Free «International Relations: The Traditional and Non-Traditional Conceptions of Security» Essay Sample

The Differences between the Traditional and Non-Traditional Conceptions of Security

The problem of security has always occupied a leading position in the field of international relations. In the context of contemporary realities, the issue of the global safety is becoming even more relevant; thus, it deserves a particular attention from the world’s leading players and international regulatory organizations. In a general sense, the security at the global level means a state of the international relations that is characterized by favorable conditions for the free development of countries and other international actors. Also, its basic features include the lack of both direct and indirect threats of any conflict situations, as well as ensuring the stability on the planet. Scientists distinguish the traditional and non-traditional conception of the phenomenon. This need arose when humanity faced the need to classify and respond differently to threats of various nature, extent, and scope of influence (Jackson-Preece, 2011). For a complete understanding of the global security issue, it is necessary to consider the two concepts mentioned above and figure out what differences exist between them.

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Before focusing on the question of how the traditional security conception is different from the non-traditional one, one should research what the first one represents. It is noteworthy that in the terminology, the traditional understanding of security may be named a hard security. A traditional concept of security is the approach, according to which, in order to ensure security and safety of a state in the context of the international co-existence, official authorities have to focus on the military defense issue. The main sources of threats are different military conflicts and invasions, as well as aggression from the neighboring countries and not only from them (Hough, 2004). Thus, this concept defines that the biggest threats to the state are those ones, which have a military character and can originate from different countries and international organizations. In other words, the traditional concept has an external focus on the issue of ensuring the safe condition of a state. The main objective of the traditional approach is to provide security at least at the state level, as a minimum, and on the global scope, as a maximum. According to the traditional approach, the main and the only actors that can provide security are states, and the leading method in achieving this aim is the force (Broome, 2014).

The non-traditional security concept considers a quite different nature, focus, perspective, and character of threats. On the one hand, this concept defines a safety as the condition in the country, which provides a favorable environment for citizens and their development. On the other hand, it is a concept that considers safety as the unity of ecological, economic, social, cultural, human, and other types of security that are crucial for a comfortable life within a country. The non-traditional concept of security can also be called a soft security (Committee on Strengthening and Expanding, 2009). The most obvious difference is that according to the non-traditional concept, the nature of threats is non-military as opposed to the traditional one. The most widespread soft dangers are the problem of the illegal migration, hunger, environmental catastrophes and disasters, drug and human trafficking, and terrorism, including the one in the cyberspace. In line with the non-traditional approach, threats may have different origin and characteristics, but they are connected neither with external interventions by others countries nor military conflicts. The analysis of the safety methods, which countries use, shows the same contrast. It should be noted that in order to assess the safety and practicability of using such a feature as the military nature of a threat, it is worth taking into account its scope, participants, and other peculiarities. For example, the threat of a terrorist attack is considered a soft danger. However, if it reaches a large scale and is realized by foreign criminals and groups, it no longer threatens specific individuals but the national security as a whole (Mely, 2010)

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Another fundamental issue of the soft and hard theory is the necessity to provide each citizen with the feeling of security in order to ensure the safety of the entire country. In this regard, the society with its values is the main object. Soft security has a smaller scale; it focuses on solving problems of an internal nature that occur within the country or, for example, can have local significance. According to the traditional approach, security is considered a global aspect that can be achieved only at the state level by the protection of national interests, as well as the elimination and prevention of military threats (Mely, 2010). Thus, one can assert that the traditional security employs a state-centric approach while the non-traditional one focuses on people and their problems.

Another difference between the two security concepts is the direction of the emergence and development of threats. In the case of traditional security, hard threats take a top-down direction. In such a manner, initially, they threaten the state mechanism while –subsequent results cause harmful effects on the life and safety of the population. In addition, it is possible to observe their gradual influence at different levels of the state security systems. In contrast to this approach, threats within the non-traditional conception are clear and straight; they take a bottom-up direction. First, the threat affects the population and its interests. Consequently, it weakens social, economic, and other spheres of the state activity and makes it weak and vulnerable; these issues threaten its stability. Besides, these threats do not have a geographic orientation. They do not adhere to the principle of “step-by-step” effect at different levels of protection and defense the state unlike the traditional threat does. Their action is not systematized; thus, they are more unpredictable and dangerous (Lubell, 2010).

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The safety is a concept that covers many aspects of life and has complex nature, so its learning requires the consideration of its basic conceptions. Traditional and non-traditional security concepts employ different approaches to the possible threats, as well as the ways, tools, and methods to manage them. It is generally accepted that the traditional security is a state of protection against military threats, and non-traditional one requires the elimination of the non-military dangers. Nevertheless, it is not the only difference. Furthermore, the traditional approach focuses on the global security of the entire world, its regions, or a particular country. The non-traditional approach considers the safety from an individual perspective, at the level of human groups of different size. Non-traditional threats cannot be limited by national borders, unlike the traditional ones. People tend to think that a traditional threat is more terrifying; thus, they pay more attention to it. Although non-conventional dangers may be of a smaller scale, the frequency and the number of their occurrence exceeds those of the traditional ones. Consequently, they can do more harm to citizens and a state as a whole. This fact requires a revision of the attitude and reactions to the non-traditional threats.

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Traditional Approaches to the International Political Economy

The continuous growth of the world economy, the large-scale development of its financial sector, and the expansion of the economic structure on a global scale explain the necessity of creating and developing the international political economy. This science is interdisciplinary in nature since it regards international relations, processes, and phenomena through the prism of political and economic views. Its duality can be seen in the mutual influence of economic factors and political processes, which occurs both within individual countries and at the global level (Veseth, 2007). This discipline is especially important in the modern time. According to it, for a comprehensive study of the international political economy and understanding its essential aspects, it is necessary to consider the traditional approaches of the science.

The first traditional approach is the liberal one. It focuses on ensuring the free trade and developing free markets as the priorities of the political economy. The presence of a well-established relationship between countries by achieving harmony in their interests, including via the free trade and closer cooperation, is the key principle of the liberal approach. Its attention is concentrated on how the state, companies, and groups behave. Supporters of liberalism believe that if a country can receive a maximum benefit from the free trade, it will have no economic reason to cause any conflict situations in the framework of the international coexistence (Balaam, 2015). The need to ensure that the state controls the international economic relations by the introduction and monitoring of compliance with the relevant rules, regulations, and standards is identified as one of the pillars of the liberal approach. Among others, the aims of this intervention are the fight against unfair competition and the need to ensure such exchange between countries, which would have an equivalent character (Phillips, 2005).

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The second traditional approach to the international political economy is the Marxist theory. The condition of the employment level and the labor market under the condition of the magnifying capital with the international character, and the issue of the low development level of the countries that belong to the third world and their poverty are the central questions that Marxists consider. According to this approach, the main force that drives international economic relations is capitalism. Marxists believed that the reasons for weakening the political and economic forces of the working class were the quantitative growth and increased the influence of transnational companies and financial markets. Moreover, it threatened the world with the emergence of political conflicts at the micro and macro levels (Balaam, 2015). According to this theory, the main factor that can cause a deterioration of the economic climate on a global scale is the deformation of business cycles that is created by the overproduction and under-consumption. This situation may threaten the global social stability and cause both internal and international conflicts. The followers of this approach define another aspect of capitalism that can undermine the public balance; it is the unevenness in the economic development of subjects when some actors succeed on the backs of others (Phillips, 2005).

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The third traditional approach is the realism or, in other words, economic nationalism. The main idea of this theory is to create a powerful state, which will supervise the economic development. The state plays a central role in the international political and economic arena. In this case, market relations are formed under the influence of different political forces and actors. Realists believe that all states are sovereign and act independently according to their interests; thus, an anarchic mode is formed in the international economic system. In line, other actors, which are acting under the law of their respective countries, are obliged to obey it (Broome, 2014). In this regard, the activities of countries that are aimed at gaining power and wealth can be considered the driving force in the development of the international political economy. Conflicts and economic wars are inevitable as there exist a rule in the international relations, according to which, if one country wins, the other one necessarily loses (Cohen, 2008).

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In terms of the approach, which explains the current international political economy better than others, the liberal theory is worth particular attention. The reason for this conclusion is that today, the world economy follows the rules that require the competition within the free trade under the circumstances of a free market. Now, in the global market, only those actors can survive that have significant advantages over the others, but do not use the patronage of the state. If countries are able to provide the conditions for the holistic development of the market and the free outlet of firms into the international arena, the growth of their economies is promoted while the pressure and the conflict likelihood in the society are reduced.

International political economy is the science that aims at studying both economic and political factors and processes that have an influence on each other and at assessing conditions, which will contribute to the harmonious development of the international relations (Phillips, 2005). Traditional approaches to this science include liberal, Marxist, and realistic theories. They consider a system of economic and political relations and connections from different angles. The liberal approach can be considered the most relevant one in the current world. However, one should not ignore the influence of the state apparatus on economic processes; this phenomenon is characteristic of the realistic approach.

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