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American Unilateralism, Foreign Economic Policy and the 'Securitisation' of Globalisation

Richard Higgott
CSGR Working Paper No. 124/03
September 2003



This paper traces the ‘securitisation’ of US foreign economic policy since the advent of the Bush administration. It does so with reference to US economic policy in East Asia. It argues that in the context of US economic and military preponderance in the world order, the US has been unable to resist the temptation to link foreign economic and security policy. While there was evidence of the securitisation of economic globalisation in US policy from day one of the Bush administration, it was 9/11 that firmed up this trend. For the key members of the Bush foreign policy team, globalisation is now seen not simply in neo-liberal economic terms, but also through the lenses of the national security agenda of the United States. Economic globalisation is now not only a benefit, but also a ‘security problem’. 9/11 offered the opportunity for what we might call the ‘unilateralist-idealists’, in the Bush Administration, to set in train their project for a post-sovereign approach to American foreign policy. The paper identifies some intellectual contradictions in current US strategy and raises a series of questions about the implications for world order of the consolidation of the trends identified in the paper.

Key Words: Globalisation, sovereignty, securitisation, East Asia, US foreign policy.

Address for correspondence:

Professor Richard Higgott
Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

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