The transformation of contemporary security practices: between war and global policing?

De Baripedia

Up to now, we have mainly studied and deepened concepts in order to see what they told us about certain phenomena, notably through the accumulation process that Charles Tilly calls "war making - state making".

We will now do the opposite: starting from practices, we will see how they relate to various concepts influenced by different phenomena, rationalities and stakes. We will not be interested in the practices as such, but in the logics behind them. Some tasks fall within the remit of internal security being the prerogative of the police and some tasks fall within the remit of external security, which is the prerogative of the military. We're going to see some kind of hybridization.

Traditional distinctions between military and police forces ("police")[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

We will focus on the logic of the use of force. The use of force is not only the military, but also the police under various conditions. We are mainly interested in a western trajectory. We are dealing with bureaucracies that operate around rules of efficiency and specialization and that, over a process of hundreds of years, have divided the work between them. In Western countries, there is a differentiation between internal and external, but this does not necessarily apply in the rest of the world where the army can have practices within the interior. We are talking about a European historical process.

We will focus on typical ideals and principles such as those generally understood as specific to military and police practices. The aim is to overcome the geographical distinction between internal (domestic) and external security in order to focus on different practices. Internationalism has been disciplined in terms of internal and external issues, and it is time to break down these disciplinary barriers to see how practices evolve in response to the questioning of a line drawn and not completely imagined.

The military force[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Carl von Clausewitz (1780 - 1831) defined, in De la guerre published in 1832, the three characteristics of the use of military force on the battlefield. We will try to enter into the social universes of certain countries and put ourselves in the shoes of the military for whom the battlefield is fundamental. The laws of war derive from the structural laws of armed conflict and absolute war.

The three principles according to Clausewitz are:

  1. Concentration of maximum use of force on enemy centres of gravity.
  2. force economy: maximizing effects with limited resources.
  3. Superiority of the initiative: the initiative is superior to the reaction.
Stratégie bataille Gettysburg 1.png

For example, as a battlefield, there is the Gettysburg Battle of 1863. It is generally said that it was the turning point in the Civil War that allowed the Union to regain control and lead to victory. The Pickett Charge, a Confederate General, tried to concentrate these troops on a specific point, but this charge did not work. The fate of the United States was settled on the battlefield. On the battlefield, while respecting the laws of war, General Pickett did not defeat.

Maneuvers during the Battle of Cannes. Initial situation below, destruction of the Roman army above.

During the battle of Canne between the Roman army and Hannibal's army, we can see that Hannibal was in numerical inferiority. He waited until the Romans attacked the Carthaginian infantry line, the horsemen attacked by the flanks and the Roman army was defeated. There are, as if invariably, rules that were in force 2200 years ago, but still are today.

Basil H. Liddell Hart has issued numerous military doctrines, including the indirect approach in opposition to the Clausewitzian approach, avoiding frontal attacks and thus being more defensive. We will attack the enemy's logistic lines, contain enemy forces and give priority to harassment rather than total destruction. Yes, but Clausewitz is mainly interested in the battlefields.

There would be a continuum that makes there are different ways of reacting, such as the Pickett Charge which is the use of offensive and maximum force, but there is also the case of the Maginot Line which is a defensive approach. Depending on the tactical movements we make, as in the case of the Battle of Cane, we can win.

Stratégies multiple 1.png

Policing law enforcement[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

In general, when one speaks of police, one goes back to the Middle Ages with the police as being linked to the emergence of cities. When we think about Elias, the process of civilization and where the process of differentiation is important, as long as there is no process of concentration, there is not necessarily a need for police. For example, in the canton of Geneva, there is a cantonal police force and each commune can have a communal police force. The concentration of the population and the "need" for police officers means that the emergence of the police is linked to the construction of the State.

For Egon Bittner, the police are like "a mechanism of distribution of a non-negotiable coercive force, put at the service of an intuitive understanding of the requirements of a situation". It is a functional and reactive approach to what the police are. According to Michel Foucault, the police are "the means by which the forces of the State can be increased while maintaining the good order of this State". Foucault sees in the birth of the police and police practices that these practices are accompanied by and constitute the building of the State. The growth of the police has accompanied the growth process of the state. The police have a constitutive role in state building.

Tableau synthétique des différentes fonctions policières 1.png

A distinction is made between three missions: the defence of political order, public tranquillity and the fight against crime. Different police forces will emerge. There is an ordinary police and a high police force. The police are full of images, but are representative of the state. On the one hand, the state ensures the living conditions of its citizens, but on the other hand, the state is repressive to stay in place. There is a tension in the state which is reflected in the very constitution of the police forces. State protection is inherent in the birth of the state.

There are three characteristics of police use of force:

1) targets individuals rather than groups (unlike the military): we will try to target people who disturb the public order or are threats to the state. Police logic thinks in terms of individuals, it is important to identify, locate and classify. It is a grid logic, a police logic must know its territory.


The distribution of time and space is different from the battlefield. Police logic is distributed and dispersed in time and space rather than on a battlefield with a front line where the use of force is localized (but still a continuity of the surveillance device). Even if the front line has a continuity in terms of line, the territory from a police point of view must be squared on the force of a surveillance in order to be able to intervene in a punctual way on the individuals. On the battlefield, violence reaches its climax, while in the police area, violence intervenes in a more diffuse way.

2) Minimum use of force: This is the opposite of the maximum use of military force. It is a proportional use of force and a discriminated logic because it targets individuals who have committed an offence. The minimum use of force is used as a last resort with the lowest possible intensity and only under certain strict conditions, namely in cases of self-defence and protection of life and property.

3) symbolic superiority: rather than fighting between legitimately equal adversaries, the police are not the protagonists of a conflict between equals. The police have a symbolic, moral and legal superiority over the criminal. It is socially perceived as the officer who enforces the law and ensures civil peace and order. The police are there to restore a pre-existing order, while military logic will make a new order emerge. His opponent is not lost as a "legitimate enemy", but as a "criminal". It is a different approach from the other side of the relationship.

There are two types of using force between police and military personnel. It is not the same with regard to the process of state building as in the West. This process of differentiation, bureaucratization and resource accumulation has resulted in a differentiated relationship of the use of force with limited internal and maximum external use of force.

Contemporary transformations of war and global policing[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

There was "always" a competition around the establishment of the line between army and police action fields. A distinction must be made between reality and affirmations that allow us to question functional and functionalist readings. This is more complex because there has always been a competition to establish the line between the field of action under the control of the army and the police.

The line has never been clearly established, often these lines have been delineated in a disciplinary manner. The "imperial policing" in the colonies was a military affair taken care of by soldiers. There is the issue of gendarmerie forces (police forces with military status). We must be wary of clear lines. There is ongoing tension in these processes. Although an ideal of distinction between the police and the military has been established, it was first made clear that today it is more questionable than ever. However, the current trend seems to have exacerbated this competition. We are in a bureaucratic struggle between agents who claim to be doing the same thing. This distinction has never been so questioned.

The redefinition of war and the use of armed force[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

One of the changes is a civilianization of the military. This term was used to refer to peacekeeping in the post-Cold War context, which differs from the use of maximum military force. In peacekeeping, we are in a minimum use of force. This requires reinvention. From the 1990s onwards, military doctrines developed around peacekeeping issues with a minimum, domesticated and civilized use of force.

Another change is the judicialization of armed conflicts as opposed to the "superiority of the initiative". Henceforth, the military now operate in much more precise military frameworks, as is the case with the Geneva Conventions. This principle of judicialization is growing in military matters.

At the same time as there is judicialization, we are witnessing a criminalization of the enemy. We can see that some connections are beginning to occur. The increasing criminal perception of the enemy bridges the gap with police logic. We move on to a much more criminal period of the enemy in the current conflicts. Around the same theatre of operations, something interesting is happening with the First Gulf War, with the Second Gulf War, we have criminalized the enemy who led to his dissolution and his judgment with a logic of criminal relation of the enemy. With the war on terrorism, we are in a form of criminalization of the enemy where the enemy is no longer perceived as an opponent or an equal. In Nuremberg, soldiers will try to minimize the role of some German officers by saying that they behaved well on the battlefield. On the one hand, we are in a judgement of crime and on the other hand, military personnel defend officers because they fought "regularly" on the battlefield.

The place in military affairs where there is the greatest mixture of genres is counterinsurgency warfare. We're talking about "winning hearts and minds". It's a military practice with a police coloration. At the same time, this practice has been around for a long time and is brought up to date again, showing that we are facing changes in military and police practices. Counter-insurgency is a colonial know-how, it is said that the founders are the French first of all with the war of pacification in Algeria and Indochina. This type of know-how then spread as with the United States in the Vietnam war and in the context of the Latin American dictatorships with the Condor Plan, which provided for broad collaboration on a counter-insurgency mode.

From now on, in the military academies, emphasis is placed on counter-insurgency issues. The counter-insurgency blurs the lines between know-how and colony. Counter-insurgency is centred on the issue of identification and localization as opposed to targeting collective actors. We find ourselves in something more "police", we are not fighting against an army, but against an insurrection. Counter-insurgency develops in revolutionary wars. During the Cold War there was a need to fight revolutionaries. We are targeting individual actors. Counter-insurgency has no front lines or battlefields, we are in "battle spaces" where we have to think about the use of force in a different spatial context.

If we compare the special forces operations map in Afghanistan with the crime map of Oakland, we see that there is no longer a defined front line, but that there is a dispersion of operations. We will intervene in the most relevant places that we must identify, notably through a grid and a grid of the territory that allows us to know where and when it is most effective to intervene.

In a counter-insurgency logic, we are in a mixture of genres with police know-how where the border is no longer the same, changing perceptions and uses of force. The contemporary doctrine of counter-insurgency is a product of "military policing" in the colonies:"pacification","imperial policing" and "small wars" at the beginning of the 20th century. Counter-insurgency knowledge was the main exception, and this know-how became central in particular in the American, British and French armies. This is interesting, because according to the traditional distinction between police and army, the main exception was the colonies where the military were engaged in "policing".

In counter-insurgency, there are different aspects with a strong civil-military dimension, to which we will add a strong intelligence dimension and a psychological warfare dimension, because we are both in a repressive relationship and with the aim of maintaining good relations with the population. The psychological dimension is important whether it is to put pressure or to get things in exchange. In relation to space, there is the importance of the grid of the territory, which is to have the means to be able to monitor, grid and mesh a territory. Counter-insurgency is not a new phenomenon, but has become increasingly important. People specialized in this field were valued after 9/11 and in the context of the War on Terrorism.

Internationalisation of the police[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

We have to look at the way police work is internationalizing. Again, as for the military, the use of force is more targeted, less intense and symbolically a different relationship to the enemy, which is a criminal relationship, but the questions of internationalization of the police are not necessarily new, they are logics that already existed. Certain aspects of the business are brought to the forefront depending on opportunities linked to a change of context.

The police mission is limited by the physical and legal borders of the State. At the functional level, police forces have sometimes resumed missions that were formerly the responsibility of the military. There are UN missions called "CivPol" are peacekeeping operation missions by sending police officers. Police officers are more difficult to hire than the military. There is a cultural difference, police officers are people who generally live in society where going on a mission is much more difficult to imagine. External military operations for crowd management refer to the case of the former Yugoslavia with the deployment of French gendarmes deployed in Kosovo to manage the crowds. A civilian crowd management force would be something more effective in these kinds of missions, because police officers would have a better relationship in the use of violence. At the functional level, there is a growing trend for police officers to conduct missions that were once military missions.

At the geographical level, it is restrictive to say that the police are no longer confined to the domestic domain delimited by the State's external borders. Even though the police professions were born in different states and especially in cities, the question of what to do when crime crosses borders was raised at an early stage. For a long time, the issue of police cooperation has been a part of policing issues. In Policing the Globe. Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations by Andreas and Nadelmann published in 2008, we see that the question of police cooperation was born in the fight against revolutionary and anarchist elements in Europe in the 19th century, and the political police forces that were most effective in carrying out this type of mission were the Austro-Hungarian, Italian and Russian police forces that had an interest in knowing what the revolutionary elements of their homes were doing in other countries. For example, Switzerland was home to many revolutionaries and there was a strong demand from the police to find out what these elements were doing in Switzerland and especially whether they were causing unrest in another country. There was a willingness to cooperate internationally as well as through the secondment of liaison officers to cooperate with the police in other countries.

The transnational dimension of the police force is inherent in the constitution of the border because, taking Austria-Hungary as an example, when the empire is dissolved and new borders are created, the new police forces want to reach the level of Vienna. International links will develop. It is the constitution of borders that will generate international cooperation in police affairs. The European border is a rather fascinating case, since free movement within the European Union has created a new problem on the external border of the Union. Today, when we talk so much about migration issues in the Mediterranean, we have the impression that we are faced with a razor of people coming from the South and pouring into the Mediterranean coasts. Until about 20 years ago, immigration rules were more flexible. From the moment we create the category of "clandestine immigrants", we will automatically criminalize them and thus generate cross-border cooperation in order to manage this phenomenon. The issue of migration is quite interesting today because there is a great convergence of police problems in international cooperation because there are large migrations and these migratory flows allow organized crime to develop.

Organized crime is quite an interesting element in terms of internationalizing the police. Beyond the issue of political policing, transnational organized crime is an interesting category. The first time that the notion of "organized crime" was used was in Prohibition in the 1920s when cultural and ethnic affinity cartels were created to carry out criminal activities that were scattered in different areas. It is a logic of "mafia" where we find groups within the framework of chains. Organized crime has become transnational in an American logic is within the framework of War on Drugs. In the context of drug trafficking, emphasis has been placed on Latin American cartels involved in the production and export of drugs to the United States through clandestine networks. The idea was to fight it on the ground through cooperation. We started talking about narco-terrorism. It was assumed that some trafficking groups would use the resources derived from their trafficking to finance terrorist groups such as the FARC in Colombia. We find the idea that migration, the path followed for immigration, is superimposed on the notion of organized crime. The logic of the internationalisation of the police is part of a very old phenomenon which has in any case more than a century.

This internationalisation of police co-operation is exemplified not only by INTERPOL, but also by EUROPOL. This group of police is a minority, but whose job is transnational police cooperation. As seen from the point of view of military personnel with a convergence of know-how with police officers, from the point of view of police officers, there is a similar phenomenon in that some police officers are going to undertake missions that were previously related to military affairs, but also because of the increasing internationalisation of the police. Today, although INTERPOL and EUROPOL represent a minority of police officers, their activities are at the forefront. In the European Union, at a time when cooperation is being created, borders are being removed, new borders are being created and cooperation is becoming more important. Crime is transnational, there is a link between drug trafficking, terrorism, cross-border crime and the mafia. The military is increasingly doing things that resemble what police officers do, and the police are doing more and more things that were part of the military profession as an actor in international relations.

Counter-terrorism Practices[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

With counter-terrorism practices, the figure of terrorism is both a criminal and an enemy. In terms of practices, counter-terrorism has both police and military aspects, because the figure of terrorism straddles these two logics. Terrorism occupies a much greater place in the security tasks of Western forces.

At the heart of counter-terrorism is the issue of identification and location. The mix of continuous genres. From September 11th onwards, the novelty is the one that we will collaborate even more. One of the effects of this increased collaboration is that the war on terrorism will be heavily militarized. The categories of enemy and criminal become much more blurred. The Guantanamo case is a mixture of complete genera that is an American base on Cuban territory questioning the status of people who will be arrested categorized as "illegal combatants". A new statute was invented to avoid being bound by a legal framework. In the fight against terrorism, there is a mixture of genres with practices that are becoming increasingly important.

At the organizational level, there is close cooperation between police, intelligence and the military. There are reorganizations on the part of the services. For example, the European Union has set up an intelligence structure called INTCEN, which combines military and police intelligence. If, from a police point of view, we believe that migration has a certain link with organized crime and terrorism, that we end up with military databases and that we put them all together, this will support the thesis that there is a systematic link between terrorism, crime, immigration, etc., and that there is a systematic link between terrorism and terrorism.

Phenomena exist as a point matter, but it is the way in which they are systematized that will lead to simplistic interpretations. We end up by setting up a technological tool to accredit a thesis that comes from a point of view.

Conclusion[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The term de-differentiation has been used a lot by Didier Bigot who talks about the emergence of transnational guilds of security professionals questioning the distinction between internal and external, one could speak in this case of de-differentiation and will start to do similar things where the line is not really structuring.

We are also talking about re-differentiation, looking at how these practices in a historical perspective have never really differentiated, and differentiating one is in questioning the differentiation where the distinction of differentiation was already artificial because at all times as with transnational police cooperation. The term hybridization can be used to refer to the mixing of genera.

Bibliography[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

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