Hameiri, Shahar. Regulating Statehood: State Building and the Transformation of the Global Order.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Coelho, Joseph
Pub Date: 03/22/2012
Publication: Name: International Social Science Review Publisher: Pi Gamma Mu Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Pi Gamma Mu ISSN: 0278-2308
Issue: Date: Spring-Summer, 2012 Source Volume: 87 Source Issue: 1-2
Topic: NamedWork: Regulating Statehood: State Building and the Transformation of the Global Order (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Hameiri, Shahar
Accession Number: 294895894
Full Text: Hameiri, Shahar. Regulating Statehood: State Building and the Transformation of the Global Order. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. xii + 248 pages. Cloth, $ 85.00.

In Regulating Statehood: State Building and the Transformation of the Global Order, Shahar Hameiri, a lecturer in international politics and Fellow at the Asian Research Center at Murdoch University in Australia, puts forward an interesting intellectual framework for understanding how state-building interventions in the post-9/11 context represent "a new mode of governance" that challenges traditional conceptions of statehood and signifies a changing global order. Commonly used to refer to a broad range of activities designed to build (or rebuild) and strengthen the institutional capacity of those functions associated with modern statehood, contemporary state-building defies traditional understandings of state development as an exclusively organic and domestically driven process. However, given that today's perceived threats to global and regional security emanate largely from weak and failing states in the developing world, state-building has become a central strategy for Western powers and multilateral organizations seeking to address transnational problems ranging from terrorism and organized crime to the spread of disease, drug trafficking, and refugees. Consequently, state-building has increasingly become a globalized project through which a multiplicity of international, governmental, and private actors shape and monitor the institutional machinery and politics of intervened states.

Like most of the critical scholarship on state-building, Hameiri views state-building interventions as part of a broader strategy of Western powers to: (1) monitor and manage risk and potential instability in the world's periphery; and, (2) build the necessary conditions that are conducive for neo-liberal economics. However, the author is not satisfied with the trajectory of the field. From the outset of his book, Hameiri unleashes a respectful criticism of the scholarly literature on state-building. He accuses scholars and policymakers alike of engaging in what he refers to as "methodological nationalism"--that is, they misconceive and evaluate statehood and state-building through a "capacity-building" lens in which state-building interventions are typically assessed by how effective they are in building the institutional and governmental capacity of intervened states toward an ideal and fantastical Weberian conception of the state. By doing so, the state-building literature largely "strips the state of [a] particular historical context" (p. 3) and portrays it as simply a "neutral set of institutions and actors" (p. 11) rather than as a site of intense social and political conflict. The author contends that this static conception of statehood tends to downplay or mask the political and ideological nature of state-building interventions.

What especially separates Hameiri's analysis from others in the field, however, is his conceptualization of state-building as a "multilevel regime" that operates simultaneously within and outside intervened states. That is, state-building interventions create transnational spaces of governance within intervened states, but without necessarily undermining their formal sovereignty and territorial integrity. These spaces are comprised of "complex vertical and horizontal multi-scalar governances structures" that connect the local to the global and brings "together public and private actors, as well as actors from transnational civil society and multilateral organizations in new and innovative ways that confound traditional notions of statehood and public policy" (p. 39). Referred to as "meta-governance" actors, these actors consist of unacconntable experts and managers who promote and cajole domestic leaders into adopting laws, rules, and regulations outside of the political sphere of domestic governance. As a consequence, state-building interventions have led to the "reframing [of] public policy not as inherently a political matter pertaining to conflicts between competing and often irreconcilable interests, but as matters of expertise and good management" (p. 6).

For Hameiri, developing this multilevel quality of state-building is important for not only theorizing, but understanding the possible trajectories of such intervention--an area in which the scholarship on state-building has largely failed to address. Accordingly, he is interested in how state-building interventions affect the production, reproduction, and distribution of political power of intervened states: Who rules? How do they rule? What social and political conflicts are engendered or exacerbated by state-building interventions, and how are they managed?

The implications of Hameiri's study are troublesome. For the author, state-building interventions end up creating regulatory states whereby state power and authority are largely shifted from the institutions of representative democracy to the expert hands of unelected technocrats. As a result, the politics of intervened states are anti-competitive, highly hierarchical, and essentially undemocratic. To illustrate how this new mode of governance affects the politics of intervening and intervened states, Hameiri examines the Australian mission in the Solomon Islands and the United Nations mission in Cambodia (chapters 6 and 7, respectively). In both case studies, international state-builders influenced political outcomes by limiting the spectrum of political choices available to domestic leaders and their constituents. According to Hameiri, this is achieved through delegitimizing political opposition to the international agenda, criminalizing the social and political orders of intervened states, and prioritizing security and rule of law approaches to state-building over other issues of development. However, despite constraining the political options of domestic leaders subjected to state-building interventions, Hameiri clearly shows how the trans-nationalization of governance space actually provided the Hun Sen regime in Cambodia, for example, new opportunities to maintain its authoritarian grip over society by co-opting incoming resources from donor communities. Thus, notwithstanding their differences, both international state-builders and domestic leaders are actually promoting anti-competitive and authoritarian forms of political rule together.

Regulating Statehood is an intellectually provocative book that challenges many of the major assumptions that underlie the scholarship on international state-building. It is an important and refreshing contribution to this growing field of study. Hameiri provides a powerful intellectual framework for understanding the problems and limitations of international efforts to transform and regulate states that are perceived as threats to global and regional security. While some of the content may be difficult for readers who are unfamiliar with the field, this book is a must read for graduate students and scholars interested in the topic.

Joseph Coelho, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Seton Hill University

Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.