The grand strategy

The grand strategy
With the advent of technology and the expansion of the internet, there are heightened threats to national security of nation-states across the world. Can there be..

With the advent of technology and the expansion of the internet, there are heightened threats to national security of nation-states across the world. Can there be a “grand strategy” that can reimagine security in the 21st century in order to prevent societies from succumbing to potent threats?

The Synergia Conclave – Security 360 was conducted from November 17th to November 19th, 2017 in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was based on the theme ‘Reimagining Security – 360’, where experts from security, intelligence, army, academia, media and other domains from across the world shared their views. For the session, titled, “Reimagining Security in the 21st Century – The Grand Strategy", esteemed speakers like HE MK Narayanan, IPS former NSA to the Government of India, Governor of West Bengal and former Director of Intelligence Bureau, India, Dr Uzi Arad, National Security Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Michael Chertoff, former Secretary, US Homeland Security and Praveen Swami, National Editor, The Indian Express.

Background

National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of "national" crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on. The concept developed all in the United States after World War II. Initially focusing on military might, it now encompasses a broad range of facets, all of which impinge on the non-military or economic security of the nation and the values espoused by the national society. Accordingly, in order to possess national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security, etc.

 

Analysis

With the advent of technology and the expansion of the internet, there are heightened threats to national security of nation-states across the world. Can there be a “grand strategy” that can reimagine security in the 21st century in order to prevent societies from succumbing to potent threats?

The Synergia Conclave – Security 360 was conducted from November 17th to November 19th, 2017 in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was based on the theme ‘Reimagining Security – 360’, where experts from security, intelligence, army, academia, media and other domains from across the world shared their views. For the session, titled, “Reimagining Security in the 21st Century – The Grand Strategy, esteemed speakers like HE MK Narayanan, IPS former NSA to the government of India, Governor of West Bengal and former Director of Intelligence Bureau, India, Dr Uzi Arad, National Security Advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Michael Chertoff, former Secretary, US Homeland Security and Praveen Swami, National Editor, The Indian Express.

Praveen Swami portrayed a bleak outlook on how the society has shaped up in India. He said that entire swaths of the India were subject to lawlessness and that the nation has not been able to create as many jobs every year to support its growing population. He said, “We should have been creating 10 million jobs per year in the past decade. And not one of those decades has come anywhere near that number in terms of job creation.” He said that millions by 2040 will be looking for jobs that simply do not exist. He also spoke about mob violence and politicized police with regards to the state of Haryana. He noted that there aren’t nearly as many judges to maintain the law for the size of the nation’s population.

HE MK Narayanan spoke about the security paradigm and provided a more theoretical construct on the subject.  He spoke about the main drivers of the 21st century with regards to security and uncertainty that society is likely to face. He said that the main drivers centered around global security, urbanization and a global economy that is confronting “newer and newer challenges as the century advances”. He said, “The profound impact of information technology that is certain to alter the nature of the world. The fusion of continuing revolutions in information technology, biotechnology, material science and nanotechnology will bring about certain fundamental changes that will clearly impact security.” He said that the nature and content of asymmetric threats is predicated to grow. He also spoke about how terror outfits like ISIS used the internet to spread their ideologies.

Narayanan said that weaponizing of cyber tools is already expanding and will result in cyber arms having the capacity of remaining undetected for years, all the while yielding valuable information. He also spoke about the rapid growth of radicalism and extremism. “More individuals armed with a powerful narrative and aided by a corpus of educated and disgruntled youth will find conditions highly suitable to radicalize segments of society.” He also noted that as more nations invest in nuclear military programs, nations ruled by “demagogues” like North Korea could threaten the security of the society. In addition, there is a possibility of nuclear weapons to land in the arms of terror outfits.

Michael Chertoff provided an American perspective on the subject. He said that there no longer can be one “grand strategy” to fight external threats to a nation’s sovereignty. Instead, he said that there can be numerous smaller strategies. “This doesn’t mean that the problems are little but rather that there are a lot of them.” He opined, “I think we are at a more dangerous place in the world than at any point in my entire lifetime.” This is because there are multiple widely distributed different threats with the potential to do a great deal of damage.

Dr Uzi Arad said that the very noting of “what Grand Strategy is about is not uniform among those who use it.” He said that it has become popular in the recent decades and that nations across the world “scrambled” to produce a ‘grand strategy’ or grand strategies. He said that Israel as a nation never had a grand strategy. He said that perhaps Israel’s approach may be the right one for nations across the world. He stated, “For a moment of amusement, I think that Israeli approach is the right one. Things are so complicated and becomes too difficult even to define that avoiding having any (policy) is the right policy.” This allows nations to improvise as problems arise.

Assessment

Our assessment is that given the evolving nature of threats in the 21st century, having one “grand strategy” to tackle security concerns may not be feasible for nation-states. It is perhaps prudent to have multiple smaller strategies geared towards tackling specific threats. 

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