The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peaceby Shannon D. Beebe, Mary H. Kaldor
The twenty-first century has seen millions unemployed. It has seen livelihoods undermined by environmental degradation. Middle-class cities in Europe, Asia, and Africa have become cauldrons of violence and resentment. Tribalism, ethnic nationalism, and religious fundamentalism have flared dangerously, from Russia to Spain. The use of force is unlikely to help.
The twenty-first century has seen millions unemployed. It has seen livelihoods undermined by environmental degradation. Middle-class cities in Europe, Asia, and Africa have become cauldrons of violence and resentment. Tribalism, ethnic nationalism, and religious fundamentalism have flared dangerously, from Russia to Spain. The use of force is unlikely to help. What works when counter-insurgency has run its course: in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond?
In this book, two authors brought together from distant points on the political spectrum by their concerns about the repercussions of violent political conflict on human lives, explain and explore a new idea for stabilizing the dangerous neighborhoods of the world. They challenge head-on Condoleezza Rice’s declaration that “it is not the job of the 82nd Airborne Division to escort kids to kindergarten” contending that, in fact, it should be. When marginalized populations are trapped in poverty and lawlessness and denied political power and justice brutality, and fascism thrive. Human security is a new concept for clarifying what peace requires and the policies and priorities by which to achieve it.
Carroll Bogert, associate director, Human Rights Watch
“The much-abused term ‘human security’ gets a full-body makeover in Beebe and Kaldor’s important new book. They start from the premise that it took Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the U.S. armed forces six years to realize in Afghanistan: ousting even a decidedly abusive government will not succeed without robust and genuine protection of the local population’s human rights. Revolutionary, and complicated, and bound to get people in important places arguing.”
H. R. McMaster, Brigadier General, U.S. Army, and author of Dereliction of Duty
“Due to advances in communications and the increasing availability of destructive weapons, it is clear that the security of Western societies is connected to the security of populations where terrorist threats originate. The authors trace the problem of terrorism and other threats to international security to a lack of human security. They argue convincingly that preventing violence requires addressing the conditions that lead to violence. Their argument that a human security paradigm should serve as the basis for policy and strategy is important and is certain to generate valuable discussion and debate.”
General Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff, British Armed Force
“I thoroughly commend this important and readable book. Through a stringent analysis of the wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors bring to life the complex inter-dependences and breadth of twenty-first-century conflict. A profound shift in security thinking is needed if we are to avoid past mistakes. This book explains why and provides a roadmap of what it should look like.”
Rory Stewart, Ryan Professor of Human Rights at Harvard University, and author of The Places In Between
“Mary Kaldor is one of the most thoughtful and impressive analysts of conflict and development alive. From the Balkans to Iraq, I have seen her engage with Marsh Arab communists and U.S. military officers and use her tact, intelligence, and humanity to transform our understanding of the most apparently intractable situations.”
Amartya Sen, professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University and Nobel Prize–winner
“The authors clarify the complex demands of human security, threatened as it is by a great variety of adversities—from disease and penury to violence and tyranny. The book is a significant contribution to a necessary understanding of the human predicament in our time.”
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Meet the Author
Mary Kaldor is professor and director of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics and Political Science. Her books include The Baroque Arsenal, The Imaginary War, New and Old Wars, and Global Civil Society. She lives in London, England.
Lieutenant Colonel Shannon D. Beebe is currently serving as the Senior Africa Analyst, Office of United States Army Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence. A graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, he lives in Angola.
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This enormously stimulating book faces truths we've known for some time but perhaps haven't articulated. Our military with it's focus on heavy machinery and fighter-jets we can't use (the F-22)-this magnificent fighting force composed of brash young kids listening to i-pods and practicing on video games--isn't really "winning" the wars in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. We've seen also that our National Guard is increasingly deployed for disaster relief, construction and reconstruction, rather than for fighting. After the Haiti earthquake, we sent in troops-and they had to keep peace. It's odd, that we spend so much time teaching our fresh-faced young men to kill and then direct them to save instead. It appears to be time to rethink this-rethink the plan we have for our military, the money we spend on it, the demands we expect to be placed on it. I actually agree with the Kaldor thesis that we should fundamentally rethink our strategic balance of weapons. I believe it is very unlikely state-based government is going to drop a nuclear bomb on anyone, except possibly one as unhinged as the present North Korean government. Even then, it is likely cooler minds in the chain of command would stop that atrocity before it became reality. Kaldor argues that we provoke the deadly venom of mad-states by not having deniability when it comes to nuclear. In the end, I see no reason to preserve the nuclear option. Even in retaliation, it is unlikely a state contemplating using a nuclear weapon could present a reasonable moral argument for doing so. I agree with the authors Beebe and Kaldor that non-state insurgent groups and weather are going to be the sources of our greatest security challenges in the coming years, and that perhaps we should think about creating a security force, a military, with a fundamentally different focus: defensive rather than offensive, stabilizing rather than destabilizing, requiring a different kind of troop. Beebe talks about his work looking at what "security" means to people in different countries in Africa, and comes to the conclusion that their concerns are daily-living immediacies, not long-term possibilities. Finally, the two directly address the role of energy in our on-going concerns: "Energy security is a global problem linked to climate change and so, instead of geopolitical competition, there needs to be a global strategy that combines diversification, transparency, and human security." Both authors recognize they will be criticized for this approach (for being too optimistic), but our children may surprise us with their wisdom, pragmatism, and innovation. This is a short, clear, thoughtful framing of the debate.