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  • Cited by 119
  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: October 2009

3 - Insecurity, security, and asecurity in the West European non-war community


When we use the term “integration or amalgamation” in this book,we are taking a short form to express an alternative between integration (by the route of either pluralism or amalgamation) and amalgamation short of integration. We have done this because unification movements in the past have often aimed at both of these goals, with some of the supporters of the movements preferring one or the other goal at different times. To encourage this profitable ambiguity, leaders of such movements have often used broader symbols such as “union”, which could cover both possibilities and could be made to mean different things to different men.

Deutsch et al., Political Community, 1957

Western Europe is a security community. In contrast to the expectations of most contemporary theorists of security communities, this has not been achieved by erecting common security structures or institutions, but primarily through a process of “desecuritization”, a progressive marginalization of mutual security concerns in favor of other issues. This chapter's main section traces how Western Europe has gone from insecurity (1940s and 1950s), over security (1960s) and desecuritization (1970s to the mid 1980s) to reach a situation in the 1990s of re-securitization. Mutual military fears are still absent at the level of state-to-state, but more issues are today cast in security terms, economy, environment and migration. Classical political security concerns appear but are mostly conceived for “Europe” not individual states. Re-securitization raises the specter of a possible unravelling of the West European security community, because when something is constituted as a security issue this enables more extreme action. Since Deutsch defines security community in terms of the absence of war, it really is a non-war-community, and security problems can continue to unfold within it.