Twenty-First Century Challenges

  1. Th century-21st century.

In 2001, at the start of the Administration of George W. Bush, environment and security were further linked to social well being. The 2002 National Security Strategy stated, "A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race lives on less than $ 2 a day, is neither just nor stable. Including all of the world's poor in an expanding circle of development - and opportunity - is a moral imperative and one of the top priorities of US international policy. "

Events in the decade from 2000 to 2010 were dominated by the 9/11 attack and subsequent war on terrorism. The events of 9/11 have sharpened the national debate on the meaning of security and on the root causes and means of preventing terrorism. Before 9/11, while there was prosperity in the West, there were warnings of dissatisfaction and instability in the rest of the world. In Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, development had failed to improve the quality of life for 300 million people. Health, education, and social services in much of Africa were deteriorating.

Travel writer Paul Theroux, who as a young author lived in Africa in the 1960s, returned in 2000 to make an overland trek from Cairo to Capetown. His subsequent book observed that thirty years after he had lived in Africa as a young teacher, "Africa is materially more decrepit than it was when I first knew it -hungrier, poorer, less educated, more pessimistic, more corrupt, and you can ' t tell the politicians from the witch-doctors "(Theroux, 2002.) Before 9/11 Frank Carlucci, (a former Secretary of Defense) working with a RAND-convened panel of 54 American leaders in foreign and defense policy produced a number of recommendations for the new Bush Administration. (Carlucci et al 2000) One of his recommendations goes to the heart of the issues of environment and security:

"A host of new global challenges may soon require imaginative and sustained responses. These nontraditional challenges include uncontrolled migration across borders, international crime, pandemics like AIDs and malaria, and environmental degradation .... However, in this era, Developed nations have the resources and opportunity to ask themselves whether they want to live in a world where such problems continue to fester, or whether they will try to make a difference. This is primarily a matter of leadership and forming alliances between like-minded, relatively wealthy countries to begin a new ethos for the future that is not based solely on a short-term national model but that embraces a long-term global vision. "

The essence of the above recommendation is that economic prosperity, environmental protection and social justice must be combined to ensure global security. In effect, the world needs a renewed focus on what is commonly known as the "three pillars" of sustainable development, depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Three pillars of sustainable development

This vision has recently re-emerged in a 2011 policy paper by two staff members of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, which outlines a new National Strategic Narrative (Porter and Mykleby 2011). Within the concept of a new strategic narrative is the recognition of the need for a more sustainable society. The paper argues that it is time for the U.S. to re-focus its national interests and principles through the lens of the global environment of tomorrow. The paper asserts that it is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (i.e., sustainability); from an emphasis on power and control to an emphasis on strength and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement.

Environment and Security 5 | Environment and Security 6 | Environment and Security 7 | Environment and Security 8 | Environment and Security 9 | Environment and Security 10 | Environment and Security 11 | The Expanding Definition of National Security | Background and History of Environment and Security | Environmental Intelligence Gathering |

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