An Outline for Global Security

The issue of global security is often a touchy one when it comes to actually laying down the groundwork for a functional alliance. States are often distrustful of each other, militaries eye other commanders with suspicion, and no one can agree on a coordinated policy. NATO, the world’s most successful defense alliance, has shown that it can be done, but not without its own growing pains and expansion issues.
Originally started as an alliance meant to counter the Soviet threat to central and Western Europe, NATO, as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it fostered “an enduring acceptance of transatlantic interdependence.” Building that sense of interdependence is the largest problem facing conceptual alliances today. While States may acknowledge the need to rely on one another in areas such as trade, travel, and treaties, they do not yet trust each other on security.

I can at least two obvious issues why states do not trust each other: 1) differing capabilities. It is almost natural for the rest of the world to want to get its hands on US military technology, but, and understandably so, the US does not want other states to be able to match its capabilities in war time. If it did so, one of the biggest advantages the US has to its weight – the ability to extend power anywhere on the globe – would not necessarily be nullified, but it would be dulled. No military commander wants to have a level playing field where they can have an advantage. 2) difference of strategy/mindset: the US in particular has shown great aversion to placing foreign commanders in charge of its combat soldiers. US citizens do not want foreign commanders taking needless risk with US lives and also do not want US soldiers deployed in every corner of the globe to put out every one else’s fires. While this does happen occasionally, there are stringent guidelines to how and why foreign command happens. A good example of how the US deploys soldiers in UN cases can be found here. Another cause of this is differing mindsets. The spread of cultures across the globe leads to very different ideas on military strategy, these strategies may not be compatible with training given to different armed forces, making it difficult to provide a seamless command structure. Here is a brief description of previous cases of United States soldiers being placed under foreign command.
I have used to US as a case example, but the trends are strong across the globe. If these issues can be resolved, then the basic issue of trust may be resolved and interdependence strengthened.

Creating a future for global security faces these obvious challenges, still asking the question “can global security occur?” I still feel the answer is yes, although it will be a long and tender process. I would propose a basic outline for moving towards a global security organization, with details to be explored later.

The first step in moving towards global security would be to lay out the parameters of how the organization would work, and to attain the consent of at least the G-8 countries, which would out of necessity provide the bulk of the authority and the materials. The basic parameters would consist of how and when the global security network would act, and when it would leave disputes up to local or regional forces, what materials would be available for deployment, and how states in conflict zones would accept intervention from the global security network, by-laws governing membership, interactions, and conflicts that arise from within the organization.

The second step in attaining global security is to have a core collection of industrialized and powerful states form the backbone of the alliance by committing to its goals and allocating necessary resources to accomplish those goals. Political will is a key ingredient here as the longer conflicts are engaged in, the less will remains to continue to fight. In order to counteract this effect, either sufficient resources will have to be committed before operations start or by-laws enacted to prevent states from pulling support halfway through the campaigns of the global security network.

The third and final step for an initial alliance setup is gaining legitimacy. World governments need to support the global security movement and grant the organization the military power and political clout that is necessary for any sort of security alliance to function across borders and continents.

As I stated before, this is just an outline for the theoretical global security organization, future posts will explore the details of how such an organization would come into existence.

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2 Responses to An Outline for Global Security

  1. JR says:

    I have some fundamental disagreements with you and some questions regarding the “concept.” The primary necessity is to define what is “global security.” Security is a very loaded word, it connotes varying levels of meaning depending on its context. Moreover, what is it that needs to be secured? In the growing cyber age, malicious attacks can occur in both the “real” world as well as the cyber world. Do we defense, as Obama has indicated, the infrastructure of our networks? Because doing some poses a great risk to the basic privacy of users. Individuals will have their locations exposed, as cable companies (dsl, whatever you will) will be forced to divulge sensitive personal information. And for what benefit? We don’t know.

    Moreover, what is the incentive for varying (mainly subjugated) countries to “join” in this alliance (assuming this is even in your suggestion). I mean, there has to be some benefit to join a security task force, and, given that most countries aren’t just interested in securing the well-being of their constituents, there has be something else in it for them?

    So that is where I disagree. You have to define the audience and their interests before you can even begin to assign parameters and allocation of materials. Secondly, how can you convince these powerful countries to sign on? You’re assuming there is a static nature to “superpowers,” but this task force would be subject to the ebb and flow of the global economy. In turn, there is a lack of foreseeable stability in the primary members. I don’t see how this can be resolved.

    I don’t think “security” can be measured in any “traditional” sense as the concept of “nation” and “state” is constantly evolving. Now, I would get more involved here if it weren’t Friday and I weren’t at work (aka I still had a piece of mind functioning).

    • alexanderfogleman says:

      Good points, I’ll work on addressing those as soon as I can. For a quick answer to these concerns, I think one aspect of a global security operation would include a department that would try and work on detecting and isolating cyber threats, in addition to other departments dealing with physical threats.

      The basic incentive for states to join would be shared access to both technology and methodology. I.E. training and materials as well as assistance from the larger and more developed states. I don’t think it relies on a static nature of superpowers, (although there have really only been a few in the last 500 years, but India and China may change that in the next 50), but rather it relies on the historically economic stability of the world as a whole, not the individual stabilities of member-states. Like I said though, it is a good point and I will make sure to explore it when I try and put together details for bringing about such an organization.

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