Security has always been a core concept in the building of an institutionalized system of international relations. The UN Charter made of it its backbone. This security, the Charter’s security, was closely related to peace. Both concepts appear together in twenty-nine out of the thirty-two occasions in which they are mentioned in the Charter. This link of security to peace, provides security with a positive energy, accentuated when peace is related to freedom, justice, or development. On the other hand, the Charter’s security was-and it is-a collective security, in spite of the limits imposed on it by the Council decision-making process.
The security that is the core concept of the new order prefers to be termed “democratic”, “energetic”, “ecological”, “economic” or “demographic”-which insists on the perception that we are living a high risk society-to its former link to peace, justice, freedom or development. In addition, it is a positional security: it is “my” or “our” security-the North’s security, the US and its clients’ security-that reacts against “their” threat (the South’s threat, the axis of evil one), caused by terrorism, drug trafficking, irregular immigration waves or the possession of arms that are only in good hands if they are in our hands.
This outline reinforces the return to an individual and groupal self-preservation to the detriment of the UN Charter. The US and their client states are entitled, as it is said, to protect “their” security, where they think it is endangered, by making recourse to the means they chose, including recourse to armed force. Therefore, blacklisting, so loved by the American Administration as a means to discredit the others, is not surprising. The goal is to get the others socially and legally excluded so that they become the target of the US and their client states use of force without provoking negative reactions or scandals. The document on the national security strategy of the US (2002) even makes of the Rogue State a category.
Nevertheless, in democratic countries, the first victims are individual and collective rights, public freedoms, judicial guarantees, transparent and plural information, restriction in the use of repressive force…
Military Supremacy and Readiness to Use Force
The US looks for a supremacy that avoids any kind of competition, prevents policies against it and fights against any tendency of its allies to deviate from it. The republican majority wants less State, even less diplomacy, but an increment in Defense budget. President Clinton had foreseen these risks when he vetoed the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2606), that meant a drastic budget cut to the Department of State. “By denying America a decent investment in diplomacy, this bill suggests we should meet threats to our security with our military might alone… “.
There is a propensity to use military power within what Marcelo G. Kohen has denominated a culture of force. As it had happened in Kosovo and Afghanistan, in Iraq the US disdained the UN Charter and the competences of the SC under Ch. VII. However, in contrast with what happened in Kosovo (where one could claim a humanitarian intervention) or Afghanistan (reaction against terror), the reasons to intervene in Iraq (possession of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism networks) have been perceived as a pretext to remove a hostile regime and replace it by a friendly one (shall we call it democratic?.) that allows Washington to deploy its military power to control energetic resources and to intimidate those that in the agitated Middle East neighbourhood react against Washington’s dictates.
The mentioned document on US national security strategy (2002) widens the notion of self-defence so as to accommodate, it says, the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries, in the first place terrorists and the States that shelter them. “Our best defense is a good offense”, argues President Bush. It must be said that however flexible, the concept of self-defence cannot include, as it is claimed, situations in which a presumed enemy’s bad intention is assimilated into a specific, precise and aggressive decision. The fight against terrorism leads to pre-emptive action which finally becomes applicable to any threats to what the American Administration considers its vital interests. Furthermore, pre-emptive action becomes applicable to any hegemonic or imperial plan. The fact that selfd-efence has not been invoked to invade Iraq, allows us to suggest that even for the Bush Administration the doctrine of the “pre-emptive intervention” is susceptible of being the axis of an Imperial Order or a new Hegemonic IL; it cannot be the expression of the IL in force, which is based on the principles of the UN Charter.