During the presidential debates, the following question was asked in more than one way to the candidates: “So what do you think is the biggest threat to US security”?
The answer given by all candidates from both parties are quite scary! Some say the Chinese or illegal immigrants on US soil, others prefer to think that the energy crisis will bring conflict, and some mentioned terrorism. All valid answers from a perspective of conspiracy theorists and baby boomers. Clear indication that none of the candidates have come to wrap their heads around some of the great disruptions of our time: the effects of prolonged life expectancy in the consumer markets and pension funds; the replacement of labor hours for automated production; the unsustainable debt to income ratios that exist in the most advanced economies, the scarcity of resources left in our planet and the raising inequality that will make it impossible for the free market to operate.
And why should this be important in the context of security? Because the answers given by the candidates are based on outdated realist ideas, where military spending is the only strategy to address all problems, and where the well being of the individual is sacrificed in order to protect the state’s interests. Although the state’s interests are never defined in clear terms under realist theory, the idea that the best way to protect people is by fighting or “going back to the ‘good times when America was strong” (Donald J. Trump 2016 US Presidential debates), completely overlooks the fact that the world has changed significantly, and applying economic and international policy of the 50’s is clearly not working. Human security should be top priority in the agenda of any 21st century presidential candidate, not to be confused with state security which is precisely what candidates were referring to.
Considering the changes our world is experiencing and the inability of our candidates to offer a real solutions to these challenges. I fear that the biggest threat to the security of the US are the presidential candidates from both parties. Baby boomers, children of the cold war era who can’t think beyond conspiracy theories. They are surely quick to finance a war against ‘enemies of freedom’ without thinking that perhaps using that money to feed the people who see terrorist groups as their only way to reach means of subsistence may be a cheaper alternative to fight recruitment for ISIS. They talk about ‘bringing manufacturing back’ to the US in the era of automated production. Is that the best you can do? I hate to break the news but wage based manufacturing as a tool for economic growth is an ineffective concept. Labor intensive manufacturing should not come back because that is not where technology is headed. If that is the best they can do to stop the descent of the American middle class into poverty, then we are definitely headed towards a very uncertain and insecure path regardless of who is elected.