SECURITY CONCERNS IN AN AGE OF INSTABILITY

SECURITY CONCERNS IN AN AGE OF INSTABILITY

 

Fundamental characteristics of our era are: rapid change, economic turmoil, parochial choices and questionable values. There exist serious questions of security in an age of insecurity. Apart from the military side of things, those concerns relate to financial and energy security.

Financial considerations are of paramount importance for the purpose of maintaining social cohesion as well as preserving or enhancing a nation’s reputation and political impact. Especially today when geoeconomics has replaced geopolitics as a measure of a nation’s importance and influence. It is much more important today how many markets a national entity can control than the lands it can conquer.

Economic hardship undermines a country’s resolve for the future, shatters its social peace, produces crime and undermines efforts of economic development and growth. Security is questionable when a nation cannot view the future with confidence and high self esteem. The road to economic decline is primarily caused by an expensive, debt ridden and quite interventionist public sector. For a country to gain competitive advantages it is imperative to maintain a slim and well calibrated public sector with as few public agencies as possible, with a low budget and very few bureaucratic entanglements which pose obstacles to entrepreneurship. A huge public sector sucks funds away from citizen efforts to better themselves and improve their lives. Likewise, a whole generation of recipients of public handouts develops which entices the state to depend on borrowing to maintain services and fulfill its obligations.

Heavy borrowing, however, undermines a country’s independence and its security does not rely entirely on its own decisions and initiatives. The remedies are not difficult to discern. Drastic cuts to public sector employment and subsequent expenses, equal reduction of the state’s borrowing requirement, lowering of direct taxation threshold, stable and if possible long term maintenance of the same tax system and cut down of a labyrinth bureaucratic red tape may liberate a state from is bonds and therefore enhance its patterns of national efficacy and security.

To make a long story short, to safeguard security with respect to social cohesion and political stability it is indispensable to provide for a sound and expansive economy. A happy populace is the essential springboard for a country’s developmental process in a secure and smoothly functioning political environment.

Another aspect of today’s needs for a state’s security relates to energy. There are countries that sit on lakes of oil or contain in their underground large pools of natural gas. Likewise, there are states whose land is indispensable for the transportation of energy to world markets. Both sets of countries enjoy relative security on the energy field since they do not rely on others as far as the availability of energy for their needs is concerned. The rest of the world is obliged to trade in insecurity, constant vigilance and doubt for the purpose of feeling secure in acquiring the necessary volumes of gas and oil.

It has been repeatedly mentioned that the price and availability of energy depends more on events above the ground than on the situation under the surface of the earth. Wars, terrorists acts or threats, political instability, civil strife, tornados, earthquakes, floods and torrential rains may all contribute to disruptions of production or transportation of valuable energy products. Hencewith, these events influence prices and the availability of the necessary volumes to countries deprived of production or transportation assets.

There is real concern today about the future trends in energy. On the one hand the price issue with its volatility causes anxiety to countries in the middle of economic turmoil. On the other, the speed with which states like China and India grow, expanding their energy needs and enlarging their deposits, pose further strains upon the rest of the world. The issue now is not only price but also availability of the needed resource. The scarcity of energy deposits and of final products (environmental concerns do not allow for new refineries to be built) increases the tension among competing nations. The future does not appear rosy as far as the struggle among nations to secure adequate energy volumes to satisfy their needs is concerned. It goes without question that the issue of energy security lies very high on the agenda of a future peaceful world.

As far as Greece is concerned I consider as negative the prospect of the failure of the Bourghas –Alexandroupolis oil transport project. It is imperative of Greece to enter the picture of the world energy map and, although admittedly the difficulties are real, renewed efforts should be undertaken for the project to get off the ground.