Global Security: Beyond Gated Communities and Bunker Vision

Article excerpt

The most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate demands of the world's dispossessed....The only hope for the future lies in cooperative international action, legitimized by democracy. It is time to turn our backs on the unilateral search for security, in which we seek shelter behind walls. Instead we must persist in the quest for unified action to counter both global warming and a weaponized world....To survive in the world we have transformed we must learn to think in a new way. As never before, the future of each depends on the good of all. -- The Next 100 Years, a statement by 110 Nobel Laureates (December 11, 2001).


THE CONTRIBUTIONS TO "GLOBAL THREATS TO SECURITY" EXPLORE A RANGE OF issues that collectively constitute a challenge to the survival of a world community threatened by what one observer has noted to be an "Age of Extinction." As reflected against the prehistoric record of profound breaks in evolutionary progress, we are now in the midst of an epoch characterized by a significant assault on all forms of life from an interplay of toxic chemicals, ozone depletion, climate change, and habitat destruction (Lerner, 1998). In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the global outlook for harnessing the necessary resources and political will to combat such dread threats to public and environmental health has gone from bad to worse.

Obviating the need for a planetary survival plan, war without limits in time and space is the future held out to all. The "War on Terrorism" has permitted an unbridled and increasingly unilateralist militarism to reign dominant among the American ruling elite. Key components of the armory include the resurrection of Reaganite "Star Wars" projects and preparedness programs purportedly offering protection from all manner of weapons of mass destruction -- an eerie high-tech sequel to an earlier "duck and cover" era. This upgrade of Fortress/Fallout Shelter America as the penultimate Gated Community is symbolic of an ecocidal conception of security that, carried out through force of arms or "structural adjustment" programs, has accelerated the severing of organic human connections with the biosphere. By magnifying the subjugation, desperation, and alienation of the very human resources so critical to offering any hope of reversing present trends, the Bush administration appears hell-bent on undermining any collec tive ability to muster the necessary resources and energy to place the world on a more sustainable, equitable, and survivable course.

The dangers posed by the right-wing equation of collective security with militarism are demonstrated by Andrew Lichterman and Jacqueline Cabasso in "The End of Disarmament and the Arms Races to Come." The authors document evolving doctrines and weapons programs, many incubated in the pre-September 11 period, aimed at providing the U.S. with what Cold War architect Paul Nitze once referred to as the advantage of the "utmost level of violence that helps at every lesser level" (Bodenheimer and Gould, 1989).

The Nuclear Posture Review unveiled by the Bush administration in early 2002 explicitly places nuclear weapons at the core of U.S. military strategies, countering any global progress, however limited, made toward nuclear disarmament over the last decades. Former Manhattan Project nuclear bomb scientist and 1995 Nobel Peace Prize winner Sir Joseph Rotblat (2002) has observed that the Nuclear Posture Review "abandons the previous doctrine of nuclear weapons viewed as weapons of last resort, spells out a strategy which incorporates nuclear capability into conventional war planning...[and is] a major and dangerous shift in the whole rationale for nuclear weapons." Spurning all treaties that might in any way limit U.S. …