Essay on Security: Security and Lay Yew Meng

Submitted By poa12dh
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Literature Review: The concept of Security

One tends to imagine under the term of security very different problems touching the individuals, states or humanity in general. Thinkers such as David Baldwin observed, “Navies wanting frigates, educators wanting scholarships, environmentalists wanting pollution control, all are likely to portray their perspective causes as matters of security.”[1] Hence it is a prerequisite to “map the domain of security as an essentially contested concept”[2]. It can be said that the concept is suffering from the travelling problem of conceptual stretching that Giovanni Sartori talks of as a result of the world becoming more politicized.[3] This essay will aim to summarize “a number of possible rival descriptions of its total worth” with special attention paid to the main contesting descriptions of “security lobby” and “liberty lobby.”[4]

Security for whom, for what values? The debate around answering these questions has to be highlighted when wanting to define the concept[5] . Buzan argues that the ones enjoying security cannot be defined only as “the state or the individual” because the security of “any one referent object cannot be achieved in isolation from the others, the security of each becomes, in part, a condition for the security of all”[6]. Kolodziej stretches this definition of the referent object even further, “the pursuit of groups and states to determine the overall structure of the international security system”[7]. However, the referent objects subscribe security to different values such as “physical safety, economic welfare, autonomy, psychological well-being and etc.”[8] .On this basis Martin defines future well-being to be the main value of security[9]. In contrast, realists claim that the only value of state is to preserve itself and thus the concept should stand only for autonomy and national integrity. [10] .

The ‘’security lobby”, sometimes also referred to as “state centric”, finds the “protection of its people from internal and external threats as defining priority of the government”[11]. Buzan expresses his view that “to call something security is to suggest … that we face an existential threat”[12]. This description conceives the fate in human collectivism to be the essential core value, which is prominent to the personal security of individuals.[13] Realists incline to this definition in the “external” perspective and thus “define security in the terms of that of the state and what the state needs to be protected against is the threat or use of military power or other related instruments of coercion by another state”[14]. Unbounded state centrists talk of other, “internal” aspects the state is to be secured from, for instance environment, economics and criminals. United Nations also disagree with the bounded realist intellectual gatekeeping of not separating security from questions of war and peace[15]. Consequently they advise governments to view security also in terms of “chronic threats as hunger, poverty, homelessness and disease as the ultimate security threats”[16].

The positivist “liberty lobby” finds the mentioned realist approach dangerous as it exceedingly promotes “state interests and conceptions of security” over those of individuals, leading to abuse of civil liberties such as jury trials or rights of appeal.[17] Booth elevates this view by suggesting that the individual should be the object of security.[18] Simply said, security shouldn’t be separated from the “more profound sense of well-being”[19]. Thusly, Feminist have also contributed to evolution of this approach, as they aim to “emancipate the individual”, as women are more susceptible to violence from men[20]. The environmentalist branch of the positivist description bears down the “degradation of the environment caused by human induced activities” as an influential fact to security, of the same scope as the invention of nuclear fission