Global Security Matrix: Printable Definitions




Most traditional definitions of warfare refer to open, armed and often prolonged conflict involving organized violence between nations, states, or parties for political motives. However, these definitions neglect contemporary changes effected by globalization, terrorism, and advances in military and communications technology that lead to a pluralization of combatants, a displacement of violence, and an increased targeting of civilians.

The pluralization of actors is evident in Major Michael Forsyth's definition (Military Review, July/Aug 2004) as "an act of force by a nation-state crime organization, terror group, drug cartel, revolutionary group, or coalition of states to compel an enemy to do one's will, accept a specific ideology, or prevent or allow unfettered criminal activity." The displacement of violence can be noted in the identification of conflicts rooted in ideas, images and language that are being waged as part of America's "war on global terror."

Most striking has been the inversion - some might say perversion - of the traditional definitions of modern war provided by Carl von Clausewitz (On War, 1873) as "an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will," and as "not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means." The French social critic Michel Foucault uses archival and other neglected texts to reassert the older thesis that politics has been, and continues to be, war by other means. Mary Kaldor similarly traces the return of theological and religious legitimations of war as a repudiation of Clausewitz's effort to secularize and rationalize warfare as an instrument of state policy. This new critical reinterpretation of warfare provides new insights for understanding late modern conflicts between blocs, (failed) states, networked transnational organizations and other deterritorialized networks of political and economic power.

The traditional state-centric definition of war is focused primarily on the political, emphasizing an increasing need for rational organization and scientific doctrine to manage large conglomerations of force while neglecting social components. The importance of the social component of warfare continues to grow in proportion with wartime civilian casualty rates. Clausewitz's experience in the Napoleonic Wars taught him that the social level of war was manifested in the mobilization and organization of individual men for the purposes of inflicting physical violence. His second and third levels of war, (second: army and generals, third: the people) were strictly divided in logic and function. Over a century later, historian and war exponent Michael Howard would blur the distinction between army and people characterizing war with "organized, armed violence on the part of large groups of people." However, despite this newfound ambiguity, the legitimization of wartime violence remained state-centric.

The 19th and 20th centuries brought a new cyclical logic of legitimization. Standing armies comprised of personnel licensed and controlled by the sovereign state served to further monopolize legitimate violence. The state acquired a monopoly on war, argues Kaldor. State interest became a legitimate justification for war, supplanting concepts of justice inherent in jus ad bellum (Latin: Right to war) such that claims of just cause by non-state actors could no longer be pursued through violent means. It was arguably not until 1977, when the additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions set out to expand the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions to non-international conflicts, that violence on the part of armed forces and dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups was legitimized. However, despite these extensions of international law, today there exists no international legislation sanctioning violence by international non-state groups, allowing, for example, for attackers of military targets in Iraq to be treated as terrorists rather than prisoners of war.

Just war theory today is further complicated by the blurring boundaries between inter- and intra-state relations, pre-emptive and preventive warfare, mass murder and genocide, humanitarian intervention and global policing, guerilla warfare and terrorism, and military combatant and civilian. Despite these confusing signatures of so-called postmodern warfare, organized non-nuclear war remains a socially and politically acceptable instrument of state policy.

The causes of warfare have also increasingly shifted from geo-political expansion, militaristic nationalism, and ideological concerns to conflicts over identity and resources. Identity politics, in the form of voluntary or involuntary pretensions to label others - based on historical distortions and dehumanizing pseudo-biological claims - are commonly regarded as causes of wars in Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan. Resource conflicts, usually over water, oil, diamonds, timber, or various agricultural products are considered to be responsible for the public uprising over water prices in Bolivia, turf wars between rival gangs over oil theft operations in Nigeria and mounting social tensions in water-stressed regions in North China and Africa.

Since 1945, few wars have been fought between sovereign states. The few examples, including India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey, Israel and the Arab states (but excluding the Iran-Iraq war) were generally restrained by superpower intervention. Instead of interstate war, the majority of late 20th century wars have either involved blocs of nation states (Cold War), nations and groups fighting for self-determination (British-Malaya War, French-Algerian War, Russia-Chechnya, Israel-Palestine), inter-ethnic conflict including genocide, or civil wars fought between ethnic (Central Asia), racial and tribal (Africa), or religious (Middle East or South Asia) groups. This shift indicates an erosion of state control over centralized military or militaristic force. The emergence of new transnational actors in 21st century warfare demonstrates the pluralization of powers that may fight international order to acquire, enhance or preserve their capacity to function as independent actors in the international system.

Terrorism and Crime

Although often considered as distinctive threats with incomparable effects, transnational terrorism and transnational crime are both illicit activities perpetrated largely by non-state actors across or beyond the political borders of a single state. Most transnational crime is economically motivated and involves some form of smuggling, piracy, or illegal finances, though crimes of the greatest international concern are usually politically motivated, such as terrorism and crimes against humanity or genocide. Both can intersect in practice, such as the smuggling of arms and the use of transnational criminal activities to fund terrorist operations.

Transnational crimes instigated by an economic logic involve a diverse range of activities that includes illegal cross-border flows of arms, banned psychoactive substances (such as heroin and cocaine), people (migrants, sex workers, babies, body parts), assorted other commodities, and toxic waste. These cross-border flows challenge the ability of states and international actors to assess and manage economic activities around the world. Trafficking in women and children undermines basic human rights and security. The black market arms trade can provide 'rogue' states and other actors, such as terrorists, with the weapons needed to launch lethal attacks against military combatants and civilians alike.

The capacity of transnational organizations to generate spectacular fear and cause intensive damage to a nation state became fully evident on September 11 2001. The attacks committed by al Qaeda on the World Trade Center and Pentagon once again proved that terrorist groups have the capacity and willingness to cause mass destruction and death. Terrorism has now come to dominate international security discourse, as the United States, the global hegemon, has reconceptualized its international security strategy, and has sought to fully distinguish terrorism from crime by declaring it an act of war (albeit with a loose interpretation of the international conventions concerning conduct in war). Since the birth of the nation state, threats have existed between state actors; the emergence of terrorism as a viable and significant danger to the international community indicates that states are no longer the sole actors capable of initiating conflict.

While the origins of terrorism are multiple and complex, globalization stands out as both the target and the means by which networked terrorism becomes super-empowered. Just as multinational corporations have evolved in response to globalization by distributing functions and resources, transnational terrorist groups have followed a similar path. Al Qaeda, for instance, has become one of the most infamous and powerful terrorist groups because it has generalized its strategy and architecture enough to enable individuals throughout the world to claim attacks in al Qaeda's name and occasionally with the group's assistance. This networked and distributed structure is one characteristic of transnational terrorism that has made these insurgency movements more difficult to isolate and remove. Other aspects of transnational terrorism that pose an imminent threat to the world include nuclear-terrorism and cyber-terrorism.

Nuclear weapons lie at the heart of what many fear to be the worst possible nexus of transnational crime and terrorism. As the 2002 national security strategy put it, "The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed." Terrorists groups like al Qaeda have in the past attempted to acquire materials needed to produce a nuclear weapon. As WMD technology becomes more advanced the likelihood of an attack by a transnational terrorist group employing these weapons will increase.

Cyber-terrorism poses another risk to the international community as terrorist groups focus on the networked systems of countries and international institutions. Cyber-terrorism in the forms of computer viruses, frequency weapons and "denial of service" attacks threatens the security of power grids, global financial institutions, and even pharmaceutical manufacturing. A cyber-terrorist could, for example, alter formulas for prescription medicine and insert dangerous amounts of chemical ingredients into over-the-counter medication. One of the greatest threats posed by cyber-terror lies in the risk to banks, financial institutions, and stock markets. The small depression that followed 9/11 exposed the vulnerability in our highly networked financial, medical and government infrastructures. Finally, engaging in identity theft, intellectual property theft, and child pornography, 'cybersmuggling' and 'cybercriminals' also pose a networked threat.

Attempts to manage these new types of terrorist threats have proved difficult. The United States has gone to great lengths to situate the terrorist threat within the traditional state-centric paradigm. The Iraq War typified the struggle to re-imbed the networked threat of terrorism back into the state. Concomitantly, the United States has pursued greater security and surveillance at home, weakening civil liberties and rights. Thus, we must understand the terrorist threat/attack as inseparable from the state response, an "auto-immune" response which may prove at least as destructive as the initial terrorist attack.

States at Risk

Many of the threats listed in this matrix do not cause conflict in and of themselves. Combinations of these challenges, however, may lead to state failure and violent conflict. States at risk (more commonly – and contentiously – referred to as 'Failed States') lack the ability to maintain economic stability, provide access to resources such as food and water and promote general public security. A 2005 editorial in the New York Times (02/28/05) highlights the global threats emerging from states at risk:

'The lethal combination of corrupt or destructive leaders, porous and unmonitored borders and rootless or hopeless young men has made some of these region incubators of international terrorism and contagious diseases like AIDS. Others are sanctuaries for swindlers and drug traffickers whose victims can be found throughout the world.'

Currently, World Bank statistics indicate that 1.1 billion people in the world live on less than $1USD a day and that only 10 percent of these poor households have access to clean water (The Global Monitoring Report). The highest levels of poverty are found in states at risk--nations without the infrastructure or capabilities to provide social welfare and security.

Failed and failing states provide a potential refuge for transnational terrorists, transnational criminal organizations, pirates, and drug and human smugglers. They are breeding grounds for refugee crises, political and religious extremism, environmental degradation and organized criminal activity. Afghanistan under the Taliban regime is a recent example of how non-state actors like al Qaeda used the government of a failed state to carry out a campaign against a state adversary, the United States, with consequences affecting the rest of the international community. Thus, even if a failed state has little significance in the traditional sense of strategic resources or geographical position, it will take on greater strategic importance in the future by virtue of the potential base it offers to powerful non-state actors.

The international danger posed by states at risk exists largely in relation to the transnational insurgency movements (TIMs) housed within those nations, and the conflict that ensues between TIMs and sovereign states. These transnational non-state actors may be referred to as "digital" states in light of Osama Bin Laden's argument that the United States is forcing nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, and Sudan into "paper statelets" to further the "crusader-Zionist alliance." "Paper" is an apt adjective in that it is an analog form of communication/inscription, and thus a traditional means of conveying and systematizing authority. What is meant here as traditional is a notion of sovereignty conceived of by Western actors. The opposition to a paper state would be a digital state, something ephemeral, mobile, and non-national, which unlike paper, can be reconstructed and reconstituted by the user.

It is apparent that Bin Laden has no desire to acclimatize his Islamist cause with all other movements and beliefs. Nonetheless, al Qaeda has gone to great lengths to accommodate and support a variety of Islamic fundamentalist causes, both Shi'ite and Sunni, ethno-nationalist movements, and separatist groups throughout the world. The threat also has become digital in that individuals and groups, not directly associated with al Qaeda, are committing attacks in its name. A virtual brotherhood has emerged, which allows individuals to identify with the struggle while not physically connected to the movement. By basing their operations out of states at risk, terrorist and insurgency groups exploit an already weak link in the international state system and pose a threat to the coherence of global society as a whole.

Resource Conflict

Throughout history, the greatest motivation for war is the acquisition of critical and scarce resources. As the global population continues to grow, consumption increases along with demand for vital resources, generating crises of poverty, inequality, and violence within, between, and among states. While resource conflict has been a recurring theme throughout history, it is likely to become more prevalent in future decades.

Water will likely play an important role in the reconfiguration of the future security environment. The UN estimates that by 2050, "at worst 7 billion people in sixty countries will be water-scarce, at best 2 billion people in forty-eight countries" (Water for People, Water for Life, pg.10). Water scarcity, combined with shortages of food and medicine in underdeveloped and developing countries can severely threaten human security. According to the UNDP, "Some 16 per cent of all children born in LDCs die before their fifth birthday, as compared with seven per cent of children in other developing countries. The average life expectancy in LDCs is 51 years, compared with 66 years in other developing countries." As Global Civil Society 2004/5 makes clear, countries with high levels of income inequality consistently score lower on the index of human development.

However, resource scarcities such as insufficient supplies of water, food, and medicine can produce consequences far beyond threats to individual or community health. They can impact the entire international community through such issues as environmental degradation, agricultural underperformance, reduced hydroelectric/industrial output, mass-migrations, transportation problems, pandemics or outright war.

Lack of energy sources, especially oil, will also be a major concern to many states. Increasing oil consumption in relation to dwindling reserves will lead to a significant reordering of strategic interests throughout the world. The Middle East, already vital for its oil reserves, will become more important as demand increases. Similarly, other areas including parts of Africa, the Caspian region, South China Seas, and numerous equatorial areas will increase in strategic importance.

The role of resource wealth in economic development has often had a corruptive influence on politicians and private firms, argues Michael Ross in a 1999 World Politics article entitled "The Political Economy of the Resource Curse." Co-opting leaders of resource rich countries to maintain a continuous and constant flow of desired goods serves the short-term interests of the developed world. Once co-opted, such governments risk alienating their citizenry and causing civil unrest that might lead to violence.


The relatively rapid global spread of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, anthrax and the incredibly fast propagation of SARS-- a new, highly contagious form of pneumonia-- have shown us the range of possible biological threats to the security of human and global society. Every year, virologists and bacteriologists analyze and interpret microbial events in an attempt to pre-empt the next environmental threat. However, this work is complicated by the fact that the countries experiencing the most radical population growths are also those confronting the most widespread environmental degradations and worst levels of human suffering. Ocean pollution due to raw sewage, fertilizer, pesticides, and other chemical waste is producing significant changes in costal marine ecospheres. Other rapid ecological changes like the decline in oxygen production from the earth's flora, due both to its overall declining mass and to the lowered range of diversity among vegetation - coupled with the destruction of the earth's ozone layer and increased production of carbon dioxide owing to human fossil fuel consumption, forest burning and the expected increase in oxygen dependent homo sapiens - indicates that a chemical crisis is looming.

The instability of our ecosphere works against humans in the antibiotic-bacteria arms race. Every year, public health officials try to predict the next flu strain with a vaccine, but every year, bacteria evolve new defense mechanisms. Because of confined internal atmosphere, the vehicle responsible for the great globalization of humanity--the jet airplane--functions as a potential threat for microbial transmission. The primary target of this kind of disease or infection, whether accidental or deliberate, is the quickly migrating cosmopolitan "airport" class which would subsequently disseminate the infection around the world. An epidemic, whether naturally occurring or deliberately orchestrated, that introduces a viral substance as deadly as AIDS and as quickly propagating as SARS, is a major threat to human security.

Some biological threats to humans can also be transmitted by animals. For example, in February 2004, avian influenza virus was detected in pigs in Vietnam. Two of the fifteen strains of avian influenza are zoonotic, or capable of crossing the species barrier. In November 2004, fearing new variant strains or a possible antigenic shift with a human influenza virus that could be both highly contagious and lethal in humans, the director for the western region of the World Health Organization called for urgent plans to combat the virus.


Significant climate change has been recorded by numerous government and environmental agencies. A recent comprehensive four-year study of warming in the Arctic, commissioned by eight nations with Arctic territory (including the United States), shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost, as well as shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere. The study concludes that such changes are likely to harm native communities, wildlife and economic activity.

In decades to come, the impact of these changes will affect all aspects of human activities and influence the welfare and economic well being of all countries. Estimates of the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Climate Data Center indicate that global warming has caused an approximate 20 percent increase in global water scarcity increasing both extremes of the hydrologic cycle, which can lead to more extreme weather events including droughts, floods and hurricanes. Meanwhile other kinds of natural disasters, not directly linked to global warming, such as tsunamis, can rapidly and violently inundate coastlines, causing devastating property damage, injuries, and death. The cost of extreme weather can be in the billions of dollars. Should the frequency of these conditions increase, the costs may begin to erode global economic growth.

Though environmental disasters and climate change will have an impact on the security environment in the future security, this effect is not distributed equally among states. The severity of an event and the existing capacity of the country to deal with the resultant damage will determine severity of economic and political damage to the state. Environmental disasters have the potential to further overwhelm a state lacking in or developing the infrastructure needed to manage its citizenry. In such cases, environmental disasters may have the effect of exacerbating existing tensions between states.

For example, the recent series of tsunamis triggered by an Indian Ocean earthquake that killed at least 226,000 people from Indonesia to eastern Africa will have serious political consequences for the two longest running separatist conflicts in two of the worst affected regions of Asia -- Aceh and Sri Lanka. Early indications suggest that Indonesia's Aceh province, where government and rebels have declared a ceasefire to allow relief organizations to come in, may well experience a long-term reconciliation. Conversely, in Sri Lanka, where rebel-held territory has apparently not received the benefit of relief supplies, and where both sides are accusing each other for the failing, the tsunami may further aggravate the bitter conflict.

East Africa has also experienced a devastating drought followed by torrential rains causing floods and the destruction of vital infrastructure. These floods created mass refugee flows into Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya, countries already challenged to provide social care and political stability. Rising sea levels present another concern as global warming has accelerated the melting of the artic ice caps. Rising sea levels threaten coastal settlements and littoral states, with the likelihood of displacing millions of people throughout the world. Economies, ecosystems, and critical infrastructure may also be at risk should sea levels continue to rise.

Countries typically considered well-equipped, well-financed, and well-prepared to deal with crises, such as the United States, can be caught off-guard by extreme weather and suffer huge losses. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in fall 2005 exposed serious weaknesses in the U.S. capacity to respond to environmental disasters. Research suggests Katrina's severity, and the intensity of subsequent weather activity around the world, may be due to global climate change. As climate change becomes a bigger problem, it is suggested that the frequency and severity of environmental disasters will increase and threaten to global security.

W.M.D. Proliferation

The proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear WMD equalizes political power across the globe by re-introducing the risk of attack to the military infrastructure and civilian populations of advanced nations in North America and Europe while posing new security threats to states invested in maintaining the status quo and their identities as responsible states. For example, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was recently quoted in the New Yorker saying "If [Iran] can't comply [in disarming their nuclear program], Israel cannot live with Iran having a nuclear bomb." Similarly, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downder said that "these weapons and ballistic missiles are increasingly sought after by maverick states - those that have little regard for norms of international behaviour. Their actions are unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of nations. Of even greater concern is the very real possibility that weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of terrorist groups." In particular, the threat of nuclear terrorism combined with the possibility of irrational suicidal behavior carries ambiguous implications for the delicate nuclear balances of the Cold War.

With unknown quantities of highly enriched uranium and plutonium floating around the former Soviet Union and other areas of the world, it is not surprising that WMD, and especially nuclear WMD proliferation, is seen as the greatest immediate concern of global leaders. WMD proliferation combined with suicidal terror tactics has shifted multilateral containment policies of the Cold War to increasingly unilateral policies of pre-emption. Although many experts challenge the abilities of terrorist groups to construct and deliver such a device, a relatively small bomb - say 15 kilotons in yield, equivalent to the one used on Hiroshima - detonated in Manhattan could immediately kill at least 100,000 and cause millions of deaths in the lingering aftermath. A terrorist wouldn't need a conventional nuclear bomb to produce a panic: lethal radioactivity made of nuclear waste and dynamite, or from a nuclear power plant attacked by a hijacked plane would suffice. Internationally, an inability to surveil arsenals in Pakistan and North Korea, nuclear programs in Iran, as well as a general inability to enforce the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty pose an immediate threat to global security.


Information warfare, aka 'infowar', is essentially a struggle of intelligence over force, of signs over weapons, of mind over body. Notorious for its many definitions, the meaning of infowar shifts with escalating phases of violence. In its most basic and material form, infowar is an adjunct of conventional war, in which command and control of the battlefield is augmented by computers, communications, and intelligence. At the next remove, infowar is a supplement of military violence, in which information technologies are used to further the defeat of a foreign opponent and the support of a domestic population. In its purest, most immaterial form, infowar is warring without war, an epistemic battle for reality in which opinions, beliefs, and decisions are created and destroyed by a contest of networked information and communication systems.

Unlike other threats in this matrix, an act of infowar can undermine the very notion of what constitutes a security threat through manipulation and reconstruction of the mediated projections of identity labels at the heart of so many contemporary conflicts. Furthermore, if the international system or state and other political group interests may be regarded as social constructions, then enemies can also be seen to, in part, create each other through mediated projections of danger, fear and even conflict itself.

The full political potential of the so-called "narrowing of professions" between the military and journalism remains unexplored. Some of its more insidious effects have been observed in such practices as embedded reporting, the selective release of intelligence about Iraqi weapons capabilities by the Bush administration, and the creation of Office of Strategic Influence in 2002 for the purpose of setting up policies for information operations and warfare that will then be carried out by military specialists. This included the planting of deliberately misleading stories in the international media to influence foreign public opinion and improve America's image abroad (and though the name has changed the operation remains the same). In Iraq the line between infowar and public diplomacy has become particularly blurry in acts like the 9/11 Commission recommendation to counter the "threat posed by Islamist terrorism-especially the al Queda network, its affiliates, and its ideology" by giving the Broadcasting Board of Governors larger resources to continue "promising initiatives in television and radio broadcasting to Arab world, Iran, and Afghanistan," as well as the establishment of the American-funded al Hurra satellite channel.

The conflation of information war and public diplomacy collapses the distinctions between war and journalism, domestic and foreign, combatant and non-combatant. It is especially dangerous at a time when journalists and soldiers rely on the same information technology to fulfill their respective duties. With the narrowing of means, it is especially important to re-examine journalistic ethics as well as increased government and military involvement in the reporting as well as collection and distribution of information.


Human security is defined by two core negative rights of the individual: to be free of fear (safety) and free of want (well-being). Human security calls for the global institutionalization of these rights to ensure the physical, economic, political and cultural well-being of a people. The history of the concept can be traced to the rise of democratic values in which popular as opposed to dynastic principles became the basis for international legitimacy. The democratization of warfare helped internationalize human security, and through 19th century treaties like the Geneva Convention and the Hague Declarations, and the Nuremburg principles of the 20th century, human rights permanently entered the discourse of international law. In more recent years, Canada and Scandinavian countries have taken the lead in promoting the concept. Reflecting the highly disproportionate toll that war takes on civilians, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy stated at the 54th meeting of the UN General assembly that 'The search for global peace increasingly turns on issues of personal safety.' Taken up by feminists, anti-globalization activists, and NGO's, human security is mobilizing a global audience if not yet enjoying state adherence. Is human security a case of one size fitting all? Amidst such political, cultural, ethnic, and religious differences, can the universalism of human security find global acceptance?


The modern State emerged as an organizing principle from the chaos of civil and religious wars in the 16th and 17th centuries and the national revolutions of the 18th . Machiavelli in Italy, Bodin in France, Hobbes in Britain, and Grotius in Holland conceived of the sovereign state as the best protection against the extreme dangers of anarchy and tyranny; Locke, Rousseau and the American Founding Fathers added the principle of popular legitimacy. Machiavelli, the earliest proponent of a secular raison d'etat, or national interest, viewed it as the best means 'To Deliver Italy from the Barbarians' (the title of the last chapter of The Prince). Similarly, the ranking of states was a function of war: according to Treitschke, 'A state may be defined as a great power if its total destruction would require a coalition of other states to defeat it.' When great powers evolved into superpowers, and nuclear weapons and ideological threats rendered the national interest tenuous if not archaic, a powerful new actor rose to the fore: the national security state, as enshrined in the United States by the National Security Act of 1947, which created the Central Intelligence and National Security Agencies. Then came 9/11 and transnational terrorism, the passing of the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Do threats define the state? Would the state even exist without threats? As the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy wrote: 'And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians?/They were, those people, a kind of solution.'


First defined by Pufendorf as 'several states that are so connected as to seem to constitute one body but whose members retain sovereignty' (De sytematibus civitatum 1675), the System of states emerged as Europe transitioned from dynastic empires to absolutist states. But the need to secure the system only became self-evident upon the threat of its destruction by Napoleon. In the 1809 preface to the Manual of the History of the Political System of Europe and its Colonies, A.H.L. Heeren wrote: 'while the author was thus employed in elaborating the history of the European states system, he himself saw it overthrown in most essential parts. Its history was in fact written upon its ruins.' Out of the Congress of Vienna that ended the Napoleonic wars would come systemic institutions of security, like balance of power, international law, and great power alliances, backed by a common set of norms, values, and customs, all with the goal of maintaining what Ranke called 'unity in diversity'. Eventually other actors would challenge the international system and its state-centric (not to mention euro-centric) character. National liberation groups, transnational civil society organizations, epistemic communities, and multinational corporations became new important actors. And with the increasing diversity of membership came challenges to the universalism of its western norms. The priority of systemic over state security - as evidenced by the number of times Poland was swallowed up by more powerful states to bring 'equilibrium' back to the system, or African and Middle-Eastern polities were carved up by imperial powers - was called into question by revolutionary movements. Should freedom and justice for individual actors take priority over the promise of order and viability provided by the system?


Just as a system is more than the sum of its parts, there is more to a Network than nodes, hubs, and connections. Defined by Kevin Kelly as 'organic behavior in technological matrix', a network produces effects as well as conveys information. A network can be a force-multiplier, as in net-centric warfare or networked terrorism. It can produce unintended consequences, like the cascading effects that cause an electrical grid to go down, or the auto-immune responses that can kill as well as cure. Networks are critical to media, cultural and economic flows. Post-Cold War, post-911, we have witnessed the emergence of competing sources of power, heteropolar networks, in which different actors are able to produce profound global effects through interconnectivity. Varying in identity, interests, and strength, networked actors gain advantage through the broad bandwidth of information technology, using networked IT to traverse political, economic, religious, and cultural boundaries, changing, for instance, not only how war is fought and peace is made, but making it ever more difficult to maintain the very distinction of war and peace. The 'West' might enjoy an advantage in surveillance, media, and military networks; but the 'Rest,' including fundamentalist terrorist groups, criminal gangs, non-governmental organizations, and anti-globalization activists, have tapped the political potential of networked technologies of information collection, transmission, and storage. Does the potential risk posed by negative synergy, cascading effects, and unintended consequences outweigh the actual benefits of networks?


In 1988, at one of his last press conferences, President Reagan was asked what he thought was the most pressing international problem, and, after going through a laundry list of threats, he ended on a hopeful, if somewhat apocalyptic note: 'I've often wondered what if all of us in the world discovered that we were threatened by a power from outer space - from another planet. Wouldn't we all of a sudden find that we didn't have any differences between us at all - we were all human beings, citizens of the world - wouldn't we come together to fight that particular threat?' Whether the owl of Minerva flies at dusk - or with the arrival of the first alien spaceship - the concept of Global security emerges from the appearance of global threats. But it takes more than a threat to bring about a global acceptance of the need for a new conception of security. The prospect of a nuclear holocaust was a powerful reason for globalizing the concept of security; but so too was the first earthrise image taken by Apollo 8, which helped visualize the vulnerability of an entire planet. Fueled as well by economic globalization and an information revolution, peace, environmental, and, ironically, anti-globalization movements have put their own stamp on global security. No less a factor has been the spread of a global popular culture, spawned in Hollywood, mirrored in Bollywood, and digitally transported by a revolution begun in Silicon Valley. And then came 9/11 and the 'Global War on Terror'. In a 2002 speech to graduating cadets at West Point, President Bush declared: ' The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology. We will not leave the safety of America and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants. We will lift this dark threat from our country and from the world.' When the 'Digital Age' and the 'Age of Terror' converge, what are the prospects for global security?