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Natural Security

Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World

RAPHAEL D. SAGARIN
TERENCE TAYLOR
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Pages: 306
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppk36
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    Natural Security
    Book Description:

    Arms races among invertebrates, intelligence gathering by the immune system and alarm calls by marmots are but a few of nature's security strategies that have been tested and modified over billions of years. This provocative book applies lessons from nature to our own toughest security problems—from global terrorism to the rise of infectious disease to natural disasters. Written by a truly multidisciplinary group including paleobiologists, anthropologists, psychologists, ecologists, and national security experts, it considers how models and ideas from evolutionary biology can improve national security strategies ranging from risk assessment, security analysis, and public policy to long-term strategic goals.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93431-3
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. CONTRIBUTORS (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. ix-x)
    Raphael D. Sagarin
  5. Part One: Introduction
    • Chapter 1 THE ORIGINS OF NATURAL SECURITY (pp. 3-13)
      RAPHAEL D. SAGARIN

      Disease, resource scarcity, natural disasters, conflicts, and deadly conflict have threatened human societies for thousands of years. But these threats are not unique to humans. In fact, the rest of the biological world has faced them for over 3.5billionyears. Biological organisms have developed millions of responses to these threats, as evidenced by the incredible diversity of body forms, behaviors, and other methods of surviving and reproducing. Some of these responses have been wildly successful, others less so. Yet even among the extinct forms that we know of, many enjoyed a tenure on Earth longer than the years that...

    • Chapter 2 LIVING WITH RISK (pp. 14-22)
      TERENCE TAYLOR

      As a general proposition it is fair to argue that through generations organisms survive by adaptation in response to risks to their continued existence rather than by eliminating potentially catastrophic risks entirely. In human societies, where a desire for stability can “freeze” a society in particular political, ideological, or religious structures, patterns of agriculture and states of technical and scientific development—collectively or individually—inhibit necessary responses to climatic and wider environmental risks. This characteristic can also make these societies more vulnerable to the risk of being overwhelmed by an adversarial human society using military or other means. This chapter...

  6. Part Two: Life History and Security
    • Chapter 3 SECURITY, UNPREDICTABILITY, AND EVOLUTION: Policy and the History of Life (pp. 25-41)
      GEERAT J. VERMEIJ

      Security has been a central concern of human societies and individual people throughout history. The scholars and policy makers who guide strategies against threats from without and within society approach their craft from the perspective of the human-based disciplines of history, political science, and economics. Human nature in this view is seen as both the cause of insecurity and the solution to it. If human nature is unique to our species, as many reflexively assume, looking to the humanities and the human social sciences for understanding and grappling with matters of security makes sense.

      Humans are not, however, the only...

    • Chapter 4 FROM BACTERIA TO BELIEF: Immunity and Security (pp. 42-68)
      LUIS P. VILLARREAL

      The security and stability of a nation, group, or people can be considered as closely analogous to the immunity of a multicellular organism against internal and external threats to its integrity. In both situations, a coordination of many individuals (people and cells, respectively) responds to threats with suppressive or destructive systems. The origin of such group behavior and of group identity, however, must be understood from an evolutionary perspective. This chapter traces the early origins of biological identification and immune systems, first found in the prokaryotes, such as bacteria. A basal concept is developed and presented that bacteria can develop...

  7. Part Three: Security Today
    • Chapter 5 CORPORATIONS AND BUREAUCRACIES UNDER A BIOLOGICAL LENS (pp. 71-85)
      ELIZABETH M. PRESCOTT

      Security threats have evolved to more closely mimic natural pressures that confront organisms and ecosystems. In nature, complex challenges require dynamic solutions that benefit from being tested in the evolutionary marketplace. These natural defense strategies offer insight into national and international security strategies for confronting nontraditional security challenges. Decision makers must respond to these evolving situations while under selective pressure from the political ecosystem. Better understanding of natural defense strategies will inform development of the most effective responses to complex threats, allowing for better integration of lessons learned from nature.

      The cold war approach to security entails countering symmetrical threats...

    • Chapter 6 SELECTION, SECURITY, AND EVOLUTIONARY INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (pp. 86-102)
      GREGORY P. DIETL

      Alfred North Whitehead (1925, 179) once remarked that “change is inherent in the very nature of things.” Despite the undoubted truth of this statement, many political scientists treat economic entities, such as states, as static and unproblematic units that move across the international stage, not unlike chess pieces (Cederman 1997). Change (new patterns of interaction among entities) through time is thus presented as merely the differential outcome between particular moments in time, which essentially “freezes” change within a static and comparative conceptual framework that is more descriptive than it is explanatory (see Kerr 2002).

      After the sudden and dramatic end...

  8. Part Four: Evolution’s Imprint:: Psychology and the Roots of Terrorism
    • Chapter 7 MILITANTS AND MARTYRS: Evolutionary Perspectives on Religion and Terrorism (pp. 105-124)
      RICHARD SOSIS and CANDACE S. ALCORTA

      The main argument of this chapter is that evolutionary studies of religion are vital for understanding the proliferation, patterns, and logic of current trends in terrorist activity. The importance of this message is becoming increasingly evident. As Simon and Benjamin (2000, 59) prophetically warned before 9/11, the threat of terrorism will “intensify, because the old paradigm of predominantly state-sponsored terrorism has been joined by a new, religiously motivated terrorism.” Indeed, in recent years there has been a rise in the proportion of terrorists motivated by religious concerns, and there is a significant correlation between religious motivation and lethality (Hoffman 1998)....

    • Chapter 8 CAUSES OF AND SOLUTIONS TO ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALIST TERRORISM (pp. 125-140)
      BRADLEY A. THAYER

      Long before the terror attacks of 9/11, the United States faced the threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Throughout the decade before the horrible attacks of that day, the United States had been repeatedly attacked but had chosen not to address the threat directly or effectually. Post-9/11, the counterterrorism policy of the United States is the antipode of what it was. Campaigns in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Sahel, Maghreb, Thailand, Malaysia, and in European states have done much to weaken the most notorious group, al Qaeda.¹ That is progress to be sure. But the...

    • Chapter 9 THE POWER OF MORAL BELIEF (pp. 141-144)
      SCOTT ATRAN

      Suicide attacks have grown exponentially in recent years, and while they account for only 5% of terrorist events, they result in roughly 50% of the casualties due to terrorism (Atran 2006b). This poses a seemingly difficult question for an evolutionary analysis of security: how would such a self-destructive behavior not only survive, but thrive, especially in a world of limited resources? Villarreal (this volume) proposes some explanations for the evolutionary roots of self-destructive individual behaviors, suggesting that they are intricately tied to the origins of group behaviors, which manifest themselves in humans as belief systems. Here, I briefly outline the...

  9. Part Five: Ecology and Security
    • Chapter 10 FOURTEEN SECURITY LESSONS FROM ANTIPREDATOR BEHAVIOR (pp. 147-158)
      DANIEL T. BLUMSTEIN

      Knowledge is power, whether it creates new ways to control a situation, or whether it simply explains the biological basis of a situation. I believe that there are lessons about security that we can learn from the sheer diversity of ways that nonhumans avoid predation. I am a behavioral ecologist. Behavioral ecologists adopt an economic approach when we study animals in natural settings to understand the evolution, diversity, and maintenance of behavior. We expect that costly behaviors will be selected against, unless there are overwhelming benefits associated with them. We expect animals will make fundamental trade-offs in how they allocate...

    • Chapter 11 POPULATION MODELS AND COUNTERINSURGENCY STRATEGIES (pp. 159-185)
      DOMINIC D. P. JOHNSON and JOSHUA S. MADIN

      Efforts to contain terrorist or insurgent populations share many characteristics that would be familiar to any modern ecologist studying the dynamics of natural populations. The quantitative tools of ecology may therefore be useful in understanding these types of conflicts. We use data on two insurgencies, one that was defeated (Malaya 1948–1960) and one ongoing (Iraq 2003– ), to examine whether a population model can offer useful insights about insurgency growth, and what counterinsurgency strategies are most likely to be effective. Population models focus on parameters critical to the success or failure of counterinsurgency campaigns: insurgent population size, mortality rates,...

    • Chapter 12 THE INFECTIOUSNESS OF TERRORIST IDEOLOGY: Insights from Ecology and Epidemiology (pp. 186-206)
      KEVIN D. LAFFERTY, KATHERINE F. SMITH and ELIZABETH M. P. MADIN

      Terrorism in the twenty-first century is unconventional, unpredictable, and potentially unavoidable. In part, this is because contemporary terrorists are increasingly transnational, industrious, unorthodox in their methods, and decentralized (e.g., Ariza 2006; Ehrlich and Levin 2005). Some have proposed that we view terrorism through the lens of epidemiology, where terrorist ideology is analogous to an infectious agent of threat to global public health (in particular, Stares and Yacoubian 2005). While the terrorist ideology–infectious agent analogy has obvious utility, we recognize that is it is both young and imperfect. Here, we take the next step and investigate the value of this...

  10. Part Six: Synthesis
    • Chapter 13 PARADIGM SHIFTS IN SECURITY STRATEGY: Why Does It Take Disasters to Trigger Change? (pp. 209-239)
      DOMINIC D. P. JOHNSON and ELIZABETH M. P. MADIN

      Prior to 9/11, U.S. counterterrorism policy and intelligence suffered from numerous problems. The striking feature about this is not the flaws themselves, but rather that these flaws were long appreciated and nothing was done to correct them. It took a massive disaster—3000 American deaths—to cough up the cash and motivation to address what was already by that time a longstanding threat of a major terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland.

      A second striking feature is that this failure to adapt is no novelty. Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War were also belated wake up...

    • Chapter 14 NETWORK ANALYSIS LINKS PARTS TO THE WHOLE (pp. 240-260)
      FERENC JORDÁN

      We live in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. As the conventional wisdom states, everything is connected to everything else, including humans, ecosystems, and nations. Physicists have examined this complexity, first as a research curiosity, later as a field of science, and currently as a new conceptual paradigm. In this chapter, I present some interesting and notable similarities between ecological and social networks and outline how our knowledge in one field may help in better understanding the other. In particular, I focus on how ecological network theory might help us in thinking about homeland security and understanding modern terrorism in...

    • Chapter 15 A HOLISTIC VIEW OF NATURAL SECURITY (pp. 261-278)
      RAPHAEL D. SAGARIN

      When considering the role of ecology and evolution in a discussion of contemporary societal issues, there is a fundamental tension between two opposing forces. First is the fact that we as individuals and societies are intimately shaped by our natural history. Second is the reality that our daily lives, our technologies, and our societal institutions appear to operate independently of evolutionary control and thus would not, or could not, benefit from an evolutionary treatment. Chapters in this volume have examined components from each side of this dichotomy. Here I argue that when taken as a whole, a natural history approach...

  11. INDEX (pp. 279-289)