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  • Conflict, Security and Peace x
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This chapter introduces and contextualises the international arms trade. It explores the links between the activities of state and corporate elites through the lens of warrior-protector and bourgeois-rational models of masculinity. The legitimate arms trade is defined and monitored, over and against illegitimate trading as a criminal activity, through ‘nested’ hierarchies of male-dominated elites. Visual analysis shows how the overtly gendered masculinity of moralised patriarchy interacts with covertly gendered humanness. In that way money-making in the national/international arms trade is sanitised as patriotic. Taking the UK as a particular state-agent, the chapter shows how legitimating strategies invisibilise policy contradictions and human rights-violations.

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This chapter takes readers to the very pinnacle of global power where nation-states, military establishments and commercial interests come together at international arms fairs. At those venues arms traders and weapons-manufacturers address their legitimacy-deficit. Their strategies are stabilised by reinscribing the heterosexual certainties of the gender-order hierarchy of masculinity over femininity. Gender-sensitive ethnography, informed by performativity, explicates this in detail, with particular attention to the role of women. In turn weapons-company promotional videos do this similarly with the race-class order to stabilise themselves politically. This conjuncture is dominated by American ‘defence’ spending and thus by ‘western-liberal’ norms. Legitimation then works against any idea of hypocrisy and subterfuge.

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This chapter considers the anti-militarism activisms which confront the imbrication of weaponry and masculinity that the preceding chapters have outlined. Those activisms include both men and women. However, they have a particular and often problematic relationship with feminisms and with feminist activists. Moreover those groups and movements include a variety of understandings of, and internal conflicts about, critical approaches to masculinity. Rather than typologising any masculinities therein as somehow ‘alternative’, the analytical focus here is on grassroots efforts to delegitimise weaponry and militarism. Some queer activists attempt to do this by destabilising the gender-order hierarchy directly. This chapter avoids descriptive typology and relates instead to great-power politics.

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Gender is widely recognized as an important and useful lens for the study of International Relations. However, there are few books that specifically investigate masculinity/ies in relation to world politics.

Taking a feminist-inspired understanding of gender as its starting point, the book:

  • explains that gender is both an asymmetrical binary and a hierarchy;

  • shows how masculinization works via ‘nested hierarchies’ of domination and subordination;

  • explores the imbrication of masculinities with the nation-state and great-power politics;

  • develops an understanding of the arms trade with commercial processes of militarization.

Written in an accessible style, with suggestions for further reading, this book is an invaluable resource for students and teachers applying ‘the gender lens’ to global politics.

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This chapter genders the supposedly gender-neutral founding concepts of the study of international relations. The security dilemma arises in and through the ordered hierarchies of male-dominated institutions. The state is rightly conceived as masculine and masculinising. The great-power politics of the international system is thus coincident with the militarisation and weaponry through which nation-states compete. This international ‘normality’ is legitimated by the gender-order hierarchies of male dominance. That order of dominance is legitimated in turn by the nation-state in masculinising practices and weapons-displays. States without a military establishment are thus queer, yet normalised into the ordered hierarchies of militarism by other means, such as national sporting prowess.

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This chapter explains that gender is not simply a binary. It is also a hierarchy of masculinity over femininity. Within that hierarchy there are ‘nested’ hierarchies of some men over others. This chapter also distinguishes between domination and hegemony, which is domination by consent. And it explains that masculinity and femininity are asymmetrical. Men can stand for generic, de-gendered humanity. When they are gendered as overtly male, that representation is moralised as good. Moral badness is then displaced into a generic human nature. Women have only the overtly gendered option. Men thus accumulate power within hierarchies of domination and subordination by mutual consent.

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… there is nothing a government hates more than to be well-informed; for it makes the process of arriving at decisions much more complicated and difficult. (Keynes, quoted in Skidelsky, 1992, p 630)

The discussions throughout this book serve to highlight the key debates over the ‘modernisation’ of policy making, particularly under New Labour since 1997. While it is clear that changes associated with ‘modernisation’ have received considerable impetus since 1997, it is also apparent that in many of the key areas there have been developments going back several decades. Such attention to policy making is not unique to the UK, and there are reflections of such an approach in many other states. However, what has perhaps been most new has been the generally consistent drive across government to reform policy making.

The nine elements of policy making, set out in Professional policy making for the twenty-first century (Cabinet Office Strategic Policy Making Team, 1999), are not a blueprint for action. Neither, as is clear from the discussions in this book, are the different elements mutually exclusive (for example, issues around ‘evidence-based’ policy also emerge in relation to virtually all of the key characteristics, with questions over what is considered good evidence, the quality of evidence and the uses to which it is put, or indeed not put). Rather, they are best seen as a set of overlapping and, in many cases, interdependent principles. As the chapters in this book make clear, there are also significant variations in the extent to which the nine competencies have been more fully articulated in subsequent government documentation and guidance.

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‘Evidence-based’ policy in UK central government is not a new idea but, since 1997, we have entered a new phase in the relationship between social science research and policy making. The introduction and establishment of social science research within central government is, of course, much older, and has taken different forms within departments, from separate research and analysis units to mixed disciplinary teams of analysts working alongside colleagues responsible for policy and delivery. It encompasses externally funded programmes of research and evaluation, large statistical data-gathering inquiries such as continuous surveys and the collection of administrative data. The idea of evidence-based policy is of clear appeal to policy makers, incorporating as it does an apparently ‘common-sense’ view that decisions should be made on the basis of evidence and at a time when the levels of information available through research and collection of data for administrative purposes appear to be ever-increasing.

The tradition of research for policy goes back half a century or more. Donald T. Campbell enunciated it clearly in his article, ‘Reforms as experiments’, almost half a century ago:

The United States and other modern nations should be ready for an experimental approach to social reform, an approach in which we try out new programs designed to cure specific problems, in which we learn whether or not these programs are effective, and in which we retain, imitate, modify or discard them on the basis of their apparent effectiveness on the multiple imperfect criteria available. (Campbell, 1969, p 409)

The use of research and analysis in policy has also been the subject of a number of government reports (see, for example, Fulton Committee, 1968; Rothschild Report, 1971; Performance and Innovation Unit, 2000a).

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We can either stumble into the future and hope it turns out alright or we can try and shape it. To shape it, the first step is to work out what it might look like. (Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister for Transport, speech at the Foresight Intelligent Systems Infrastructure Launch Event, Institute of Engineers, 26 January 2006)

Policy makers work in the future, setting the parameters of the society we will become. Of course they need to look ahead. (Defra, 2007, p 8)

While policy makers may often, and inevitably, be concerned with short-term goals, such as improving the standards or efficiency of a service, or responding to an immediate problem, it is the case that many of the aims, effects and outcomes from policy making are, equally inevitably, long term. Pensions reform, green taxes and hospital building programmes are examples of policies whose full effects are not seen until many years after their implementation. As the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee notes, ‘Governing for the future is both important and difficult. Important because it means getting to grips with the long-term issues that will shape the lives of future generations; difficult because it rubs up against the short-termism that is inherent in the politics of the electoral cycle’ (2007, p 5). The role of the forward-looking policy maker is to negotiate this tension: to ensure that decisions taken today are informed by robust evidence of their likely future outcomes, and to balance our uncertainties about what the future holds with politicians’ desire to effect definite change.

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As with many of the terms associated with ‘modern’ policy making, it is not necessarily immediately apparent what ‘inclusive’ policy making might be, nor how it should be interpreted. At its most basic, it could be said that ‘inclusion’ is about being able to participate in society, having the opportunity to be involved, and being able to undertake activities regarded as ‘normal’. From the perspective of policy making, this might be operationalised through a whole variety of different methods, such as joining in activities in the community, having a say in how the country is run at local and national levels through voting in elections, or having input through a variety of mechanisms such as attending meetings, providing feedback on existing services and facilities, joining pressure groups, campaigning, responding to consultations, becoming members of user forums or citizens’ panels, or volunteering.

As ‘inclusiveness’ relates to modern policy making, Professional policy making for the twenty-first century (Cabinet Office Strategic Policy Making Team, 1999) suggests that an inclusive approach, as initially outlined in the Modernising government White Paper (Cabinet Office, 1999), is ‘concerned with ensuring that policy makers take as full account as possible of the impact the policy will have on different groups – families, businesses, ethnic minorities, older people, the disabled, women – who are affected by the policy’, and that it might be achieved by involving relevant ‘… service delivers/implementers, academics, and voluntary organisations – in the policy process’ (Cabinet Office Strategic Policy Making Team, 1999, para 8.1). There is therefore a concern with the extent to which there are opportunities for individuals, organisations and groups to get involved in and influence the policy process.

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