Summary On “Security Studies And The End Of The Cold War”

This summary is on a part of the article Security Studies and the end of the Cold War written by David A. Baldwin in 1995 published in the journal “World Politics” which aimed to enlighten the reader on the evolution of security studies. Baldwin claims, based on previous literature, that the origin of security studies is often falsely connected to nuclear weaponry and the Cold War. Baldwin states security studies predates the Cold War. Baldwin accomplishes this by examining the history of security studies.

Baldwin starts at the interwar period. Using A Study of War (Wright, 1942) as his starting point, Baldwin describes it as “the most thorough and comprehensive treatise on war” using multiple social sciences to give a thorough analysis on the different aspects of war. Demonstrating that, before the Cold War, there was already a broad understanding of security studies. Baldwin claims that until 1940, the use of military force as a means to national security was mostly ignored. This rapidly changed with the start of World War II, when people viewed the use of military force as necessary to the topic of national security.

After this period, Baldwin moves on to “The First Post-war Decade”. Baldwin believed people were misled regarding the amount of academic interest into security studies. Baldwin proves this statement by mentioning the creation of numerous courses, graduate schools, journals and research centres devoted to national security, foreign policy and military force. Baldwin adds that during this period security studies focussed on four themes, ranging from security as a value instead of a goal, to the relation between national security and domestic affairs. Baldwin concludes that it was not a lack in curiosity but a change in definition of security studies that changed how scholars viewed the first post-war decade.

After this period came the “Golden Age” of security studies. Baldwin claims that during this period, scholars had many blind spots stating that even scholars that focused on military force and its relation to security studies noticed that there was an overemphasis on military force at the cost of other contexts.

After the Golden Age came The Decline, where the focus shifted from the cold US-Soviet war to the hot US-Vietnam war. This caused the field of security studies to lose interest, due to multiple factors such as the lack of usefulness of nuclear strategy, the preoccupancy on war as an instrument, the submergence of security studies into the policy-making process and the rise in popularity of peace studies and peace research. Baldwin states that after the Vietnam War, focus shifted towards economic interdependence and environmental problems and only after détente ended did security studies become prominent again.

Lastly, during the 80s, interest returned, research flourished and national security studies transformed into international security studies. Furthermore, Baldwin adds that despite the new name, this new version was almost the same compared to the security studies conceived in the “Golden Age”. The key difference was the introduction of other fields to make the study more comprehensive.

Baldwin concludes by highlighting the effect the Cold War had on the field of security studies, summarising both the way security studies looked at the beginning of and during the Cold War.

Reference List

Baldwin, D. A. (1995). Security studies and the end of the Cold War. World politics, 48(1), 117-141.

Wright, Q. (1965). A Study of War (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

07 September 2020
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