Democracy and Homeland Security: Strategies, Controversies, and Impact
Homeland Security in a Global World
Editor’s note: This brief chapter by the discussant of panel 2 seeks to provide context for the papers presented by Alice Ristroph, Jameel Jaffer, Bassel El-Kasaby, Scott E. Tarry, and James F. Harris. Each presentation appears as a chapter in this e-book.
The Debate on Economic and Political Globalization Before
The events of
The early students of globalization who examined the intersection of the global and the national theorized that the increasing influence of transnational corporations significantly weakened the nation-state as the dominant international actor. Because the state was powerless to control the movement and the decisions of these corporations, some hypothesized the demise of the nation-state. In one particularly popular formulation of the demise of the state, Samuel Huntington suggested that the state will be replaced by “civilizations” as larger entities that stand for the fundamental differences in the way groups or cultures view the relationship between man and God, citizen and the state, and men and women, as well as the different definitions of rights, duties, liberty, and hierarchy.1 He hypothesized that these fundamental differences would contribute to the clash of civilizations singling out the fault lines between Western and Islamic civilizations as having a particularly violent history.
In contrast, Benjamin Barber presented a less polarized representation of the global world and a messier picture of its national and global dynamics. The spread of global capital represented by McDonald’s, Macintosh, and MTV was accompanied with the balkanizing/particularistic forces associated with jihad. The resulting dialectic of Jihad vs. McWorld explained the paradoxical interdependence and conflict associated with the global world along with the dual emergence of universalist/cosmopolitan forces and their tribal/particularistic/parochial/provincial opponents.2 Although there is an inequality of power between the global forces and their national opponents, both are intimately tied to each other and both contribute to the weakening of the modern state and its democratic principles.
Islam aside, both authors were skeptical of multiculturalism
as an appropriate framework for globalization.
Structurally speaking, there were a minority of Marxist theorists who stressed that globalization was authored by the state and involved its reorganization rather than its demise. “It involves shifts in power relations within states that often means the centralization and concentration of state powers.”4 In putting itself in the service of global capital, the state has become internationalized.
The Globalization of Homeland Security After September 11
Immediately following the attacks, the Bush administration
declared its commitment to foil the general goals of the terrorists by enhancing
democracy at home and abroad. Its efforts to deliver on these promises ironically
led to the curtailment of individual and group freedoms at home and the export
of democracy to the
The USA PATRIOT Act passed by Congress in October 2001 to
provide tools to intercept and obstruct terrorism began in Section 102 by
stressing that Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and Americans from
While recommending that American citizens not harass or violate the civil rights of other citizens who belonged to these three large regional groups, there was no mention or condemnation of how law enforcement agencies have targeted members of these groups in the wake of September 11 and denied them the right to due process. In fact, the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the “generalized” and “investigative” surveillance of these groups coupled with a new penchant for secrecy that made due process to many of those suspected and detained in the wake of September 11 not possible.5
In seeking to act preemptively against terrorism, the United
States promised to wage a war on two fronts: globally, targeting terrorists
wherever they reside, punishing the governments that wittingly or unwittingly
host them, and nationally, targeting several groups of Americans who shared
the culture, nationality, and religion of the terrorists and whose loyalties
were, therefore, deemed suspect. The global reach of the war on terrorism
was mirrored by the multinational scope of those affected by the policy of
homeland security within the
In this regard, what the USA PATRIOT Act did not mention
in its discussion of the three groups that were affected by the events of
September 11 (Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and Americans from South
Asia) was that membership in each one of these groups was multinational and
multiethnic. For example, Arab Americans came from the twenty-two states
that were members of the Arab League and included people from
The above categories did not do justice to the number of
national groups affected by the denial of the right to privacy and racial
profiling that followed September 11. Many Muslims in the
The violation of the civil rights of such a sizable community and its acceptance as a method of securing homeland security do not create a climate that is supportive of the general cause of civil rights, including the rights of other minority groups like African and Latino Americans. If anything, the legitimization of the extensive use of racial profiling against Arab and Muslim Americans has the unintended effect of reinforcing the legitimacy of racial profiling as a law enforcement device used against non-Muslim African and Latino Americans who were its earliest victims.
Finally, the association of homeland security with the Muslim and Arab “Other” has contributed to the revival of powerful anti-Muslim and anti-Arab images and representations. In his very important work titled Orientalism, Edward Said identified these representations with a Western approach to the study of the region that sought through its oppositional representation of the “Occident” and the “Orient” to control the latter as an “Other” (who is different religiously, culturally, and racially). Through them, the Western subject splits off the negative parts of itself and projects them onto the “Oriental.” Islam and Muslims have historically born the brunt of these degraded Western representations.6
For example, while the history of Islam was associated with
violence, irrationality, and fanaticism, the secular history of Christianity
was equated with civilization. Paradoxically,
These antagonistic views of the relations between Islam and Christianity that were implicit in the post– September 11 definitions of homeland security have undermined the course of interfaith dialogue as an alternative that was gaining ground in the United States. It also clashed with an equally important approach that was embraced by the United Nations Education, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which stressed the “dialogue among civilizations and religions” as a better policy framework.
5. Alice Ristroph and Jameel Jaffer, “Security’s
Province in a Democratic Society,” in Democracy and Homeland Security:
Strategies, Controversies and Impact, ed. N. Ammar (
7. Mervat Hatem, “Discourses on the ‘War on Terrorism’ in
8. Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack (
9. Richard Leiby, “Christian Soldier,”