Arms control discourse : the SALT Standing Consultative Commission 1975-1985




Everard, Jerome Leo

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States are dynamic entities. This thesis argues that one of the reasons that States are dynamic is that the processes that underly their formation are essentially dialogic-literally, of dialogue, or discourse. This thesis takes as its starting point the notion that in order to analyse the processes of state-making it is important to take account, not only of the grand foundational practices of establishing constitutions and fighting wars, but of the almost mundane, day-to-day practices that reinstate the state at every turn. One way to observe the practices of state-maintenance is to note and observe the disruptions and discontinuities by which state-making reveals itself in the patching-up, or maintenance of its notional boundaries. This thesis argues, therefore that the fragility of state-making reveals itself when the state is most loudly maintaining its security and integrity. One arena in which this can be observed is in the practices that maintain an arms control regime, as, for example, SALT. By observing and analysing the operation of the SALT Standing Consultative Commission through its handling of compliance issues between the US and the Soviet Union, it is argued that one can observe the operation, at a specific site, of state-making, and the effects of a shift in US ideological practice upon the process of state making in the United States. In the historical changes that came about with the change in administration from Carter to the first Reagan administration, the arms control process was challenged to survive in an era of uncertainty in which discourse about the state invoked a discourse of danger. Drawing on the broadly-termed 'post-structural' perspectives from literary theory, this thesis undertakes a 'close reading' or textual analysis approach to the empirical texts performed by the arms control community about the relationship between arms control and the notion of the state with which it operates. Contrary to the assumptions of those critical of poststructuralist approaches, this thesis does not reject the empirical along with its rejection of empiricism. Where this thesis uses or implies terms like 'construct', or 'invention' or 'texting' such usage is to be taken to imply the anthropological or sociological senses of these terms, rather than the glib 'common-sense' notion of things being arbitrarily 'made up.' As a result preference is given to the term 'construe' over 'construct' to emphasise the precedency given to meaning over inherent structure. The analytical approach taken here is rigorously concerned with the kind of world one needs to presuppose in order to make sense of the texts produced by and through arms control discourse. To perform such an analysis one must draw on actual, 'real,' records of behaviours conducted in the name of the state - hence the concern with empirical records that, in the reading, are produced as text. The principal underlying assumption explored in this thesis is that states, like other 'identities' (family, individual, institution etc,) are the products, or symptoms, of those practices that are engaged with the maintenance of boundaries 'in the name of the state or other 'identity' so produced. It is argued that such an approach offers a useful explanation of the historically demonstrated instability of such large-scale identity-structures as states.






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