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International Security Essay

1513 words - 6 pages

A basic understanding of the concept of security may be defined as; protecting ones interests from external threats. This concept of security in the context of daily usage seems a rather simplistic idea given that basic definition. However, a more in-depth examination of the concept of security reveals the true complexity concerning the nature of security and what it attempts to encompass, especially when the term ‘security’, used in a daily context can be viewed as such a broad subject. Baldwin (1997) points out that identifying and analysing the shared elements of security leads to even further discussion of those elements from various approaches. These approaches assume certain world views which can help to understand the concept of security from different perspectives. This essay will seek to define the concept of security from the perspective of a realist approach; since political realism has been so central to international politics there is much to draw from its conception of security. Although the realist concept of security has explained and influenced how security in the international system has worked historically, it does fail to predict security issues caused by non-state actors and transnational organizations as well as other factors of international relations.

Political realism makes key assumptions about the international system and how nation states operate; these assumptions therefore have implications for how the concept of security is understood in the international system. These assumptions, as argued by realist theorists such as Morgenthau (1993) and Mearsheimer (2001) are that; the international system is anarchic, in that there is no authority above nation states that can enforce laws or protect states; nation states are the main political entities in the international system with no authoritative body above them; nation states act rationally with regard to securing its interests; the main interest of nation states “is the concept of interest defined in terms of power” (Morgenthau, 1993, p. 5); nation states make political decisions based on its interest of power rather than moral ideals, and view the motives of other states in a similar manner. Although this is not the most comprehensive definition of realism, it helps view the concept of security through a realist lens. The realist worldview then has implications for how the concept of security is understood with regard to questions such as; what is security? What is to be made secure, otherwise known as the “referent object” or the thing to be protected, and how security is achieved and measured.

An anarchic international system, which lacks authority above the state to enforce laws or act as arbiter, does not implicate how states must behave, so nations must therefore rationally decide how to act and determine what threats to its security exist. Naturally the primary concern of nation states within an anarchic system must be its own survival, since no other...

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