The end of the Cold War era has opened a Pandora's Box of environmental concerns that, heretofore, took a back seat to superpower struggles. Today, conflict is no longer played out within a Cold War conceptual framework. Imperfect, and at times, inconsistent as the Cold War framework was, it nevertheless provided decision makers with a recipe for action--or inaction. Since conflict is no longer structured within this framework, the two former superpowers --the United States and Russia--no longer possess clear yardsticks for action. With superpower interference in "proxy" conflict(s) no longer the definitive factor in the international arena, I postulate that global conflict will increasingly take on an environmental character. Ironically, much of this future conflict is likely to be exacerbated by the subtle incorporation of an environmental pillar into national security policy, particularly that of the United States. This paper will examine (1) the progression of "environmental security" as a valid policy concern for nation-states, (2) why policy expansion is occurring, and; (3) the possible consequences of linking environmental problems to an expanded security paradigm.

Author Bio(s)

Michele Zebich-Knos is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia where she serves as Coordinator of the International Affairs major. Dr. Zebich-Knos' research focuses on environmental policy and Third World conflict and development. She is author of numerous journal articles including "Haiti: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same," in Journal of Third World Studies and "Preserving Biodiversity in Costa Rica: The Case of the Merck-InBio Agreement," in the Journal of Environment and Development.


Brundtland Report (1987), environment and conflict, expanded security paradigm, global environmental conflict, mutual vulnerability, post-Cold War era, security

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