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The Changing Face of Security Threat


All countries have a military

Almost all the countries in the world have a functional military outfit. These military outfits are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that their countries’ borders are free from intrusion. In the olden days, attacks from enemies were a common occurrence. This called for every country to set up an outfit to guard and protect its people. However, as the world moves towards new world order, people have found themselves preoccupied with other pressing matters other than attacking their neighbors. This has called for the restructuring of the security outfits for each country in order to cope with the rising non-military threats that threaten to cripple the world’s economy. (Alkire 2003)

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What the essay is about

The effectiveness of countries military is gauged by its alertness to deal with issues that arise in its borders. The strength of a people’s security is measured in the way it deals with outside attacks from enemies. Today people have become more preoccupied with non-military threats to a point that various governments are moving from dealing with the military attacks to a point where the only thing of concern to them has become to look for ways to deal with these non-military threats. Currently, issues like water security, food security for all; financial security, and energy vulnerability security have become key to governments. This paper critically looks at the emergence of these non-military threats and tries to justify the manner in which governments are dealing with the issues.


A new form of security attack

As discussed earlier, many countries are finding the idea of attacking their enemies not only retrogressive but repulsive as well. Save for a few isolated cases, very few countries have been known to attack their neighbors in the recent past. As it is, since 1980 the threats facing many countries have been found to be of non-military nature. Today, issues like cybercrime have been more prevalent than any other form of attack in recent history.

Governments focus has therefore shifted from strengthening military to issues like protecting the environment. Almost every government is a signatory to issues like protecting the ozone layer. The reason why this is so is that while the issue of a military security threat affects only a certain nation, issues like the environment at the end of the day affect the whole world. This then calls for concerted efforts from all the nations in order to deal with this issue. (Alkire 2003)

Before looking at the various forms of non-military attacks that governments have to deal with, it is important to point out that terrorism acts have gone a notch higher. A form of terrorism that has been of great concern to the United States and other developed countries is the threat of national cyber attacks. These are premeditated attacks on computer systems carried out by other nations or people with malicious intentions.

Their key aim may be to spy on secret information including stealing technology, crippling the ability of the targeted nation to carry out attacks in times of warfare, and attacking major infrastructure systems. The American government has invested billions of dollars in building protective systems against cyber-attacks that would protect our infrastructure in case of an attack. The Chinese have been identified as a country that has the potential of destroying our computer-supported infrastructure and our government by extension. (Baldwin1997, p.19)

Though this is not a military attack in itself, such kind of an attack can be used on almost all sectors of the economy. Projections show that the effects of such an attack would surpass those of a military attack. This then calls for a break from the ordinary form of military outfit to a new form that would deal with this new threat that is of a non-military nature. I know many people do not agree with me on this point since we have not had such kind of an attack before. Although we have not seen groups like Al Qaeda carry out terrorist attacks backed by cyber warfare, it is almost certain that they will be trying this kind of attack in the near future due to the magnitude of the havoc it can cause. (Alkire 2003)

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Through research done in the past shows that these terrorist groups do not have such capacity to carry out such kind of an attack, it is obviously not a time for any of us to relax. One thing that we should be aware of is that this group can adapt to changing global environments very fast. It is not then impossible to see such groups attempt to cripple infrastructure systems causing damage fear and loss of life as a result. One great resource that these terrorist groups possess is a great financial base that they can use to buy great computer minds and establish networks that are haphazard to our existing infrastructure. (Baldwin1997, p.20)

Examples of non-military attacks

Such kinds of attacks may be very elaborate and well planned integrating both cyber terrorism and traditional methods of terrorism like the use of explosives to cause havoc. In order for us to better understand this; let us consider a cyber attack against water dam control software that controls the closing and opening of dams for the supply of water. This may permanently shut dams cutting off the water supply to this area. When this attack is combined with fire explosions in buildings, it could be very devastating since the concerned firefighters will lack water to put out the fires. (Gamba 1997)

The most important thing to note in this scenario is that the kind of attack described above is a big break from the former forms of military attacks that called for governments to deepen the concept of security to protect themselves. This calls for the creating of a new outfit to detect and deal with such kinds of attacks even before they happen. If we fail to do this, we will be fighting a losing battle since people are using sophisticated methods of attack with the dawn of each new day. This kind of attack can be directed to almost any sector of the economy and therefore it becomes an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. (Baldwin1997, p.22)

As the world moved on toward the 21st century, there was a sense of kinship among people of different countries. In the early 1990s, the world realized some new threats to security that were not really of a military nature. These threats often referred to as non-state threats were brought forward in a hemispheric agenda held in 1992. In this meeting, the world leaders realized that they needed to defend democracy. This clearly brought about a new meaning to the term “attack on security”.

The meeting also included issues that were before considered domestic on the international front. Such issues included drug trafficking, terrorism among many others. Attacks on economic and social factors were also classified as security threats. Things like natural disasters and health crises that we all refer to as acts of God were also incorporated in this category.

By 1995, a committee on security had been set up to analyze those issues that were frequent and to come up with team efforts to deal with them. This committee came up with mechanisms and collaborations that were geared toward fighting and where possible preventing these new threats. There have been several conventions that have been taking place to ensure that these new security threats are ratified. Big progress has been realized through these conventions.

Defense strategies and legislations have been laid down and governmental commitments realized through the same. Countries that have democratic governments now coexist well thanks to these conventions. America as a country has become a role model in designing security theories and policies around the globe. This however is slowed by the fact that nearly all the continents have different threats directed toward them. At the end of the day, the magnitude of each countries security policy is determined by the element of the policy they have laid down. (Gamba 1997)

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A classic example of a non-military attack that has found backing all over the world is energy vulnerability security. All indications show that the world might be headed for an energy crisis. There are many signs to warn us that what happened before the energy crisis of 1973 and 1979 is in our vicinity. Above this, indications show that the current form of energy crisis may even be worse than what was experienced during those years. America’s dependence on petroleum has been on the rise in the past few years. Petroleum supplies have also been dwindling over the years. The Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) has been experiencing an interruption in its importing capacity. This is something that happened during the energy crisis of 1973 and 1979.

Non-Military Threats

The current potential for an energy crisis is at an all-time high. Over the last few years, the price of oil has gone to over $30 per barrel and all indications show that this is on the rise. America is now depending on the Middle East for its supply of petroleum. This has been occasioned by the disruption of Venezuela’s oil supply. This in itself has made the US more vulnerable to supply interruption. This would cost the government untold loses and it is something that has the capacity of crippling the economy. The most worrying thing is that if this is allowed to happen it will lead to untold suffering in almost all the sectors of the economy. (Gamba 1997)

Taking lessons from the oil crisis of 1973 and 1979, then we would be less surprised by why the government is concentrating more of its efforts in dealing with this new threat on energy. It is important to note that this is not being done at the expense of our national security. Today, our military is more alert toward providing quality security to all the people. This is especially after the September 11, 2001 attack on America’s soil. This widening of security to incorporate energy security is therefore called for and should be lauded by all people of goodwill. Instead of criticizing it, we should learn from the lessons of the past.

Another area that the world is concentrating its efforts on is water security. Nearly all the governments of the world are concentrating their efforts on providing clean water to their citizens. The adverse effects on our environment brought about by global warming have increased this call. Nearly every government has come up with modalities to ensure that there is clean water for all in the 21st century. (Carlisle 2009)

Health security is another issue that governments are putting all their efforts into. It is an accepted fact that a healthy nation is a productive nation. This is something that many nations have learned and are working toward providing health security to their citizens. The US government especially has come up with policies to provide good health to its citizens and the world at a large. The Obama administration is doing everything possible to ensure that there is universal health for all people by the turn of the decade. Seeing that the prevalence of HIV/Aids in some countries is threatening to derail production, one would see why so much is being done on this accord.

Organizations like the WHO has been formed to ensure that people realize good health. (United Nations Development Report 2000) Bad health as we have seen hinders productivity in a nation. This calls for efforts to ensure that there are available health facilities that are also affordable at all times. Launched in November 2001 in Canada, the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) is an international organization that seeks to strengthen the preparedness and reaction to biological, chemical, and radio-nuclear terrorism threats in the world. All this is meant to ensure that there is enough security for a health attack. (Evans, & James 1999, p.750)

Attaining food security is another area where many nations are putting their efforts. Every year, the world celebrates World Food Day. This celebration highlights the need that all people need to have all-around access to sufficient and nutritious food. More than half of the world’s population live in areas where they do not have access to enough food that can feed their people. Many deaths that occur and especially among children are as a result of malnutrition.

This then calls for concerted efforts toward attaining food security for all. One thing that should act as a wake-up call to all of us is that though many people who are hungry live in the developing world, a good number of them can still be found in the developed world. This calls all governments to come up and look for ways to provide food security for their entire people. (World Food Summit 1996)

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There are organizations that have been formed geared toward helping people to achieve this security. Studies have shown that lack of food lowers life expectancy among people. This is especially true among children where it has been found that children who lack food when growing up face retardation. Organizations like the WFP are doing so much in ensuring that all the people have food security at all times. All this is geared toward providing food security to all people. As it is, food security is even bigger than a military threat since it’s constant.

Attaining financial security is another key area where governments are putting more effort. We have all seen at one or the other the kind of devastation that an attack on finances can cause. A good example is a financial recession that the world has been going through in the last few years. This then calls for all governments to come up and ensure that there is financial security for everyone. This will ensure that issues like loss of homes or jobs do not recur as they happened during the great depression or even in the current financial recession. (Kemila 2009)


As the world moves toward the next century, non-military threats are becoming more pronounced. This then calls for all the efforts to fight these new forms of security threats. The most significant thing to learn in the threats is that while military threats are directed toward a certain group of people, these other forms of threats are indiscriminate. There is then a need to come up with modalities to fight these new kinds of threats.

It is only by doing so that we will truly become a free people. The issues of energy, water, food, health among many others shape the destiny of our world and should therefore be accorded the required seriousness. For this reason, I highly believe that the concept of widening other than deepening the concept of security to incorporate these other issues is highly commendable. Failure to do this will see the whole population wiped out by diseases, hunger among other things posed by these non-military threats.

References List

Alkire, S. 2003, ‘A Conceptual Framework for Human Security’, CRISE Working Paper.

Baldwin, David A. 1997, ‘The Concept of Security.’ Review of International Studies 23(1): 5–26.

Carlisle, T.2009, World Bank aide sees capital as ‘Davos of water security. Web.

Evans, P, & James E. R. 1999, “Bureaucracy and Growth: A Cross-National Analysis of the Effects of ‘Weberian’ State Structures on Economic Growth.” American Sociological Review, 64:748-765.

Fighting hunger. n.d. Web.

Gamba, V.1997, Identification of Threats to Contemporary Regional Security and Challenges to Governance. Web.

Kemila. 2009, The World is getting ripe for meaningful monetary reform. Web.

Research Cluster. n.d, Non military threats, energy & economic security. Web.

United Nations Development Report. 2000, Overcoming Human Poverty: UNDP Poverty Report 2000. New York: United Nations Publications.

World Food Summit. 1996, Statement by the NGO forum to the World food summit. Web.

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