In Search of “Global or International Security”      

By Prof. Adoyi Onoja                  

It is conventional to hear and read about “global or international security”. The notion of “global or international Security” is not dissimilar to “international community”. There is the conviction out there that there is an entity called “global or international security”. The term resonates in news, policy, academia and every day affairs.

To talk and write on “global or international security” conjures up lots of questions. What is global or international security? Whose global or international security? What is a global or international security issue? How can global or international security be achieved? Is there an entity called “global or international security”? Or is there security first, of hegemonic powers, and second, their vision of “global or international security”?

I asked these questions because so much has been expended and is being expended in what is arguably one of the most dishonest and cavalier conversations around the subject of  security and in particular “global or international security” in the relationship between the global north and global south.

In the conversation, there are two players in the independent variable called security. This is in consonance with the three types of security I identified – security, “security” and the cross between security and “security”. The first players are the core or hegemonic powers whose values constitute security inside and outside their countries and who initiate the conversation around the subjects that constitute “global or international security”.

The second players are countries in the developing world. They are the recipients of what is security for any or all of the hegemonic powers and thus constituting “global or international security”, for any or all of the powers. The developing countries are confined to serving as the L O G I S T I C S albeit it the military, intelligence and law enforcement type, amongst other strategies of security, in defence of the hegemonic powers interests inside their countries and in the “global or international” theatres where these powers’ interests are threatened.

The third players are located in the platform I described as the discerning developed developing countries (DDDC) of the developing world. The DDDC have defined security interests within and outside their border stemming from their geopolitics on the one hand and on the other hand play the logistic roles in defence of the security interests of the hegemonic powers.

The first and third players have platforms which they use in addressing “global or “international security” from their own security perspectives. For the global north, there is the annual Munich Security Conference. For the global south and arguably representing the discerning developed developing countries (DDDC) is Qatar based Global Security Forum. They met recently and on their table for dissection amongst other issues were the Ukraine conflict’s one year anniversary and the challenges to “global or international security” from their individual security perspectives.

The second players have no platforms for aggregating their arguably disparate conceptions of security and security interests beyond the roles they play supportive of the interests of the first and third players. They are at the receiving ends of the hegemonic players’ interests in whatever they choose to designate “global or international security.”

Since the commencement of the Course Seminar on National Security Policy and in the search for what is national security or security which incorporates whose national security or security, what is a national security or security issue and how can national security or security be achieved, I drew attention to security as the foundation in whatever type security exist in the world, in terms of etymology, epistemology and ontology. I proceeded to categorise three genres of security. They are security, “security,” and the cross between security and “security”.

The first security type is foundational in philosophy and in history. This security is of the free from care, something which secure, condition of being secure and feeling no apprehension philosophy. I pushed for security is wellbeing in all of its form, as summary of this philosophy, in my advocacy for a Nigerian security brand.

The second security type is “security” of the Military, Intelligence and Law Enforcement (MILE). This “security”, as the name and work of the MILE, is practised in Nigeria, in some sub-Saharan Africa countries, and in countries of the global South. This “security” type collapsed the vision and mission of security into one of the logistics albeit the least and last of the logistics, that is, the military, intelligence and law enforcement, of security for “security.”

The third security type is a cross between the two types identified above. There is a clear but not-so-distinct distinction between security and the means to attaining security one of which is the military, intelligence and law enforcement, for the countries in this category. One can identify this security type with what I called the “discerning developed developing countries” or (DDDC) of the global south. They include Egypt, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Israel etc. They locate security in security of the first type and in “security” of the second type. The former serves their geopolitical interests and the latter serve their logistics roles for the hegemonic powers as well as their domestic interests.

Russia, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and China are hegemonic countries seeking global dominance. Their conception of security straddled the three genres as it advances their interests particularly national interests whose terrain is global or international. So, when these countries advocate for “global or international security”, this security is in tandem with their interests first and foremost. For these countries, “global or international security” comes with a shared vision only where there national interests crisscrosses. Beyond this, the call for “global or international security” often has distinctive national interests content embedded into this.

For Russia, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and China, security is wellbeing in all of its form. They pursue this security wherever they can find security i.e. whatever frees them from care, something which secure them, condition of being secure and feeling no apprehension using different means with the military, intelligence and law enforcement as the ever present option and option of last resort. These countries tailor their perspective of security, in their engagement with the rest of the world, to fit the vision of security of these countries and in most cases those of the ruling elites they are dealing with. The sub-Saharan African countries visions of security and thus “global or international security” fits into the hegemonic countries’ individual and/or collective security interests. 

I had argued, in relation to the lacuna of security in Nigeria, albeit under civilian, civil rule and governance framework, that an all Nigerian country-culture values have to be created for security to give security the weight security deserves. In this way, security will be imbued with philosophy, legislation and policy and placed on the highest classification in terms of securitisation. To this extent, security should aggregate the sacrosanct all-Nigerian values worth protecting, defending and advancing using all means necessary. Security’s existential value is thus established to the extent that to designate an issue inside or outside Nigeria security or national security is to enlist and deploy all measures for the protection, defense and advancement of the issue.

Only in Nigeria would one of the logistics for the protection, defense and advancement of security considered “security” itself. In this context, every other issue petered into insignificance in the absence of what is security, whose security and what is a security issue except how can security be achieved. Thus since security is closely identified with the name and work of the military, intelligence and law enforcement to which the term national security symbolises, the attachment of any issue to security other than what falls into this conception of national security cannot and will not carry the weight of the military, intelligence and law enforcement national security. No item of governance in Nigeria deserve the existential designation of security, as is the case in the developed world and the discerning developed developing world, except national security, in its military, intelligence and law enforcement conception.

The hegemonic powers have been globetrotting in advancing their vision of “global or “international security” in recent times. The Russian Federation, through its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, was in Africa in pursuit of “global or international security”. Russia is finding favour in Francophone and Lusophone Africa providing “security” assistance through its private military contractors. Russia also embarked on fertilizer diplomacy to Malawi. However, the so-called “international community” did not respond as promptly, as they would have in some other circumstances and other parts of the world, to the damage and the cry for assistance, occasioned by Cyclone Freddy. This was perhaps because there was no significant “global or international security” threat to their interests.

France is pursuing its vision of “global or international security” with a charm offensive after suffering several reverses in its former colonies in Africa. President Emmanuel Macron promised to listen to his African counterparts even as it has withdrawn its forward operation bases in some countries and converted the facilities into training camps. France’s security interests in Africa are deep, diverse and existential for anyone to believe France will simply work away from Africa as seemingly suggested by its tone. France continues to work behind the scene, with interests sympathetic to France in these countries, to promote policies favourable to France even as it promised, on the surface, to listen, learn and engage constructively with these countries.

The United Kingdom keep close eyes on its security interests in the African region as it promotes its “global or international security”. Britain has been on the receiving end of policy crises to include the BREXIT occasioned domestic political turmoil on the one hand and on the other hand its relations with Brussels. Its African interests including its asylum policy with Rwanda are no doubt important in advancing its national interests in the name of “global or international security”.

The clipped-winged superpower called the United States is no less interested in developments around the world. Washington keeps close tabs on its conception of “global or international security” amidst varying regional powers security interests. The United States national security interests traverse all of the blocs to include the other hegemonic countries, discerning developed developing countries and developing countries generally. These countries serve specific/multiple objectives each, coordinated by the National Security Council, in the advancement of America’s national security anywhere and everywhere in the world.

The recently sealed agreement between the UK, US and Australia (AUKUS) which alienated France was first announced in 2021 at a time of growing concerns over Chinese activities in the Pacific Ocean. The Trilateral Defence alliance will see Australia acquire a fleet of up to eight nuclear-powered submarines, forecast to cost up to $368 billion between now and the mid-2050s. In the interim, Australia will spend over $9 billion in the next four years. This represented the pursuit America’s “global or international security”. It was the pursuit of America’s “global or international security” that prompted Mr. Anthony Blinken visit to Ethiopia and Niger.

The profile of the Peoples’ Republic of China amongst countries of the world particularly in the global south has risen tremendously not only because of the paradigm shift in its development assistance and the relieve it offered these countries. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the involvement of most of the hegemonic powers made China the leading power possessing the leverage to broker truce amongst all the sides. China has since deployed its version of the vision of “global or international security” in the pursuit of its interests. Qin Gang, China’s new foreign minister, argued that an “invisible hand” is driving the escalation of the war in Ukraine towards achieving geopolitical goals. I bet Mr. Gang’s “invisible hand” referred to the immense opportunity for advancing China’s own geopolitical interests.

Mr. Gang offered China as the power with the leverage to intervene amongst the belligerents. As demonstration of this leverage, China brokered rapprochement between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia after nearly eight years of conflict. It was basking in the euphoria of China’s recent foreign policies success that the reelected President Xi Xinping promised to “…build China’s military into great wall of steel…”to safeguard China’s sovereignty. In the next five years, President Xinping also promised to work on the economy and security or China geopolitics.

Therefore, whenever “global or international security” is the issue, it is important to examine and analyse the country, context, forum and content involved. No person, country and institution represent “global or international security” except its security interest. This is even the case with the United Nations where the question of “global or international security” is an everyday affair first in the General Assembly’s talking shop and second in the Security Council where the five members that also double up as the hegemonic powers decide the what, whose, issue(s) and how of “global or international security” through their enlightened selfish national interests.

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