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About this book

This text brings together a range of specially-commissioned chapters to provide an accessible introduction to Security Studies in the 21st century. Thethird edition has been expanded to cover non-military challenges to security, and includes new learning aids.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Contemporary Security and Strategy

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • The study of security has experienced a series of debates around the nature of the threats to security.
  • The early security scholars, as distinct from those who studied strategy and warfare, took a broad approach and argued that military and non-military means could achieve security.
  • During the Cold War the study of security focused on the most pressing security issue of the day — the nuclear standoff between the two superpowers.
  • In the post-Cold War era the broader approach to the study of security returned to the fore and included non-state actors and non-traditional sources of insecurity.
Craig A. Snyder

Chapter 2. Realism and Security Studies

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Most realists share the following core beliefs: that states are the most important actors in international politics, that anarchy is the distinguishing feature of international life, that states seek to maximize their power/security, that states act rationally, that the threat or use of military force is a key tool for states to achieve their objectives, and that the distribution of power among states is the most important cause of the basic patterns of international politics.
  • Critics of realism offer five main criticisms: that realism cannot explain change in the international system, that realism ignores the importance of identity and culture in states, that realism has unacceptable moral implications, that realism exaggerates the importance of states and the distribution of power, and that realism does not explain very much about specific foreign-policy decisions.
  • Realism continues to develop theoretical innovations and insights into international affairs. No other single paradigm offers a richer set of theories and hypotheses about international politics.
Sean M. Lynn-Jones

Chapter 3. Beyond Strategy

Critical Theory and Security Studies
This chapter raises the following main points:
  • The traditional answer to the question, ‘what is security?’ is insufficient. The question needs to be broken down into constituent parts: whose security is at issue and how is this referent to be secured?
  • The referent object of security needs to be expanded from the state to include non-state groups (such as the individual, societies and nations) as well as other referents such as the environment.
  • The manner in which a referent object is secured will depend on the nature of the referent object. Traditional state based military-only means to security may cause insecurity to other referents.
  • The nature of security study has also changed, away from the scientific approach of strategic studies towards more critical social analysis.
David Mutimer

Chapter 4. Environmental Security

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Environmental security is a contested and fractured concept.
  • There are different meanings of environmental security depending upon perspective.
  • Environmental security develops as a concept in tandem with sustainable development and other ‘new’ security issues in the post-Cold War era.
  • Environmental degradation can affect the security of the state.
  • Environmental degradation can contribute to violent conflict.
  • Military activities can be a major contributing factor to environmental degradation.
  • Environmental degradation can have a significant impact upon human security.
Dean Coldicott, Thomas O’Brien

Chapter 5. Human Security

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • The majority of insecurity in the world originates from civil conflict, failed states, natural disasters, poverty, disease and small arms, rather than from inter-state wars.
  • Definitions of human security range from broad concepts such as the protection of the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfilment, to more narrow definitions that focus on the violent threats to individuals and communities.
  • The most wide-reaching policy consequences of human security are the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the development of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine.
  • The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine is provocative, ambitious and non-static in the sense that it implies an important normative principle of political change.
J. Peter Burgess, Jonas Gräns

Chapter 6. Security Implications of the Arms Trade

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Global spending on military expenditure has risen dramatically in recent years.
  • The conventional arms trade and attempts to control it are closely related to security concerns from inter-state security relations to human security and development.
  • Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are closely associated with hundreds of thousands of deaths each year through fuelling conflict and crime.
  • A multilevel governance framework for the control of SALW has evolved, including global, regional and other multilateral action, and widely varying national implementation. This regime includes both politically binding and legally binding instruments.
  • The politics of SALW control involves states, international and regional organizations, and a large number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
  • Much of the SALW control action is framed around concern with ‘illicit’ trade -though this is not clearly defined.
  • The SALW regime is frequently beleaguered at the global level as no consensus has been achieved on many key issues.
  • Implementation of SALW agreements has been patchy at best, but is continuing to evolve.
Mike Bourne

Chapter 7. Thinking and Rethinking the Causes of War

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • The causes of war debates have been insular, dominated by political scientists, and little affected by the work of historians and others.
  • There is an important core of consensus bounding the causes of war literature: it is almost entirely a debate about what causes wars, particularly major wars, between states.
  • Most of the causes of war debate literature share a greater affinity for scientific ‘explanation’ than hermeneutic ‘understanding’. Conflicts that do not coincide with the Westphalian structure of the international system, such as those involving non-state or sub-state actors or in instances of class warfare, are excluded from the discussion.
  • The causes of war debates miss potential sources and determinants of war whose relevance proceeds from a much more complicated understanding of the location of politics.
J. Marshall Beier

Chapter 8. The Evolution of Strategy and the New World Order

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Strategy, war and conflict should be designed to accomplish a political objective.
  • Changing circumstances have led to the evolution of five overlapping generations or schools of strategists.
  • The traditional school espoused by Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz and Antoine-Henri de Jomini articulated strategies for statesmen on how to use military power effectively for political purposes.
  • The second wave sought to apply or adapt the concepts developed by the traditional school to the new dimensions of conflict of their time. Some looked at the political context of the use of military force while others sought to apply the theories to various dimensions of warfare on land, on sea and in the air.
  • The third generation of strategists looked at the effects on nuclear weapons on warfare.
  • The fourth generation of strategists looked not at how nuclear wars could be fought but how to avoid them, or at forms of warfare that were occurring at the sub-state level: that of insurgency and counter-insurgency warfare.
  • The contemporary generation of strategists is much less coherent as a school but many analysts are considering the effects of globalization and technological developments on contemporary warfare. Others are revisiting earlier theories of counter-insurgency.
Geoffrey Till

Chapter 9. The Transformation of War

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • The extant literature on the transformation of war fails to provide a satisfactory account of epochal change in the character of organized political violence. It generally fails to isolate conceptually — and then analyze systematically — three different types or orders of ‘transformation of war’.
  • Revolutionary changes in the ‘warfighting paradigm’ entail changes in the specific configuration of military technologies, doctrines and organizational forms that structure the way in which military forces conduct combat operations.
  • Revolutionary changes in the’ social mode of warfare’ entail the way in which a state-society complex organizes for and conducts war. As such, the current episode of revolutionary military transformation appears as a profound shift in the complex of social, economic and deep technological forces that shape the way in which a society prepares for, prosecutes and experiences war.
  • Revolutionary changes in the ‘historical structure of war’ entail deep transformations in the prevailing configuration of social relations, ideas and institutions that define the basic socio-political character of ‘war’ in any given world order.
Andrew Latham, Kabir Sethi

Chapter 10. Nuclear Strategy

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Contemporary nuclear strategy is influenced by its Cold War history, especially Washington’s response to the growth of Soviet military power between the 1940s and 1980s.
  • The 1950s US strategy of ‘Massive Retaliation’ became viewed as suicidal, and thus lacking credibility as a deterrent. Massive Retaliation was replaced with ‘Flexible Response’. This called for a supposedly more usable range of limited and selective targeting options.
  • The idea of mutual assured destruction suggested the use of nuclear weapons was politically unthinkable.
  • In the post-Cold War era of the 1990s three concerns shaped American nuclear planning: the maintenance of a hedge against a potentially resurgent Russia; deterrence of China; and deterrence of ‘rogue’ states.
  • The primary objective of US nuclear strategy remains deterrence of nuclear attack on the US, with its weapons seen as insurance in the face of an uncertain future.
  • The other nuclear-armed states differ in their approach to nuclear strategy in matters of detail. However, they all say their approach is shaped by the needs of deterrence.
Andy Butfoy

Chapter 11. Challenges and Opportunities for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • The horizontal nuclear non-proliferation regime is comprised of a mutually supporting network of national and multilateral mechanisms.
  • The non-proliferation regime is based on crucial norms of engagement, voluntarism and equality.
  • Efforts to address horizontal nuclear non-proliferation are threatened by changing proliferation patterns, the changing nuclear supply environment, limited progress toward vertical nuclear non-proliferation, and the form taken by some post-Cold War horizontal nuclear non-proliferation initiatives.
  • Recent developments are reducing the tension between horizontal and vertical nuclear non-proliferation, thereby contributing to the legitimacy of the horizontal non-proliferation regime.
J. D. Kenneth Boutin

Chapter 12. Terrorism and Insurgency

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Terrorism is a difficult concept to define. Often the term itself is used as a pejorative term, attached to one’s enemy in order to delegitimize them. The subjective nature of the term makes it difficult to develop a comprehensive definition of terrorism.
  • There are five general explanations as to the causes for terrorism: strategic, ideological, political, economic or psychological. These are not exclusive and more than one may apply for any individual case.
  • The ‘new’ aspect of terrorist groups such al Qaeda concerns not its ostensibly religious motivation, its global reach or even its apparent preference for mass casualty, highly symbolic terrorism, but rather its horizontal and diffuse organizational structure.
  • Insurgency is the strategic use of violence by armed factions against a state or occupying force to overthrow the existing political order.
  • The decentralized nature of the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan make it difficult to apply classical schools of thought on insurgency and counter-insurgency to these conflicts.
  • Terrorism is increasingly the predominant strategy of insurgents, rather than simply an occasional tactical choice. For this reason, terrorism is now increasingly being used in ethnic or sectarian conflicts.
Michael Boyle

Chapter 13. Intervention

The Utility of Force in International Politics
This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Interventions involve actions by one or more states intended to halt or change a course of action another state or group of states has undertaken.
  • The objectives of interventions vary from humanitarian concerns to the destruction of a dangerous capability of another state.
  • There are two main forms of intervention: those that use military forces and those that use non-military options. Military interventions can be further distinguished between those that are peaceful and those that are non-peaceful.
  • Seven basic criteria can be identified as necessary for a successful intervention: first, the cause needs to be just’; second, all other measures have been exhausted; third, there is a reasonable chance it will improve local circumstances; fourth, there is strong, unwavering political resolve; fifth, the intervention has a clear political aim; sixth, there is unity of command and core force competence; and finally, the force is of sufficient size and has an appropriate force balance.
  • Five mechanisms are required for a successful intervention: first, the political objective must be militarily achievable; second, sufficient planning must be undertaken; third, an appropriate mix of forces used; fourth, appropriate strategies for the insertion of forces into the area of operations need to be made; and finally, neutralizing the hostile forces and taking effective control of the area of operations is required.
Michael Arnold

Chapter 14. Great Powers, Strategy and International Order

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Great powers are distinguished from other members of the international system not only by their extensive military political and economic capacity but also because they play a distinctive role in managing order in the international system.
  • The primacy of great powers is underwritten by three key assumptions. First, that great powers are able to impose order on the system; second, that they share a common understanding about the structure and purpose of the order they manage; and finally, that great powers cannot be constrained by international institutions, laws or norms.
  • Circumstances in the twenty-first century increasingly challenge the status of great powers. As power is redistributed, there is no consensus among the powerful as to the nature or purpose of international order.
  • The experience of the US, as the only great power is beginning to show the diminishing returns of pursuing a great power grand strategy. This is in part because there are no other great powers to help sustain the order but also because of the declining capacity of states to shape outcomes in a globalized world.
Nick Bisley

Chapter 15. Regional Security and Regional Conflict

This chapter raises the following main points:
  • Regions are groupings of states that share either geographic proximity or have sufficient cultural/historic ties that bind them together.
  • Regionalization occurs within a region as interdependence is developed among the regional states.
  • The development of regionalism is dependent on the support of the regional great power(s), the extent of reciprocity that exists in the relations of the states in the region, and the level of strategic reassurance that exists among these states.
  • Regionalization is not a lineal process, that is, it can increase or decrease.
  • The pace of regionalism is different in each region but a basic pattern exists where economic integration precedes political and security integration.
  • Regional threats to security can be divided into four categories. The first two comprise traditional military threats such as balance of power contests between regional powers and ‘grass fire’ conflicts between smaller powers or over more localized issues. The third category includes, for example, intra-state conflicts for ethnic, religious, nationalist or ideological, issues. Finally, transnational threats such as environmental degradation or resource scarcity can also cause regional instability and conflict.
Craig A. Snyder
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