Military Power

When we think about security we may come with two different images, the word ‘security’ evokes the picture of a solid object, it might be a lock or weapon for example. In contrast, it might have different consequence, like make us think about vulnerability and even feel unsafe. In international relations security is understood differently, many of us could probably picture army, tanks, and bombs when thoughts about state security and how situations are handled when military forces are involved.  Military power is a very significant source of security in international relations, but it is not the only one. Military force is a result of a coherent security system, which includes military, economic, political, environmental and nowadays even with the big expansion of computer online, the use virtual security is also critical. The relation between these sources of security is akin, and to understand how the whole system works it is necessary to comprehend each source individually.

Military power is the most powerful source of authority. It uses direct aggression and brutality; it is probably the simplest way to get rid of your enemies but probably not the smartest one, as it always requires victims of your own. From the emergence of human, until now military power is widely used, changed only the number of fighters, goals, and the arsenal. There were times when horses were a great advantage against your enemies. Horses helped to conquer half of the world for Alexander the Great, for Mongolians – to create the largest empire in the world, but people were improving. Once Napoleon said; “God is on the side of the big battalions” (Biddle, 2004) and then he was right, manpower was the primary military power beside canons filled with the gunpowder, which was a high-tech at the time.

Humans were fighting with swords, and muskets and victims were calculated in thousands or hundreds of thousands, but not millions. But with times evolving, the changes of weapons have drastically changed. This was mainly due to Industrial Revolution. International theories began to spread such as Realism or Liberalism. These principles apply different approaches and according to them, states might maintain self-security and peace differently.      Realists attach particular importance to military power. Realists state that anarchy in the world creates a competitive environment, and the pursuit of authority is necessary to maintain self-security. Two different types of Realism provides us with various ways of pursuing power; defensive realism says that states should seek adequate power to ensure security, in contrast, offensive realism states that there are no such things as ‘’adequate’’ power and states should aim for maximum power. Simply said, one says that it is enough to have sufficient amount of military resources while other, that constant increase in the military is the only way to guarantee security. When viewing the world’s annual military expenditure, one state is far in front of others. The United States’ military spending accounts for nearly half of the whole world expenditure. It is obvious that the USA takes the offensive realism politics (Buzan, Wæver & Wilde, 1995). Moreover, America is not only interested in self-secure, it clearly demonstrates its hegemony in the international political arena. Pretended with the theory of offensive Realism (removing the possible threats) it started the Iraq war. This war is nothing else, but the American invasion in the Middle East and the main aim of this invasion is to profit. War has not yet been started, but America has already threatened and advertised Iraq’s guns of mass destruction. Such position was just a pretext to start a war and occupy the country rich in oil, “Bush administration has been unmistakably tightlipped about its oil interest in determining war policy”. (Jhaveri, 2006). As can be seen, military power might not only secure the state but also at the same time to help gain power and increase the other security source levels.

Second, but certainly no less important source of security is economic security. All kind of security sources are related, but the relation between military and economic securities is distinctly visible “economic and military power are fungible; that economic decline leads to military weakness” (Rawls, 2005). It is simple; if the state is economically poor, it just cannot afford to have a powerful military. Also, wars itself always requires major economic resources, an example of that could be World War I, after such a huge military intervention Europe never recovered to the pre-war greatness. But wars could not only lead to recession but in the case of United States, it might also cause the economic boom as it strongly enriched in both world wars.(Harris, 1972)Economic power may not only help to increase military power it might also work as a weapon against the enemy. There are many examples, like American sanctions to Iran, which started in 1979 when Americans forbid to Shan of Iraq to enter the USA for medical treatment. As a result, Iranians held a terrorist attack on American Embassy and responding to this America freeze the huge amount of Iranian tangible assets. Stagnation between Iran and USA remained until nowadays, and Iran responds to the American policy (Carter, 2001).

The best example of economic blockade, in today’s world, is North Korea, which is practically isolated from the international community and trades only with China, South Korea, and India. It might be thought that economic sanctions might stop or prevent the aggression in both internal and external levels, this does not prevent the combativeness, according to him, as an example could be Japan invasion in Manchuria, Italy invasion to Abyssinia, etc. Economic sanctions sometimes are a good way to achieve the desired results against other states without pursuing of power (Brown, 2014). However, it may cause the suffering of innocent people; it might also make damage for third countries as well as cause increasing unemployment. According to Realists, a state may only profit in advance of others. The liberal approach pays special attention to cooperation between states and affirms that such regime may guarantee benefits and economic stability-security to every participant. The best example of that could be the European Union, which includes the most important Liberalist components; juridical equality, democracy, liberty, and most importantly – free market. The EU is an economic organization, which connects all the states together for each states gain; however this does not preclude competition between states. Free markets, same as unfettered immigration cause competitive environment between participants, “Any country that depreciates its exchanges will thereby increase its employment at the expense of the other countries” (Harris, 133).Decreasing fees, what would attract foreign investors, might also lead to the same results. Nevertheless, cooperation’s and the Liberal economy are the most commonly used and most likely the best way to guarantee states economic security in the 21st century.

Political security is the widest of all security sources as it includes and influences types of power “…the characteristics of political security will usually be general features of security because all security is political.” (Buzan, Waever, Wilde,1998). According to Buzan political security could be defined as the organizational stability of the state. In other words, political security is an interaction between states the organizational level. International politics is very complicated in the anarchical world where self-interest is the most important factor. The state might never know whom to trust “politics cannot be reduced to the friend-enemy distinction (Schmitt).” (Buzan, Waever, Wilde,1995) in contrast “nor can it be seen as community and consensus (Buzan, Waever, Wilde, 1995). In general there is no clear definition of political security, everyone might interpret it in a different way as everyone sees that from a different perspective. It might only be stated that politics play a huge role in power policy. Environmental issues are also a type of security According to Buzan, Waever, and Wilde, environmental security is the existence of two different roles, a scientific and political. The precise role has to meet academic standards while political agenda could be shaped by governmental, media or public norms. For instance, if a bio company is threatening us with the skin cancer due to problems with the ozone layer, it only helps from the point that we know the issue, and we can protect ourselves, but it does not affect the main problem. The conferences about environmental issues and the desire of all states together may only affect the primary cause (Brown, 2014).  Looking at it from a different angle, geographical conditions, such as water or mountains or swamps, could help prevent enemies or, at least, minimize the possible threats. In ancient history, a real territorial situation was the key to the victory. As the weapons changed, it does not play such a huge role anymore, but the advantage is visible. That advantage lets the United Kingdom with its ‘unstoppable’ navy not only to control the big part of the world but also to protect it from the external threats.

However, looking back at history, sometimes even positive geographical conditions cannot help to prevent disaster. For example, when Napoleon crossed The Alps and conquered the Rome in the 19th century. Living in 21st century makes we think that not only about self-security but also about the security of our personal data. The Internet is widely used today, and signs are that the trend will only spread in the future. This type of security is important not only for individuals. It plays a significant role in International Relations “Political scientists have for a considerable time identified the ability to control information flows as a function necessary to preserve national sovereignty and boost national security.

In conclusion, military power is the main, but not the only source of power in International Relations. Military, economic and political securities are coherent systems, which could not properly function without any of these elements. Environmental issues should be important to all of the states as the damage could affect the whole world. Virtual safety is the new type of security in International Political arena. It has just begun its way in the global international world, but it might be predicted that in the future it will become one of the main sources of security (Guzzini & Jung, 2004). All in all Military power is not the only source of safety in International Relations moreover, and many factors have to play a factor when history shows that new security and technology sources are be creating.



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