Globalization and the National Security State

Globalization and the National Security State

Globalization and the National Security State

Globalization and the National Security State

Synopsis

In the past two decades, many have posited a correlation between the spread of globalization and the decline of the nation-state. In the realm of national security, advocates of the globalization thesis have argued that states' power has diminished relative to transnational governmental institutions, NGOs, and transnational capitalism. Initially, they pointed to declines in both global military spending (which has risen dramatically in recent years) and interstate war. But are these trends really indicative of the decline of nation-state's role as a guarantor of national security? In Globalization and the National Security State, T.V. Paul and Norrin M. Ripsman test the proposition against the available evidence and find that the globalization school has largely gotten it wrong. The decline in interstate warfare can largely be attributed to the end of the Cold War, not globalization. Moreover, great powers (the US, China, and Russia) continue to pursue traditional nation-state strategies. Regional security arrangements like the EU and ASEAN have not achieved much, and weak states--the ones most impacted by the turmoil generated by globalization--are far more traditional in their approaches to national security, preferring to rely on their own resources rather than those of regional and transnational institutions. This is a bold argument, and Paul and Ripsman amass a considerable amount of evidence for their claims. It cuts against a major movement in international relations scholarship, and is sure to generate controversy.

Excerpt

Since its inception as a social institution, the primary purpose of the nation-state has been to provide security within a geographically defined territory against both external and internal threats. Throughout many political, economic, and social changes, ranging from the emergence of nationalism, the industrial revolution, two world wars, and the development of nuclear weapons, the state has remained at the forefront of organized protection, and the protection of national security has been its hallmark. However, during the contemporary era, when economic, political, and social interaction expanded beyond national boundaries to reach a global scale, many believe that the state is losing its relevance not only as a welfare provider, but also as a guarantor of security. Consequently, many theorists assert that globalization has begun to dismantle the national security state.

To substantiate their arguments, these scholars cite a number of recent trends, including the relative absence of major interstate wars, the avoidance of intense balance-of-power politics, declining military expenditures, and the increase of transnational actors in the security arena. Moreover, they point to the proliferation of nontraditional security challenges, particularly in the areas of transnational terrorism, the environment, and drug trafficking, supplanting traditional military security concerns. Globalization theorists argue that because these new challenges are transnational in nature, they have affected all states and they require collective action, because the traditional state-centered approaches to security planning are not suited to deal with them effectively. In general, they contend that most states have responded to . . .

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