For much of the history of the modern state system, the presence of a military force in a given territory was tightly linked with authority over that territory. That is, the territory on which a state’s military was stationed was either an integral part of that state or a subjugated territory. In contemporary politics, however, this linkage has become contingent, as is apparent in the advent of the long-term, peacetime stationing of military forces abroad either in the form of a foreign military base or the presence of internationally-mandated peacekeeping forces. I argue that this historically novel relationship between military presence and territorial authority is ultimately made possible by the “paradox” of territorial integrity: as state territory is progressively secured through broadly held normative injunctions against its redistribution, opportunities for the disaggregation of security responsibilities and privileges have multiplied. This paper traces the progressive deterritorialization of security politics by detailing the historical evolution of occupational regimes and the legal regulation of foreign military presences. The appreciation of this paradox and the security practices it makes possible have important consequences for the field of security studies, historical analyses, and the analysis of hierarchical and imperial relations.
Sebastian Schmidt is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. Presented by the Security Studies Network.
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