In the last few centuries, world politics have been characterized by the dominance of state-centric system. In today’s new era of globalization, there exist other powerful and numerous types of international actors. With the existence of these actors, we should consider the nature of economic, technological, and normative changes that impact our current security arena. This should cause us to reconsider the classical definition of security dilemma which states that states view their attempts to strengthen their own security as defensive measures, while they perceive the increase in the power and the capabilities of the other states as potentially threatening. Due to that, this leads states to undertake countermeasures, and these countermeasures in turn are misperceived as threatening by other states, leading to further counter-countermeasures by other states. Unfortunately, this creates a tragic circle of ever increasing security. In game theoretic means, the incentives for states to defect surpass the incentives for states to cooperate, and this analysis is the foundation of both classical realism and neorealism. In a world seen to be more characterized by globalization, how do dramatic changes caused by globalization’s effects affect the state-centric system and the structural coherence of the world order (the international system)? Do new sources of uncertainty change the basic logic of the Security Dilemma? I argue that the rise of globalization involves a process of reconfiguring power and introduces different sources of insecurity, and that makes the traditional concept of balances of power and security dilemma increasingly redundant.
Divisibility and defection are two important concepts used in the issues of security dilemma. After the time of Westphalia, the number of sovereign states declined to a few great powers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to only two superpowers in the Cold War. The potential dangers of defection increased as the military power and industrial strength increased with the Second Industrial Revolution, as evidenced by the two World Wars and the subsequent threat of nuclear annihilation. In this context, the post-Cold War era has seen several crucial developments which have changed the way that international politics operates. Firstly, I would argue that globalization had an effective role in the evolution towards an increasing divisibility of benefits in the international agenda. Participation in a more open world trading system privileged the issues of economic exchange and interdependence which now occupied a position of primacy in the international system. Therefore, security concerns that had dominated a state-centric system have become irrelevant to the functioning of the whole society. Secondly, states are not the sole provider of international security, however, security today is provided by states through shifting alliances. For example, in the first Gulf War, Iraq was confronted by 35 nations whom were allied through cooperative multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, or through some overlapping organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.
The Security Dilemma has not been challenged only by the possibility of defection by particular states but also with that of defection by a range of social forces, whether ideological, economic, cultural, ethnic or purely political. I argue here that these fundamental changes are undermining the Traditional Security Dilemma and incorporating it in a wider and more complex New Security Dilemma. The world of the New Security Dilemma will constrain the ability of actors and institutions to make credible commitments and limit the possibilities of genuine collective action. Consequently, if the international order is eventually to be transformed into a more authoritative global system, capable of effectively pursuing genuinely collective, public values on a wider, global level, then the sources of that transformation must come from within its newer, essentially transnational structures. Only complex interdependence can generate sufficiently complex solutions. But at this stage the promise of such a transformation is weak and its form little more than another potential source of uncertainty. Therefore, the New Security Dilemma, in which the growing divisibility of benefits uneasily interacts with more and more complex temptations to defect, especially from below, is likely to prove a more robust model of the international system for the foreseeable future.