Article co-authored with Svetlana Izosimova, Master’s student of International and European Relations at Linkoping University, Sweden.
In the context of globalization the ability to challenge internal and external threats is a precondition for development. International and national security today are inextricably linked. States acquire military capabilities not simply to defend their homelands but also to maintain global power projection capabilities. In the post-Cold War system, among the major powers whose behavior affect the security the whole international arena we have the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation. The United States is emerging as the status quo hegemonic power, while the EU can be seen as unifying around a shy opposition to the US and as seeking to become a new pole of power. Finally, Russia during the past couple of years is trying to restore its great power influence.
Each of these major powers occupies a different position in the international system which agreeably affects their national strategies toward security and military power. By focusing on the key elements, such as major threats, strategic objectives, the ways these objectives are intended to be achieved and the position of each state regarding other actors, similarities and differences between the approaches in national security strategies can be discerned.
The European Security Strategy
The European Security Strategy (ESS) was adopted in 2003 and presents a crosscutting approach in security problems. It outlines the interests of the EU among which enlargement and prosperity, promotion of democracy and international order, reduction of climate change and vital resources security, the autonomy of EU decision-making and migration management, as well as the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and OSCE.
The key threats challenging European security are: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), regional conflicts, state failure, organized crime. In 2008 the threats mentioned in the European Security Strategy were extended with the Report on the implementation of the ESS: providing security in a changing world. The listed threats were completed by adding specific challenges such as climate change, cyber security and energy security.
To defend its security and promote its values the European Union pursues concepts based on conflict and threat prevention. Each require a mixture of instruments and patterns including economic and security cooperation, better institutional coordination, transparency and flexibility. Essential approaches to address challenging situations require political and security development through diplomacy and cooperation, crisis response and civilian and military crisis management. The expansion of the dialogue and mediation capacities is facilitated by the civil society and NGOs which are as vital actors. The ESS offers very little guidance as to the kind of military instruments. The value of military capabilities and the use of military force is discussed only in the context of crisis management where the importance of the civilian input is mostly stressed.
Apart from countering threats the European Security Strategy suggests two separate strategic objectives: ‘building security in our neighborhood and promoting an international order based on effective multilateralism.’ The emphasis on an effective multilateral order, both in the form of cooperation between member states and under global cooperation is a key aspect of the strategy. The key players that contribute to the international system are The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the United States and NATO. Emphasis is also placed on the importance of expanding relationships with China, Canada, Japan, Russia. On the regional level, the EU supports collaboration with organizations such as ASEAN, MERCOSUR and the African Union.
The EU sees itself as a ‘global player’. The ESS states that the EU should be ready to share responsibility facing global challenges: ‘There are few if any problems we can deal with on our own. The threats described above are common threats, shared with all our closest partners. International cooperation is a necessity.’
The US Security Strategy
The most recent US National Security Strategy was adopted in May 2010. It is primarily focusing on issues regarding security, prosperity, and values. The strategy underlines the necessity of renewing American leadership to advance its national security interests. That includes military might, economic competitiveness, moral leadership, global engagement and efforts to shape an international system that serves cooperation to meet global challenges.
Threats addressed by the strategy are terrorism, extremism, pandemics, the economic crisis, climate change and Arctic interests. The actions of al-Qa’ida and its affiliates are considered a prominent threat to the American nation. The U.S. National Security Strategy sees weapons of mass destruction as the greatest threat to national and international security. Furthermore, the need for better cyber-security and the dependence on fossil fuels are also defined as fundamental national security issues.
To respond comprehensively to dangers, the US see the renovation of economy by providing education, energy, science/technology and health care as a starting point. Values such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are essential sources which ought to be promoted. The modernization of institutions, strengthening of international norms and enforcement of international law under US leadership is also a strategic task. The use of military force together with diplomacy, development and international norms and institutions can help resolve disagreements, prevent conflict and maintain peace. Nonproliferation entailing a reduction of the nuclear arsenal and the reduction of the reliance on nuclear weapons is also on the security agenda.
The report stresses the need for international cooperation and engagement. The necessity of ensuring strong alliances through multinational cooperation and coordination is noted. The cornerstone partnership organizations remain the traditional European and Asian allies, NATO and Eastern European countries. Relations with countries such as China, India and Russia are critical to building broader cooperation on areas of mutual interest. The strategy also focuses on Iran stating that the US can offer Iran a pathway to a better future provided Iran’s leaders are prepared to take it. Supporting the expansion of democracy and human rights abroad is also one of the main points in providing international security.
Russian Federation Security Strategy
Russia’s strategy was approved in 2009 and consists of 112 paragraphs dealing with strategic priorities, goals and measures. As the first priorities for Russia’s national security, defense, state and societal security are listed, followed by social-economic concerns such as increasing the quality of life and economic growth. According to the NSS the interdependence between civil stability and national security is crucial. Also, social-economic development is just as important as military security.
NSS points out as a threat the policy of a number of leading countries which seek military supremacy by building up nuclear as well as conventional, strategic arms, unilaterally developing anti-ballistic missile defense systems and militarizing space (which may trigger a new arms race). Another threat is NATO expansion near Russian borders and the attempts to grant this military alliance a global role. Energy security represents another challenge claiming that competition for energy resources might create tension which could end in the use of military force near Russian borders. In addition to external threats, the document also listed domestic problems, terrorism, separatism, radicalism, extremism, organized crime, corruption and the danger of pandemics.
The main component of the provisions of national security consists of preventing global and regional wars and conflicts on the basis of the principles of reasonable sufficiency and effectiveness including non-military response, mechanisms of public diplomacy and peacekeeping and international military cooperation. Military security is ensured by developing and improving the military organization and defensive potential of the state through the implementation of military-technological policies, the development of military infrastructure as well as by increasing the prestige of the military service.
The development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with member states of the CIS is a priority direction of Russian foreign policy. Russia will seek to develop relations with the United Nations and NATO on the basis of respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. Cooperation with the European Union is also in the long-term national interests. Russia is willing to increase collaboration with G8, G20, RIC, BRIC as well as the partnership with the United States in terms of strategic offensive arms.
As a result, in matters of security the European Union has been more sympathetic to issues such as integration and multilateral coordination, where it can exercise its ‘soft power’ resources to influence other actors. The US is predisposed to the path of ‘smart power’ through the use of military might with greater investments in its partnership, alliances and public diplomacy. Finally, Russia in attempts to build a new stable economy puts on the first place economic and social development. National security is without a question important and the preconditions for reinforcing the system of national security have been created, although the model of security hasn’t been changed largely since the collapse of Soviet Union. The nuclear shield and military hard power still remain crucial features of the national security concept.
Paul ,T.V. and Ripsman, Norrin. Globalization and the National Security State. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010;
Rees, Wyn. The US-EU Security Relationship: The tensions between a European and a Global Agenda. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011;
European Union. A Secure Europe in a Better World – The European Security Strategy. Approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 12 December 2003 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative Javier Solana;
European Union. Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy – Providing security in a changing world. Approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 11 and 12 December 2008 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative Javier Solana;
Russia’s National Security Strategy to 2020, Rustrans [English], 2009 available at http://rustrans.wikidot.com/russia-s-national-security-strategy-to-2020;
United States. National Security Strategy. 2010
Should You Support Universal Basic Income? Who else is in favour?
In the previous article “Universal Basic Income: In Action” we explored that Universal Basic Income under different variants is already being put to trial in different provinces of a number of countries around the world. Before that, in “Universal Basic Income: The Idea” we weighed the potential of UBI in creating a monumental change in the way humanity as a society functions as of today. While there’s still quite some time required to ascertain how easily and efficiently the system can be put into effect and whether it should be put into place at all, some of the more apparent advantages, as well as flaws of the system, are repeatedly considered by experts in determining the answers to the aforementioned questions. In addition, many influential figures have also come out both in support of UBI as well as against it. Let’s take a look at the support UBI has garnered as well as the supposed benefits and criticisms of UBI.
Pros of Universal Basic Income
The first argument often cited in favour of UBI is for its potential to alleviate poverty, improve the standard of living and vastly reduce income inequality no matter which country it is implemented in. the Alaska Permanent Fund (AFP), which we’ve already discussed, was instrumental in improving the state’s income equality rank from 30 to 2. UBI trials in Namibia, Kenya, and parts of India have also yielded positive results in this regard. UBI has also resulted in the improvement of health, especially mental health, as reported by people who have been part of UBI trials in Ontario, Canada. UBI also encourages entrepreneurial behaviour since it guarantees basic subsistence thereby providing an incentive for people to take up a line of work of their liking. UBI trials in India and Namibia have also shown that it has helped promote financial decision making by women resulting in their empowerment. A guarantee of a fixed income every month also brings more power to people when it comes to deciding where they should spend money. The Roosevelt Institute research we discussed previously also suggests an overall growth in the US economy with a countrywide implementation of UBI. UBI is also expected to lead to a positive job growth and lower the dropout rates in schools since it provides more security to families.
Cons of Universal Basic Income
The critics of UBI argue that money that is essential for the poor is being redirected towards the wealthy and those citizens who have no need for it. Robert Greenstein, founder and President of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C. “if you take the dollars targeted on people in the bottom fifth or two-fifths of the population and convert them to universal payments to people all the way up the income scale, you’re redistributing income upward. That would increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them.” In addition to that, it is often argued that UBI programs are highly ineffective when compared to welfare programs that are implemented on targeted populations. Therefore, unless UBI is implemented without the scrapping off of such welfare schemes, it is likely to find opposition from a huge number of people who currently benefit from these programs. Another argument against UBI one may repeatedly encounter is that UBI reduces the incentive to work, which leads to huge costs for the economy. This may also lead to a dearth of skilled and unskilled labour in the economy. The Swiss government have opposed the implementation of UBI for the very same reason, fearing that the current labour shortages may be exacerbated. Finally, an argument that also holds the door open for many debates is that UBI is too expensive to implement and will cost a lot to the government. As opposed to studies which show a growth in the economies through the implementation of UBI, many economists have also opposed it, claiming that UBI in the more developed nations will be very expensive to guarantee an acceptable standard of living to all the citizens.
Who Supports Universal Basic Income?
Since the idea was first proposed by Sir Thomas More in 1516, UBI has found suitors throughout recent history. Founding father of the United States Thomas Paine was in favour of it, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell argued in its favour, and even Martin Luther King said: “the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.” American economist Milton Friedman, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and even former US President Richard Nixon came close to bringing UBI to the United States. As of today, a number of high profile names in the Silicon Valley have expressed their support for UBI. An advocate of entrepreneurship and creativity, Mark Zuckerberg sighted UBI as an worth a look in his statement at his Harvard commencement address: “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.” Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk believes implementation of UBI is inevitable. “There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk said in an interview in 2016. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay also donated towards a UBI experiment in Kenya. Coursera founder Andrew Ng expressed on Twitter: “More than ever, we need a basic income to limit everyone’s downside, and better education to give everyone an upside.” The list does not stop here.
UBI has at least gained enough attention to get people, investors, world leaders, and governments to talk about it and more importantly experiment with it. The results are not yet out and will take a considerable amount of time still to be able to present a final verdict on UBI and its effectiveness. However, as robots make humans redundant in recurring waves, is there still enough time to just be experimenting?
Universal Basic Income: In Action
Universal Basic Income presents a case to be considered, now stronger than ever, as automation hits us in recurring waves and machines are slowly beginning to take over much of the work that was done by human beings. If you aren’t caught up with the idea behind UBI and what its implementation could mean for us, you might want to read our previous article on the subject. Now, let’s focus our attention on the practicality of the scheme and let’s have a look at some of the existing cases of UBI in different parts of the world along with their results so far, and have a look at who all are backing the program to become the political norm in the coming decades.
Basic Income Around the World
Pilot programs of UBI have been held in different parts of the world. Besides Finland and Ontario, Canada, which began experimenting with UBI this year itself, countries such as Brazil, the city of Utrecht in The Netherlands and even Oakland in California, the United States have implemented varying UBI schemes on parts of their population. Hawaii passed a legislation this year which aims at forming working groups in order to study the effects of UBI. Elsewhere in the United States, the state of Alaska boasts of a genuine UBI program which has existed since 1976. The Alaskan Permanent Fund or the AFP, which is funded by oil reserves gives dividends to its permanent citizens every year. However, also in 2017, 77% of Swiss voters rejected a UBI proposal from being introduced in the country. Now lets take a look at the cases in Finland and Ontario individually.
In Ontario, Canada trials of UBI have recently begun involving 4,000 citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 who expect to receive a total of a little over 12,000 dollars a year. Couples are entitled to nearly twice of the amount. The plan is to study the effect of such a scheme on the health and well being of the subjects, their earnings and also their productivity. While the experiment is still in its initial stages and it’s too early to make any decisions, a few of the participants have already shown signs of a positive change. In addition to boosting the income of some who fall in the lower end of the earning bracket, the scheme has greatly improved their mental well-being, enabled them to afford healthier food and pay more attention to their health and visit their families more often. Other participants have also expressed that the safety net provided to them by the scheme has enabled them to focus on work they want to do and also on helping others.
Unsurprisingly, automation was a major factor in the decision to introduce the scheme in the province. Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne said of the same,” I see it on a daily basis. I go into a factory and the floor plant manager can tell me where there were 20 people and there is one machine. We need to understand what it might look like if there is, in fact, the labour disruption that some economists are predicting.” Ontario has a population of nearly 14 million people. Positive results overall from the scheme may further result in its adoption throughout the province including all 14 million of its populace.
In January this year, 2,000 people were randomly selected across Finland to be part of a trial of one of the most advanced UBI schemes in the world, undertaken by the Finnish Social Insurance Institute. Under the scheme, the selected citizens receive €560 (£495) from the Finnish government regardless of their employment status and how much they earn. Some of the cases in the country show that UBI provides the participants with more flexibility in their working pattern, encourages entrepreneurial spirit to take up what one would like to do, and also create more time and focus on volunteering and charity work.
Ms. Sini Martinnen, one of the beneficiaries of the program who noted the above changes in her lifestyle spoke of the same. “So there’s value in other things you do – if there’s just not enough work for everyone you have to figure out how to inspire people to be creative and do other kinds of stuff”, she said. Her statement falls in line with the kind of environment being created due to automation. Otherwise, you will have a lot of different social problems that will be very expensive – more expensive than the basic income system”, she added.
What Studies Say
The success of UBI among small populations in Ontario or in a Scandinavian country such as Finland does not necessarily mean they will work in larger countries. UBI may be introduced in a limited form in parts of UK, where we may be able to better assess the case of basic income and its viability over a population that is more diverse and layered with complexity at every step of implementation.
Nevertheless, studies on the matter precede trials in many countries. Considering the point, a recent study by the Roosevelt Institute on universal basic income and its effects suggests that the introduction of UBI in the United States would boost the US Economy by $2.5 trillion. The study, titled “Modeling the Macroeconomic Effects of a Universal Basic Income” suggests that a UBI of $1,000 a month to every American adult will lead to a growth of the economy by 12.56 percent over a period of 12 years, resulting in an increase in the GDP of the country by nearly $2.5 trillion. It reaches the statement after considering three different versions of unconditional cash payments. Another assumption taken up in the study to arrive at the given conclusion was that room for UBI in the budget would be made by increasing the deficit and not by increasing taxes. “When paying for the policy by increasing taxes on households rather than paying for the policy with debt, the policy is not expansionary,” the study says. “In effect, it is giving to households with one hand what it is taking away with the other. There is no net effect.”
In the midst of these studies, theories and trials UBI has attracted support and critics from all corners. In the final article of this series, we’ll take a look at who all are backing the program to become the political norm in the coming decades and what are the pros and cons tossed around in the debate around universal basic income.
Universal Basic Income: The Idea
Mankind has come so far because of the ability to adapt. If you were to randomly pick out any point of time in mankind’s history, you would find certain existing threats or those looming large over certain segments of people or a large collection of them. From hunting animals for food for survival to protecting themselves from wars, plagues and famine; for humankind, each step was daunting till it had been conquered. Many of these threats they would brave, while against many others a good chunk of people died trying, leaving behind the ones who were wiser after what they had overcome. In 2017, we are a long long way ahead, still not without problems of our own. One of the gravest, if not the gravest of these problems that is ready for impact in the not so distant future is automation. Automation, with its projected path for replacing much of the work currently done by humans, has the potential to cause a huge disruption in the way we live our life, the way that nearly everyone alive today is accustomed to living. The great challenge that lies ahead of us in the wake of such retrenchment across the world is how to ensure that people are still able to make/earn a living after so much of what they did is taken up by machines. Education and training among others are often touted as the best possible solutions to help make a person stay relevant, but as automation alters the basic structure on which our work life is built, the decades-old idea of Universal Basic Income or UBI has started to once again gain relevance, provoke debates and be looked at as a serious option to catapult the human race into what could possibly be a new social structure.
What is Basic Income or Universal Basic Income?
In case you haven’t been following the idea, the concept behind UBI is to provide every citizen with a fixed amount of money periodically so that they can cover their basic subsistence needs without having to worry about ever living in a state of poverty. The same amount will be received by every individual (with possibly additional allowances for families and children) regardless of whether they are working or how much they are earning from their work. You would not be crazy to point out that the idea behind UBI sounds far too utopian to be true, which is exactly what most critics of the idea have held against it. In addition to that, once you start trying to figure the idea out, you are bound to face really important questions about the scheme. How will the payments to entire populations be financed? Will it exist alongside or replace existing welfare programs in order for its effective implementation? How will the minimum amount be decided? Under what criteria will families, children and the elderly be accommodated under the program if implemented? These are among other questions that merely touch the tip of the iceberg. Without even getting into further details and problems associated with it, UBI may look like an attempt to reach the moon with only a ladder at your disposal.
However, somewhere along the road to figuring out the most obvious intricacies associated with a hugely ambitious and optimistic idea as universal basic income, it is not hard to see why its successful implementation (if it ever happens on a significantly large scale) would be such a game changer for humanity. Besides being a possible solution amid our motivated search to the threats posed by automation, many supporters of UBI also see it as one of the best ways, if not the best way, to create a more advanced as well as equal society. Imagine a world which provides you with sufficient time and room to be able to do what you want to do, to not be tied to your work to be able to afford/make the life that you not only need but the life that you want for yourself. Now imagine if everyone was a part of such a world, that anyone is able to make more time to spend with their family, or to invest in themselves, or to add value to the said world in a manner in which they feel they are most capable, without having to worry about having a meal on their table two times a day.
Where are we with Universal Basic Income?
Yes, all of this does sound maybe too good to be true, especially if this is the first time you are reading about it, but that does not mean it’s not achievable. As a matter of fact, its viability is the biggest question that remains in the open. So, what does the situation look like right now? You’d be surprised to know that variants of the scheme are being experimented across the world on targeted populations in various countries, more recently in countries such as Canada and Finland. More importantly, many of these have shown encouraging results, dousing some of the arguments against the scheme by its critics.
The term Basic Income, or Universal Basic Income is relatively new, but the idea behind it is decades old, or perhaps even older than a century. However, the reasons due to which it originally came about is not the main reason why it has become ever so relevant today. Humanity’s desire to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources has seen its fair share of ups and downs, some too important to forget, but it’s the dawn of automation that the idea of UBI, dismissed countless times over the years due to the intricacies surrounding it that makes it ‘basic’, has come back into the fold, this time with the support of some of the world’s most influential figures. That makes it impossible to just rule it out
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