Economic security is a fascinating and mesmerizing terminology. It influences the minds and dictate the policy discourse and decision making at individual and national level. The notion of economic security is part of literature and policy from unknown times, but with different angle and perspective. The concept always kept well-being of people at the center. Human are striving to secure the economic security by applying all means from unknown times. They even did not hesitate to fight wars, rather war and colonization were adopted as priority tools to achieve it. There is no denying fact that Western powers extensively attacked nations across the world and colonized nations to exploit their economic resources for own benefits.
Howbeit, the end of World War-II was beginning of the end of colonization. The idea of economic security as tool of colonization started to get attraction for resource capture. The securitization of economy started which was led by the emerging multinational business community. They forged partnership with military which gave birth to industrial-military complex. The first step toward the securitization of economy was erection of elaborative global financial, economic and political institutional order. Financial institutions were used to trap countries in debt and policy traps. Economic institutions were assigned the role of carrot for toeing the policies of West. Political institutions were at the forefront to maneuver the facts in the disguise of human rights, democracy, environment and high moral values for achieving desired results. Globalization was introduced as ultimate savior, which was designed to erect Western dominated system at global level.
There is no doubt that globalization has given exceptional impetus to global economy. World Bank has pointed that from 1970 till 2015, the world GDP grew by 25-folds. It increased from US$2.96 trillion in 1970 to US$74 trillion in 2015.
“Media and independent think tanks were taken on board to spread the message of complex by giving it touch of independence. The academia, media and think tanks are working hand in hand”
Though, economic expansion does not correspond on the development front, rather it is creating problems like debt, poverty, food insecurity etc. Institute of International Finance revealed that world debt in 2018 was US$ 234 trillion, which was 317 percent of global GDP. World Bank 2018 reported that 600 million people are tarped in absolute poverty. FAO 2018 came up with figure of 820 million food insecure population. EIA 2018 highlighted that 1.1 billion need electricity and 2.8 billion need safe cooking fuel. According to UNESCO 2018 report there are 258 million kids out of the school. WHO 2018 pointed out that 2 billion people need safe drinking water, water is the pre-requisite to secure food security and healthy human capital for economy. If we delete the contribution of China on these fronts, the global picture would be gloomier. But the interesting aspect is that industrial-military complex is immune to these impacts. Rather, they are making money out of it and now world is home to many trillion-dollar MNCs.
The situation give rise to few questions, why world is suffering in the presence of growing economic size? Who is benefiting and why? How it is sustaining despite the failure to provide relief to common people?
First, world is suffering because securitization lift little room for welfare of people. The system has been defined by applying the tools of market and competition which strengthen the hands of powerful (military) and resourceful (rich) to turn system in their favor. They have designed system in such a way that all benefits lead to few powerful. It is serving dual purpose; at domestic level they capture all means of influence and global level leave no room for small and poor countries.
Moreover, industrial-military complex of West adopted economic security as an alternative strategy to colonization. The historical evidence suggests that industrial-military complex used globalization as tool of colonization through integrated web of MNCs and multilateral institutes. They applied all tools to maintain their dominance by one way or other. They even did not hesitate to invoke wars to eliminate the opposition. They extensively used democracy as a smoke screen to destabilize the opponents across the world. Economic sanction is favorite tool to kill innocent people at the name of human right and democracy. Securitization of economy helped to use economy as weapon of mass destruction. We can count many examples on this front like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela etc. Interestingly, every sanction brought a fortune for military-industrial complex.
Further, the model can be understood by the present example of China-USA conflict. The Western industrial-military complex under the umbrella of USA are in desperate position to do anything to contain China. They are exploring the options of Asian NATO, QUAD and Pivot of Asia like alliances. They are also erecting barriers for the technological companies like Huawei etc. They are also applying political tools like democracy, human right and environment to achieve the objective. Although, it seems the fight is between China and Western countries, but the reality is different. It is contest between China and western industrial-military complex. Industrial-military complex is feeling that the rise of China is threatening their extractive and unjust system, which is like colonization. The economic model of China leaves limited room for the exploitation by industrial-military complex.
Third question is more interesting, how it is sustaining. The industrial-military complex working hard to sustain it and they showed by the action that they will do anything to sustain it, by hook or crook. It is extremely important for them, as they are the beneficiary of the system. However, the tools applied by them are very interesting. From the very beginning they engage academia to create justification of their system and advocate the benefits. They encouraged academia to create a buy in among masses as independent voice. They heavily funded them. The situation can be more explicitly understood in the words of Senator Fulbright, as he said, the actual complex comprises of three players, industry, military and academia. Stuart W. Leslie has termed it the “golden triangle” of “military agencies, the high technology industry, and research universities.
Media and independent think tanks were taken on board to spread the message of complex by giving it touch of independence. The academia, media and think tanks are working hand in hand. Academia through educational institutes train young minds with focus on economy as an instrument of national security. The academia offers range of scholarships to brilliant minds from other countries, especially from the resource rich countries. It is being done to capture the mind for capturing the policy landscape to extract economic benefits in long run. These people are being promoted by providing them funding and prominent places in academia and think tanks. They use the think tanks to present their ideas as an independent voice. Media propagate it as matter of national sovereignty to convince people at mass level.
The securitization of economy undermined the well-being or welfare of people. It became second priority, which resulted in multiple problems. Thus, we need to bring back the focus on well-being of people and de-militarize the economic security. The security must be for individual not for industrial-military complex. The focus on welfare will help to fight the challenges of poverty, food insecurity, water, health, education and environment, which is direly needed now. China can be quoted as an example to strengthen the argument. On contrary, the securitization of economy will lead to in-equality, poverty, etc. as it is happening in West today. So, choice is our, what we want to focus, securitization of economy or economic security based on welfare of people.
The writer is Director, Asia Study Center SDPI
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/739375/securitization-of-economy/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.