2. (STATE) SECURITY

As we all know, security studies have been dominated by the traditional, or Realist, paradigm in explaining war, peace and security. The famous phrases, "to be at peace, prepare for war," and "the more weapons, the better’ (Sagan and Waltz 1995) are commonly accepted among proponents of the Realist school of thought. Realists, and later Neorealists, (i.e., Waltz 1979) have always seen security as only partial and temporary, because "war is inevitable." They believe the world is anarchical - that there is no world government above that of the states or nations. Furthermore, because they see the state as the highest authority, the security of states is the most important factor in seeking peace. Realists therefore defined peace as the absence of war and security as the absence of threats.

Thus, security has meant “national security” at least among those who were concerned with political science, government and international relations.  It has referred to a set of defense mechanisms intended to protect a state (country), so that it can continue to exist as a sovereign entity. That of course includes protection from attacks and threats that originate from outside its national boundaries, and also usually includes protection from any actions that may seriously threaten the country’s ruling regime from within. It has been assumed that such attacks could come at anytime, in any shape, but always in a military form, and therefore a standing military force is necessary. We are said to be “at peace,” since neither war nor other armed conflict is occurring; and therefore, we are supposed to be “secure.”

In Southeast Asia, the extended concept has been called “comprehensive security.” Many non-state actors, including the NGOS, play influential roles in developing this concept. Comprehensive security goes beyond the traditional threats that come in a military form, or even in the form of internal violence and disorder such as that which arises out of ethnic conflicts. Comprehensive security includes threats that come in the form of environmental degradation, for example, a threat that carries security consequences far into the future. It also includes such things as drug abuse and drug trafficking, economic crises, the problems of illegal immigration, forced migration, and so on (Hassan 1996; Yamamoto 1996). The literature on security, however, has been dominated by a traditional point of view that defines security strictly in terms of military [and political aspects], which have been historically, almost by definition, chiefly the province of males, “to be at peace, prepare for war.”

Challenging this Realism and Neorealism, scholars argue that conflict can be avoided and war can be prevented through the formation of international organizations. This "Idealist" school of thought-later known as Neoliberal Institutionalism - proposes that international organizations, e.g., the United Nations and ASEAN, can help to manage conflict and keep it from escalating into war. The establishment of the League of Nations in 1917, was partly due to the influence of this Idealism school of thought (Keohane 1989; Zarina 2006).

Nevertheless, World War II broke out in 1939 in Europe and then in East Asia, and that ended the life of this international organization. Following World War II, the United Nations was formed by the major powers of the US, Britain, France, Soviet Union and China. The aim of the UN was to maintain “peace and security” of the world, and the increasing interdependence, that escalated even more from the 1970s onward, has seemed to many to have validated this Neoliberal approach. The UN has become an important mechanism, challenging the Realism and Neorealism views about peace and security.

Yet, recent events, such as the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, have once again caused scholars to reevaluate their theories of international relations, especially concerning violence conducted by non-state actors towards not only states but towards people in general - i.e, ultimately toward the whole human race, in as much as all people everywhere are now threatened by forces that are beyond the control of any state. Focus has largely remained on the state as the main entity to be protected. What we seem to be having trouble understanding is the growing interconnectedness. Issues that are important for one country so often have a spillover impact onto other countries.