Stronger internationalism is need of the hour
National security establishments are increasingly looking both inside and outside the state to form partnerships that can provide security more economically and more effectively. Such multilateral arrangements are already in place but they need to become more genuinely international for the sake of human security
Recent world events have taken us all by alarm— with the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan and getting and seeking international recognition, the world suddenly seems like a gravely uncertain and daunting domain. In a world where we celebrate human rights and argue for expansion of freedoms, authoritative rule by law that limits liberties and dignities of vulnerable individuals is a terrifying prospect and with these events, it is perhaps time to rethink and ask what security means and what we can do to secure people. A new world order, emerging with the first sightings of a possible post-Covid world, must expand the ambits of security it offers to its citizens.
Towards this effort, first and foremost, we must move from the idea of national security towards the idea of human security. To this end, stronger internationalism is needed. Scholars Norrin M Ripsman and T V Paul note that globalisation theorists conclude that the emergence of new threats and the contraction of national military apparatuses have eroded the exclusivity of the state as a provider of national security because the state is incapable of meeting its security needs on its own.
Instead, national security establishments are increasingly looking both inside and outside the state to form partnerships that can provide security more economically and more effectively. Such multilateral arrangements are already in place but they need to become more genuinely international for the sake of human security.
After two decades of tremendous US intervention, the Ashraf Ghani government found itself isolated when dealing with a crisis on its home turf. When national interests take center-stage, the costs of international collaborations are often unaccounted for. The withdrawal of US troops left Afghanistan vulnerable, and while both nations were supposed to guard their respective sovereignties, sudden moves in the direction of narrow national interests took no heed of a potential disaster and left one of the countries in intense distress.
Thus, international associations must consider the mutual interest of all parties involved and move beyond mere national gains to preserve and guarantee human welfare. Furthermore, we need to broaden the definition of human security itself. According to the Japanese foreign policy, "human security comprehensively covers all the menaces that threaten human survival, daily life and dignity—for example, environmental degradation, violations of human rights, transnational organised crime, illicit drugs, refugees, poverty, anti-personnel landmines and other infectious diseases such as AIDS—and strengthens efforts to confront these threats."
A definition like this does not see security in terms of overt militarism or violence, but includes facets of insecurity which emerge in embattled territories. The Afghanistan crisis, for instance, has led to dispossession of land and resources for people, leaving them in economic precarities. Health issues amid the crisis also pose a gigantic threat to general security of people.
All of these aspects must be considered while thinking of a globalised response and the aforementioned internationalism must be geared towards this. What Afghanistan's case tells us right away is that the globalized world must work to preserve organisational stabilities. A lack of the same, or organization fragility, in the case of nation building and sustenance can be deadly. This was exemplified by the crumbling of the Ashraf Ghani administration in Afghanistan, leading to a security vacuum in Kabul as thousands of police and armed services members abandoned their posts, uniforms and weapons.
Before the US withdrew its troops, a United Nations mandated arrangement to leave Afghanistan in perfect organisational and bureaucratic balances would have ensured a smooth transition and a continuation of the regime which was supposed to hold power in the country. Such arrangements should be ensured across the world in all zones of conflict where multilateral engagements take place.
Expenditures on security thus should not be restricted to arms and ammunition and deployment of troops but also building bureaucracies and infrastructure which effectively battle the shocks that emerge in difficult conflicts. This involves security against loss of livelihood, health disasters and abridging of rights. National security apparatuses must focus on these concerns and simultaneously embrace technological advancement at its most supreme.
In short, the new world order must endorse a capacious definition of human welfare and attain it through cooperative security. In a globalised domain, any threat to human security is a threat to the world itself and the post-Covid world order must be geared towards creating a balance that does not compromise any aspect of human well-being. We must endeavour for such political changes and move the tide in favour of humanity at large.
(The author is founder, Upsurge Global, and Senior Advisor, Telangana State Innovation Cell)