Power to the Edge? New Threats, New Responses
AMERICA'S SECURITY ROLE IN A CHANGING WORLD: A GLOBAL STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT 2009, National Defense University, 2009
Posted: 18 Sep 2008 Last revised: 19 Feb 2009
Date Written: August 1, 2008
Enabled by modern network technologies, power is "shifting to the edge", allowing decentralized networked groups to compete with traditional hierarchical organization forms. The globalization of communications and computing infrastructure (together with new collaborative software) is allowing hostile non-state groups - including terrorists, criminal organizations, rogue corporations, anti-globalization movements, pernicious hackers, and proxy groups acting on behalf of or "encouraged" by other nation states or these other entities - to directly threaten national security and international stability. Increasingly, existing security arrangements and practices based on rigid geographic borders, exclusive sovereign control of physical territory, and unilateral response to global threats by individual nation states are inadequate to counter these groups effectively.
This essay provides a brief overview of these technology-enabled trends and their implications for current international and domestic security arrangements, and suggests how counter-forces might themselves adopt new strategies to meet these threats. In particular, this essay suggests that future national defense strategies should increasingly incorporate a decentralized, multilateral "public health model" for security against unknown threats based on local monitoring for emerging global threats, swarming global response resources to counter manifest threats, and developing robust resilience and shared recovery capabilities to withstand and recover from unexpected or spontaneous attacks.
Keywords: national security, non state threats
JEL Classification: K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation