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Securitization, Social Identity, and Democratic Security: Nixon, India, and the Ties That Bind

  • Jarrod Hayes (a1)
Abstract

The Democratic Peace stands as one of the most coherent and recognizable programs of study in international relations. Yet despite the pages of research devoted to the subject and claims about its law-like nature, the democratic peace remains a highly contested finding. In large part, this contestation arises out of an enduring question: What exactly keeps democracies from fighting? Drawing on the securitization theory of the Copenhagen School as well as social psychology, this article claims that a critical mechanism of the democratic peace lies at the political junction between policymakers and the public. I argue that the democratic identity of the public, grounded in basic democratic norms essential for the function of any democracy at any time, plays an independent role in the construction of security and foreign policy in the United States. To test the argument, I examine the difficult case of the 1971 Bangladesh War, when President Richard Nixon sent the USS Enterprise carrier group to the Bay of Bengal. Analysis of public statements as well as administration documentation reveals that, while Nixon and national security advisor Henry Kissinger actively saw India as a threat to U.S. interests, they were constrained by their belief that the public would not accept a security argument with respect to a fellow democracy.

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