The international politics of authoritarianism

My last post focused predominantly on how Gulf monarchs managed to sustain their power. This week’s topic is about how other authoritarian states (those who don’t have access to Emirati wealth) are able to endure their power.

My assumptions this week were challenged; I thought the securitization of aid was something that recipient countries were helplessly at the receiving end of. This was at least the impression I received reading Ridell’s chapter on ‘The Political and Commercial Dimensions of Aid’ (2007, 94-95) which emphasises aid from the U.S being solely given in accordance to their own national interests or determined by their own security goals. Indeed, this is the case but it neglects telling us the other side. In this article by Fisher and Anderson…

INTA91_1_08_Fisher_Anderson_0 pdf

…they observe that authoritarian regimes have adapted the securitisation agenda to suit their needs (2015, 131). I do wonder whether I ought to be critical of this reality. Indeed, these regimes are the very same we’ve been taught to oppose and our governments are strengthening them.

This, I think, is a good example of “working with the grain” (Booth, 2011), in the sense that western states have a securitisation agenda but they’re also aware of the types of regimes they need to work ‘with’. So they compromise by settling on what they take to be the lesser of two evils.

The implications of strengthening authoritarian regimes for the sake of securitisation it that it might contribute in distancing democratisation.


Booth, David and Crook, Richard. (2011). Working with the grain? Rethinking African Governance. Available: Last accessed 24th March 2018.

Fisher, J and Anderson, DM (2015). “Authoritarianism and the Securitization of Development in Africa”, International Affairs, 91 (1): 131-151

Ridell, Roger (2007). Does foreign aid really work? Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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