As time progresses, Humans beings find the social structure that they dwell in evolving along with them. From a single pair of man and wife soon came families, tribes and nations. What once were simple needs have become complex requirements. One such need is that of security. The earliest man, theorized by scholars, was concerned with security of himself and those in his immediate vicinity. After all, there were mouths to feed, and animals to be protected from. This is the concept of personal security.
Soon however, humans were to find that individual security was attainable if the whole tribe/city/state around them was secure. The evolution of concern in the context of security has been tremendous. Early states’ security concerns were majorly territorial in nature. A state considered itself secure if its territories were not under threat of invasion or war. Security also meant that if a war was to take place, the regime/ruling party in the land would not be ousted. The unit of concern, thus, for early states was majorly territorial, deterrence of war, the ability to be victorious if war does occur, and to summon allies in the time of need. These concerns stayed around much of the early medieval era.
However, another unit of concern of security was growing side by side, whose full display could be seen more prominently in the crusades – that of religion. Religion helped bind people across borders and many a ruler sought legitimacy through religious means. This meant that a state was concerned with what its majority/ruling population. Islam’s spread began from the concern for security; it was the freedom to practice religion with freedom, and so was the answer to the question of – the crusades. To better put it, religion can be classified as the values of the population and individual. As Walter Lippman stated, “A nation is secure to the extent to which it is not in danger of having to sacrifice core values if it wishes to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain them by victory in such a war.” The monarchs in Europe considered Islam and its growing influence a threat to their values, and hence counter attacked.
However, the term security has evolved to include much broader areas under its shadow: The ability of the government and the local population to freely carry out their functions and activities and not let their options be curbed by an unwelcome force (for example Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir – the people and the installed government there are at the whims of the central government of India. The recent internet ban and revoking of article 370, was enforced against the wishes of Kashmir. This concern thus has broadened the concept of security regarding what comes under it. For example, in the cold war, territorial security was at the back seat while on the driving seat was ideology. The West, or more precisely United States of America, felt threatened by the growing values of communism in countries around the world. The Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR), in a similar fashion, felt it would be more secure if capitalism was rooted out and its ideology of socialism/communism spread around the globe. What ensued was covert or overt warfare over lands not belonging to the two countries such as Vietnam, South America, Afghanistan to name a few. Science too became the unit concern of security during the cold war (it was one during WW2, as soon after the Americans and Russians did their best to take the German Scientists to their side by force or by luring them in with the incentive of a better life, so that the respective camp may gain the upper hand in technology and weapons). The space race was a tug of war between the USSR and USA of who would gain control over space, and hence the world satellites.
Modern day unit concerns of security have evolved much in a small span of time than before. For example, environment, economy, cyber, health, drugs – all have come into the broad meaning of security. If global warming occurs, the state, and in turn the individuals, will suffer. For example, rising temperatures would mean countries relying on agriculture would feel the squeeze. This in turn would cause economic concerns for the state, which would then force it to turn to others for help. However, in such a case, a state’s freedom of choice would be restrained as those states that help set conditions (such as conditions set by the IMF on Pakistan for the loans it has taken – it has limited the capacity of Pakistan’s decision making).
Cyber security too is a growing concern, as the world has turned digital and more and more information is being stored online and on digital mediums; hacks and protection of personal information has become a major concern both individually and at sate level. The recent EU disinfo lab report has unearthed another aspect of security that is often overlooked by the masses – information. Pseudo-intellects and quotes from big names (fake association) have all been used in a bid to make the information sound more reliable. In a world where informations is being bombarded and most of the people are not willing to double check the credibility of received information, such forgery if heeded in the power corridors can lead to disastrous policy formation. This is true in the opposite direction as well, with overzealous citizens and decision makers over-estimating their capabilities and presenting the misinformation to them as hard facts. (A term coined by some intellects as the 5th generation warfare).
To sum up, the unit of concern in the context of security has been evolving to cater to the different needs of the humans/states and to ensure that their territory, values and freedom of choice are protected. Any means that can be used to sabotage the working of these, shall too fall under the umbrella of security.
About The Author
Muhammad Ahmed is pursuing Mechanical Engineering at College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, NUST Rawalpindi. He is interested in national and international political affairs. He is also concerned with economic development of Pakistan. He tweets @mahmedpk30.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47.