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GEOPOLITICAL ASPECTS OF SMALL STATE SECURITY Alyson JK Bailes, University of Iceland NBSS Security Workshop, Stavanger, 24 May 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "GEOPOLITICAL ASPECTS OF SMALL STATE SECURITY Alyson JK Bailes, University of Iceland NBSS Security Workshop, Stavanger, 24 May 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 GEOPOLITICAL ASPECTS OF SMALL STATE SECURITY Alyson JK Bailes, University of Iceland NBSS Security Workshop, Stavanger, 24 May 2012

2 SOME HEALTH WARNINGS Still a novice in the established field of small state studies Not guaranteed to be orthodox In particular, looking for a connection to studies in conflict, regime change and security sector reform - and trying to find bridges from our last NBSS workshop and forward to the one on identity

3 REMINDER: WHAT IS A SMALL STATE? We are using the ‘relational’ approach ie a state that is objectively smaller than most neighbours or than the regional average - and that feels at a disadvantage In terms of power and self-assertion Great scope for variation in other regions, but - in the greater Europe and in this project, an upper limit of 10 m inhabitants makes sense (We do not cover micro-states)

4 PRIMA FACIE, BEING SMALL MEANS Limited tools of power (military, economic) Smaller, less expert elites (inc diplomats)  Less influence, more reliant on rules of the game BUT ALSO: Chance of non-threatening image  ‘pure’ when giving advice/assistance, credible mediator Can try to make international environment more friendly through good ideas (‘norm entrepreneur’), flexibility, innovation.. Or play off larger actors against each other??

5 SPECIFIC SECURITY CHALLENGES Traditional military: risk of takeover (domination, political blackmail) - becoming a target as result of strategic location, natural resources, just plain ‘empire- building’….. - NB also use as forward base/proxy by one power against another (Cuba, Taiwan) Also risk of state ‘capture’ by mercenaries, terrorists, drugs gangs, corrupt business

6 WHAT ABOUT THE CONFLICT AGENDA? Easily caught in other people’s conflicts, but also: - can be internally divided, to point of armed violence by or against government (blurred line between civil disorder and ‘real’ conflict); -can provoke/attack neighbours, if also small. In either case, highly exposed to, but maybe also more in need of, intervention – state, UN, other… (At extreme, can fall into ‘benign occupation’ + post-conflict tutelage: E Timor, Kosovo)

7 AND ‘SOFTER’ SECURITY CHALLENGES Not necessarily proportionately worse/weaker because of size, but - Economic vulnerability: as first workshop Infrastructure and Supplies: one-sided dependence more likely, lack of redundancy Natural Disasters, Disease, Climate: threshhold of viability + self-help sooner breached, hence again  intervention

8 SOME DISTINCTIONS Security profile clearly varies with location (eg special features of many island states), region, neighbours (size and intent), roles of outside powers, level of development, etc BUT ALSO state history and evolution: i) For a long-established or ‘natural’ state entity, strategic challenges and options center on ‘neighbours good or bad’, plus availability of protectors….

9 ii) For a new or ‘made’ state - (emerging from an empire of some kind and/or state breakup): Friends with former ‘owner’ or against? Friend or enemy with (new) neighbours? Maintain, or reject and re-make security policy and culture (internal+external)…..to reflect what identity and values? On which model? With which advisers and suppliers?

10 NOW THE CLASSIC OPTIONS Seek a protector state -In same region or outside -Explicit security pact or ‘bandwaggoning’ -Military/strategic and/or economic help COSTS inc. ‘invisible’ ones – loss of freedom/ ’innocence’, agenda importing/mimicking, poss. conflict with values + identity-building Also balancing: can overlap, or in form of ‘ganging up’ with small/medium neighbours

11 …..AND ADD INSTITUTIONS UN + its agencies as general protector of small: may be enough if few security threats Regional institutions (NATO, EU, OSCE, CBSS, Norden – and non-European equivalents) Post-colonial networks (for aid and identity) Functional networks eg NAM, small island states, new agenda coalition, specialized security-relevant treaties

12 WHAT CAN INSTITUTIONS DO? Provide direct security functions: shelter for hard threats, rules/tools/resources for facing soft ones Provide an enhanced framework for handling big partners and ganging up with smalls Provide an add-on to identity, or even deliver a ready-made identity for new states ? Give chance to ‘escape smallness’ BUT they have own costs (process, intrusion…)

13 IS THE WORLD GETTING MORE HOSPITABLE TO SMALL STATES?? Small states have multiplied because of empire and state break-up, in turn driven ia by end of colonialism + of bipolar system Rise/multiplication of security-related institutions, esp regional, has changed ideas of statehood + made it easier for smalls to meet the standard – with less brutal risks, but a deeper price, than relying on a big helper Will this last in a more multipolar world???

14 Seek a protector state In same region or outside Explicit security pact or ‘bandwaggoning’ Military/strategic and/or economic help Balancing

15 …..AND ADD INSTITUTIONS UN + its agencies Regional institutions Post-colonial networks Functional networks


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