The ‘Homeland Security Moment’ in International Politics: Implications for the Third World

Date01 July 2021
Published date01 July 2021
Subject MatterResearch Articles
International Studies
58(3) 380 –396 2021
© 2021 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00208817211030828
Research article
The ‘Homeland Security
Moment’ in International
Politics: Implications for
the Third World
Shailza Singh1
This article attempts to understand the emergence of the idea of homeland
security in the US in the recent past, the attendant security praxis, and its
impact on the Third World security (predicament). It maps the journey of the
idea of homeland security—from a US-specific domestic policy framework
to a globalizing security framework. It is argued that in the emerging security
understanding, the concerns of Third World countries, which were getting
some global attention in the past few decades through the concepts like human
security and societal security, have been marginalized. By referring to security-
related policy changes in other countries, the article explains the US efforts to
export this new understanding of security to the Third World and its long-term
implications. As the homeland security paradigm and practices make their way
into many developing countries, understanding the ‘homeland security moment’
from the perspective of the latter is of crucial significance to gauge their security
predicament in the newer context.
Security, homeland security, security studies, Third World, state
The beginning of the 21st century saw the emergence of a new nomenclature in
the realm of security called ‘homeland security’. The term originated in the US
even before the 9/11 terrorist attacks; however, it became an official vocabulary
only in its aftermath. The backdrop of terrorist threats coming from non-state
actors and the changing nature of the threat environment led to the launch of the
1 Bharati College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Shailza Singh, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Bharati College, University of
Delhi, New Delhi, Delhi 110058, India.
Singh 381
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) by the US and a subsequent overhaul in its
existing security structure. The Department of Homeland Security was created,
and homeland security as an evolving paradigm began to be popularized through
official documents like the National Strategy for Homeland Security (NSHS)
and Homeland Security Quadrennial Review, among several others. Since then,
homeland security has been undergoing constant expansion in its meaning and
definitions, moving from a predominantly terrorism-focused to an all-hazards
Homeland security involves several distinctive security practices. Though
concerned mainly with domestic security, it involves a unique perception of the
international strategic landscape, giving rise to newer ways of assessing threats
and addressing them. There have been concerted efforts by the US to make
homeland security a dominant global security paradigm. It is achieved by
popularizing an approach that perceives the threat perception’s domestic and
international dimensions to be interlinked. The threat assessment is based on the
efforts to gain knowledge about the risks from the unpredictable, uncertain, and
chaotic sources in the international arena characterized by technological
advancement and change. The governance framework of homeland security is
based on risk assessment and risk management. The use of highly advanced
technology and computerized data mining for this purpose are essential features
of security policies put in place by the state. Information technology (IT) is
leveraged to come up with ‘smart’ policy solutions. Technology is one of the most
important contents of the policies on homeland security governance. This new
form of security governance is quite instrumental in propagating such a model
globally to create similar systems with commonality in assessing threat perception
and consequent investment in resources to address those threats or risks.
Homeland security is fast emerging as one of the prominent strands of security
understanding. This article attempts to assess the impact of this development and
the attendant security praxis (referred to as the homeland security moment after
this) on security in international politics in general and the Third World security
(predicament) in particular. This article aims to discuss how the different
approaches to understand homeland security provided a dominant template for
understanding security. It also looks into how homeland security moment impinges
upon the challenges posed, particularly from the Third World, on the prevailing
understanding of security. Limited research is available tracing the linkages
between the US homeland security and international security or its implications
on regional or country-specific security understanding. This article maps the
journey of security as conceptualized at various points in time. It also analyses
how the presence and absence of defining features of security have been shaped
and reshaped by interventions from diverse locations and how the sculpted form
resulting from such shaping and reshaping stands in the face of emergence of
homeland security as an evolving paradigm. It is in this context of location that
the question of the Third World becomes pertinent.

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