Rebels without a conscience: the evolution of the rogue states narrative in US security policy
- Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.
This article examines how the foundations of the ‘rogue states’ security narrative in the United States developed prior to the declaration of the George W. Bush administration’s ‘Global War on Terror’ and President Bush’s representation of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an ‘axis of evil’. The article argues that the puzzle of how US post-Cold War foreign and defence policy came to be focused on ‘irrational’ — but militarily inferior — adversaries can be understood through analysing how actors within the US defence community discursively constructed discrete international crises as the trigger for a major shift in US threat scenarios. This is developed through an examination of two crucial episodes in the construction of post-Cold War US national security interests: the crisis in the Persian Gulf in 1990–1 and the North Korean nuclear crisis in 1993–4. The article suggests the importance of historicizing contests over the interpretation of international crises in order to both better understand the process through which a country’s national security interests are defined and to gain greater analytical purchase on how security narratives are reconstructed during processes of systemic change.