Securitisation’s effects on military planning: the case of the Chechen wars
Kentros Klyszcz, Ivan Ulises
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This dissertation is a case study of Russia’s securitisation of Chechnya, undertaken for identifying the effects of it on military planning. In particular, it aims to determine if securitising narratives in the military are a factor in the choices made by military commanders in the design of operations to be executed. The case of Chechnya is chosen because of the wealth of secondary literature that has been produced various decades after the wars ended, and also to build upon Julie Wilhelmsen’s inquiry (2017) on the same topic (Russia’s securitisation of Chechnya). The theoretical basis for this work is securitisation theory, particularly the Copenhagen school. This strand of international relations theory has its interest in speech, discourse and how they result in a country’s society threat-perception. Hence it enables a theory-first, qualitative inquiry that stands at the intersection of Security Studies, Strategic Studies and international relations theory. The narrow focus on Chechnya and the methods chosen make this an inquiry with an Area Studies component. Drawing from Wilhelmsen’s previous work on the topic, my interests are narrower. Even though our inquiries aim at seeing what securitisation does, mine does not look at how war becomes legitimate or tolerable, but at how securitisation affects decision-making among the military. Also, while her case study is the second Chechen war, mine addresses both the first and the second Chechen wars. I believe that the comparison helps to generalise the results of the inquiry. Furthermore, while we both share the methodology of discourse analysis, I bring content analysis to offer further evidence on the changes in narratives. Finally, her attention is on discourse in society as a whole, while mine is exclusively on how discourse evolved among the Russian military. Hence various aspects overlap, but overall both my theory-building aims and my empirical work are different. In theory building, my aim is to suggest a possible line of inquiry which regards a connection between society’s discourse about a conflict and the choices made by military commanders once said conflict results in war. As it can be said that many ’external’ conditions have an effect on military planning (ideology, historical legacies, among other tangible and intangible circumstances), my aim is not to suggest which has the highest weight; my aim is to suggest that the hegemonic narrative on the conflict among the military is a factor that must be taken into consideration when analysing its decision-making processes. Moreover, I suggest that this factor may be traceable from the strategic level of decision-making, to the mission design down to the chosen tactics for the operation. In its empirical component, my inquiry thoroughly analyses the different narratives present in the military’s main newspaper, the Krasnaya Zvezda, thus bringing evidence of how this segment of society articulated its views on Chechnya and those who would become their opponents in combat. The sample was gathered from the newspaper’s archive for the years 1993, 1994, and 1998, 1999, precisely one year each before each conflict began. Discourse analysis and deductive coding for identity representations (Self, Other, measures) was made to identify the characteristics of each narrative. For identifying which narrative became determinant in the military’s planning, hegemonic, content analysis was used on the sample, looking for keywords associated to each narrative. Finally, secondary literature on the wars in Chechnya was consulted to assess what assumptions the Russian military had before each war. I argue that the results of these methods under the securitisation framework suggest that discourse exerts a short-term influence over military planning by informing the assumptions held by the military commanders.
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