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Examine the Claim That the Significance of Military Power Is Diminishing in Contemporary Global Politics?

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Examine the claim that the significance of military power is diminishing in contemporary global politics?

Ever since the end of the Cold War America has doubted the British ability combat threats as a military alliance. Furthermore the withdrawal from major wars and the extreme cuts to the Armies, Navies and Air forces suggest that military power is beginning to diminish, however military power is no longer only a form of hard power to force preferred outcomes on the enemy, military power has developed to strategic weapon to maintain peace and create alliances.

In terms of physically fighting each other on the ground for land and ideals, governments are more reluctant to risk mass loss of life. Nye states in The Future of Power that “we will not eradicate violent conflicts in our lifetime” but there is certainly a large reduction in full-blown wars. We can see that this is very prevalent in the last 20 years as there has not been any recent example of countries trying to gain land other than when Russia tried to annex Ukraine. However the reaction does demonstration the modern views on hard power military force: rather fighting the world took action by introducing strong economic sanctions on Russia and aimed to cut out wealthy Russians from being involved in important world decisions. Therefore showing that economic power is becoming more prevalent and more important, economic set backs are worse than loss of land. Just as military power can be a discerning factor when comparing countries, it seems that now economic strength is more admirable than the army’s capabilities and the country’s land mass.

On the other hand military power can be a deterrent against large and potentially aggressive countries like Russia carrying out such advances. The use of force is often morally justified and can be used to retain peace and end civil wars. NATO was formed as an alliance against the Soviet Union and now seeks to protect each other with military power. The key is to ensure organisations like NATO and the Arab league use smart power rather than pure command power. Global politics is transitioning from a realist viewpoint to a liberal one. We can see from the involvement in civil wars such as Somalia in 2000 that although this is military involvement it can also be used to prevent larger scale state wars from breaking out like Mozambique’s civil unrest being suppressed by the UN disarming the rebel party and preventing a higher risk conflict, it is also seen to protect everyone’s human rights.

Military power is economically draining and it is in the public interest to reduce military activity since it can influence public spending. 2013 saw 7% of the UK’s GDP being spent on defence and this dropped to 2% by the end of 2014 highlighting the country’s conscious effort to reduce investment in military power. This clearly suggests that the government sees the reduction of military power to be necessary and implies it is less prevalent and less needed in the global playing field.

However a large argument to keep such defence in tack is the increase in non-state actors and rise in terrorist activity. These newer plays in the global political game make it very difficult to negotiate with governments because, as David Cameron stated, it is almost impossible to negotiate with terrorists and therefore military force maybe necessary. Russia, USA, UK and France have all carried out drone strikes in Syria on rebel forces like ISIS. The British are taking a realist stance when dealing with such terrorist groups since the threat is very prominent in their own country with British nationals joining ISIS as well as attacks potentially taking place with in the UK.  There has been an increase of guerrilla warfare and proxy wars where small groups of armed civilians take place in irregular ware fare, such activity sees the need to be destroyed as democratic discussions is almost impossible, the ideals need to be destroyed with hard power and military force.

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