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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2010

3 - The rise of US environmental security



The theoretical framework of revised securitisation theory developed in the preceding chapter suggests that the securitisation analyst needs to begin by focusing on the securitising move. To reiterate, the securitising move is the illocutionary speech act part of the securitisation (complete only with security practice) whereby the securitising actor does something by ‘speaking security’ in so far as she issues a warning to whoever is doing the threatening and/or issues a promise to those she seeks to protect. The overriding task of this chapter is to uncover the nature of the securitising move in the case of the first Clinton administration's environmental security policy. Unless otherwise stated, in this chapter ‘the Clinton administration’ refers to Clinton's first term in office from 1993 to 1997. Since environmental threats are in Gywn Prins' apt phrase ‘threats without enemies’, the securitising move is likely to have consisted of a promise to protect someone or something only.

Although this chapter aims to trace the history of the rhetorical acknowledgement of environmental security issues (the securitising move) only on the part of the Clinton administration (which means that at this stage I am not claiming that the US environmental security strategy constituted a case of successful securitisation), I cannot avoid touching on at least some of the reasons why the environment was made an issue of national security in the process. This is the case because there is considerable overlap between the reasons for the securitisation and the origins of US environmental security.