Gdańsk
South Baltic Gas Forum
5 - 9 September 2011, Gdańsk, Poland

National security

Originally conceived as protection against military attack, national security is now widely understood to include non-military dimensions, including the security from terrorism, crime, economic security, energy security, environmental security, food security, cyber security etc. Similarly, national security risks include, in addition to the actions of other nation states, action by violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, and multinational corporations, and also the effects of natural disasters.
Although states differ in their approach, with some beginning to prioritise non-military action to tackle systemic drivers of insecurity, various forms of coercive power predominate, particularly military capabilities. The scope of these capabilities has developed. Traditionally, military capabilities were mainly land- or sea-based, and in smaller countries they still are. Elsewhere, the domains of potential warfare now include the air, space, cyberspace, and psychological operations. Military capabilities designed for these domains may be used for national security, or equally for offensive purposes, for example to conquer and annex territory and resources.
Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, Jaap de Wilde and others have argued that national security depends on political security: the stability of the social order. Others, such as Paul Rogers, have added that the equitability of the international order is equally vital. Hence, political security depends on the rule of international law (including the laws of war), the effectiveness of international political institutions, as well as diplomacy and negotiation between nations and other security actors. It also depends on, among other factors, effective political inclusion of disaffected groups and the human security of the citizenry.
Ecological security, also known as environmental security, refers to the integrity of ecosystems and the biosphere, particularly in relation to their capacity to sustain a diversity of life-forms (including human life). The security of ecosystems has attracted greater attention as the impact of ecological damage by humans has grown. The degradation of ecosystems, including topsoil erosion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change, affect economic security and can precipitate mass migration, leading to increased pressure on resources elsewhere.
The extent to which this matters, and how it should be done, is the subject of debate. Some argue that the principal beneficiary of national security policy should be the nation state itself, which should centre its strategy on protective and coercive capabilities in order to safeguard itself in a hostile environment (and potentially to project that power into its environment, and dominate it to the point of strategic supremacy). Others argue that security depends principally on building the conditions in which equitable relationships between nations can develop, partly by reducing antagonism between actors, ensuring that fundamental needs can be met, and also that differences of interest can be negotiated effectively. In the UK, for example, Malcolm Chalmers argued in 2015 that the heart of the UK's approach should be support for the Western strategic military alliance led through NATO by the United States, as "the key anchor around which international order is maintained". The Ammerdown Group argued in 2016 that the UK should shift its primary focus to building international cooperation to tackle the systemic drivers of insecurity, including climate change, economic inequality, militarisation and the political exclusion of the world's poorest people.

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