Title Menu - The International Journal of Peace Studies.  
Return to Table of Contents Return to I J P S Home


Kari Laitinen


The spatial understanding of geography and the theoretization of borders, and geopolitics as a whole is about defining borders in order to create order and reality. The construction of the security border has certain goals and purposes. These include conscious political choices. The symbolic configuration of space and border and their transformation into spatial and institutional practices is based on the repetition (see e.g. Harle&Moisio 2000). These practices are an essential part of nation-building and the creation of the security space and border. One way of putting it is to argue how borders are like agents of national security and sovereignty, and a physical record of a state's past and present relations with its neighbours (Wilson&Donnan 1998, 9). Thus, the creation of a certain security spatial image is intentional, but the crucial question is, what kind of image is created? The political process of producing space includes the border, the security politics, the location, and finally the identity of that certain political space. The use of geography is also about control (see Agnew&Corbridge 1995, 15-23; The Geopolitics Reader 1998; Harle&Moisio 2000, 17-20). Thus knowledge, power, space (area), politics, and security constitute an entity, which sets the framework for the (geo-) security politics. The border in the context of nation is a fundamental element of (security) identity, but, on the contrary, in the context of the state the border can be seen as security practice, or security function.

"International borders are becoming so porous that they no longer fulfil their historical role as barriers to the movement of goods, ideas, and people, and as markers of the extent and power of the state." (Wilson&Donnan 1998, 1) Despite the explicit change, the notion of the traditional (Cold War) security border still carries several problematic practices, which inhibit the possibility of peaceful integration process and co-operation between the political units. The main impediments to peaceful co-operation are; the security political identity is possible only within the (nation-)state, and security as spatiality; secondly, the practice of excluding the Other; thirdly, the state as an idealised decision-making subject (Agnew&Corbridge 1995, 86-88); and finally, the state prevents us from imagining any other possible security space (see Walker 1990). To put it briefly, the Hobbesian reasoning, how we need the sovereign to protect us has now, however, been challenged in various ways. But, in spite of the challenge, these state-centric practices above listed are very much alive and well. We therefore need to think of alternative ways to understand security and thus the security border. We need to investigate the ways in which both state and sovereignty as intellectual categories are changing under the varying pressures and expectations which have focused on it, especially since the end of the Cold War (see Mayall&Vandersluis 2000, 1).

Therefore, it is crucial to reflect, how traditional national border is a security problem. And secondly, how to lower (national) security borders in a manner that promotes peaceful change, and consequently comprehensive (human) security. Consequently, the realist school of knowing is, once again, questioned. The debate about the future of realism is not over yet, because the challengers have not seriously enough tackled the very foundation of the (still?) hegemonic discipline (see Shaw 2000, 7-12). However, in the article it is conceded that the post-Cold War era (mainly in Europe) with the elements of less antagonistic tendencies is not obvious, and thus not the only possible route. Despite the rhetorical turn of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) it still represents traditional and, as such, problematic security thinking.

Boundaries themselves may remain untouched, but their meanings and interpretations have changed. The constant openings of the border diminish the (symbolic) meaning of the national border. Therefore, the security political identity is in a state of flux. Those who belong to us is not always clear. "Borders are contradictory zones of culture and power, where the twin processes of the state centralisation and national homogenisation are disrupted, precisely because most borders are areas of such cultural diversity." (Wilson&Donnan 1998, 26)

Practices of Security Borders

The primary and historical idea of the border is to separate different political units (states). In addition, the border is meant to be a tool for controlling the flow of goods, ideas and even ideologies. To control these flows one need to have different kind of tools ¾ the quality and visibility of the use of force varies. The state derives its justification from the idea of total sovereignty over its territory, and from its successful survival and maintenance (Agnew&Corbridge 1995, 84). The security border concept includes the idea of security dilemma, the notion of deterrence, and the idea of national defence against foreign powers. The traditional security border relies on classical realist thought, which emphasis the meaning of self-help of the sovereign state. Thus the security border concept includes the element of violence and the construction of a (nation-)state. In Europe, however, particularly within the integration process, we can detect how both the meanings of the border and the idea of security are in a transitional stage. Hence, times are changing.

The dominating practices and values define the way we understand and perceive the present security borders. The questions therefore is, how should we (re)map and define the security border in this particular post-Cold War time and space, where there is a need both to uphold the border as a traditional defence line, and simultaneously to open it up for a zone of (commercial) interaction. Geo-security is a sphere operating with borders, spaces and identities. What is the future of geo-security - are we heading towards a virtual geo-security sphere where imagined boundaries are in an illusive way secured in the Internet? (see Everard 2000, 3-9)

It is quite human to strive for security and order, and consequently, to separate the unknown and foreign outside of our own life setting. But, is it possible to create transgressing processes, which as such would produce transcending interaction, and therefore would lower the border in a way, where it would ultimately lose its original separating and antagonistic function? To put it briefly, does the security border necessarily carry the element of separation and exclusion? Is there space for the notion of integrating security border ¾ border of meaningful and lasting co-operation?

The European Setting

In Europe, economic and political integration has profoundly changed the status and meaning of the security border. Hence, for instance, the Northeastern borders of Europe should be written and spoken in the way of co-operation and the sustainable development. The positive significance of the 20th century integration in the security border equation lies in its functionalist (Mitranyan) spirit, where the practical (technical) co-operation promotes and produces supranational process, which are not only led by political elite (see Mitrany 1966). The very core of the peaceful change of integration means that there should be ways of transferring the focal point of integration to a more regional level and to the level of low politics instead of the present emphasising of high politics (see functional approach to security politics Ojanen et.al. 2000, 244-246). Then the security and well-being of people and environment would be enhanced, which again produces wider stability. The European Union's actual and imagined borders are the true meaning and essence of the integration process. In those borders of the EU lies her capacity to project and promote these imagined security borders to include the promise of peacefulness, prosperity, and stability. If these imagined and peaceful security borders are changed into traditional exclusionist and armed and military supervised borders the original idea of integration will have changed (The creation of European Security and Defence Policy ).

The overall security border framework of Europe consists of both traditional and new comprehensive security aspects and dimensions. The development in a current integrating Europe is, however, asymmetric, because Russia is single sovereign and in her Western border can be found a security community with the core of military alliance. The weighty dilemma of the present Europe consists of both the inner logic of integration (peaceful co-operation) and the controversial armed security produced by Nato. This results in a very complex and multiform security border-setting.

One essential outcome of the European integration process is to demonstrate, how the security borders are being constantly negotiated. It is a process, where local, regional, national and supranational actors negotiate for power and control, and also subordination. Consequently, the EU must be able to gain power and control new frontiers to demonstrate its power and legitimacy. But, the means by which the EU is doing it differ from those of the traditional security politics repertoire.

Construction of Security Borders

The boundaries and especially state borders are normally seen as mere an empirical phenomenon that prevent and hinder interaction between (political) parties. States depict their sphere of influence by borders. Then, the argument persists, how the state still has quite a strong position both in theoretical thinking and in everyday political practice - "the new politics of identity is in large part determined by the old structures of the state" (Wilson&Donnan 1998, 2). The debate about the true nature of the reality is thus not yet over.

The border as cultural dimension and the understanding of space as a social construct is about how the political space is produced. The history of the security border also reveals how certain political events have taken place, and thus the temporal dimension is relevant in understanding the meaning and the nature of the security border. The political space requires security borders, because the space defined by the borders makes it possible to use sovereign power in that certain area. However, they can also be seen as socio-spatial consciousness, which means that they are collective forms of consciousness and ideologies, which have been constituted in the course of history of a specific territorial unit. So, borders are spatial and temporal dimensions and relationships between local, regional and national communities. This particular notion is used to conceptualise and describe the historical construction of spatial demarcations (Paasi 1995, 43; Everard 2000, 4-9).

In the context of post-positivist (constructivist) security thought the notion of socio-spatial consciousness is essential and meaningful. Then, the specific security border reveals how it is not the question of certain physical borderlines as such, but the practical and mental traditions, practices and continuums which, quite often, prevent us from seeing and imagining a certain space or border in a different way. For instance, the eastern border of Finland and the Cold War demarcations of the western borders of Russia are such border continuums which still very much dominate the present security thinking. However, we should see how political spaces are being rearticulated to constitute new forms of community. We should understand the security border zones as a multifaceted dimension where each aspect reflects a different function or idea. Hence, we could detach ourselves form those traditional security border practices which so often dominate.

During the Cold War the stability of borders seemed eternal. But, as we have witnessed, they are in a state of flux. Now, in an integrating Europe the main task is to find such political solutions which can be transformed into such socio-spatial consciousness which does not include the element of violence. Consequently, it would be possible to construct borders of co-operation (based on critical and comprehensive security thinking) instead of the borders of traditional exclusive security .

"The current political map of the world simultaneously displays both stability and dynamism" (Paasi 1995, 44; see also Neumann 1999, 114;Häkli 1994, 22-33). The present development of Europe signifies, that it both the meaning of the security border and the territorial boundaries must be rethought. In order not to create any border disputes the focus should be on the maintenance of the correspondence of physical and social boundaries of territories. Because of the changing way of understanding security space, border, and nation-state there is a constant struggle over redefinition and restructuring of the contents of the dominating social consciousness. Practically, the transitional phase in the context of the security border means that there can be rather rapid development in the field of economics or even in the political agenda, which again does not mean that the social or cultural sphere would follow at the same pace (see Paasi 1995; Neumann 1999, 113-117). In other words, the social changes will take time to become established, particularly in the issue areas of high politics.

For instance, in the north-eastern Europe such practices which would eventually produce sustainable security and stability in such a way that the western border of Russia would become transparent in every meaning of the word will take decades to be realised. It should be understood that a borderland must not necessarily be a political, economic or cultural periphery; but it can be very vital zone of activities, which creates opportunities and promotes openness and security (The process of the Northern Dimension).

The construction of a security border is taking place constantly and at all varying spatial levels (local, regional, national, and even supra-national levels). Depending on the viewpoint, the formation of borders and territories has different meanings and processes. For an average person things look quite differently and have different meaning than for the political elite or the whole political entity as such (see Neumann 1999). Then again, the history of certain borderland also varies.

The question of nationalism is one of the key issues regarding the development toward transparent, stable and co-operative borders. The meaning of nationalism lies in its capability to produce the political content for certain territory (Holsti 2000, 20-22). Nationalism can be seen as an impediment which must be overcome in order to escape its deterministic demand to control territory, which again includes the demand for military security apparatus. That is the reason why security borders are often significant national social symbols (Paasi 1999, 10). Is there an evolving process of Europeanness, which would differ from the exclusive national identity?

The main problem of the traditional processes of regions and territories is that they are based on boundaries, which separates them from some other territory. In the context of security, the logic of exclusion always includes the seed of potential confrontation. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain and promote such conditions and practices which promote co-operation over any boundaries, borders, or even identities. However, it also seems that the increasing multidimensional interaction over those mentioned barriers is not enough as such, but it is also necessary that the social and economic well-being of the local people is simultaneously strengthened with the prospects of the future. It follows that we have to understand both the question of security subject and the nature of security more broadly - the state is no longer the sole constructor of the security border.

Post-Positivist Security Thinking

In the world of present threats the security border and the principle (practice) of sovereignty are not solutions but mainly problems. According to traditional thinking the violence itself is merely a strategic tool of power politics. The postmodern security orientation argues, how violence actually creates the state and preconditions for its existence (Der Derian 1995; Campbell&Dillon 1993, 16 ¾ state as subject of control). The concept of postmodern is understood here as an orientation, which questions the Western thought on control and dominance. In other words, the studies focus on how the doctrines regarding the necessities of the reality (ontologies) and paradigmatic (pre)sumptions dominate others and restrict us. It follows that the truth is an element of the social order, which is upheld with the help of knowledge-practices. In the context of security border the postmodern orientation underlines how the geopolitical thinking of the past reproduces the present and generates simplified truths of it.

It is essential to see that the violence is not only a functional dimension of the state, but the crucial element of the ontological construction of the state. Sovereignty and its outcome border was created as protection against violence (chaos). Consequently, at the very core of the state is the element of violence (see Connolly 1994, 19-40). Violence in the form of fear and threat provides both the cause and the need to build a certain kind of security construction (state) with exclusive national security borders (violence creates controllability ¾ order instead of chaos). In other words, strategic violence does not only patrol the borders of the state, but also creates them. Furthermore, the strategic violence is ongoing process, where it is defined the borders of the state based on the exclusion and inclusion (Klein 1994, 1-12, 139;Neufeld 1995, 61). Therefore, the criticism against state-centrism leads to the ultimatum for change, because the modern condition or political space does not allow more human and peaceful politics.

The studies focusing on the state, the security border, and the security space should concentrate on those ways according which the world is divided. The way the (political) world looks is a sum of intentions, contingency and active participation. The argument goes that the present way of understanding the world is not final, but, on the contrary, it includes various possibilities. The creation of borders is thus, before all else, the political act.

A state as political, economic and cultural container has three different goals: as a power container it tries to preserve existing boundaries, as a container of wealth it strives for larger territories, and as a cultural container it tends towards smaller territories. Therefore, the politics of the European Union can also be interpreted, in militaristic terms, for instance as an endeavour to "conquer" Russia. In this respect, it should be asked, what is "the other" for the EU? Is it Russia, Islam, or is it after all the tragic past of Europe, which is now written off? If this is the case, then the security border practice (mental security border map) of Europe is, first and foremost, the practice of traditional security thinking, which must be left behind. When it comes to the practices of security borders, the EU represents new security thinking. Hence, the concept of integrating security border means a new approach in the field of international relations ¾ borders including the element of peaceful change without the practice of producing the other ¾ the security threat. The notion is based on the idea of security as a process, in which the goal and the means differ markedly of those of the Cold War era. Overall security is understood as a comprehensive concept, which means the pursuit of such practices which produce security in a lasting way without threatening the very foundation of humankind. In other words, security must be built on co-operative practices without exclusionist border-producing mechanisms. In the framework of European security politics it would mean seeing the European Union primarily as a civilian security actor.

The Critical and Postmodern Reading of Security Border

Theoretical reflection means the critical and conscious contemplation of the foundations of the interpretation of the reality. The processes includes three elements; awareness of the background assumptions (premises); acknowledgement of the political-normative dimension of normal science and affirmation that the national evaluation of competing paradigms is possible, even though there is no neutral language of observation. (Neufeld 1995, 40; Wyn Jones 1999) The theoretical reflection is thus understood as participation and exposure of those rarely explicitly mentioned presumptions on which theoretical constructions are based. Hence, border, space, and security must be relieved of the burdens of the Cold War in order to have a possibility for a change (see especially Booth 1998). Security as a notion has quite a conservative connotation. The Cold War as political practice is an example of the conservatism of security, and how the security discourse produces the problematique which is wanted by political actors (see Dalby 1997, 11-12; Booth 1991, 1-28; Hobsbawm 1995; Klein 1998). From the point of view of research the postmodern orientation and critical (security) approach have great significance in their openness towards the complexity of the phenomenon and the contingency of security border. However, the problem of postmodern orientation is the tendency towards universalism and relativism.

The Enlightenment and positivism are inherently striving for control over things and over the world, and the reality of predictability. The European post World War II discourse of politics and science has mainly been relying on reason and science. However, there are serious signs of a need to perceive and understand the world and the politics in more spontaneous ways: this means politics which truly represents the opposite of military security with its models of worst-case scenarios.

Normally, the border is understood as an element of stability - as a pillar that maintains the dominating order and organises the political space. But, within the security schools of critical and postmodern thought, the word stability is already problematic, because it symbolizes how states produce stable security with the help of military organisation, and with the help of security borders. Consequently, nothing is about to change and both the security and the power discourse remains the same. The security border keeps excluding the other, and the possibility of alternative politics is denied.

The goal of the critical security school is a stable process of positive peace based on the common contentment with the present circumstances ¾ the condition is built on co-operation not on fears and threats (see Booth 1991, 336; Wyn Jones 1999, 94). The critical school underlines the possibility of change, whereas the traditional view emphasises change within the structures of international politics. When the logic of system transforms, the actors will learn new patterns of behaviour. The self-help system is not sound because it produces insecurity (Booth 1991, 338; Krause 1996 and 1998; Wyn Jones 1999). As a consequence of the extending of security is seen the expansion of political community. Hence, the ideas of critical security thought and functionalism have some common elements.

Der Derian (1992, 74 and 1995, 32-34), who represents the postmodern orientation, is seeking for the content of the security problematique, and shows how there are also other factors than the legitimised history of security. The purpose of seeking is to demonstrate how inconsistent and undogmatic background security has, and how paradoxical, contingent, and uncertain it is in nature. The security border of the state has been created for eliminating that uncertainty. Consequently, the physical security border has told us who we are.

The very core of security can be found in the fear of the foreign and in desire for certainty, which as a combination produces familiar and controlled life, where causality and rationality consist of significant signs of sovereignty and thus providing a shelter against the forces of contingency. The fear of destiny confirms the belief that the rational is true and everything true is rational. The security imperative is sustained by the strategies of knowledge, which also seek to explain the security (Der Derian 1995, 34). The uncertainty produces people who are ready to submit to the inevitable (the necessities of security). Safe life requires safe truths. The Nietzschean interpretation means that those dangerous circumstances, which originally caused the security imperative (and which is perpetuated by Western metaphysics) is lost, and yet the fear of losing life prevails (Der Derian 1995, 36). Furedi (1997) also argues against the excessive precautionary tendency, which depicts people as essentially powerless to do very much more than to avoid risks.

From the perspective of security it is significant how we understand security located in space, and what the space is where security is locating. The postmodern security orientation has pointed out how it is crucial to perceive the affiliation between security and space, and how they both are constructed in the social context. The traditional positivist method to perceive space, both ontologically and epistemologically, emphasises it as an independent object, which causes causal effects on the social dimension (see O`Tuathail 1998a). It is an attempt at control. The security border is based on social practices, which need to be re-evaluated and re-mapped.

It is vital to see how we exist in terms with security, because we always locate ourselves in a certain space. Traditionally, security has been observed as a static condition, of which the human activity, politics, has been detached. Quite the opposite, time and space, the context, has central meaning and function in both critical and postmodern orientations. Critical geopolitics, for instance, argue that: "to engage geopolitics critically is to study how this dispersed cluster of changing elements has congealed historically into different orders of geographical knowledge and power." (O`Tuathail 1997, 37). Thus, these views underline, how political security spaces construct socially, and how they organise reality. In international politics the meaning of geographic, especially within the present security debate over the future of Europe, is understood as battlefield, which can be won or lost. However, the European Union represents security thinking, where the means to gain power and control are different than those of Nato, at least fore time being.

In the context of security thinking certain divisions can be detected regarding the security space, (i.e. local, regional, national, and global dimension). The both postmodern and critical security thinking represents an effort to get rid of problematic security border practices. The reflective attitude is necessary, because there is always the danger of becoming enslaved by the existing social reality. The deconstruction of past includes a possibility to change the future. In practice, the end of the Cold War did not mean, that all those problematic security routines disappeared, but certain elements, carrying their original ideas, like power politics, military apparatus, security dilemma and so forth still very much exist. What is the basis of the new borders of European security landscape? To put it roughly, there are two main options: a) peaceful change based on the logic of the integration, or b) traditional change, based on politico-military strategic reasoning represented by Nato.

In the present (post)modern world the security border issues are quite entangled and it has been noted, how the source of insecurity is difficult to determine. Normally, security means being protected from outside threat, and thus it means a possibility to survive. Then, the solution is to eliminate the threat. In the context of spatiality this concretises in demarcation. However, as we have become aware of the new problems and threats demarcation is not a solution, but a problem. For instance, Finland has traditionally seen herself as a container or body which should be protected from external threats, diseases. However, now the foundations of (security) identity are changing. The aspiration of security can be seen as a project or even mission towards a secured and safe path. At the moment the problem is which path to choose. In this particular context, perhaps, the most enlightening example of the new securities is the environmental security dimension, where we all are under the same (security)ambient conditions. Consequently, the real problems facing people cannot be solved by drawing new borderlines, but gradually opening the (security) borders. In order to find more sustainable (security) solutions, we need to question particularly the basis of our lifestyle.

Construction of Border Identity

Politically described and defined borders help to delineate the political space, which is to be defended from threats both imagined and actual. However, both of them create order by sustaining a certain identity. And by way of fear dichotomies are created. Thus, boundaries include the binary opposition between core and periphery (Everard 2000, 45).

Security cultures represent the preservation of sovereignty based on national defence and national security borders, which depicts the line where us is separated from the other. National security culture consists of symbols, images and signs and constitutes the basis of understanding both for an individual and to a military strategist and decision-makers who actually construct the big picture ¾ a national defence and security identity.

However, fear is not an objective condition, and it does not exist regardless of those that feel threatened. The creation of other, danger and enemy does not necessarily require actions, but sometimes mere awareness of the existence of different is enough to raise the notion of otherness, and consequently, the threat and danger (see e.g. Neumann 1999; Jukarainen 1999, 63-65). The objectification of fear and its contemplation outside of society is part of the present evaluation of security, which should be understood as a consequence of political practices.

Our identity being formed in relation to other has significance for the way we imagine security. The hierarchy of identity is critical, because it denotes how others are inferior to us, which again results in security political thinking and security political means (e.g. colonialism, see Harle 2000 about the construction of enemy images). So, the myths regarding the creation of the world are also part of the geographic philosophy. The human being, organising herself to the centre of Cosmos tends to think that outside of the centre predominates chaos (see Turunen 1993, 34-35). The same logic prevails in the centre-periphery idea, and consequently, the same way the security space is outlined in our minds ¾ the familiar space is safe, but foreign is in a way an exposed and unsecured condition. As the world is shrinking, is it possible to imagine and construct a safe and secured Cosmos, which would be familiar to all of us ¾ a borderless Cosmos? Or is the global we just an illusion produced by uniform (Western market) culture?

Because the modern security conception is based on predictability, stability and order, is it fair to conclude that because of the alleged prevailing postmodernism there is no longer any order, and therefore, we are living in chaos again? In other words, can security be anything else than order, control and stability? Could security be seen as a reflective process aiming at the emancipation of people and communities? And if security is contextual and dynamic, what is it worth then ¾ how relativist can the concept be? It is very understandable to surpass the modern logic of exclusion, but to where and under what kind of logic of security?


The charm and success of geopolitics is based on its quality to make of the world a comprehensive political map. Along with the map it is possible to locate and organise the relationships and dynamics between local and regional / national and global, and to form an understandable politico-security entity. Hence, all the dimensions of the geo-security game are within reach and in sight of strategists. Multidimensionality shows in the way geopolitics includes both the world-wide approach and the conceptual mind and appears to be more visual than linguistic and more objective than subjective and ideological. Geopolitics provides tools for control and policy-planning. However, new global trends and tendencies require more sophisticated tools for analysis. Hence today's geopolitics is more about geo-economics and even ecopolitics today. (On new critical geopolitics see e.g. Ó Tuathail & Dalby 1998 and Agnew 1998)

Taken as a whole, critical geopolitics seem to exceed traditional and national security borders and focus on those phenomena (global and area-based issues: migration, economic space, identity), which can be characterised as multidimensional and complex. The mediators of these new ideas are the media, the scientific community, the global corporations and so forth. These dynamics create new codes, which again form new spaces, times and powers. Consequently, the security borders fluctuate, and the meaning of time is emphasised in the speed, which transfer things from one space and time to another. The one who controls these flows controls the power. Therefore, an ability to participate is essential (see Luke 1998, 140-142; Arguilla & Ronfeldt 1999; and U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda 1998, how USA prepares to control the information flow in the 21st millennium too, and maintain her hegemony). To the construction of security border this signifies uncertainty, constant change, and vagueness. Security border understood as control and stability no longer seems a credible option.

The ever more blurring line between internal and external security has also led to the point where the political meanings of the construction of the boundary become de-territorialized and re-territorialized. For example, the European Union as a whole can be seen as a new construction of representational practice heading for a new revitalised and re-mapped Europe, where new entities, identities, meanings and, finally, histories are created. Thus, in a way the ongoing project deconstructs the old Cold War Europe and re-constructs new European dimension and space. From the point of view of security it is crucial, what kind of content and meaning of security is lying underneath the surface of political rhetoric.

The Gulf War was an example of the Post-Cold War geo-economics and geopolitics, where different kinds of interests and issues were difficult to define (Ó Tuathail 1998b, 109; Der Derian 1992; and Luke 1991, 315-344). Depending on the viewpoint, the security borders of sovereign and territorial integrity have lost some of their meaning as the organising principles of international politics. Hence, the location of power is not so clear, but the logic of inclusion and exclusion is still very much dominant (Luke 1998, 152; see also Everard 2000, 3-9). For instance, in hyper-realism the enemy is locating in time now, and destroyed in the field of conception instead of politics, the game is played with metaphors not in history (see Der Derian 1995, 41). That is to say new security borders are being made constantly. In this respect, the European Union and Nato represent different views, at least for now, while the EU tries to integrate while Nato is again containing. Despite the rhetoric, Nato still is the Cold War relic, which sustains those problematic practices. All in all, the traditional geopolitical security thinking provided with the imagination of the past generates simplified truths of ever more complex world.

Changing the Location of (Internal) Security Borders

The accelerating transnationalisation blurs the differentiation between internal and external (see e.g. Everard 2000). This reflects in significant way on the concepts of sovereignty, territoriality and security. Hence, we are approaching notions like lines, fronts or regions - notions and images that are difficult to define or control. In the framework of security this process will lead, or rather, has led to the transnationalisation of security, and that is, of course, against the idea of national security. The question whether one is inside or outside is therefore becoming irrelevant, particularly within the European Union. However, it is obvious that the logic of inclusion and exclusion Ó making the other, is very much a reality today. If we contemplate the European security process on a larger scale, we are bound to find out, how security, or rather the illusion of it, is still partly based on exclusionist thinking (see Bigo 1998, 2000).

Securitisation as a process enlarges the foundation of identity, but it also means that the internal and external security dimension are merging and de-differentiating after the period of serious polarisation, where those two poles were strongly differentiated and had hardly anything in common. This has meant a change and new process where states, and especially their external security agencies turned look inside and started to search for the new enemy (see Bigo 1998, 2000; Buzan et.al. 1998; Hyusmans 1999). Thus, we have been witnessing a process where agencies normally which worked against the foreign enemy have found new transversal threats which affect inside the state, but actually come from outside (such as immigration, second generation of citizens of foreign origin, organised crime). There has therefore been quite a drastic change within these agencies, and in this respect the notion of porous state borders is a fairly accurate way to describe the present condition of security border.

In the context of European security building there are some paradoxes. One is the simultaneous process of opening national borders and the creation of new security borders based on changing identities and the notion of order. Efforts have been made to resolve the insecurity determined with the means of control (Europol, Schengen Treaty). Consequently, the sphere of security is expanding, because when securitisation is practised there will be also unintended consequences (i.e. the logic of security dilemma will cover new spheres of social life).

Thus, it is possible to see and understand the securitisation of borders as an expanding field of security, where different agencies like the police, the military, customs officers, intelligence agencies and also private security companies participate de facto in the global redefinition of their respective attributions (see Global organised crime 2000). In the context of internal and external border this means a vague division which can hardly be detected any more. A situation like this leads us to connect military and police work, the security sectors, which are normally seen as quite different aspects of statist security management. The topical question is, where and by whom, are threats and borders defined?

The Control of the Security Border and Space

An intention to control the development of certain territory and particularly its security aspects denotes that by certain means an attempt is made to manage both the problems already existing and those to come. Such thinking represents a traditional positivist view, where reason and technology are used to take possession of reality. Then, the reality is an outside object to us, which we attempt to harness as the forces of nature (see e.g. Holsti 2000). However, as argued earlier, the traditional view has been very much challenged. It is pointed out that the constant change of social fabric produces such reality, where traditional control (the aim for order and predictability) does not seem manageable. Therefore, the dominant ideology of control must be reflected and reviewed. Yet, despite the rather long post-positivist debate in the academic field of international relations, there seems to be no immediate answer available, and postmodern uncertain reality continues to prevail.

In spite of the (manifest) problematic nature of the traditional way of understanding territoriality and security, there are sometimes features within the discipline of IR that misread the meaning of the Cold War period (see the exceptionally enlightening view of the Cold War "mindsets", Booth 1998). Therefore, perhaps, there is a tendency to overlook the historical dimension. It is clear that the Cold War was quite an exceptional period of time. And we are greatly under the spell of the era. But, then again, it is obvious that the Cold War thinking, causes and events need a more thorough and critical approach. It is ever more important that those practices and mindsets of the Cold War which dominated the actual period do not prevail in the future. It is crucial that the interpretations or endings of the Cold War remain open (Booth 1998). There are several serious lessons to be learned from that particular age of time. The historical evidence both shows the problems of the positivist thought and also, how the post-positivist approach may have a limited view when high-lighting the events of the Cold War. Therefore, we should not limit our (methodological and theoretical) imagination.

Contingent Global Space

In the globalising post-Cold War world, the scope of controllability has been expanding. This has had two specific dimensions; firstly, ever more issues (economic, environmental issues) need to be controlled (at least the dominant discourse argues so) in the same way as peace and security; secondly, the expectations regarding controllability are increasing, so that on the one hand, the problem is, how these environmental issues, for example, are to be controlled ¾ is it even possible? And on the other hand, how far should this security as a form of control be extended? Economic, environment, and social issues have traditionally been under the domain of sovereign, but, if the age of transition continues, these issues must be put under revision. In other words, it means the tottering of the normative basis of the international system. The significant question is whether or not there is a real alternative for the traditional control of security borders? And secondly, what is the actor that articulates the controllability, if not the state? It is argued that the legitimacy of state is tottering and its role as the producer of security has been questioned. It is thought that the state's capabilities to take care of these historical responsibilities are no longer credible.

In traditional geopolitical thinking security meant the protection of a certain territory from external incursions and violent conquests. The geographic authority depicted the borders and created its own identity as opposite to an other. In this respect (nation-)state still stands for and symbolises the legitimate monopoly of violence and spatial concept of a certain area. Thus, this denotes the discursive field of a state, which includes people, symbols, institutions, and the machinery of coercion. However, what is characteristic of the new information era is how border, security, identity and the dynamics of power fluctuate in such a way where different kinds of flows are significant.

The globalization of contingency stresses ambiguity and uncertainty. Fear cannot be written only outside, and consequently, security is located not only inside. The expansion of contingency means not only that the traditional spatial forms of powers represent themselves as problematic, but also the discursive practices of security, which have made those spatialities are problematic, too. The political discourse, which is only interested in interests and institutional activities, has lost its ability to produce security. (Campbell 1992, 19-20; Medvedev 1999)

Thus control always has some object to master. It includes practices, meanings and valuations. In terms of security and border, the effort of control is manifest in the quest for stability. The creation of a security border may denote the general withering in the very area of borderline, because the normal interaction over the border is limited. Then again, it is impossible to define the final goal, especially if security and border are understood in terms of reflectivity (critical school) (i.e. security as a process, see e.g. Wyn Jones 1999). For instance, in Moscow during the Cold War it was thought that the more deserted the borderline the easier it will be to supervise (Käkönen 2000, 118). From the standpoint of comprehensive security it would be crucial to support the recovering of the borderland in order to prevent a more serious process of abandonment. Mitrany (1966) speaks about the need for the division of sovereignty as a practice that can be changed with the help of a certain function. A transgressing plan like a certain environmental issue (nuclear waste in the Kola Peninsula) could change the historical setting of certain area - gradually.

The aim of post-positivist ideas is not to define the essence of things and phenomena, or to assume the stagnation of political problems, but to provide a critical view on the truths transcending historical security borders (boundaries and disciplines). It is about writing the history of the present (see Foucault 1980, 7-39). If it is realised that things and the spaces are in a state of flux, then, it would be possible to have an understanding which creates such conditions where space (territory) and security are seen as processes. Thus, the direction of politics and values is essential, and not persistent efforts to hold on the prefixed notions. However, it appears to be the case that this kind of fluctuating comprehension of reality is not easy to adopt. Quite the contrary, it seems that it is quite human to stick to fixed notions in order to keep both the things and the truths safe and familiar. But, we must see how the security border is a construction of human mind - and therefore, changeable.

Positivism in the context of European integration concretises as a quest to gain control. But, at least for now, the European Union represents constructivist thinking, where the other is not some concrete outside enemy which needs to be overpowered. Generally, the dominant geopolitical way of knowing and understanding the political space and the cartography shows as an ahistorical and statist world view. What kind of security borders is the EU a) creating, b) facing? In other words, what is the geopolitical vision of the European Union on the threshold of enlargement? If security border is understood as a reflective process, which includes the primacy of security of the people and communities instead of states; if the goal of overall security politics is sustainable security, which takes into account the environment and thus the well-being of people, then security border would not represent itself as a security problem anymore. We must therefore question the politics of reason, the politics of control and manageability of problems and threats, and finally, produce the needed alternative security politics.


When it comes to security, border and political space change is an obvious and dominating condition. On the practical level the inclination towards new ideas and practices represents an attempt to create the lowering practices of border. But, on the other hand, as we can detect from the everyday events and practices of world politics, there is dominant security thinking, which upholds the security borders in their traditional sense. In this light, the problematics of the security border is very much ambivalent ¾ like European security politics in general.

When it comes to the deconstruction of the concept of security border the postmodern security orientation provides profound input, because it helps us to see what is under the everyday security border practice. After the deconstruction of the security border concept there is a need to come down from the meta-theory level and put these ideas into practice. In order to create significant changes, which eventually will take time, we need to have more holistic and comprehensive perspective of how to perceive the question. In practice, we should be able to move from traditional and hard border patrolling towards a zone of border co-operation. If so, then the actors within the sphere of security border will expand and the means to sustain secured border will be less aggressive.

However, it is very likely, that the traditional and new security thinking will be contending both in the field of praxis and theory in the future, too. On the one hand, the standing of (nation-)state is powerful, and there seems to be no substitute for it on the horizon. Consequently, the security border will maintain some of its form and its contents. Moreover, the traditional border upholds its position particularly in those areas where political, economic, social, and technological development do not support stable circumstances, not to mention peaceful change of the security border. Contrary to this, for instance, the development in Western Europe during recent decades has been in many ways a rather exceptional process. But then again, the strengthening globalisation compels the states to open up their national borders (e.g. North-Korea). And thus, the transitional stage between traditional and integrating security border continues. It is crucial to both develop and support such practices, which promotes peaceful change and underlines the security interests of non-state actors, when the overall (critical) security change can be established.

The factors of change of the security border also reflect on the societies. Therefore, the meaning of the security border also includes elements of relevance in the fields of economics, health care and so forth, and not only in the fields of peace research or international relations (Schengen Treaty). The contextuality of the security border strengthens, which can be detected in the variety of practical applications all over the world. Nevertheless, one thing seems to be clear, the irreversibility of the dominance of positivist control. The speed of overall social change is already so high that the political leadership is seemingly troubled by it. In this sense, the problematics of security border is an inseparable part of the overall development of the society.

The academic field is also part of the constant redefinition of truth, and thus a part of the power struggle. At the moment it is apparently crucial to ask how to put into practice these new ideas of the security border? After the justified criticism of positivism and traditional security truth it would be high time to operationalize these new ideas. The utmost logic of integration including the idealistic element of learning process appears to be one possible route to more sustainable security border environment, which would mean the more transparent borders of co-operation. Within the competing research orientations the critical security school, based on the thoughts of the Frankfurt School, is one which both understands the meaning of the past and simultaneously has critical and self-reflective attitude towards present practices and ideas. With such a combination it is possible to produce founded arguments regarding the future. Then again, the postmodern approach asks well justified questions about the dominating truths, but, it fails to construct the intellectual foundation from which to create alternative reality. Perhaps it is the wealth of knowledge, which allows too many truths. The approach to more practical issues, would, perhaps, generate scientific coherence, which, despite the postmodern age, is needed.

On the whole, the process of peaceful change in the context of border and security is slow. It is critical to note that the formation of a political unit always includes a certain kind of demarcation, when it is the nature of that particular border which decides ¾ is it the border of co-operation or the excluding traditional security border. At all times, the problematics of security border includes certain ideas, practices, and thus consequences. Hence, those consequences are made, not given.

There is a process under way, which affects our identity, our view of world politics, the structure of international society, the ideas of global democracy and community, and finally, of course, security border. We are in the middle of the process, which makes it difficult to realise these events. The process includes a promise of a brighter (security) future, but it will not come true without serious political governance.


Agnew, John and Stuart Corbridge. 1995. Mastering Space: Hegemony, Territory and International Political Economy. London: Routledge.

Agnew, John. 1998. Geopolitics: Re-Visioning World Politics. London: Routledge.

Arguilla, John and David Ronfeldt. 1999. The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy. National Defence Research Institute, RAND.

Bigo, Didier. 1998. "Military Interests in Internal Security." Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris. ISA paper.

Bigo, Didier. 2000. "Border Regimes and Security in an Enlarged European Community Police Co-operation with CEECs: Between Trust and Obligation." Working Papers of the Robert Schuman Centre 2000/65.

Booth, Ken, ed. 1991. New Thinking About Strategy and International Security. UK: HarperCollinsAcademic.

Booth, Ken. 1998. "Cold Wars of the Mind." In Ken Booth, ed., Statecraft and Security: The Cold War and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Buzan, Barry, Ole Wæver and Jaap De Wilde. 1998. Security: New Framework for Analysis. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Campbell, David. 1992. Writing Security: United States' Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity. Glasgow: University of Minnesota Press.

Campbell, David and Michael Dillon. 1993. "Introduction: The End of Philosophy and the End of International Relations." In Michael Dillon and David Campbell, eds., The Political Subject of Violence. Manchester & New York: Manchester University Press.

Connolly, William. 1994. "Tocqueville, Territory, and Violence." Theory, Culture and Society. Vol.11, pp.19-40.

Dalby, Simon. 1997. "Contesting an Essential Concept: Reading the Dilemmas in Contemporary Security Discourse." In Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, eds., Critical Security Studies. USA: UCL Press, 1997.

Der Derian, James. 1995. "TheValue of Security:Hobbes, Marx, Nietzsche and Baudrillard." In Ronnie D.Lipschutz, ed., On Security. New York: Columbia University Press.

Der Derian, James. 1992. Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror and Speed. UK: Blackwell.

Everard, Jerry. 2000. Virtual States: The Internet and the Boundaries of the Nation-state. UK: Routledge.

Foucault Michel. 1980. Tarkkailla ja rangaista. Keuruu, Otava. (In English: Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison.)

Furedi, Frank. 1997. The Culture of Fear: Risk-taking and the Morality of Low Expectation. UK: Cassell,.

Galtung, Johan. 2000. "From Demilitarized Zones to Zones of Peace: A Transcend Perspective," http://www.transnational.org/forum/meet/2000/galtungzones.html.

Harle, Vilho. 2000. The Enemy with a Thousand Faces: the Tradition of the Other in Western Political Thought and History. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.

Harle, Vilho and Sami Moisio. 2000. Missä on Suomi? Kansallisen identiteettipolitiikan historia ja geopolitiikka. Tampere: Vastapaino. (In English: Where is Finland? The History of National Identity Politics and Geopolitics.)

Hobsbawm, Eric. 1995. Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991. 2nd edition. UK: Abacus.

Holsti, K.J. 2000. "Territoriaalisuus", Politiikka, Vol. 42, No.1, pp.15-29. Original article presented in North-American studies conference in University of Tampere, 22-25th April 1999.

Huysmans, Jef. 1999. "Language and the Mobilisation of Security Expectations: The Normative Dilemma of Speaking and Writing Security." Paper presented in ECPR meeting in Mannheim, Germany, 26th-31st March.

Häkli, Jouni. 1994. Maakunta, tieto ja valta. Vammalan kirjapaino: Acta Universitatis Tamperensis, ser A, vol.415.

Jukarainen, Pirjo. 1999. "Borders Change ¾ So Do Space, Identity and Community." In Heikki Eskelinen, Ilkka Liikanen and Jukka Oksa, eds., Curtains of Iron and Gold: Reconstructuring Borders and Scales of Interaction. UK:

Klein, Bradley. 1998 ."Remapping Security Landscapes." European Journal of International Relations, Vol. 4, No.3. September, pp.327-346.

Klein, Bradley. 1994. Strategic Studies and World Order: The Global Politics of Deterrence. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Krause, Keith. 1996. "Insecurity and State Formations in the Global Military Order: The Middle Eastern Case." European Journal of International Relations, Vol.2, No.3, September, pp.319-354.

Krause, Keith. 1998. "Critical Theory and Security Studies: The Research Programme of 'Critical Security Studies'." Cooperation and Conflict, Vol.33, No.3. September, pp. 298-333.

Käkönen, Jyrki. 2000. "Euroopan unionin pohjoinen ulottuvuus ja Suomen ja Venäjän suhteet", teoksessa Heininen Lassi, Käkönen Jyrki, Nokkala Arto ja Tennberg Monica. Avaamaton mahdollisuus Ó Pohjoisen ulottuvuuden
näköaloja. Helsinki: Like. (In English: "The Northern Dimension of the EU and the Relationships Between Russia and Finland" in Un-Opened Possibility ¾ The Perspectives of the Northern Dimension.)

Luke, Timothy. 1991. "The Discipline of Security Studies and the Codes of Containment: Learning From Kuwait", Alternatives, 16, pp. 315-344. Original version, the same article also in Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Paul
Routledge, eds., 1998. The Geopolitics Reader. UK: The Bath Press.

Luke, Timothy W. 1998. "The (Un)Wise (Ab)Use of Nature: Environmentalism as Globalized Consumerism", Alternatives, Vol. 23, No.2, pp.175-212.

Mayall, James and Sarah Owen Vandersluis. 2000. "Prologue." In James Mayall and Sarah Owen Vandersluis, eds., The State and Identity Construction in International Relations. UK: Millenium, MacMillan Press.

Medvedev, Sergei. 1999. "Across the Line: Borders in Post-West Landscapes." In Heikki Eskelinen, Ilkka Liikanen and Jukka Oksa, eds., Curtains of Iron and Gold: Reconstructuring Borders and Scales of Interaction. UK: Ashgate.

Mitrany, David. 1966. A Working Peace System. Chicago: Quadrangle Books.

Neufeld, Mark. 1995. The Restructuring of International Relations Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Neumann, Iver. 1999. Uses of the Other : "The East" in European Identity Formation. Manchester: University Press.

Ojanen Hanna, Herolf Gunilla and Lindahl Rutger. 2000. Non-alignment and European Security Policy: Ambiguity at Work. Kauhava: Programme on the Northern Dimension of the CFSP, vol.6.

Ó Tuathail, Geraróid. 1998a. "Introduction; Thinking Critically About Geopolitics." In Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Paul Routledge, eds., The Geopolitics Reader. UK: The Bath Press.

Ó Tuathail, Geraróid. 1998b. "New World Order Geopolitics." In Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby and Paul Routledge, eds., The Geopolitics Reader. UK: The Bath Press.

Paasi, Anssi. 1995. "Constructing Territories, Boundaries and Regional Identities." In Tuomas Forsberg, ed., Contested Territory: Border Disputes at the Edge of the Former Soviet Empire. UK: Edward Elgar.

Paasi, Anssi. 1999. "The Political Geography of Boundaries at the End of Millennium: Challenges of De-territorializing World." In Heikki Eskelinen, Ilkka Liikanen and Jukka Oksa, eds., Curtains of Iron and Gold: Reconstructuring
Borders and Scales of Interaction. UK: Ashgate.

Shaw, Martin. 2000. "The State of International Relations." In James Mayall and Sarah Owen Vandersluis, eds., The State and Identity Construction in International Relations. UK: Millenium, MacMillan Press.

Turunen, Ari. 1993. "Meidän maailmamme: me ja muut kartografiassa", Kosmopolis, Vol.23, No.4, pp. 33-51. (In English: Our World; Us and Others in Cartography.)

U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda 1998: Cyberthreat: Protecting U.S. Information Networks. An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Information Agency, Vol.3, No.4, November.

Viano, Emilio C., ed. 2000. Global Organized Crime and International Security. UK: Ashgate.

Walker, R.B.J. 1990. "Security, Sovereignty and the Challenge of World Politics", Alternatives, Vol.15, No.1,Winter, pp.211-239.

Wilson, Thomas and Hastings Donnan. 1998. "Nation, State and Identity at International Borders." In Thomas M. Wilson and Hastings Donnan, eds., Border Identities. Nation and State at International Frontiers. UK: Cambridge
University Press.

Wyn Jones, Richard. 1999. Security, Strategy, and Critical Theory. USA: Lynne Rienner.