Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Security Dilemma

A while ago I wrote up a definition of the Security Dilemma, and I was told that it was fantastic. Being that I haven't posted many updates to this blog lately (you know, summer, booze, jobs, baseball, movies, another "B,"etc), I decided that it would be a great idea for me to post here what the Security Dilemma is, and an example of it from current events. Also included are some values and goals of the states involved (war arguably is always based on choice, and values and goals are what influence decisions to go to war). ENJOY!


The Security Dilemma is a situation where one state feels threatened by the military build-up of another state (build up can mean many things: technological advancements, heavy recruiting, weapons purchases, etc.). Simply by adding to military capability, whether offensive or defensive, a country acts to put others (often neighboring states) in a position where they feel at risk. Security Dilemmas often start arms races; one state begins a military buildup, and the other country tries to out-do the first. The original state notices, and they act to try to out-do the state responding to their (the 1st state's) build-up.

In the case of North Korea, the DPRK (Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea, aka: North Korea) has decided to build nuclear weapons to protect itself from perceived United States aggression.

The values that the DPRK sees as being at risk include: the preservation of their country/state, their way of life (communism), and their government (maintaining the rule of Kim Jong-Il). The goals of the DPRK are to obtain a non-aggression treaty from the US and to be able to more freely trade with the international community. The threat they perceive is the US wanting to remove Kim Jong-Il's government and take over North Korea and subjugate them to capitalism and democracy.

In terms of the Security Dilemma, the DPRK has seen US military power expansion as a threat to them, so they built nuclear weapons (which technically has not been proven as a fact) with the hope of deterring the United States from launching an attack on North Korea.

On the US side of the argument, North Korea is perceived as a threat to national security, so President Bush abrogated the ABM Treaty (Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty), and pushed through a new missile defense "shield," to protect the US (and possibly allies) from North Korean aggression. US values at stake include: the security of the country and citizens. Goals for the US are: prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and WMD, especially into rogue states.


The Security Dilemma can also be easily analyzed when examining Iran-US relations troubles. The analysis would be very similar to the one presented here looking at US-DPRK relations (or lack thereof).

The Security Dilemma is a fairly simple concept which can have major implications, especially when not understood or not properly considered. There are ways to avoid the pitfalls of the security dilemma, such as creating alliances and having excellent and accurate intelligence.

If referencing my definition, please be sure to properly cite your source (this blog). Plagiarism will get you kicked out of school. Besides, often professors like it when a student can show that not only are they able to find information for their classes, but also that they are able to properly cite the source of that information (since your Profs most likely have published work of their own, and they want proper recognition for it).

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