Global security challenges | Page 2 | Daily News

Global security challenges

The world is vastly different today than it was 70 years ago, when the dust was settling on the battlefields of World War II. The world may have enough nuclear weapons to destroy not just the Earth, but the entire Solar System, but the threat of two countries engaging in war at this point of time and expanding into World War III is somewhat remote. Instead, there are a variety of other factors and circumstances that threaten civilized societies all over the world. Some, such as terrorism are man-made but others, such as Climate Change are natural processes perhaps aggravated by Man.

The main thrust of this reality is that security of nations can no longer be viewed in one or two dimensions. This was the focus of the just-concluded Colombo Defence Seminar 2018 with its theme ‘Security in an Era of Global Disruptions’, which is highly appropriate in the present context. Indeed, security has become a global issue that requires a global response. Even the most powerful of nations cannot face this evolving situation on their own.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe summed up this scenario in his keynote address to the Colombo Defence Seminar, where he noted that the 21st Century opens up in an age facing an array of traditional and non-traditional security threats emanating from natural calamities, climate changes, human exodus and displacement, violent non-state actors, issue of ethnicity, new-fangled ideology, religious radicalism, cyber-terrorism and political activities. All these add up to violent extremism, which Prime Minister Wickremesinghe described as the greatest threat and challenge of the 21st Century.

This poses a challenge to Armed Forces which are still primed for traditional combat and conventional warfare. Sri Lankan Armed Forces have the distinction of defeating a terror group once described as the most brutal in the world by the FBI. But post-conflict, while being alive to the threats posed by elements here and abroad who still believe in that violent ideology, the Armed Forces have to evolve with the times and safeguard the country from some of the threats mentioned earlier. Cross-border or trans-national terrorism is on the rise – these are terrorist groups which espouse violent and dark ideologies that have no place in civilized society. As they are displaced from some of their traditional strongholds, they choose to operate from other places where they might not come under scrutiny. All countries have to be alive to this threat and also ensure that there is no room for religious or ethnic radicalism. The recent arrest of a Sri Lankan in Australia over ISIS-inspired terrorism-related offences shows the dangers of radicalization, regardless of geographical location. Better Intelligence gathering and sharing is essential to combat global terrorism and radicalism.

Our Security Forces and Police have commendably risen to the occasion during times of natural calamities such as the Tsunami, landslides and floods, which may intensify in the future due to Climate Change. Though denied by some, it is a fact of life. From deadly heat waves to record floods in places where it hardly rains, the world’s climate patterns have gone haywire and we must be ready to deal with those challenges.

The Security Forces have already intervened to prevent drug-running and human trafficking on the high seas. Trans-national organised crime is another area they should be concerned about. Cyber-terrorism is very much in the news these days, as attempts have been made to hack sensitive Government information in many countries. Our world is virtually run by computers and fears have been expressed that cyber terrorists could literally bring everything down either by hacking or spreading malicious software. We must be on guard against any such attempts – again, regional and worldwide cooperation is called for.

As noted by the Prime Minister, the nature of conflict and warfare is also changing. Conflicts are no longer limited to conventional weapons and battles. Drones are extensively used in modern conflict, both in surveillance and attack modes, the latter with sometimes disastrous results. Today’s laser-guided weapons systems can attack with deadly accuracy. In the near future, robots may be extensively used in battles and soldiers themselves wear robotic exoskeletons that will give them more “powers” so to speak. Indeed, it is “boots on the ground” that really matter in the end, in spite of all the surveillance and intelligence etc.

But there is no doubt that the world will be a much better place without conflict. Total world military expenditure rose to $1739 billion in 2017, according to new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This is a staggering amount, that can easily resolve some of the developing world’s pressing problems. It is in the interest of the international community to work towards peace. This is a very complex process with no overnight answers. Yet, a few of the world’s long-running conflicts have ended with peace over the last few years. The lesson to be drawn from these experiences is that conflict management and resolution demands a more comprehensive and integrated approach than ever before. Peace must be a global aim – and a global effort. 


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