Le’ Notes #13: Operations Other Than War in the 21st Century

This post discusses the change in the character of security threats in the 21st century and how states can possibly adapt to them.

So far, we’ve been mainly talking about war operations. Most of the time, I would show how states would prepare for facing traditional challenges, such as if China were to suddenly invade Indonesia.

However, we also have to acknowledge the changing character of security in our post-Cold War world. Security cooperation is becoming a huge boost in international relations, visible in some forms such as defence diplomacy. Security threats today rarely come from states, but rather from non-states, even nature itself. As such, militaries around the world have to learn how to adapt accordingly to remain relevant in the changing world. This entails a change in the role of militaries from being solely fighters to protectors of international order.

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Are We Safe from Terrorists? Maybe Not

Last week, I had the privilege to attend a live recording of Channel NewsAsia’s newest TV series, Think Tank, a six-episode series they were working on in collaboration with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). It touches on six specific security issues faced by Southeast Asia, and to some extent, the whole world. And by “security”, I refer to the expanded understanding, not the traditionalist one, which covers the perils of the individual and threats in cyberspace. While waiting for the first episode to air, let me just write about my experience. For more information about the series, visit their website.

So, the big question posed by the first episode was: Are we safe from terrorists? As usual, put a bunch of social scientists in a room together and they will not be able to come up with an agreed definition of a single term, let alone a desirable framework to address the issue. That, I think, is paradoxically the beauty of the social sciences. But it’s what also makes it a pain to study.

Continue reading “Are We Safe from Terrorists? Maybe Not”

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