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
Yes, You Should Start Caring About Politics!
One of the most common things that you hear from people a lot of the time is something along the lines of “I just don’t really care about politics.” In fact, you might have even said something along those lines yourself. And it can be tempting to fall into this line of thinking. After all, politics are hardly the most exciting or exotic things in the world. However, the truth is that they impact your life in different ways every single day and if you choose to ignore politics, then that just meant that you’re going to end up falling victim to policies that harm you and the people around you. With that in mind, here are some ways that you can start being more politically minded right now.
Know the issues
Do you know where you stand on many of the most important issues of the modern day? Do you know what most of those issues are? The truth is that many people would rather ignore a lot of the problems that society and the world at large face simply because it can feel as though they’re too big to deal with. Things like the economy, climate change, and social justice aren’t just abstract concepts; they’re things that impact the lives of real people every single day. Being more informed about the issues will allow you to have a much better understanding of your own political views.
Know who to speak to
Do you know who your senator is? Your representative? Most people tend to only know major politicians who have held office at one point or another. Sure, you probably know the president or a senator like John Mccain. But what about all of the other senators like Doug Jones or Mike Crapo? These are the people you can actually contact if you want to start making some changes in the world. Getting to know who you can contact can help you feel much more involved in the modern political process.
Forget about personalities and focus on policies
Modern politics has become as much of a game of personalities as anything else. But the truth is that the personalities of individual politicians are far less important than the policies that they and their party want to enact. After all, the policies are the things that will actually make a difference in people’s lives. You should never vote just because you like or dislike the way that a particular politician talks or what their personality seems to be like. Always vote on policies, not personalities.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should suddenly let politics take over every conversation that you have or that you need to be constantly thinking about it. But trying to bury your head in the sand and ignore the things that are going on around you isn’t going to do you any good. The only way that you can start to make some genuine changes in the world is if you face up to the realities of the modern world and try to do something about it.
How Mafia-States Get Away with Criminality
In theory, all 195 states adhere to the Charter of the United Nations and therefore pledge “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”. In other words, to play the game and adhere to basic governmental principles. That’s in theory: in practice, a handful of states in the world behave like mafias, and get away with it.
President George W. Bush first used the terms “failed states” or “rogue states”, during his office. Rogue states seem more adapted because, if they are failed states in the sense that they do not carry out their mission, they are not failed for everyone. Afghanistan is, still today, one of the most prominent examples of how to get personally rich by pretending to represent people. In the wake of the NATO intervention in Afghanistan, billions of dollars were poured into the country in reconstruction efforts, based on the belief that if the population was schooled and busy at work, they would be less likely to join rebel ranks. The idea was good, but most of the massive funds were sidetracked to line officials’ pockets and Afghanistan is pretty much in the same shape as it was before the program, if not worse. Business Insider covered the subject (1): “All districts receive central government budget to cover salaries of front-line forces,” reporter Jessica Purkiss wrote for the Bureau. “In many areas in Afghanistan, some of this budget disappears and the actual number of officers tasked with holding back the Taliban is much lower than the number actually allotted.”
And such rogue states also exist close to the Western sphere of Europe and the US. Almost every single State in Central and South America is at the warning level on the Fragile State Index (2) (the term was brushed up to sound less definitively damning than President Bush’s wording). Hungary was bashed this year, along with the rest of EU low-performers, for dropping sharply in the EU’s good governance ranking, as reported by Nicolaj Nielsen, for the EU observer (3): “Bulgaria scored the worst among EU states with 41, followed by Greece (44), Italy (47), Romania (48), Hungary (48), and Croatia (49). Dolan faulted the crackdown on civil society and other independent institutions in Croatia and Hungary for their worsening performance. Both governments were also embroiled in scandals last year. In one case, Hungary’s government allegedly funneled money from the Central Bank to friends and family.” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán learned from the report (4) that “Hungary loses 200 billion forints every year due to the corruption that exists in public procurement cases.”
Not to forget that States are not all mutually recognized and accepted, some of them are self-proclaimed. While some do indeed strive to carry out their stated mission and serve the people they claim to represent, some other are merely mafia groups with a political cover, which deal in various traffics and racketeering. Bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, lies Western Sahara, where a group named the Polisario Front announced to the world that it was the shield of the Sahrawi people, who originate from the arid strip of land, with the stated intent of creating a sovereign state. But that must be put into perspective with the endless list of allegations and accusations carried against it, regarding the Polisario’s management of refugee camps in Algeria for example. The self-proclaimed government of the Sahrawi – namely the SADR (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) – is known for keeping the refugees captive in the camps, or keeping family members as hostage to guarantee men’s returns, maintaining a general state of violence and lawlessness within the compound. In addition, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has serious doubts (5) as to what becomes of the humanitarian aid it sends. It suspects not only the food to be sidetracked and sold on the black market, but also to be requested in excessive numbers – the Polisario front claims it holds up to 200 000 refugees but has systematically refused census, leading humanitarian donors to believe the figures are doubtful.
Can this be avoided? Hardly, at the general level. Pablo Escobar coined the phrase which underlies the entire system : Plata o plomo (silver or lead). Officials could be paid off to keep silent and play along, or be shot. Therefore, it is in the nature of corruption systems to maintain themselves because, should a “pure” official arise, he will be removed and replaced by a more complacent one.
Mafia states use the cover of darkness or, better still, a politically activist stance. The Colombian FARCs – Polisario’s allies, incidentally… – and the Medellin Cartel, run by Pablo Escobar, had an intense PR activity with many “social and humanitarian” poses, to help improve their public image and stymie political push-backs. The Polisario Front has moved much of its assaults to the judicial level, in a new form of “civilized” piracy, including with the surprise attempt to seize a Moroccan shipload earlier this year in South Africa. “The conclusion of this case will actually tell us whether it is now conceivable, on the judiciary level, that international shipping industry – which carries 90% of global trade – become hostage to some form of unprecedented and increasingly vicious political piracy,” wrote Philippe Delebecque (6), a French judge specializing in maritime affairs.
Mafia states are here to stay, because the mafia creates the state, and not the other way around. Once the mafia has developed its tentacles and political power enough, it will make kings and topple uncooperative administrators. Other states in the world are fully aware of this fact, and that if they bust a mafia-state, another will replace it within weeks. So, in the best cases, neighboring countries let it be; in the worst cases, they get involved in the graft.
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?
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