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WHAT'S NEW ABOUT 'NEW' SECURITY ISSUES? Written by: critical (on, for Professor D.

Carment and Amir in course 47.260 (Political Studies). DEC 94

According to Seymon Brown (hereafter to be referred to as Seyom), in World Security: Challenges For A New Century, edited by M.T. Klare and D.C. Thomas, the post Cold War era has resulted in the rise of new security issues (ch 1 K&T). Seyom tries to establish that these new security issues are more complex and multi-dimensional than the security issues that dominated the Cold war era, and that they are in fact entirely new. This article will be dealing with the 'new' security issues of the environment and arms trade. Seyom argues that the old realist paradigm is no longer valid in an increasingly complex post Cold-war era. He argues further, that the 'new' security issues of arms trade and the environment (to name just two) are to complex for individual states to adequately address alone or even in alliance with other states. What is needed, he says, to adequately address these 'new' issues is some form of world organization, that will replace the inadequate anarchical world system as a system of government that will accommodate the needs of the citizens of the whole world. The Realist paradigm, quite obviously, is opposed to Seyom's assertions of a new world order. In speaking from the perspective of a Realist one might be

contentious of Seyom's 'new' security issues, not in the detail of these security issues but in their 'new-ness'. To begin with, the overturning of Seyom's conceptualization of 'new' issues should not be a difficult task, he has made little attempt to establish evidence beyond the use of adjectives like 'more complex'. In considering the 'new' security issue of the post Cold-war arms trade, one is drawn to make an analogy between the present and the past. The proliferation of Nuclear arms during the Cold-war was certainly not less complex or threatening to the world as a whole than is the current arms trade and the current spread of Nuclear arms (from the former U.S.S.R abroad). One could argue that the current arms trade (including the spread of Nuclear arms) is less potentially dangerous, than was the Cold-war proliferation of arms, due to the shift from a bipolar world order (Cold-war era) to the current multipolar order (post Cold-war era). This assertion is supported by Brown (a different Brown) in chapter 3 of, The Causes and Prevention of War, where he orders world political regimes in order of potential for escalation to world war. According to this Brown a multipolar coalition pattern is more stable in terms of containing war to local regions than are bipolar coalitions. So according to this conceptualization world stability is greater in the post Cold-war era than it was during the Cold-war era, this flies in the face of Seyom Brown's conceptualization of realism becoming inadequate (all of a

sudden) after the Cold-war. The 'new-ness' of the security issues of the environment can also be shown to be equally as subjective as the 'new-ness' of the arms trade: To the traditional war-provoking disputes over rights to navigate, fish, or divert the waters of rivers, lakes, or seas used in common by various countries we now have added conflicts over the pouring of effluents in such bodies of water that can degrade their value for other users. ...In addition ,transborder injuries caused by mega-accidents, such as nuclear power-plant meltdowns and oil-tanker spills, further expose the inadequacy of the existing political/legal order to handle the interdependencies and mutual vulnerabilities of peoples across national lines (Seyom p 17).

There is absolutely nothing new about the 'pouring of effluents' into bodies of water that transcend national borders, this sort of thing has been going on for literally centuries. Consider the river Thames in Britain. At one time from 200 years ago until approximately ten years ago this river was a vile sewer. As of ten years ago the U.K. government had cleaned up this river sufficiently for Salmon to spawn in it once again. As for hazardous radioactive emissions, this environmental issue can hardly be considered new either.

Nuclear bomb detonation (testing) above and below the surface of the ground have been certainly as dangerous and potentially globally hazardous as any nuclear power-plant meltdown. In fact if one were to consider the sheer number of nuclear warhead detonations during the entire nuclear age by all of the nuclear powers, it would certainly dwarf by comparison the minuscule releases of radioactive materials by the combination of three-mile Island, Chernobyl, and all of the less major accidents. And yet a treaty was signed between the nuclear powers to dis-allow the majority of nuclear testing. In the above paragraphs counter examples have been raised to contend with Seyom's gloom and doom theories of world disunity, as well as to his conceptualization of both the environment and arms trade as 'new' security issues. Despite what Seyom has said it is clearly evident that the old world order of individual nation states working to solve their common problems have actually succeeded from time to time. Examples of The ban on nuclear testing and a successful attempt by an individual state to clean-up a body of water at the source. Perhaps what Seyom is interpreting as an inability of the anarchical world system is really just a function of his impatience. The conventional arms trade as a security issue has been with us for a very long time. The nature of the arms trade as argued above is little different now from

the way it was in the Cold-war era. Today however the world order is undergoing change, the end result of which we do not have the ability to predict. As the international system adjusts to its new status as a multipolar system, we must be alert to how this change affects the various issues of importance to the international community (K&T p137). Klare in chapter seven of the text cited above, outlines what he considers to be the three most important new shifts in arms trade: (1) the reinvigoration of the Middle East arms race; (2) the emergence of a major new arms race in the pacific Rim area; (3) and the growing intensity of ethnic, tribal, and national conflicts (K&T p145).

In regards to the first area of important changes Klare explains how initially during the post Gulf war period, the U.S. made a great deal about the need for arms control in the Middle East. The dictations of the market and of state security interests overturned this initial policy however and the arms race is back up to speed, after only a short recession-dictated hiatus. Klare's allusion to the emergence of a 'new arms race in the pacific rim' is somewhat mysterious however. On the one hand Klare claims the Pacific Rim has been involved in the arms trade since well before the 1980's without a

corresponding drop in the market during the 80's depression. While on the other hand Klare claims there is something 'new' about the arms race. Perhaps he is just getting a little excited about the $1 billion/year increase in arms trade to the Pacific Rim between 1981-86 and 1987-89. After all what is a 12% increase among the entire group of East Asian countries? It is a mere drop in the bucket. The third area of change Klare has noted seems the most important. One of his examples is the intensified ethnic conflicts, like the struggles of the various groups within the former Yugoslavia (K&T p146). Further, Klare notes this war ensuing in the former Yugoslavia is subsisting solely on the black market for its arms, because of the current blockade enforced by the international community. Earlier in his article Klare mentioned the effect that the 'demise of the Cold war' had on the international community was to allow us to refocus our attention on the rest of the world. Perhaps in this case Klare is missing the point. Is the world really becoming worse and more complex and spiraling into a grip of doom and death, as most of the articles in this text indicate? Or alternatively now that the relatively simple conflicts between two major powers is at an end, we find ourselves at a loss to explain the new world system in ever-present opposing opposites. The conclusion Klare arrives at in respect to what the international community is doing, to come to grips with the dangers of an expanding world arms

trade is basically very little. According to Klare the advantages of the arms trade, in particular economic benefits, outweigh the perceived peril of possible global instability. The situation mentioned above of the U.S. reneging on its self-imposed role of arms control in the Middle-East is a case in point of economic benefits countermanding the importance of future peril. Since the world that is revealed to us in the post-Cold war era is extremely diverse, with a multiplicity of dualistic battles we find it difficult to explain things in terms of our usual us-and-them mentality. The problem arises in that we do not know which group to call 'us' and which group to call 'them'. For example consider the former Yugoslavia. Who can we identify with in the conflict of the Yugoslavia region; the Croats, the Bosnians, or the Slovenes? The answers which might come most easily to the mind is, which one represents democracy? Or which one represents the most likely benefit to my country? Well, we have come to the key problem, because none of these groups represent a challenge to democracy and none of them represent a specific benefit to us if they win or lose. As a result our formally well ordered dualistic international system has become a hodge-podge of conflict in which we can not determine our role as readily. The world and the conflicts of the world are not in themselves becoming more complex we are merely beginning to see the true complexity which has always been there.

The 'new' security issue of the environment is clearly no more new than is the issue of the arms trade. Our perceptions of the importance of these issues are changing but the issues themselves remain basically the same. Specific to the environmental issues is our changing understanding of the global ecosystem. As outlined by Homer-Dixon in chapter 15 in the text cited above, we are beginning to see the environment as something we can damage. "Unforseen Thresholds" are what Homer-Dixon refers to as the new understanding we have about the environments reaction to our degradation of it (K&T p292). Homer-Dixon outlines three types of conflict: "...scarcity, group-identity, and deprivation..." (K&T p299). Under the area of scarcity conflicts Homer-Dixon explains three main types of resources that are of most importance: river water, fisheries, and food cropland. At the current rate of population increase these resource scarcities will become more frequent resulting in more major conflicts. Although our class discussions of complex interdependence have led to a similar description of resource scarcity with a widely divergent conclusion. Complex interdependence is a way for different nations to ameliorate their conflicts with each other. In class we discussed possible resource sharing of water among various nations in the Middle East: Israel, Syria, and Jordan. The solution of the conflict between these nations would result from a complex

infrastructure of interdependence between them. In his 'Group-identity Conflicts' section, Homer-Dixon uses the explanation of the "we" and "they" mentality (this is what I have called the "us-and-them" mentality above) as a source of group identity, framing people in other groups in a negative light in comparison to their own group (K&T p300). The third group of conflicts described by Home-Dixon is 'Deprivation Conflict'. This he describes as the tendency for scarcity to stratify society and in stratification perpetrate greater social unrest, and possibly finally social insurrection. The various regimes of the international system appear to be attempting to deal with environmental issues in an increasingly collaborative way. The example that Homer-Dixon cites is the Rio de Janeiro conference on the environment in 1992 his particular wording merits note: This was the largest and most inclusive international negotiation in history. In arduous meetings leading up to the conference, delegates from rich and poor nations tried to work out preliminary agreements to protect biodiversity, ... (K&T p308).

This then is one of the few things that is new about this entire issue of security

issues. An unprecedented world meeting on an unprecedented topic, the environment. Unfortunately the result was once again quite predictable, consensus was not achieved and many agreements that were tabled, were left unsigned mostly due to U.S. dissension. It is interesting to note that Seyom's approach to the political world system very closely reflects relatively new environmental ethical theories based on holism. An example of one of these theories is the Land Ethic, proposed by Aldo Leopold in, People, Penguins, and Plastic trees, edited by D. Vandeveer and C. Pierce. In his theory Leopold posits the interconnectedness of all things on the earth. The current ethical debate between environmentalist theories like Holism and individualism, is an excellent reflection of the debate between pluralists like Seyom and Realists. Holistic theorists propose that by looking after the whole globe as an entity all of the individuals of the world will also be taken care of. Individualist theorists propose that by dealing with the individual the entire world will be taken care of. Consider the analogy between holistic theorists and Seyom's call for world order and organisation on an international level. The individualist theorists are analogous to the Realist paradigm. In the above conceptualization pluralist theorists like Seyom propose that individual states can not adequately address trans-national issues. While

individualist theorists like Realists propose that individual states are the only important actors in the world scene and given human nature this can not change. One must look at these two conceptualizations and realize that neither will ever exist as reality. They are two side of the same coin. International organizations have had a very important role in the world over the last 40 years and are slowly gaining legitimacy in the world scene. Some believe international organizations are the only entities capable of dealing with issues that are increasingly trans-national. Individual states are losing power to international organizations, such as multinational organizations and the International monetary Fund. However, this loss of state power is progressing slowly, and is by no means irreversible. On the other hand states have accomplished tasks on an international level through cooperative efforts such as treaties (ban on nuclear testing) and coalitions (like the U.N. and N.A.T.O). In this situation organisations like the U.N. and Nato are not really international entities because for example the U.N. is susceptible to the whims of each member of the security council, and has been largely controlled by the hegemon the U.S.A. for its entire history. Increasingly we will find that utter reliance on one or the other paradigm will lead us from false assumptions to false conclusions. The reality of the world is somewhere between these two opposing paradigms, and the most useful conclusions we can come to will be provided by some

sort of synthesis of the two.

WORKS CITED M.T. Klare and D.C. Thomas, World Security: Challenges For A New Century, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994. D. VanDeveer and C. Pierce, People, Penguins, and Plastic Trees, Oxford: Oxford Press, 1989.