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When dictators go to war – securitization theory and renegade states

Bernhard Stahl
Universität Passau
Felix Garten Cuezva
Bernhard Stahl
Universität Passau
Open Panel

Abstract

Political practitioners and democratic peace theorists alike assume that renegade states – since they are almost always autocratic regimes - are more war-prone than democracies. But evidently, we know little how and why autocratic regimes go to war. For sure, such states also act in the face of current threats and – like democracies - need some societal support for waging war. Since securitization theory – as proposed by the Copenhagen School of IR - seeks to model how security threats are created, politicised and legitimised the theory seems well-suited to offer some added value here. By so doing, this also allows for putting an innovative theoretical research question since securitization theory was held to be applicable to democracies only. The ambition of this paper – therefore – is twofold. First, empirically, we explore how renegade states justify and explain war. Second, theoretically, we demonstrate to what extent securitization theory might be applied to non-democratic regimes. Due to the methodological problem of finding adequate sources we confine our analysis to well-known historical cases: the Cuban military intervention in Angola (1977/78) gives evidence how a very stable Socialist regime succeeded in intervening abroad. In addition, we examine Argentina’s attack on the Falklands/Malvinas (1982). This case serves as a classical example for waging war when confronted with severe domestic problems. In that regard, we can expect extraordinary governmental attempts to justify war which makes it an interesting case-study for securitization theory.