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The Global Threat to Human Security & the Security Dilemma

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  • 0:02 The Threat to Human Security
  • 1:00 Threat of Terrorism
  • 4:09 Rise of Violent Crime
  • 5:02 Global Response to Crime
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jason Nowaczyk
The following lesson describes the steps nations take to secure their borders, as well as threats to national security that come in the form of terrorism and violent crime. A short quiz will follow the lesson to check your understanding.

The Threat to Human Security

The world can be a scary place. There are many things we come into contact with that can cause us harm. Just think of all the things you do on a daily basis to keep yourself safe. You may wear a helmet while riding your bike or a seatbelt while driving your car. Many homes are even outfitted with security systems to keep out intruders. Airports also make you go through many levels of security to keep you and other passengers safe while traveling.

All of these safety measures are important because people are coming into contact with one another more frequently than in the past. New technology, communication, and the emergence of more independent states has allowed human activity to become intertwined worldwide. While this global contact is in large part positive, it does bring with it a darker side. A complex environment has evolved where in addition to all of the good things globalization brings with it there are also serious threats to human security, such as terrorism and violent crime.

Threat of Terrorism

Let's, again, take the example of getting a security system to protect you, your family, and your personal property. Unfortunately, as we come into contact with more people because of the advances in communication and travel, there becomes the potential of other people who want to claim your stuff for their own. This is a scary threat indeed and, thus, there is the need for the security system. Now imagine this threat on a global scale. The violence and threat of violence that accompanied the emergence of modern states led to the pervasive emphasis on military power as the highest priority of states. The fear of losing territory or being eliminated was very real.

As this fear spread, there emerged a security dilemma. The security dilemma, also referred to as the spiral model, refers to a situation in which actions by a state intended to heighten its security and keep its citizens and property safe, either by increasing its military strength or making alliances, can lead other states to respond with similar measures. Thus, as each state increases its military strength or makes alliances with other countries, tensions and the risk of conflict greatly increase. States try to produce a global image of strength and security, but this can be interpreted as aggression by others, even though no side desires the wish to be drawn into using military force.

Increased security, however, also comes with a price and may actually lead to the increase of more crime. While a person's life and property may be made safer, governments have been of the mindset that in order for that to happen, short-term restrictions on civil and political rights are essential. Thus, many governments find themselves on a slippery slope that leads to more durable infringements on democratic freedoms. These infringements can lead to the creation of terrorism. While there is no universal definition of what terrorism is or what a terrorist looks like, there are some qualities that all acts of terrorism have in common.

First, all acts of terrorism are designed to create fear. Terrorists seek to frighten people in distant places in order to exert pressure on governments. Terrorism is essentially a form of psychological warfare that can last for generations. It's also common that terrorist acts are closely associated with ideology and the increase of globalization. Globalization is a major factor in global terrorism.

In many ways, terrorism is a product of resistance to change brought about by cultural, economic, political, military, and even environmental globalization. One such local example of terrorism occurred in the United States during the 1950s, where a group called the Ku Klux Klan rebelled against racial integration and challenges to the social, economic, and political status quo that white people held over African Americans.

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