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.