By Fayaz Ganie
Since the outset, security has been one of the first priority functions of the human species. Humans felt the need to cooperate with the others of the same species in order to ensure their successful existence survival and sustenance. The nature of this cooperation was first to defeat, and defend against, the other species. Simultaneously, another type of cooperation started to defend from the men, and groups, who were not like them, or their group, and who were inimical to the interests of that group. It is this cooperation with the like, and against the unlike, which is at the back of the existence of all groups, nations and nationalities. Security of the group, nation or the state is the basic thing for which they existed and continue to exist.
However, there is a dilemma involved; the search for security has led to insecurity also. Group rivalries, and rivalries among the nations, have dented the prospects of a secure world throughout the human history. The battles, fights and wars – which were fought in the name of ensuring security – have ended up creating insecurity and eliminating a great portion of the people who was ensured security by the proponents of these battles, fights and wars. Most of the times the security for few has give rise to insecurity for many.
Consider an example. The stated purpose of the Fist World War (WWI) was to end all wars; however, it ended not ale wars but, instead, caused damage and destruction to such an extent that has hardly any parallel in human history. In the same manner, the Second World War (WWII) was fought for safeguarding democracy and ensuring security and sovereignty to the defeated countries by the axis powers. This war surpassed the damages and destruction that were caused in the WWI, and in any other war fought in the past. In the WWI, 41 million people perished and in the WWII, 60 million people were killed.
These losses to life and property could have been justified to some existent had the world thereafter become safer and secure. Those wars failed to end all future wars and they were unable to prevent losses to life and property of men on account of conflicts and other wars. The ongoing conflicts can be presented as a proof in this regard and the threat of further wars, including the threat of a major war, is also indicative of that fact. People are dying and the same very attempts to make the world secure are filled with the seeds of insecurity at the same time. This is the paradox.
Adventures are turning into misadventures which have catapulted human species precariously where there is more of uncertainty than certainty. Uncertainty is there in the security system of the world and, in a sense, there is uncertainty in the meaning and matter of security itself. Security for some is insecurity for the others and insecurity for others is the security for still others. There are such means and mechanisms where human species has enough of wherewithal to last till posterity, but at the same time, there are enough of weapons which could end the existence of human species at a single instant of time, without leaving any impression of such existence behind.
No doubt humans have progressed, no doubt they have tamed the nature and the forces of nature to a great extent but there also is no doubt in the fact that, in doing so, they have made these forces so powerful that they can end all the human existence in just a second. In this respect, the modern world is more insecure than anywhere in the past. This insecurity is not confined to single place or corner of the world but it is there everywhere, it is a sort of collective insecurity, all humans are subject to this insecurity.
In the past , all wars (except WWI & WWII), most of the epidemics and natural disasters were localized and confined to a certain area. They were not as threatening to efface the human race from a continent; threatening that from the entire world was a far off thing. But, today the conditions and circumstances have changed. A major war could end all; an epidemic could have the same repercussions, global warming and environmental degradation has the same capabilities and potentials.
The efforts to provide security against wars and conflicts are continuing but these attempts are overtly and covertly coupled with the ones where insecurity is the outcome. The balance of power system and the collective security system, which have their roots in the Conference of Westphalia of 1648, have not achieved what they were intended to. They rather have become the tools in the hands of the powerful nations to exploit the weak. They are means to keep their hegemony intact.
The concept of collective security was to create a preponderance of power against the aggressor, the violator of the accepted international norms. It was to prevent a major power in creating hegemony at the international scale and disturbing the equilibrium at this level of human association. And , it was to check the one which attempted to enter in the club of major powers by trying to disturb the balance in the power relations of the world. But, it has so far proved a futile exercise, especially against the major powers of the world.
Collective security system, and the balance of power system, failed to prevent Germany, Japan and Italy from acquiring and inventing weapons during the League of Nations days and it is failing against the major powers of today. The successor world body of the League of Nations, the United Nations, is not proving any different against these countries. Though this organization has gained some success against few of the weaker nations but against the powerful it is as powerless as the League of the Nations.
This system gave rise to alliances and counter alliances in the interwar period and same is the case with the post WWII period. True, some countries tried to remain non-aligned during this latter period but they were not completely out of the block politics. The power blocks of the Cold War days shaped the internal and external aspects of their behavior. And, this bipolarity in the world politics is the direct cause for militarization of some, if not all of the non-aligned and militarily weaker countries.
Despite various world organizations to make the international relations rule based and governed by the international law, the anarchy in these relations refuses to go. All the actors, especially the major ones, in these relations are acting as per the whims and wishes of their national interests. The interests of the other countries are of no concern to them. The declared objectives of the United Nations in its charter are of no worth if some ambiguous national interests are not met. Human rights, environmental protection and preservation, end of wars and conflicts and self determination to the oppressed is of no value; national interests decide everything.
It is this national interest based behavior of the states which has made the shaping and reshaping of alliances an unending process. Pakistan which earlier was part of US led coalition is currently tilted towards Russia and China. India , which followed a non-aligned policy is actively pursuing the US to outwit Pakistan. Some of the countries of the Eastern Europe which were part of the Warsaw Pact are now members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other countries in other parts of the world are doing the same-either to follow one or the other alliance.
All these alliances, counter alliances and new alliances maintain forces of insecurity. They are there in a more invigorated form as never before which provides an opportunity to the agents and agencies which disturb the word peace to do so in order to serve the interests of few powerful countries or corporations belonging to those countries, thereby throwing word peace in jeopardy and throwing the security into the back burner. The insecurity is becoming more inclusive with the acquiring of weapons of mass destruction by the countries which so far were without them.
The helplessness of the world organizations and powers is openly in display in Burma. In this country, the Rohingyas are treated in such a way as if Burma is the supreme power in the word and there is no power as supreme as she. She gives no damn to all the other countries of the world and the institutions which exist to ensure the sanctity of the human rights and maintain world security. The images and photos of
Rohingya Muslims coming out of that country send all the humanity to shame but there is hardly anybody or institution which is doing anything appropriate.
As already mentioned, insecurity is not only created by wars but also by the threats other than from wars. These include the ones which generally arise due to the overuse and misuse of the nature and natural resources. The state of the environment is such where equilibrium in most of its sub-components is disturbed. The water resources are getting depleted and the natural calamities are on the rise. All these factors are individually and collectively of the potential to create something disastrous for the human species. Here again, the world is doing little against this collective insecurity.
The behavior of the present day rulers is by no means encouraging. They seem least concerned with the overall status of the human race. Unlike the great leaders and statesmen of the past, they have narrowed their vision; they are not looking beyond the realms of their domestic politics and in that politics their concern is more about their party interests rather than the broader interests of the country. The interests beyond their borders are not any of their concern. Their attitude has made these problems of security even more complicated.
We have no option but to end every commentary on this topic on an optimistic note. We have to stay hopeful in order to ensure existence and sustenance of the human race. All our actions and words should have that optimism in them where the words could yield actions which would ensure world peace and security. Hope the fading and elusive security is given a thought and provided to the world which needs it desperately. Failure to do so is to make the extinction of human race a near possibility!
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org