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Clinging to power : the security predicaments of third world states Khosla, Deepa


It is within and between Third World states where we have seen the overwhelming prevalence of various forms of armed conflict since the end of the Second World War. In seeking to understand the nature of this conflict, it becomes necessary to examine the security concerns of these countries. Until the last decade, traditional Western security approaches conditioned the study of security in the Third World. However, by the early1980s, some international relations scholars began to recognize that the differences between the security environments of First and Third World states led the developing countries to face security predicaments that are often markedly different from those found in the West. Since then, these and other scholars have been engaged in effforts to reconceptualize security as it pertains to the Third World and to utilize this knowledge in other areas of international relations such as crisis decision-making. This thesis seeks to add to this body of knowledge on Third World security by first putting forward an expanded conception of security that incorporates the multi-facted nature of threats to Third World states. Security is viewed of as the absence of threats to three dimensions: 1) the territorial integrity of the state; 2) its political autonomy 3) the survival of the ruling regime and its system of governance. This last dimension is not considered in traditional Western security approaches; yet, it is a fundamental issue inmost Third World and even Second World states. While it is important to recognize the differences between the security contexts of First and Third World states, it is also necessary to examine the variations that are present within the Third World. Few efforts have been made to distinguish between the threats to and responses of various Southern states. This thesis undertakes a preliminary effort in this direction by outlining a framework that differentiates the security concerns and policies of Third World countries. Utilizing the expanded conception of security put forth, states are delineated according the nature of their external and internal/external security concerns. Four broad categorizations are used. The Territorially-Coveted states primarily fear absorption by another state or the loss of signficant portions of their territory. The Ethnically-Threatened states reveal the linkage between internal and external threats as ethnic divisions within their societies can impact on all three security dimensions. The same can be said for the Ideologically-Divided states, although, in many cases, their internal ideological divisions do not impinge on their territorial integrity. The last category, the Politically-Threatened states, can face threats to all the dimensions but their primary concerns are the protection of the ruling regime and maintaining the political autonomy of their states. It is from this framework that the security strategies that these states are most likely to follow are derived. Given the existence of the Cold War rivalry, the limited economic and military capabilities of Third World states, and the narrow support bases of ruling regimes, among other factors, alignment with an external power was the most prevalent security strategy. Other options included the promotion of an external enemy image and the use of regional organizations such as the Organization of American States(OAS). In the post-Cold War era, the security concerns of many Third World states are likely to intensify. The Ideologically-Divided states have benefitted the most from the demise of the American-Soviet rivalry and they will generally see a reduced level of conflict. For the Ethnically and Politically-Threatened and the Territorially-Coveted states, various factors, including a greater role by dominant regional powers, could increase their fears as the lifting of the Cold War veil has reduced great power attention to many Third World regions. In the future, Third World states are likely to rely on a wider variety of strategies to secure their countries. Alignments with external powers will be limited but Southern countries could become more reliant on regional organizations and the promotion of external enemy images to reduce their insecurities. The future for reducing the insecurities of Third World states does not appear hopeful. Various forms of armed conflict are likely to continue in most regions and that can only lead to more death and destruction and a worsening of the already dismal quality of life of most Third World citizens.

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