National Security: Discussion Questions
Strong states are characterized by a high degree of legitimacy, embedment of authority in social structures, and a high degree of democracy. Most western countries fall under the category of strong states. In these states, state agents are able to act in ways that are informed and responsive to the needs of citizens. Additionally, accountability in these societies is institutionalized through a system of checks and balances. The per capita income in strong states or societies is high, and their economies rely on service economies. Social, economic, and political structures in these states are very stable. People are able to earn enough money to save and invest, and governments respond to the needs of their people responsibly.
The term weak states are used to define states which are characterized by security gaps, capacity gaps, weak social structures, and legitimacy gaps. These societies are characterized by dictatorship or the lowest degrees of democracy, and the accountability of governments is weak. Weak societies or states are also weak in providing basic services and security to their citizens, and most people do not have confidence in the government. These states have low per capita income, leading to low investments and low savings. This implies that average citizens in weak states are unable to earn enough money to save or invest; whatever is earned is used to acquire basic necessities such as food, shelter, among other basic needs. A majority of people in weak states are also engulfed in extreme poverty. Additionally, employment rates in weak states are very high, and their economies depend on primary sectors such as agriculture. Some weak states, such as Venezuela and Syria, are characterized by conflicts and coups to overthrow the government.
Society as a Subject of Security
Society is viewed as a “referent subject of security” when its survival is important for a state to be secure, or for the sovereignty of the state to be protected. The purpose of state security is to ensure that the sovereignty of the state is not threatened. This means that a state is not able to survive if it loses its sovereignty. Similarly, societal security is concerned about securing the identities from threats, and societies may not also survive if they are threatened. And when societies are threatened, states can also be destabilized. This creates the idea that states may also be protected by their societies (reference subject of security).
Society as a Referent Object of security Policy
In security, a referent object is something that needs to be protected because it is endangered or because it is threatened. The referent security object in society is identity. Identity and security cannot be separated because they are intertwined at different levels. The concept of societal security was introduced by theorists ate Copenhagen School. While this concept is mostly used to refer to the security of national identity, it is mostly invoked in reference to subsectional identities or groups within a state such as religious groups, ethnic groups. Societal security, therefore, refers to “the sustainable development of traditional patterns of language, culture, religious and identities and customs of societies.” Security threats to these social identities are investigated through a process of securitization to identify threats and come up with policies to nullify them. It is because of these reasons, therefore, that society of perceived as a referent object during the formulation of security policies.
Yes, environmental security does focus on the impacts of humans on the environment, but not just human activates. The best description of environmental security would be “the relative public safety from environmental dangers caused by natural or human processes due to ignorance, accidents, mismanagement or design and originating within or across national borders.” The term also refers to the protection of the environment for future use, or for its own sake. Environmental security is actually an element of national, regional, and international focus. It encompasses the prevention and mitigation of environmental risks and energy threats and related challenges that can contribute directly to economic or political instabilities, or conflicts in other countries. It is a practice that is carried out by governments, organizations, and individuals with the aim of conserving the natural environment and natural resources, reversing trends, and repairing damages where possible.
Technological advancements, population growth, overconsumption of resources, and other disasters have, over the years, led to the degradation of the biophysical environment. The long term effects of such degradation have been recognized, and nations across the world are putting strategies to ensure that the environment is protected. Environmental movements that have existed over the years have created awareness about the dangers of environmental insecurity to the safety of not just humans but also to other creatures. Environmental security is, therefore, meant to ensure that the environment is protected from the harmful effects of natural disasters, environmental pollution, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. If the environment is not protected from these threats, then the security of future generations becomes endangered. This is because they will lack shelter, water, food, and other resources needed for survival, thus creating unstable situations.