During the Cold War, the world was under constant threat of war that helped drive massive military buildups around the globe. Unfortunately, the Ukraine Crisis and other Russian aggression, including incursions into the airspace and waters of other nations, are helping to once again militarize the world. That said, there are benefits in addition to the costs that come with this old world order dynamic.
Since the Cold War, the governments of the International Community have largely turned their focus toward economic endeavors. Looking back on the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States was never truly a nation-at-war. In fact, the notion of a war on terrorism is more like a global policing effort than a military campaign done to help foster stability and growth of the global economy and the International Community.
As such, we never stopped focusing on a globalized economy. In many respects, the thinking of national leaders shifted away from building their own nations toward building a global economy and governing structure. Although Putin may well have helped unite countries against Russia, fears of a World War III are likely to awaken a sense of nationalism and patriotism in all who feel threatened by Russia, just as the threat of Al-Qaeda did for Americans following the 9/11 attacks.
Where increased military spending will mean less for civic-oriented endeavors, there may well also be a renewed focus on nation building at home. As the national debts of developed countries soar, outsourcing and Free Trade ravish domestic industries, and workers struggle to increase their earnings, a greater focus on domestic needs could help address these issues by weakening the efforts of political leaders and trans-international corporations to accelerate globalization.
When a nation turns inward, it risks blocking out opportunities from the outside world. Then again, catering to global issues shifts the focus away from local concerns to issues that affect the global economy, thereby prioritizing the interests of the elites of the world. Serving the needs and wants of a nation then using the fruits of such endeavors to build a global economy and community, however, helps provide for the needs of all the Peoples of the world and serves the mutual interests of the International Community.
Shifting away from accelerating globalization to the detriment of individuals and individual countries by addressing global issues like terrorism and Russia’s aggressive behavior through nationalist policies can be helpful. After all, the ability of a country like the US to pay for its military in a globalized economy is not a concern, because the focus is increasing global production and generating wealth for individuals on a global scale.
Unfortunately, war, globalized terrorism, violent crime, financial crime, and cyber security threats require national governments to fight these security issues and to have the resources to fight them. Clearly, it would be better to address these threats by coordinating with all the governments of the world and Russia’s behavior is causing the world to regress from this preferred status, but rekindling the faith in the value of nation-states and national interests is likely going to be extremely beneficial.
Looking at the effort to take on the Islamic State, an increasing number of victories against the jihadist group by regional forces with the aid of international air support provides evidence that such a strategy can be successful. Culture clashes between ethnic groups and the unreliability of the Iraqi army continue to be the most significant weaknesses in the ground effort, but the potential success of this strategy would enable the world to address systemic national security threats that might spread to the rest of the world.
More importantly, it serves as an example of how governments seeking to address their own broader and long-term national security interests are able to support local security forces and governments instead of thoroughly providing for the security needs of other nations. In essence, it forces nations to be less dependent on foreign assistance while allowing those providing the foreign assistance to avoid over committing resources they need to spend on their own country.
Moreover, the post-Cold War world was focused on accelerating globalization with little value attributed to the nation-state. Regrettably, this meant less focus on the interests of the Peoples national governments were supposed to be serving. Renewed nationalism due to major security threats from Russia and terrorism may well help refocus the International Community and the nations of the world to better serving the needs of the Peoples of the world instead of a globalized elite class.
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