Rogue State Behavior
Rogue State Behavior
- Nikolaos LampasNikolaos LampasThe American College of Greece
“Outcasts,” “pariah states,” “outlaw states,” “rogue states,” “terrorist sponsor states,” “states of concern,” “axis of evil”. … Throughout the history of the discipline of international relations, these terms have been used to describe a small group of states that have been marginalized by the international community due to their aggressive behavior. The concept of rogue states is by no means new. Historically, rogue entities included countries like Russia, during the Bolshevik era, and South Africa during the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, the international community has become much more concerned about the threat of rogue states. The reason for that relates to the combined effect of transnational terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In their simplest form, “rogue states” can be defined as aggressive states that seek to upset the balance of power of the international system either by acquiring weapons of mass destruction or by sponsoring international terrorism. However, this definition is problematic because the international community has consistently misapplied the criteria designating a rogue state and, in many cases, has effectively elevated the threat originating from these countries. Therefore, the existing literature has devoted significant attention to answering the following questions: How is a “rogue state” defined? How did the concept of “rogue states” evolve over time? How can the threat of “rogue states” be dealt with? The related literature focuses on a broad range of issues, from the objectivity of the designation to the efficacy of countermeasures against these states. It includes authors who write from realist, liberalist, critical, rationalist, culturalist, structuralist, and postcolonial perspectives, among others.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the concept of “rogue states” relates to the fact that the United States labeled them as one of the most important threats to the stability of the international system. For the United States, “rogue states” replaced the threat of the Soviet Union, as evidenced by the transformation of U.S. national security policy following the demise of its former rival. However, unlike the Soviet Union, in the perception of the United States, “rogue states” were undeterrable and difficult to bargain with. Moreover, the United States argued that “rogue states” held a fundamentally different vision of the international community. Countries like Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Libya became the epicenter of the U.S. national security strategy. However, the United States continues to define “rogue states” based on their external characteristics, and this has contributed to the adoption of largely inconsistent policies that exacerbated their threat. Therefore, the contemporary use of the “rogue state” label is essentially an American creation, a way for the United States to reassess the post–Cold War security environment and structure its foreign and national security policies. Most of the international community has avoided adopting this narrative and the policies that it justified.
- Foreign Policy
- International Relations Theory
- Security Studies