Prior to September 11, 2001, many Americans viewed globalization as exclusively an economic phenomenon. Suggestions that globalization held profound national security implications were largely confined to debates that might be considered esoteric by those outside the defense intelligence community. 1 Publicist of globalization, such as journalist Thomas Friedman, did point to the “hidden fist” of U.S. military power as being critical for providing the global security necessary for the flourishing of democracy and free markets.2 But even his (relatively few) cautionary comments seemed to be drowned out by the exuberant trumpeting of a world in which geo-economics had replaced geopolitics. 3 The idea that globalization, economic interdependence, the spread of democratic governance, and the development of a global-cosmopolitan culture, would all combine to make for a more peaceful world was becoming quite widespread.
As the expression goes, what a difference a day makes. The terrorist attacks of September 11 and the subsequent anthrax scare succeeded in making evident the dangerous dark side of globalization to the American, and indeed, the world public. Global communications, efficient air transportation, borderless financial transactions, and the rights and freedom of movement afforded by democratic governance (even to non-citizens)-all considered practical attributes of the globalization phenomenon-were used to help kill thousands of people and strike at the symbolic hearts of American and global commerce and defense.
Assessing the Problem
Recognizing the existence of potential security implications, the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University commenced its study of globalization in 1999. Part of this research was funded by the Department of the Navy, ensuring a maritime flavor towards the examination of globalization and the national security decision-making process. The first phase of the project was a look at globalization from a grand strategy perspective and was published in June 2001 as The Global Century: Globalization and National Security. Among the implications identified in the first phase was indeed the impact of global terrorism as a prime transnational threat (obviously, no one predicted the form it took on September 11).
Later that year, work began on a second phase-an operational view of globalization effects, soon to be published as Globalization and Maritime Power. The primary challenge in crafting an operation view is to determine what, in fact, are the direct effects of globalization on military and naval operations (as opposed to merely the indirect effects of a changing global economy). Direct effects-if properly identified-are tangible factors upon which the Department of Defense could base its plans and force structure decisions. In that sense, the second phase study is an attempt to bring previously-identified theoretical insights to a level of analysis one step closer to that of actual defense policy-making. It is this effort at developing a sort of news you can use for decision-makers involved in determining the future of America’s naval and maritime power that differentiates the second phase study from the myriad academic books concerning the popular subject of globalization.
What is Globalization?
The inevitable opening question of any such assessment is: what exactly do you mean by globalization? Some may see globalization as an ill-defined term, with myriad potentially conflicting definitions.
For the purposes of the Globalization and Maritime Power study, globalization is defined in two complementary ways. As a phenomenon, globalization is defined as a substantial (some would say unprecedented or exponential) “expansion of cross-border networks and flows. “4 Such .. flows” may include the creation of a global financial market, expansion of democratic governance, or the increasing ubiquity of the internet and other forms of communications via modern information technology. Perhaps the simplest definition along these lines comes from scholars John Baylis and Steven Smith: “By globalization we simply mean the process of increasing interconnectedness between societies such that events in one part of the world more and more have effects on peoples and societies far away. “5 Although the U.S. Department of Defense has yet to formulate an official definition for globalization, the Defense Science Board provides one very close to Baylis and Smith, defining globalization as “the integration of the political, economic, and cultural activities of geographically and/or nation-ally separated peoples. ”
Most scholars see previous eras of globalization (notably in the years prior to the First World War), but view the contemporary flavor as being unique due to the .. revolution in information technology, accompanied by the spread of personal computers and the instant availability of information.” 7 This revolution in information technology has a much-discussed counterpart-the revolution in military affairs. But whether or not contemporary globalization represents a historically unprecedented state of world affairs, it must be admitted that it does seem to lead to a fundamentally different international system than existed during or immediately following the Cold War.
This leads to the second, complementary definition: globalization as the dominant element of the current security environment. Globalization can be seen as the defining aspect of the current post-Post Cold War international system, and therefore, an appropriate title for the system itself. The attributes of this contemporary international system-such coalition-building against global terrorism, or the cascading effects of regional economic crises in Asia or elsewhere-appear clearly entwined with the globalization phenomenon.
Globalization Effects on the Maritime World
These contemporary attributes are most evident in the direct and indirect effects of globalization on the maritime environment and on the military forces that operate in and from the maritime environment. Such changes become readily apparent due to the nature of the maritime world: through the historical evolution of international law, the oceans have effectively been globalized for over a century-that is, their use as what Alfred Thayer Mahan would call “the great common” has been open to all nations with the desire, access, and resources to master it. The maritime world can also be seen as a primary source-in recent parlance, a root cause of globalization because it is the medium by which 90 percent of world trade (when measured by weight and volume) is transported. Without the method of oceanic trade, the barriers to global commerce would be insurmountable and the history of the world would have been vastly different. E-commerce and the internet may be the symbols of the most modern version of globalization, but historically the symbols have been the ever-increasing size and speed of ships and the shrinking cost of commercial transport. Ultimately, the open ocean is still the prime medium and symbol of globalization-for the thoughts transmitted along the internet must be translated into products, which must in turn be transported to far markets.
The nature of the maritime environment as great common also bears a striking similarity to the perceived nature of modern economic globalization-particularly as identified by globalization’s discontents. The participants with the access and resources benefit the most, even as all nations benefit to some degree. Developed economies appear to have benefitted more from globalization than the least developed economies-leading to questions of structural inequity. Likewise, those nations-sea power states-who have maintained the most powerful navies and/or most efficient shipping systems appear to have benefitted the most from the oceanic common, even as subsequent benefits can be identified in all nations, including the landlocked.
From this perspective, it can be said, globalization begins at sea.
Direct Effects on Naval Force
1. Increasing non-state and transnational threats to U.S. security
2. Increasing maritime traffic and trade.
3. Increasing American concerns about economic security.
4. Military (including naval/maritime) presence and intervention in locations not previously considered of vital interest.
5. New, unpredicted effects on alliances and coalition-formation and their maritime components.
6. Proliferation of information technology and high-technology sensors and systems.
7. Proliferation of advanced weapons systems and development of anti-access or area denial strategies by potential opponents.
As explored in detail throughout Globalization and Maritime Power, there are at least seven categories of direct effects of globalization on the maritime environment and maritime/naval forces. These include:
1. A global security environment characterized by an increase in non~state and transnational threats to U.S. security. The most obvious of such non-state threats is global terrorism. However, other threats include global crime, drug trafficking, illegal arms transfers, illegal migrations, and international corruption. America’s borders appear porous to certain of these threats. At the same time, all of these threats pose the potential for destabilization of the remote regions with which the U.S. economy is increasingly linked. Both vulnerabilities to and protections from these threats have maritime components. Some transnational threats, such as piracy, are almost exclusively maritime in nature.
2. Increasing maritime traffic and trade. Since tangible international trade is dependent on maritime transport, an increase in trade due to or as a means of globalization would naturally result in a corresponding increase in maritime traffic. Estimates of this increase vary; however, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation report issued in February 2000, global ocean-borne commerce is expected to grow 3 to 4 percent annually into the foreseeable future. Increased maritime traffic raises concerns about the safety of sea lanes of communications (SLOCs), and of transit through choke points-both from a safety of navigation and environmental protection perspective and from a national security perspective. In the light of the global terrorist threat, the security of the maritime transit lanes as well as the ports servicing international trade have become very serious concerns-concerns that were deemed almost inconsequential in the immediate post-Cold War years.8 There are good reasons to see SLOCs and chokepoints as scarce resources requiring increased protection.
3. Increasing American concerns about economic security. These formerly submerged concerns have both specific and general elements. Specific concerns go hand-in-hand with the physical and indirect effects of increasing non-state and transnational threats. Can the U.S. economy weather successive terrorist shocks? The events of 9-11 have been identified as deepening the chances of an extended recession. What would happen to the economy if there were severe attacks against economic infrastructures, such as the internet and global communication? Other concerns are related to the increase in maritime traffic and trade in light of threats posed by global terrorism. What about attacks on transportation hubs or utilities, particularly the few existing super-sized hub ports? Are the sea lanes and straits through which passes international trade secure? General concerns include the question of whether the U.S. is gaining economic benefit from its current spending of defense, or whether such spending is a dangerous drag on an overburdened economy? Given that some increase in spending is needed for homeland security in the face of terrorist threats, is the rest of the defense budget-particular that for forward-deployed naval forces-being well spent? Are our defense industries being effected by globalization, and what are the effects on the economy as well as security? Is our environment-including the oceans-being imperiled by economic globalization? Whether or not these concerns are valid, they have obviously increased due to public perceptions of globalization.
4. Greater likelihood of U.S. military presence and intervention in locations not previously considered of vital interest, including regions in which maritime forces must provide the initial-and sometimes exclusive-means of applying joint military power. The interconnectedness of modern globalization, as noted by Baylis and Smith, is manifest in the cascading effects of regional conflicts. Intervention to prevent the globalization of such conflicts might take the form of peace-keeping, logistical support for local forces, or direct assault. As in Afghanistan-which, ironically enough, is completely land-locked-the significant portion of the initial forces are likely to be supported from a sea base composed of carrier battle groups (CVBGs) and amphibious ready groups (ARGs)-and supported by submarines in strike, special operations, intelligence and sea control roles. The Bush Administration has expressed some skepticism on the effectiveness of peacekeeping and the need for U.S. involvement in several of the longer-term peace-keeping operations. However, the events of September 11 and the broad range of U.S. national interests suggest the assignment of even greater resources to the future contingencies in which the U.S. chooses to become involved.
5. New, unpredicted effects on alliances and coalition-formation and their maritime components. During the Cold War, alliance behavior was relatively predictable-there was an overshadowing threat that made close cooperation essential throughout NATO and its Pacific partners. Soviet control over the Warsaw Pact and what are now independent republics in Europe and Asia was repressive, but, again, predictable in ways that are not true of these regions today. With the overwhelming Soviet threat removed, old alliances take on new characters. Traditional allies, such as France–a nation whose 2011i century survival twice hinged on U.S. involvement in world conflicts-suggest that U.S. hyperpower in the globalizing world has become disturbing. Unlikely allies, such as former Soviet republics have become supportive of U.S. military presence in their region. Coalition-building-such as the coalition supporting U.S. counter-terrorist actions-requires differing approaches and tools. One of these tools is naval cooperation, long a mainstay of NATO interoperability and the defense relationship with Japan. The use of naval cooperation and the peacetime engagement of U.S. maritime forces may need to take on new characteristics. In certain regions, such as the Western Pacific, naval operations may become the dominant, and in some cases, sole form of military-to-military cooperation with coalition partners. In a globalized world, U.S. naval forward presence-the peacetime posture of U.S. naval forces-may take on a revitalized role as an agent for political and economic stability. This naval component of U.S. overseas military presence has unique, and sometimes controversial, characteristics, which become even more apparent under globalization.
6. A global security environment characterized by the proliferation of information technology and high-technology sensors and systems. This is an indisputable feature of military globalization and a premise of proponents of the concept of an ongoing revolution in military affairs. Information technology is obviously becoming more and more ubiquitous and much of it has military application-particularly in command and control and battle management. The proliferation of commercial technology brings with it new forms of military-applicable sensors and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) techniques. For example, satellite imagery has become commercialized. The global positioning system (GPS), originally designed for military navigation, is now the prime commercial global locating system, used to track shipments and direct transportation-:both at sea and on land. The Euro-pean Union has agreed to build a rival to GPS (Galileo) that may inadvertently make military-quality information available to rogue states.
The implications of the IT explosion goes far beyond the commercial effects which characterize economic globalization. IT and advanced sensors may not yet be able to lift the fog of war, but the use of commercial off the shelf (COTS) systems greatly enhances the military capabilities of many potential opponents-including global terrorists.
7. A global security environment characterized by the proliferation of advanced weapons systems and development of anti-access or area denial strategies by potential opponents, facilitated by the proliferation of high-technology information systems and sensors described above. The proliferation of advanced weapons systems, such as nuclear, chemical and biological systems as well as increasing numbers of ballistic missiles, has become a popular concern. Moving beyond the availability of these weapons, their integration with IT and advanced sensors to create advanced anti-access or area denial systems may represent the true globalization of high-tech military power.
Obviously, it is possible to identify other effects of globalization that may impact the maritime world or categorize the effects described in a much different fashion. However, these seven effects seem an appropriate starting point for the examination of the implications of globalization for maritime power, and provide the underlying framework for the overall study.
Planning for the Future
Examining the effects of globalization is merely an academic exercise if it is divorced from real world planning. Up until now, the effects of globalization-as important as they have been on our economic prosperity-have not been identified in ways that they can be incorporated into defense planning. Globalization has been largely relegated to buzz word status. But in identifying and operationalizing the seven direct effects, the Globalization and Maritime Power attempts to provide guidelines for future decisions. For example, the increase in non-state and transnational effects (direct effect #1) would merit greater military readiness for counter-terrorism, counter-drug and counter-international crime operations. In the past, military involvement in such non-military missions was seen as diluting readiness from real missions. But, in a globalized environment, they are the real missions.
Likewise, an increase in maritime traffic and trade (effect #2) would seem to necessitate an increase in forces that protect that trade-both naval and coast guard. A robust fleet that provides for a visible, credible forward presence would appear a most useful tool for ameliorating economic security concerns (effect #3). Interventions in locations not previously considered of vital interest (effect #4)-such as happened in Afghanistan-would argue for a greater effort at sea-basing military assets in order to ensure that they are available even when land bases are too distant. Unpredicted effects on alliance and coalitions (effect #5) would seem to argue for more forward-deployed naval security cooperation efforts than less. At the same time, proliferation of high-technology sensor and systems (effect #6), and especially, development of anti-access or area denial strategies by potential opponents (effect #7) argue for counter-measures and configuration changes in the future fleet.
Globalization and Maritime Power is intended to initiate the incorporation of globalization effects into such decision-making. But it is also intended to make scholars and non-military analysts of globalization recognize the importance that sea power, among other maritime elements, has in the globalization process. Although none of the book chapters claim to be complete, definitive examinations of their chosen topics, they collectively provide an effective baseline for the analytical and political debate that is American defense planning can begin in dealing with an ever-more globalized world and the inevitable reaction from its discontents. We would welcome feedback from the readership of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW.