Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 11:26 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 11:26 | SYDNEY

Is there a globalisation paradox?


Sam Roggeveen


12 June 2008 12:06

I don't share Judah Grunstein's concern that there is a mismatch between underfunded defence forces and growing demand for military interventions in far flung places. First, I reckon many of these interventions, actual and proposed, are pretty discretionary. They are often justified by arguing that, in a globalised world, instability anywhere is a threat everywhere, but I doubt it's actually true in cases like Iraq, Sudan or even Kosovo. Second, the globalisation paradox Judah refers to may be no such thing, as conflict has become less frequent since the end of the Cold War (the link refers only to Africa, but the Human Security Brief quoted in the post shows a global trend).

On my list of future security threats, I'd put insurgency below three other concerns.  The first is major power conflict, which is less likely than in the Cold War, but still carries extreme risks. Globalisation has created an unprecedentedly peaceful and prosperous world, but it hasn't defeated human nature, and nations will continue to make gross misjudgments that could lead to catastrophe. Nuclear proliferation is a related problem, and would also sit higher than insurgency on my list of priorities.

Third on my list is the new terrorism, which I've previously tried to describe here and here. Its focus, if it emerges in full bloom, will be mass disruption rather than mass destruction. Globalisation is hugely vulnerable to this type of terrorism.

I'd argue that millitary power is not the obvious primary answer to any of these three security problems. The great security deficit is in diplomatic power, not military.