Globalization and the National Security State: A Framework for Analysis


  • 1An earlier version of this essay was presented at a meeting of the International Studies Association in Budapest, Hungary, May 26–28, 2003. We thank Baldev Raj Nayar, G. John Ikenberry, and John A. Hall for their comments on this earlier version. We are also grateful to Heloise Blondy, Louis-Blais Dumais-Levesque, William Hogg, Kate Muller, and Liz Smith-Kawasaki for their research assistance and Fonds quebecois de la recherchè sur la societe et la culture (FORSC) for financial assistance.


A growing body of scholarly literature argues that globalization has weakened the national security state. In this essay, we examine the globalization school's main propositions by analyzing the national security strategies of four categories of states: (1) major powers, (2) states in stable regions, (3) states in regions of enduring rivalries, and (4) weak and failed states. We conclude that the globalizations school's claims are overstated given that states of all types pursue more traditional security policies than they would expect. To the extent that globalization has affected the pursuit of national security, it has done so unevenly. States in stable regions appear to have embraced the changes rendered by globalization the most, states in regions of enduring rivalries the least. Although the weak and failed states also show signs of having been affected by globalization, many of the “symptoms” they manifest have more to do with internal difficulties than external challenges.