Thoughts on Post-Cold War Security Paradigm


Homeland defense is the most vital security element facing the United States in the wake of September 11th and the fall of the Soviet Union. The United States is currently living within an era that is still being redefined, understood and managed in a global context and so therefore many of the themes discussed in this document address this ‘transitional’ stage into securing a post-Cold War era, with special attention to a range of threats stemming from the development of ballistic missiles. After the fragile, but relatively stable balancing act between the United States and the Soviet Union, emerged a decade of globalization, but also one where the proliferation of ballistic missiles was unchecked and not at the forefront of American and European security policy. International relation scholars during this time also began to believe the realist paradigm was on its death bed. Instead, the world gazed in a stupefied horror as nineteen hijackers flew planes into American symbols of economic prowess and military might, and so just as the intelligentsia was picking out a casket, the realist paradigm rose from the dead.

There are a few outstanding phenomena that are shaping the current national security efforts of not only the United States but also her allies within Europe and other parts of the globe;

  • An apparent increase in the amount of nations that are attempting to undermine the regional stability and security umbrella the United States has traditionally offered, in the pursuit of other national security interests such as the development of various types of ballistic missiles under claims of national defense,
  • An increase in hostilities whether by means of conventional or irregular warfare (IW) with an emphasis on the later, and
  • Increased instability or threats to regional areas that have been relatively isolated from such security pressures in the past, as a consequence to an increase in ballistic missile development by a handful of nations.


The new emerging international security paradigm is a unique response to three major events that have taken place since 1990. Donald Snow, a renowned security scholar has indentified what he has come to define as “fault lines”, or rather major events that fundamentally transformed the international security paradigm drastically and abruptly. He outlined two major fault lines and a third event that was an “after tremor” to the first two instances. The fault lines and after tremor are as follows:

  1. The relative peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union, marking the end of a nuclear arms race that was defined by a stalemate of mutually assured destruction.
  2. The terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 where hijackers flew planes into the symbolic structures of America’s economic and military prowess, taking the lives of three thousand innocent civilians.
  3. And the “after tremor” consisting of the United States and its coalition partners’ invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, which has since then resulted in a hot and long war in both countries

Mr. Snow was accurate in all accounts on determining the major events that helped shift the international security paradigm into a new realm of understanding and classification, however the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are not merely after tremors but are fault lines in and of themselves for three distinct reasons,

  1. They have been relatively hot and long wars that were originally to be completed in a rather brief period of time and so their current nature demands strategy and operational reassessment[1],
  2. Have demonstrated the complexity in using conventional military forces to deter oppositional aggression; traditionally the most effective use of military force, and,
  3. The recognition by national security and military personnel that warfare in a post-Cold War and 9/11 world is irregular and asymmetrical and therefore military forces are in need of major reorganization efforts to maximize their effectiveness to meet any security need of the 21st century.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to re-evaluate whether these two wars are really after tremors or whether they demonstrate to the national security apparatuses of the world the new trend in the way conflicts are resolved by means of military force. With this in mind, and taking into account the all the shifts and new reclassifications of the nature of international military and security issues, the emerging threats that are manifesting themselves in various parts of the world as a result need to be responsibly addressed to formulate an effective and fruitful strategy for future global security.

The conventional military apparatus and overarching organizational structure of the Cold War US and European armies has become relatively outdated and ineffective for the IW (asymmetrical) stylized warfare that dominates the security concerns of today. The intelligence and security personnel critiques of the current structure and organization of Western security forces today are valid, in that they;

IW Critiques:

  • Shifting focus on conventional force use to boosting ranks of Special Operation Forces (SOF) is necessary;
  • Working with foreign governments to enhance capacity of all military personnel involved in operations, as well as
  • Forging closer cooperation with other parts of the federal government involved in the War on Terrorism.
For example the relatively failed initiatives of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) were a large result of,
(1) nations within the organization failing to enforce the objective of non-proliferation of ballistic missiles, and most importantly,
(2) lack of interagency agreement and mobilization on given security issues, which led subsequent administrations after the fact to misjudge the seriousness of ballistic missile proliferation.
In “The Politics of Ballistic Missile Nonproliferation” by Wyn Q. Bowen, he demonstrates the lack of inter-agency clarity and consensus when he writes,
The DoD in 1988 was unhappy with inter-agency MTCR meetings with the State Dept because “they tended to focus on philosophical rather than case discussions’. Moreover, officials from the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency thought the meetings had a ‘mixed record in deciding issues’.
As ballistic missile proliferation becomes an ever more increasing concern, the United States and its allies in Europe should devote all their efforts in formulating the most effective and streamlined process for constructing Ballistic Missile Defense systems in Eastern Europe to counter the growing regional threats such as the Islamic Republic of Iran. Accompanying the proliferation of ballistic missiles is the rise in IW and therefore conventional military strategies should be continually reassessed and change as new intelligence and facts on the ground transform the 21st century battlefield.
With the most utilized and “up-to-date” definition of IW,

A violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy

and influence over the relevant populations. IW favors

indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the

full range of military and other capacities, in order to erode an

adversary’s power, influence, and will. It is inherently a protracted

struggle that will test the resolve of our Nation and our strategic


The United States security forces should emphasis two major components, the nature of terrorist cell networks which is the primary organizational structure of oppositional forces on the battle field and a slight shift in strategy objectives from that of the 2006 White House National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.

As outlined by the NMSP-WOT 2/06, terrorist/adversary networks consist of the following basic components:

  1. leadership
  2. safe havens
  3. finance
  4. communications
  5. movement
  6. intelligence
  7. weapons
  8. personnel
  9. ideology.
Lastly, the major emphasis on IW strategy objectives should move away from:
  1. advance effective democracies as the long-term antidote to the ideology of terrorism,
  2. prevent attacks by terrorist networks,
  3. deny WMD to rogue states and terrorist allies who seek to use them,
  4. deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states,
  5. deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror
  6. lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures needed to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure success.
And focus more intensely on the following six general objectives:
  1. deny terrorists the resources they need to operate and survive,
  2. enable partner nations to counter terrorist threats;
  3. deny WMD technology to U.S. enemies and increase capacity for consequence management,
  4. defeat terrorist orgnanizations and networks,
  5. counter state and non-state support for terrorism in cooderination with other U.S. government agencies and partner nations,
  6. counter ideological support for terrorism.

This is merely a rough draft and other thoughts and revisions will come later.

[1] Security and military personnel in their 2006 QDR report addressed the reassessment of the strategy and operational capacity, therefore indicating the validity and need to take such action.


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