From Military to ‘Security Interventions’: An Alternative Approach to Contemporary Interventions

Kaldor, M. & Selchow, S., (2015). From Military to ‘Security Interventions’: An Alternative Approach to Contemporary Interventions. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development, 4(1): 32, pp. 1–12.

In both academic and policy circles international interventions tend to mean ‘military’ interventions and debates tend to focus on whether such interventions are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in general. This article aims to open up scholarly engagement on the topic of the thorny reality of interventions in different contexts by reconceptualising international interventions as ‘security interventions.’ The article draws attention to the ambiguous meaning of ‘security’ as both an objective (i.e. safety) as well as a practice (military forces, police, intelligence agencies and their tactics), something that is reflected in the different approaches to be gleaned from the security studies literature. From this ambiguity, it derives two interlinked concepts: ‘security culture’ and ‘security gap,’ as analytical tools to grasp the complexity of international interventions. The concept of ‘security culture’ captures specific combinations of objectives and practices. The concept of ‘security gap’ captures the particular relationship or the distinct kind of ‘mismatch’ between objectives and practices as it occurs in a ‘security culture.’ This reading of international interventions through the concept of ‘security culture’ and the interlinked analytical tool ‘security gap’ allows an analysis and understanding that goes beyond simplistic assumptions both about traditional military capabilities and the role of the ‘international community’ as a unitary actor.

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