Dr Jamie Shea: Is international security as bad as it seems?

Published on: 27 November 2014

Fighter jet

Dr Jamie Shea of NATO spoke about international security at the University. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Is international security as bad as it seems? This is the question Dr Jamie Shea explored with more than 300 people in the Forum Alumni Auditorium on 20 November 2014.

Long-time NATO employee Dr Jamie Shea has held the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges since 2005.

During his talk Jamie discussed existing situations around the world, including IS in the Middle East and Libya, Ukraine, Russia, and previous situations including Iraq and Afghanistan.

The key theme Jamie focuses on is a world with ‘islands of stability’ and a need for rapid reaction forces in an environment of decreasing defence budgets and a rise of nationalism, especially in Europe.

Lecture abstract

Recent events have given many people the impression that the world is sliding into disorder and in some places (such as the Middle East) even anarchy. 

Certainly, security challenges appear to be impacting on the NATO countries faster, and in less tractable forms, than in recent decades when NATO was able to deal more or less with one major challenge at a time; be it Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan or Libya. 

Now the Alliance has to return to its core task of collective territorial defence in Eastern Europe, vis-à-vis a resurgent Russia, while being ready for more crisis management and defence capacity-building in the Middle East and North Africa to help the fragile states in these regions cope with the challenge of the Islamic State and other Jihadist movements. 

When challenges are multiple, gaining consensus among Allies on the priorities (such as the East versus the South) will not be easy.  Moreover, the new challenges come at a time when NATO’s defence budgets have been in sharp decline while many other countries in the world have been rediscovering an appetite for military power and modernization. 

So is this the twilight of the West as many have predicted? 

Are the challenges from a return of geo-politics or the general breakdown of governance in the South so formidable as to overwhelm NATO’s capacity to cope? 

Is there a way through this tangled web of threats and instabilities that could return the Euro Atlantic region to some semblance of order and predictable inter-state relations in the years ahead, even if it is not the cooperative community of liberal democracies that we dreamed of 25 years ago, when the Berlin Wall came down? 

These are the topics that Dr Shea addressed in his talk.

Related links

» Dr Jamie Shea (NATO)

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