Rhetoric Of Security

What becomes securitised through the political process is due not only to the discourse, but the acceptance of it from the general public or audience. Issues deemed to be ‘security issues’, call for a response or reaction outside that of the norm. Anything that could potentially impede upon ones ability to ‘survive’ can be treated as a security issue. I use the term ‘survive’ lightly here, because often threats posed are not as extreme as they are made to be, and therefore, endangering our survival.

Fear is the most important emotion in humans directly targeted at by the state to achieve their agenda. A campaign based on fear is a sure way to create vulnerability within a population. The states response to such fears with potential solution pathways allows the population to place their trust, faith and hope for protection of their right to ‘survive’ into the state. This tactic was utilised heavily in the 2016 United States presidential election campaign. Trump’s campaign slogan called to ‘Make America Great Again’, as if it was prior somewhat broken.

Take also for instance, Australia’s response to its borders in 2013. To address the arrival of numerous boats, a strict border protection operation, Operation Sovereign Borders, was enforced. Its aim was to deter asylum seekers from arriving on Australian shores. Its high controversy would have allowed one to believe that all of the asylum seekers were criminals of some sort, threatening the survival of Australian citizens. On an international scale, Australia does not receive a large number of asylum seekers and refugees. The ‘threat’ and subsequent stern response, I believe did not align in harmony.

We too often commit to the values and objectives of those in authority without taking a look at the other side first. It is essential to look at such examples of securitisation and ask: is what is being posed as a threat, actually a threat?




Amitav Acharya (2011) Human Security. In The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations edited by John Baylis, Steve Smith and Patricia Owens. 5th edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press. (Chapter 29)

Barry Buzan, Ole Wæver and Jaap de Wilde (1998) Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder, Lynne Rienner. (Chapter 2)

Christopher Browning and Matt McDonald (2013) The future of critical security studies: Ethics and the politics of security. European Journal of International Relations,19(2): 235-255

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