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Are traditional security studies outdated?

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maylita | (Level 2) Honors

Posted June 23, 2013 at 6:20 AM via web

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Are traditional security studies outdated?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 23, 2013 at 6:43 AM (Answer #1)

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If, by “traditional security studies,” we mean something like realism, then it is very easy to argue that these studies are outdated in the modern world.  However, I would argue that they are not completely outdated.

Traditional security studies focus very strongly on states.  They focus on traditional issues like how states can become more secure.  They see states as the most important actor in international politics. 

It is clear that this vision has lost a good deal of relevance.  It made much more sense in the Cold War era because that was an era dominated by conflict between states.  Today, however, we can certainly argue that non-state actors like Al-Qaeda and its offshoots and affiliates are just as important as states.  We can also argue that such things as religion and nationalism are as important as traditional ideas of state interests.  This makes traditional security studies less useful.

However, it is going too far to say that these studies are completely outdated.  There are still conflicts and potential conflicts between states.  The rise of China is a phenomenon that may well be understood through traditional security studies.  We may pay more attention to non-state actors than we once did, but states can still be important and therefore security studies is not a completely outdated discipline.

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