations. For this, broadband mobile networks are being built. At the same time, technologies such as RFID, WLAN or Bluetooth will enable live-protocolling of behavioural patterns.
“Special investigative techniques should be placed higher on the agenda. […] Member States should prioritise investment in innovative technologies that enable automated data analysis and improve real-time collaboration. Research in these areas should be encouraged, ensuring that ideas can move quickly from a research context to practical implementation.“
Automated data analysis functions in the following way. Computers systematise data of persons, objects or criminal offences (as processes that run in the background). They can be constructed as relationship diagrams. These are compared and risk analyses constructed from them. The software can also process audio files such as those obtained through telecommunication surveillance or excerpts from interrogations. The result is a visualised “mapping” of complex relational structures. Three-dimensional pictures are created through the generation of different information ‘layers’ that are placed on top of each to identify ‘clusters’. This software can provide assistance in decision-making that corroborates previous data, incorporating simulations (e.g. larger police operations at summits or sport events). Used in real-time these can identify “suspicious telephone conversations”or, combined with biometrics, can identify unusual behaviour or clothing features.
Such risk analyses mark a shift towards a “proactive approach” to policing. A population or certain groups can be placed under general suspicion and researched by machines. With this, police and intelligence services intend to foresee crimes. Here, a fundamental paradigm shift within police operations is taking place. To date, police can only take action if a crime has occurred or if there is evidence of a criminal offence; thus, legislation regulating police operations will have to be changed to accommodate these shifts towards preemptive strategies.
The strategy paper of the Future Group advises the EU to use “preventive and repressive” measures against “terrorist threats”, complimenting these with “proactive” measures with the help of civil society and business. A particular focus is the internet. Beside surveillance centres, active intervention through the internet should also contribute to what is being called “de-radicalisation” by making use of “cultural intelligence”, taking account of “cyber-language”. Yet this is not the whole of the information war of the cyber-speaking interior ministers. They also advise on the need for media strategies,
“focusing on inter-cultural dialogue and developing a clear and convincing positive message to different communities in Europe and abroad – possibly even in non-European languages, with regard to European core values of good governance, fundamental rights and safeguarding of peace and freedom.“
Data protection is strongly under-represented in the strategy paper. A general justification for new measures is provided by the supposed desire for people to want more surveillance and control of their lives:
“Ensuring greater public understanding of the benefits of data sharing between Member States should be a priority. The strategy should include a commitment to make clear to European Union citizens how information will be processed and protected, on the basis of proportionality and necessity.“
This new five year plan for Home Affairs is accompanied by a concerned look to the political developments within the EU: In Spring, a new Commission president will be decided upon, in June a new parliament will be elected. The publication of the strategy paper, ‘Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Affairs in an Open World’ intends to assist the new (presumably more right-wing) parliament in ratifying the changes in EU security policy without much resistance. Their conclusion, that the strategy paper should only be understood as “reflections and ideas” should be understood as a mere euphemism in light of the concrete nature of the plans proposed in the paper.
21 of the 27 EU Member States are also members of NATO. Below, we assess the proposals for a new strategic direction of NATO.
“A hungry Man is an Angry Man” 4
The NATO strategy paper, “Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World” 5
NATO is looking forward to its 60th anniversary with plans for a transformation and expansion of its spheres of influence. In 2009, the response to elites’ sense of ‘increasing insecurity’ in the world will be answered with a reformed and better-armed NATO, with new members, new areas of responsibility, new measures and simplified decision-making structures. The existing consensus principle is to be discarded, meaning that individual member states will no longer be able to block missions. Only those who actively participate in a particular NATO mission will be allowed to participate in decision-making (in other words, only those who pay have a say). In future, NATO missions could be possible without a UN mandate:
“in addition to the obvious case of self-defence in the absence of a UN Security Council (UNSC) authorisation, we regard the use of force as being legitimate if there is no time to get the UNSC involved, or if the UNSC proves incapable of reaching a decision at a time when immediate action is required to protect large numbers of human beings. Should such extreme and exceptional situations occur, UN authorisation ought to be obtained after initial operations begin”.
NATO is a relic of the Cold War. It was constituted as a “transatlantic defence coalition” of European and North American countries at the end of the Second World War. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has been searching for a new raison d’être in a transformed geopolitical and economic environment. To this end, missions are now carried out under the umbrella terms of “human security”, as “peace-keeping” and “humanitarian” interventions, “crisis management” or “conflict prevention”. At present, NATO troops are deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur and Kosovo. At least 240 nuclear missiles are stationed in Europe alone (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey) and nuclear first strikes form part of the renewal of NATO strategy under discussion in the paper assessed here. It’s authors state that,
“The first use of nuclear must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction, in order to avoid truly existential dangers.“
In future, NATO should respond proactively to “security crises” of member states in light of the grave challenges in a new era of insecurity:
“Security challenges are predominantly socio-economic, not military-technical, in character. […] Military-technical considerations remain relevant in the context of the military strength of authoritarian regimes, the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and the tactical capability of armed combatants in intrastate wars. […] NATO must become a more effective instrument for the analysis and discussion of the socio-economic conditions that drive the security threats it faces and the policies designed to meet them.“ 6
The overhaul of NATO’s existing strategy concept is considered necessary to provide protection from the challenges increased socio-economic conflicts are expected to pose in the coming years: climate change, energy crises, food crises, “uncontrolled migration”, “human trafficking” and “terrorism”. New threat scenarios are provided as the basis for NATO’s new direction: natural catastrophes, resource wars, “angry hungry men” who become insurgent, female “victims of human trafficking” who need to be saved in light of the threats of human trafficking and organised crime. NATO’s perspective on socio-economic contexts clearly reflects that of a regime that has the intention of (re-)establishing and maintaining the status quo of economic and political power relations and is concerned with meeting rising social conflict military means.
NATO’s expanded remit is to be coupled with expanded capabilities. “Civil-military cooperation” is to be extended, areas of responsibility interwoven. The “Comprehensive Approach” that is advocated demands a
“concurrent deployment of all available civil and military elements, in order to end hostilities and re-establish order” 7
“Civil elements” consist of police, intelligence services, research, academies, civil defence, and the private security industry. NATO would like to be able to deploy the EU police force EGF in Vicenza. “Civil-military cooperation” means the militarisation of police work, which means concretely the internal build-up of arms in conjunction with anti-terror legislation. Following the logic that terrorism is no longer something that happens elsewhere, military deployments on homeland territory are easily justified. NATO’s ‘Comprehensive Approach’ is echoed in the strategic approaches of the member states’ interior ministries who are working on ‘fusing’ internal and external security under the concept of ‘Homeland Security’. More military presence at home, better cooperation of interior and foreign intelligence services and common databases (the databases of Europol are used for military intelligence gathering in Kosovo). NATO should be a main guarantor of the security of “critical infrastructure” (e.g. energy, transport, communication) within member states. By appealing to high levels of insecurity, preemptive and proactive measures are demanded, in order to foresee and predict threats and prevent them before they even exist. Initiative, interpretation and decision-making power must be retained at all times. Differences are made between “own-initiative” (proactive), preemption, prevention and reaction, in order to enable a qualitatively new approach to the prediction and thwarting of risks.
“Deterrence in our time thus still avails itself of creating uncertainty in the opponent’s mind – no longer reactively but proactively. What is needed is a policy of deterrence by proactive denial, in which pre-emption is a form of reaction when a threat is imminent, and prevention is the attempt to regain the initiative in order to end the conflict […] Pre-emption is the reactive response, when an opponent’s action is considered imminent; whereas prevention is a proactive step aimed at denial – and thus at conflict termination – in a situation in which the threat is not yet imminent, but in which evidence indisputably points to the unavoidability of conflict. Pre-emption is widely seen as a legal act of self-defence under customary international law, whereas the question of the legality of a preventive use of force so far remains unanswered.”
Here, the path is laid to use not-yet existing threats as an opportunity to intervene militarily where the dominant economic and political interests need to be secured:
“The purpose will often be the establishment of governance, free and just trade (including free and peaceful access to critical resources) and economic development and assistance, as requested, in establishing a well functioning state.“
This story of ‘good governance’ for the pursuit of ‘free trade’ can also be found in proactive media strategies as part of the “Comprehensive Approach”.
“These steps must be accompanied by well coordinated and media efforts, which could help achieve the objectives without recourse to intervention. At the same time, such media efforts might help to pave the way for the hearts and minds campaign, which must accompany any armed intervention.“
NATO interventions are geared towards the re-establishment of stability for capital accumulation. NATO’s role in the process of securitisation is to ensure the necessary capabilities to deal with future ‘threats’. Within a world view that thinks in terms of ‘threats’ and ‘dangers’, climate change is also portrayed as a threat, the social consequences of which fall in the area of responsibility of NATO. World-wide, NATO expects an increase in social conflict as the effect of an unequal distribution of the consequences of climate change, as well as the contradictory logics of the need to curb emissions through the reduction in the use of energy versus the mantra of economic growth which requires an increase in energy consumption.
“Climate change will affect, and is already affecting, nearly all areas of our lives, including security and the geopolitical situation. It is expected to cause further redistribution of wealth and a subsequent migration of people. Some regions that have always been on the periphery of the world, such as Greenland or Siberia, may become strategically important. Canada is already having certain sovereignty issues with the United States over sea passages through the Canadian Arctic. The conflict in Darfur is said to be “the first climate change war” stemming from years of droughts and subsequent food shortages in the region”. 8
It is evident from this strategy paper that proposals for a new direction seek to broaden NATO’s competencies within a global security architecture. Serious concern on behalf of elites over the recent onset of multiple socio-economic crises on a global scale, accompanied by fears over the increase of social conflicts regarding the distribution of wealth and resources, are mirrored in proposals for a more comprehensive approach for a NATO that can intervene militarily and through police forces to ensure that these ‘threats’ are overcome in the interests of capital.
Everyday struggles and social movements in the affected countries are met in terms of this logic. The militarisation of social conflict exceeds NATO missions and is characterised by a much wider strategies of domination under a much broader logic of social control and the securitisation of everyday life: Surveillance, data retention, criminalisation of poverty, militarised fighting of migration, military interventions on homeland are all expressions of the intensification of social disparities that are no longer able to be solved through integration (“The Dark Side of Globalisation”). This discourse and practice of securitisation is increasingly permeating all aspects of our lives of which the developments within NATO are only one expression.
A Comprehensive Approach for Social Movements
Proposal for a Campaign against the EU
The phenomena described in the assessments of current proposals and plans for a transformation of EU and NATO approaches in the area of security policy present social movements with great challenges. Clearly, there is a logic at work here that is engulfing ever-more of social life. Resisting the double challenge of militarisation and securitisation cannot be left only to peace movements, antimilitarist, civil liberties or anti-repression groups – particularly when many of these operate on a national level. In a society where economic processes divide people into winners and losers, where in a global context disparities are intensifying, plans for a more ‘Comprehensive Approach’ and ‘Homeland Security’ are attempts to create order and security for capital accumulation through military means. Where conflicts arise that cannot be solved through integration, securitisation provides the solution. The effects of this are experienced in the every-day as increased social control, the criminalisation of poverty and the fight against migration. Under a securitisation logic, every social conflict is seen as a potential threat. A politics of fear expressed through images of enemies and threat scenarios legitimises authoritarian and militarised strategies of domination. More control, exploitation and a state of exception become the norm.
To highlight and counter these developments, we propose a “Summer of Resistance 2.0”, a ‘comprehensive approach’ of social movement mobilisations against the NATO summit in April 2009, the Swedish EU presidency in the second half of 2009 and the G8 summit in Italy.
We join the proposal for a general engagement and intervention in the policies of the EU in 2009 (see http://openesf.net/projects/asm/blog/2008/07/01asm-kyievkiev-report-call-for-mobilisation-2009).
A number of European groups are engaging critically with EU politics and are affected by the consequences of them. Themes, and thus participants to such a campaign could be:
Civil liberties groups
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
Networked and collectively acting social movements can put a limit to these security phantasies and strategies in order to push open the space to make alternatives visible. We would like to discuss this proposal at future encounters of social movements. Please send us any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 General a.D. Klaus Naumann (Germany), General John Shalikashvili (USA), Field Marshall Lord Peter Inge (UK), Admiral Jacques Lanxade (France), General Henk van den Breemen (NL).
2 All citations in this section are from the Future Group paper unless otherwise stated.
5 All citations from the strategy paper unless otherwise stated.
European Home Affairs in an Open World: http://euro-police.noblogs.org/gallery/3874/eu-futures-jha-report.pdf
“Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World”: http://euro-police.noblogs.org/gallery/3874/grand_strategy.pdf
Analysis of Statewatch, “The Shape of Things to Come”: http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/the-shape/of-things-to-come.pdf
Gipfelsoli September 2008
This text first appeared here.
Image: ECB protest in Frankfurt 2014 (Montecruzfoto).