Security doctrine orientations

Hegemonic postures tend to not only give global orientation, but will also intentionally diffuse context of enemy.


M Zaidi April 06, 2013
The writer is a PhD in conflict studies and an independent security analyst. He has also taught at the University of Central Lancashire, UK

The basic parameters of setting out a national security doctrine can be broadly defined. Intensity needs to be defined in terms of how much preparation may be needed to cater to the scale of activities necessary to counter a certain quantum of threat. Thus, if you are able to define a certain quantum of activity as insurgency, you will need to prepare more intensively for a counterinsurgency campaign. In the context of geographic concentration, if a state has broader aspirations leaning towards a global presence, then its focus will be expansive, while protecting a domestic territory or homeland against a specified enemy requires a more limited focus. This pertains to the enemies as well; if the enemy is a neighbour, the focus of the state will be regional, while a more distant enemy requires a multi-regional or even global focus. Flexibility of diplomatic postures implies whether a state is able to keep its strategic position more fluid according to changing alliances and geo-postural shifts, or prefers to keep short-term alliances and postures which may not be so fluid but reflect a state's long-term worldview towards its place in the world. There also needs to be coherence of political and military postures, as incoherence between component parts can lead to disjointed doctrines.

As society is always evolving, a security doctrine also changes with how the society in a state views its relationship with the world, as well as societal roles within the society itself. These ideas shape how the society views itself vis a vis the rest of the world, which in turn shapes threat perceptions. Put simply, the way you view yourself is also the way you will view others around you. For instance, Kal Holsti has clarified roles for nations' perceptions of the others, and has come up with 17 of these roles. These role definitions classify the state as thinking of itself in the role of an ally, imperialist, protector, etc. All of these roles are oriented towards a nation's conception of itself through connectivity to other states. Richard Herrmann and Michael Fischerkeller have also elucidated such roles, these being of an enemy, ally, degenerate, imperialist and colony, which are also externally oriented. These roles change over time with changes in the external and internal environment. For instance, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US had to radically realign its roles in the world, which reduced its orientation of a helper to more of an imperialist.

Hegemonic postures will tend to not only give a global orientation, but will also intentionally diffuse the context of the enemy. Thus, instead of a clearly identifiable enemy, esoteric threats such as chaos, 'terror', instability, etc. will become dominant themes — as then president George Bush articulated the US strategy even before the Persian Gulf War, “as the world's most powerful democracy, we are inescapably the leader, the connecting link in a global alliance of democracies. The pivotal responsibility for ensuring stability of the international balance remains ours." Since a hegemonial state usually has more than one such indistinct enemy, it will also try to keep its options open by entering into alliances of convenience, which are easily retractable.  Hegemons and ideational states share the ideational orientation, which concentrates on the values that a nation cultivates, and perceives threats to these values from enemies who are opposed to such ideals. Such states will tend to try to dominate or influence world to bear weight for carrying out their agendas of ideational protection. The Cold War was a classic example of this ideational environment, where rivals considered each other's ideologies hostile and sought to not only influence world opinion towards their own norms, but also to pressurise global bodes to ostracise the others’ views. However, ideational values are by no means idealistic; states will pay lip service to their freedoms while tacitly or implicitly encouraging curbing of the same in other areas if it suits the balance of power. The US is a classic example as it clearly supported authoritarian regimes during the Cold War to serve its balance of power orientation.

Historically, militaries all over the world have not been able to prepare an ideally balanced force, which could deal with all sorts of uncertainties and enemies. This is not due to flawed planning, but due to the expansive range of uncertainties that one faces while predicting the future. Paul Kennedy reminds us, again with the US in mind: "Since it is not humanly possible to prepare for everything that may happen in the unpredictable and turbulent world of the early 21st century, the task is to structure the armed forces and the economy and society upon which they rest, to be in a good position to meet contingencies".

Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013.

COMMENTS (14)

observer | 8 years ago | Reply

Hegemons and ideational states share the ideational orientation, which concentrates on the values that a nation cultivates, and perceives threats to these values from enemies who are opposed to such ideals. Such states will tend to try to dominate or influence world to bear weight for carrying out their agendas of ideational protection.

This is what is happening in Afghanistan. The great Hegemon, USA and the great ideational state i.e. the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are in a contest trying to dominate or influence world to bear weight for carrying out their agendas of ideational protection.

All is perfectly clear now.

jameel | 8 years ago | Reply

And here we have Mr.Kiyani who is concentrating more on American Enemies rather than on our own enemies !

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