Denial and Foreign Policy Identity Crises

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    • 00:15

      STEFANO GUZZINI: Thanks very much for having me here.I'm also glad that I have a place in which one can see me.You know, Italians don't usually make it very high.We need these kind of lower places to be visible.It's really a pleasure to be back at the LSE.It's a great honor to be here with you, Cynthia.

    • 00:36

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: I was thinking about this invitationthat I got from the organizers whom I wish to thank,but at some point I wasn't sure Iwas going to thank, because therewas this throwing two concepts at you and then let's see,in the first row, what comes out of it, right?So there's this sense of-- and I'msure you have run the permutation of innumerable puns

    • 00:59

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: on failure and denial already.So did I, trying to find out whatever could I possiblycontribute to this.But it happens that I use denial in one of my research projectsand that's what became, then, the title of this, Denialand Foreign Policy Identity Crisis,

    • 01:20

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: trying to understand the relationshipa little bit between the two, because I thinkthere's a commonsensical relationship between failureand denial, which is that you tend to deny when you fail,but if you keep on denying, you will fail again.So there's a kind of cycle which is in this--

    • 01:42

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: a kind of vicious cycle-- and it is commonsensicalbecause I think it happens on at least three different levels.There's the first one, which is cognitive,where you are in a state of denial idea, in which you don'treally see reality as it is.Apparently the other guys know it much better than you do.

    • 02:03

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: And therefore will not be able, by the interpretationof that reality, to pragmatically perform wellin that reality.It is also sometimes when people refer to youas living in another world, as America did with Vladimir Putinwhen he invaded Crimea.So I think there's one relationship in which itproduces a learning pathology.

    • 02:26

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: And so therefore you would have this kindof commonsensical line on the cognitive level.Then there's a second one, I think, which is moral,which is, I think, always present.I'm not quite sure how it feeds into it,but it is about this idea that when you deny,you don't confess.According to the old line, confess, repent, and redeem,

    • 02:50

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: if you don't then there's no redemption ever coming.And so there's a continuous failurefor paying back the debt that you have incurredto society while not admitting, so to speak, to the factthat what you have never been done before, the failure thathas been there.And I think the third commonsensical relationshipis practical or political, which is about failures that you

    • 03:14

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: conceal and become prisoner of that concealment.Very often, that is one way, I think,that Watergate and Nixon have been described,that by having to conceal the Cambodia bombings,he went into so much of hiding procedurethat eventually produced his fall down.So it produces a failure in the end

    • 03:35

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: because all the policies ring fences around his initialconcealment-- the initial denial,so to speak-- that needs to be protected.Now, I will do the usual trick, i.e.I will now talk about completely different thingsand return to it at the end of the talk,but I hope I can somewhat carry you

    • 03:57

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: with me to that end in which I will talk about foreign policyidentity crises and denial, and come, then,to a discussion of these perhaps three different levelsand also the things that I have been doing wrong in doingthat study before.So there will be three parts.First is the background on the study, which is actually

    • 04:18

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: the return of geopolitical thought in the '90s in Europe,which I developed with others-- a study on foreign policyidentity crisis.Then the second, trying to show what I mean by foreign policyidentity crisis.And the third, of course, then what Imean by denial in such crisis.So it's straightforward in principle.

    • 04:38

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: I hope I can carry there, and I will deny you the punch lineuntil the end.Another pun, right?It won't stop for the whole conference, I'm pretty sure.You should make a list of all the ones that you get.So what was the puzzle?The puzzle was that we had the end of the Cold War.We are all very happy.

    • 04:59

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: Here comes the German tree-hugging idealists,and all of a sudden you have, in several European countries,a revival of geopolitical thought--the most determinist, materialist component, whichseemed to be completely out of tunewith what was going on outside.So for me, the obvious or self-evident puzzlesseem to be how come that exactly in a moment of peace

    • 05:22

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: you look at the most materialist, the mostdeterminist, and in many regards,the most warmongering of all the respect on stage--quite forcefully in many countriesin which it hadn't been particularly strong before.Some countries always have a very stronggeopolitical tradition that's usually connectedto some imperial powers and so on.But they were at some others, like my Italy,

    • 05:43

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: where all of a sudden we had generals running and writingtextbooks in international relations.We got a new journal on geopolitics, Limes,which all of a sudden got 30,000, 35,000 in distribution,which was unheard of in Italy, and so on.Well, here we were.And of course, the first time I mentioned it, therefore Ireferred to the tree-hugging German idealists,

    • 06:05

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: I was told that [INAUDIBLE] wars, of course.It explained everything-- that there were the Balkan warsand therefore geopolitics had to return.I always felt it begged the question, howcome we have the most fundamental, bipolar,nuclear conflict-- war-- and yet the Civil War in a very

    • 06:25

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: isolated, if you think in terms of world politics, very small,isolated environment should be much more importantin the end of that rather large conflict.I believed that there was more to be thought of.So there was a team.We worked on it, and the initial hypotheses took many thingsinto account, but at the end of the day, most of us,we decided to concentrate on the hunch, which then was going

    • 06:49

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: through the book, which is that the foreign policy identitydiscourses in several countries were running into problemsbecause they were connected in one way or the otherto the way the Cold War had organized or specialized,if you wish, in terms of space.The coordinate system of their own self-understanding

    • 07:10

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: and the role recognition they had abroad.So at the end of the day, we madea longer analysis and the analysiscomes up with two mechanisms.One of which will be the center of the talk, whichis the idea that there is almost similar-- but only in analogy--ontological dissonance appearing in the foreign policy

    • 07:32

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: discourses in terms then, therefore,of either self-understanding or role recognitionor the combination between the two.And that there are several ways of handlingthis particular dissonance, one including denial.And I come to this [INAUDIBLE].And there's a second mechanism, whichhas to do that if geopolitical thought is taken seriously,

    • 07:52

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: and if it takes primary place, given its content,it will contribute to a remilitarizationof the understanding of politics.What geopolitics does is basically reverse [INAUDIBLE].Rather than having a war as the prolongation of politicsand other means, politics becomes the prolongationof war.Without the means, war is the defaultwithin which tend to think of how to possibly

    • 08:13

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: limit or moderate it.And of course, that means that already in the '90s,at the very heyday of the end of the Cold War,we had a remilitarization of thought-- and to some extent,also practice-- in the European Security Order.It's not 9/11.It is before 9/11, and it made the interpretation of 9/11in terms of war much more likely than it

    • 08:35

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: would have been otherwise.So that was the background.And so now, let me come to this very bizarre ideaof a foreign policy identity crisis.The difficulty with the concept of identityis well-known, right?We use it on the personal level.And then the first question is, how can you possiblyscale this up?

    • 08:55

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: I don't.The idea is not that there are some identity discoursesand they are scaled up.It is about the understanding of the particular fieldwithin which foreign policy identities are negotiated.And they usually include, the critical geographerstell us, a formal-- that's the academic level,

    • 09:16

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: if you wish-- a practical, that's the political one,and the popular component in which that negotiation takesplace.So the idea is not to have any scaling up here to do.It is rather that there if a field, more or less, but notnecessarily just an expert field,within which such identities courses take place.

    • 09:36

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: And they are, therefore, includingboth the self-understanding and the role recognitionthat you have.And it includes, also, vision of identity,which is not a causal, but a dispositional one, at best.Now what does that mean?It means that none of these discourses in any sensehomogeneous.There are always many, many, many possible identities,

    • 09:58

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: which I therefore insist on saying that it's not causal,because that is usually-- and I think,if it were causal used as an argument against identityexplanations, because [INAUDIBLE] you can alwaysfind one identity discourse whichwould fit one particular behavior just asmuch as the rationalists will alwaysfind one [INAUDIBLE] value maximizing afterwardsthat would fit it.But that's not the way it works, because it is actually

    • 10:21

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: not a causal setup in the first place.It is a dispositional one.Indeed, you can then trace back that particular identity thatmight have been the most important one,but you couldn't possibly predict it [INAUDIBLE].Now, for some that would say that, therefore,it's not interesting because it's not on the signs,I think that there are reasons to believe that some versions

    • 10:44

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: of social mechanisms which take that into account give usa weaker way of non-linear causality--contingent causality, if your wish-- that can be used,and not the stronger one which I think cannot be used.But so if it is not homogeneous--if there are many around-- what definesthat there is a kind of field within which

    • 11:07

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: invited identity discourses meet,or which is the field off the identity discourse,if you keep it in this multiple meaning.It is that it defines the terms on which the debate takesprice.So if you have the classical debate between isolationismand interventionism, there are many thingswhich are taken for granted for having exactly this one

    • 11:28

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: orthodoxy in that particular heterodoxy.So there is a starting point upon whichthen the authorized positions-- the authorized identities,if you wish-- can meet, and thereare some which are, more or less, usually kept out.And I think Cynthia knows about manyto have been classically left out of the authorized ones.So it is hard to fulfill.

    • 11:50

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: And it is defining, if you wish, the underlying-- well,[INAUDIBLE] if it were in the [INAUDIBLE] sense,but doesn't need to be-- but the underlying coreupon which then the debates necessarily take place.And it is by accepting that core that you're a part of,even if you disagree heavily, if you'repart of that particular discursive environment.

    • 12:12

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: Now, when can such a discourse come into crisis.It can come into crisis when the self-evident componentsare no longer self-evident.In some sense, it's a difficult one,because identity discourses are, strictly speaking, always

    • 12:33

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: in crisis.There's no fixed, stable identity whatsoever.And if you don't have the scaling up-- and thinkin terms of personal identity, but thinkin terms of the identity discoursesin the construction of certain identity visions, imaginaries.These imaginaries are necessarily changing,constructing, whatever you want to say.

    • 12:56

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: There is nothing which is stable or fixed once and forever.But most of the time-- not most of the time, perhaps,but many, many times-- foreign policy identitiesgive the impression of stability simplybecause the self-evidence that is portrayed through themis working, or is still working at least for most of them--

    • 13:19

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: most of the participants in these discourses.The crisis, therefore, is the momentwhen people start talking about identityand the dissonance, if you wish, is coming when their existingreservoir of different identity answersis no longer sufficient for handling it in a normal way.

    • 13:41

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: In that regard, it's not that far, actually,coming back to Thomas Kuhn and pragmatic crises and so on.And we have been in the book, very much inspiredby Jutta Weldes' idea of securityand [INAUDIBLE] have been basically reformulating itslightly into a foreign policy [INAUDIBLE].Now, I come to my crisis reduction mechanism

    • 14:04

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: and then, for the first time, perhaps back to denial.What seems to be there is that if there is a tension buildingup between the self-understanding and the rolerecognition or within the self-understandingas portrayed within identity discourses, then

    • 14:26

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: this seems to be-- or at least that was the assumption--a tendency or attempt to make it convergeto reduce that dissonance.A dissonance reduction.That can have different reasons.It's not something which is connected to the individual,again, so it's not a cognitive dissonancepsychological argument, but it canhave to do with expectations from the outside

    • 14:48

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: that you have to be a credible international actor.It has to do with the collective identification of the peopleor of the nation that needs the effortto have a certain stability, at least,when it comes to its identity discourses.

    • 15:10

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: We found in the book four different waysof handling that ontological dissonance, oneof them being denial, and thinkingabout it more and-- here comes my failure-- Ithink I have two more.And they are actually at least as-- if not more-- interestingthan the ones which were initially there.So two of them are accepting that there is a real mismatch,

    • 15:32

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: that the real recognition from the outsidedoes, indeed, mismatch with the self-understandingthat identity discourses have.There are two ways of going about it.One is to adapt.So that's the self-understanding which adapts.The South African case, the apartheid case,would come to mind.The other one is to impose, i.e.

    • 15:52

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: Is to try to make the underlying rules for successfor recognition at the international level changeby trying to influence those very rules.This is usually a strategy which is done by major powers.So you could say that the US under George W. Bush.You might say even Putin's Russia today

    • 16:13

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: and, in a different manner, use normative power idea--all attempt to redefine the rules of the gamerather than to adapt to any of them.Then there are two reactions in dissonance reduction reactions,if you wish, in which you do not accept that there is a mismatch

    • 16:35

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: to start with.One in which you believe that there is mainlyjust a misunderstanding.So that, in fact, there is no major mismatch or rolerecognition.Self-understanding is perfectly fine,just that it doesn't really look like,so let's have a little bit more of a discussionor, as we call it then, negotiation in orderto find out how to bring the two together.

    • 16:59

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: These negotiation policies can be quite different.I thought about the not-so-lucky JimmyCarter who, after the Vietnam War,tried heavily to redeem a vision of the US, whichwas somewhat more acceptable to the outside-- so its relationto Nicaragua, not the very strong support

    • 17:21

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: for particular dictators around the world, the Panama CanalTreaty, for which he was strongly criticized,all attempts to say, yeah, role recognitionwas no longer there, but look, if you understand us correctlythen there's actually no mismatch between the two.And the last one is indeed denial

    • 17:42

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: that there was ever any mismatch to start with.Jutta Weldes, in her book on the Cuban Missile Crisis,is wonderful.I think so.Extraordinary analysis about identity discourses.So foreign policy and discourses of the USduring the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which she tried

    • 18:03

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: to show what discourses can show,not which kind of identity is finally winning,but which ones are left out-- not the natural [INAUDIBLE],so to speak, outside of the picture.And so she starts the book with the counterfactualby having these three different stories--the Soviet story, the Cuban story, and the American story.And she has the Cuban story, which after all looks

    • 18:24

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: pretty easily understandable.They want to have these missiles for defense.After all, they had just invaded from the United Statesnot so long time before.They were a little island.I mean, doesn't sound as completely off justification.And yet, it is the one which, in the very discussions,was never given any major credibility because it would

    • 18:45

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: touch the very core of the self-understanding of the USthat it is not a major imperialist power.In fact, to some extent this was then also played out afterwardswhen the Tojo argument came up that said the US could not justinvade Cuba, as the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.But it came late in the justification.

    • 19:06

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: It doesn't come in the very beginning.So it is a kind of denial-- how can I say it?By [INAUDIBLE]?Denial by not admitting because thatwould undermine so profoundly the very self-understanding.You just can't do it.The other type of denial is-- it's a very strange one,

    • 19:28

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: as well.It has been worked out on the Suez Crisis between the UKand the US, i.e.That the UK-- for anybody else I was carving in to the US,but in terms of admitting that, yes, our identity is indeedthe other one that you the US have told us we should have.

    • 19:49

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: This has been analyzed by [INAUDIBLE]but also by Janice Bially Matternin her idea about the representational powerwith special force that can come with identity politics.But then I was thinking, OK, now I had two reactions.One in which there is a mismatch and two reactions, and one

    • 20:12

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: there is no mismatch.What happens if discourses which are nothappening in Europe-- this book was about Europe--but which happened perhaps elsewhere,also already at the periphery of whatthe European international order isall about-- the little club to which you are invited or not,of which you might be part or not.

    • 20:32

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: And there I found two mixed or hybrid strategies,which are basically living in the dissonance.And one of them has been also referred to as being denial.Ayse Zarakol has been working on Turkeyand trying to see why Turkey has so much trouble, justas Japan, in her study for admitting

    • 20:55

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: to the Armenian genocide.And the argument is not just, OK,it's about self-understanding of Turkeyand so on that she retained, but alsoabout the very ambivalent position in which Turkey findsitself in terms of its recognitionat the international level, being both in and also out,

    • 21:15

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: and that any admission to having made a failure in the pastwould push it to be more on the outside.So it is not necessarily driven by a self-denial.It is driven also by an environment that is notforgiving or might not be forgivingand be very happy to put your back on whatever

    • 21:36

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: Orientalist ticket that would fit Turkey.And there's another last strategy,which again I found by a Turkish scholar [INAUDIBLE] which,following [INAUDIBLE] called mimicry.And I thought that one was a really interesting one.So mimicry is basically the attemptto do what is expected of you so it looks like adaptation, just

    • 22:01

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: not entirely.Selectively in the way which leaves some space to yourself.Her case for Turkey-- but she has also others--would be the secularization laws thatpassed in the early Kemalist years, in which she says,yes, they were all taken on and of coursethey were part of the redefinition of what Turkey had

    • 22:23

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: to be as compared to the Ottoman Empire,but they were also done in turn for preemptingpossible international intervention.Because sovereignty, of course, is always niceif you're part of the club.But if you're not part of the club,sovereignty is much more vigilant as a concept.And so if you had a religious definition of the state,then of course foreign powers could come inand be protectors of the minorities--

    • 22:44

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: the meaning Christian minorities--and that was something that the Turkish government wantedto avoid and so therefore went into a strategy whichwas imitating, taking on board, but taking on board for keepingits own difference, so to speak, at the same time.And so it is perhaps among all these denial

    • 23:04

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: versus failure strategies the onewhich has the most potential to-- coming backto the same point-- of resistance.Because it seems that the commonsensical version--and I'm coming to my end and you cansee how I'm returning after all still to my initial topic--seems to work as the endless identity crisis.

    • 23:26

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: For some countries you seem to find not a clear anchoringin any.The identity discourses seem to be going back and forth,so to speak, time and again.And in our book, it was Russia and Turkeyin which that was the case, and to a small extent,actually, also Italy.It seems also that there is an ambiguity for identity

    • 23:48

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: discourses which are systematicallylinked to a certain other, like the UK and the US,or Germany and the European Union.Remember that there's this famous definition by Ole Waeverthat Europe's other is Europe's past.I don't know how many European countries actually feel that.Certainly the Germans feel that very strongly.That means that whenever somethinggoes really wrong on the European level,

    • 24:10

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: it's not just the European level which seems to be going wrong.It's actually the self-identificationin the German discourses which I touched,and that produces a certain ambivalenceand certain turbulence, sometimes,also for the discourse.But what is important in all these approachesto take into account-- something that Ididn't take so efficiently into account--is that they are too static, because they

    • 24:30

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: take for granted that there is a given international societythat has its rules of recognition that are comingfrom the outside as if they were not somewhat relationallyconnected to the way that you react towards them.And it was typically also a vision from the north, right?Because it was a vision which is given by the-- it's true,the cases for European cases have some excuse,but they're given in one side in which you would not

    • 24:54

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: see to what extent these rules of recognitionare themselves all the time renegotiated.And this renegotiation is happening nowin the west, in the center, wherever you want to see,which is one of the reasons post-colonial studies havetaken so much of.I think Hedley Bull, at some point,noticed that international law was done by the west,

    • 25:15

      STEFANO GUZZINI [continued]: but it seems to be done also for the west [INAUDIBLE].And therefore, there is a moment in which this resistance is notthe resistance in terms of self-denial.It's a resistance against the self-denial of the underlyingrules of recognition of the international society.

Denial and Foreign Policy Identity Crises

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Abstract

Professor Stefano Guzzini discusses the international identity crises that erupted at the end of the Cold War. Countries no longer knew how to relate to one another without the established framework, and various types of denial became common as countries struggled to establish a new paradigm.

SAGE Video Forum
Denial and Foreign Policy Identity Crises

Professor Stefano Guzzini discusses the international identity crises that erupted at the end of the Cold War. Countries no longer knew how to relate to one another without the established framework, and various types of denial became common as countries struggled to establish a new paradigm.

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