Is America the biggest threat to international security?

Pre-University Paper, 2018

20 Pages, Grade: A





Chapter 1: International security: The State of Play
Chapter 1.1 What is international security?
Chapter 1.2 The role of the UN
Chapter 1.3 Is there a threat to international security?

Chapter 2: Aims and ambitions
Chapter 2.1 The aims of ISIS
Chapter 2.2 Reasons for ISIS’s actions
Chapter 2.3 North Korean diplomatic relations
Chapter 2.4 the complexities of nuclear weapons

Chapter 3: The horrific issue of human rights
Chapter 3.1 American and North Korean human rights violations
Chapter 3.2 Actions of ISIS




My dissertation is a very topical issue at the moment – the geopolitical situation of the world at the moment. I have an interest in the surrounding world and in international diplomacy so I enjoyed writing my dissertation very much. I shall be evaluating the role of the U.N and the current state of play of international security. As in, is there a threat to international security, defining international security and how effective the U.N is at dealing with threats to international security. As the fore-front protector of international conflicts, it is important to understand and acknowledge what the U.N does.

I will be going through the aims and ambitions of each of the three nations. For example, I shall be look at the reasons for ISIS’s actions within its caliphate and across the world. I shall also be looking into each country’s nuclear policy and the current diplomatic relations between these countries and their biggest enemies, and outlining and possible problems, which may arise from these fractured relations.

I shall also be discussing human rights. More specifically, I shall be talking about America’s international violations, for example, mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and the various issues surrounding the notorious Guantanamo bay. I shall also be looking at forced labour camps in North Korea and the various mass slaughtering of civilians by ISIS. I shall also be looking at how America caused the threat of ISIS and other associated Muslim extremists, and so should be held accountable for any stemming actions of these groups. Human rights is a very topical issue and since it is deceleration has been the reason for foreign intervention, such as the U.K’s current involvement in Syria.


The question for I have chosen for my dissertation is: Is America the biggest threat to international security?

To anyone who watches the news, reads a newspaper, or goes on social media, it is clear that there is some sort of international issue arising at the moment which may be easily considered a threat to international security. This issue, which is apparently arising, is what is going to be the focus of my essay.

In this essay, I shall be explaining and evaluating the current international climate, and I will define exactly what international security means. Furthermore, I shall also be concluding whether or not there is a threat to international security, and if there is, who is the biggest threat – whether it comes from America, ISIS or North Korea.

The main contributors to these new international tensions are; the emerging caliphate of ISIS currently operating in Iraq and Syria predominantly; the Democratic People‘s Republic of Korea (DPRK), also known as North Korea; and the United States of America (who I shall mostly refer to as the U.S in this dissertation). Each of these states- if you count ISIS as a state- regularly violate human rights- such as torture or minority discrimination, commit war crimes and other such international crimes supposedly enforced by the U.N. In this dissertation, I shall be looking at the attempts to keep the peace by the U.N, and perhaps why these attempts have failed in the past, and therefore whether or not they will fail in the future to prevent another large-scale international war.

Another big concern currently is nuclear weapons. America has the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world and has the largest annual budget for their military, bigger than what the next five top spending countries on their military budgets are in the world put together. America is, however, in the non-nuclear proliferation treaty. North Korea on the other hand has recently pulled out. This clearly shows that North Korea is gearing up for some conflict. Furthermore, just because America has agreed to non-nuclear proliferation, it does not necessarily mean that they would not use their nuclear weapons.

This topic is extremely relevant at the moment, due to all of the attention received by North Korea and America regarding their possible violations, is regarding the very important issue of human rights. It is especially relevant concerning all of the terror attacks currently plaguing Europe and the Middle East, as well as the large number of people imprisoned a Guantanamo bay by the U.S indefinitely.

In my conclusion, I will conclusively draw on who, from the result of my research in my dissertation, is considered the biggest threat to international security. However, this may not necessarily be the U.S as at the moment it could easily be either of the other two predominate agitators.

Chapter 1: International security: The State of Play

Chapter 1.1 What is international security?

According to the oxford dictionary definition, security is “The state of being free from danger or threat.” (Oxford Dictionary, Originally 1884). The oxford dictionary is a very reliable source as it has been around for half a century and has been widely used and reviewed across the world many times. For this reason, its definitions cannot be refuted by another source.

Therefore, for people to feel secure on an international scale, people all across the world must feel secure. Most people, by this definition will most probably not feel this way. Whether it be the threat from of a nuclear apocalypse due to a war between the North Koreans and the Western World, or America’s constant meddling in international politics, or the threat of terrorism from the caliphate of ISIS currently operating predominantly in Iraq and Syria, most citizens of the world will agree that there is some sort of threat or issue regarding their international security.

Another possible way to explain international security is whether people feel secure when visiting a foreign country. It is the case that many foreign nationals who visit places like Iraq and Syria where ISIS are currently operating will not feel very secure because they are international citizens. The case is similar in North Korea, where a western person would be treated very suspiciously, as if they were a spy, and the North Korean government (DPRK) had recently not guaranteed the security of foreign nationals in their country. In such cases, people would not feel very secure as international visitors.

Chapter 1.2 The role of the UN

The United Nations (U.N) is thought of by many people around the world to be the biggest and possibly the most effective agency in existence responsible for keeping the international situation secure. In this sub-chapter, I shall be looking at whether or not this really is the case, and how effective the U.N might be in the case of a serve international crisis.

The U.N has a delegation called the Security Council, whose sole purpose and interest is to tend to for and maintain international security. It has 15 Members, and each Member has one vote. Under the Charter of the U.N, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions. The role of the Security Council is that it takes the lead in determining whether there is a threat to the international security. It calls upon the nations involved in the dispute to settle it by peaceful means. In some cases, however, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international security.

However, the issue with the security council in its current climate is that it may not be in the most effective state to deal with the growing problems, such as the caliphate of ISIS or in fact the United states of America.

The reason for this probable ineffectiveness is down to the fact that ISIS is not actually a state, and therefore is not a member of the U.N. This means that the U.N. is powerless to impose economic sanctions on ISIS. Military force is the only option, however other members of the U.N would disagree with this action as military action by the U.N may end up doing more harm to regular citizens in Syria and Iraq, and it is difficult to distinguish between a Syrian rebel and a member of ISIS.

The second reason for this probable inefficiency with dealing with certain issues, such as those involving the USA, is that the USA is a leading member of the UN. In the case of military supporting being needed, most will come from the USA. If the issue concerns them, they would not send troops against themselves and so the UN would be left with very little military support. However, the Security Council could overcome this problem, if they manage to persuade other military pacts, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, or the Economic Community of West African States. However, this would be extremely difficult due to the large influence that the U.S has in the world and the formidable size of its army, navy and air force, and its huge military arsenal.

On the other hand, the U.N has successfully dealt with many threats to international security in the past, such as from 2005–2011, when United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) in Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War stopped the worsening of the situation.

Chapter 1.3 Is there a threat to international security?

I am strongly of the opinion that there is a threat to international security.

The biggest indicator that there is a threat to international security is that we have set up an international organisation to protect international security and deal with any threats to it – the U.N. Security council. If there were no threats to international security the presence of such an organisation would not be necessary in our world.

A recent survey conducted by ComRes for the Independent found that 46% of adult British voters “are more concerned about Kim Jong-un’s secretive state than the Syrian civil war, which ISIS has exploited to expand and us as al launch pad for global terror acts.” (Dearden, 2017)[1] With only 22% of respondents saying that Syria was a greater threat. This clearly shows that in general the British population believe that there is a threat to international security, and that they believe North Korea is that threat.

An issue with this survey is that it does not deal with security on an international scale, as it only asks the opinion of British citizens. A Survey conducted in 2013/2014 by Gallup International and published on; found that “The US was the overwhelming choice - 24% of respondents - for the country that represents the greatest threat to world peace today.” (Hammer, 2017)[2] This clearly contradicts Dearden’s results who found North Korea to be a bigger threat to international security.

However, both of these surveys clearly show that people do clearly feel that there is a threat, whether it comes from the U.S or North Korea to international security. On the contrary, the results would suggest that there is indeed a threat to international security.

Chapter 2: Aims and ambitions

Chapter 2.1 The aims of ISIS

The new caliphate of ISIS emerging in Iraq and Syria has many names; IS (Islamic state), ISIL (Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant) and ISIS (Islamic state of Iraq and Syria). For the purpose of my dissertation, I shall be referring to this caliphate as ISIS.

To establish whether America is the biggest threat to international security, we should first establish the aims of ISIS on an international level, and then make a judgement based on that whether ISIS is a bigger threat than America.

According to an article published in the Independent in 2017 ISIS, have six main aims:

1. To expand in Europe
2. To consolidate their rule
3. To establish an effective state
4. To rule the world
5. To challenge the great enemies of the past e.g. Rome and Persia
6. To reach a generation of Muslims

(Danny Romero, 2017)[3]

If the aforementioned aims are in fact true, and ISIS is currently trying to achieve them, then this would suggest that ISIS are a bigger threat to international security. The first aim, ‘to expand in Europe’ would involve the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. This of course undoubtedly threatens international security. The second and third aims, ‘to consolidate their rule and establish an effective state,’ would mean they would have to illegally seize land from Iraq and Syria- which they currently believe is theirs – and establish trade, government and an economy. This does not pose a huge international threat, only to those countries in its vicinity. However, in relation to their fourth aim, ‘to rule the world’, that would clearly pose a huge threat to international security, and would violate the purpose of the U.N and many of the Human rights, such as; free speech; freedom of movement; Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence; and in accordance with their sixth aim, ‘to reach a generation of Muslims’, which would violate the freedom of religion and the right to a fair and free world.

Clearly, the aims of ISIS would suggest that they are a huge threat to international security. However, I, like many others observing the geo-political scene, seriously doubt ISIS’s capacity to carry out their aims, and therefore I doubt the level of threat faced by the international community from ISIS.

Chapter 2.2 Reasons for ISIS’s actions

In this chapter, I shall be exploring the possible reasons why ISIS hate the west and therefore why they insist on being a threat to international security.

According to an article published on the mirrors website, there are six main reasons why ISIS hate the west. These are: Because you are disbelievers; because you are liberal; because you are atheist; for your crimes against Islam; for your crimes against Muslims; for invading our lands. (Evans, 2017)[4] These reasons are apparently big enough for the estimate number of 200,000 militants in ISIS’s militia to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and to risk their own lives. However, the Qur’an states: “Kill the idolaters wherever you find them, and capture them, and blockade them, and watch for them at every lookout...” (Quran 9:5)(This is a highly reliable source as it comes from the holy scripture of Islam itself, meaning it can certainly be trusted). This is where most of jihadist militant groups, along with ISIS, justify and carry out those actions. Despite this, it is a poor and misinterpreted excuse used by these extremists. “Idolaters” and “unbelievers” are specific in nature and are not general commands for the murder of all those who refuse to accept Islam as their way of life. In addition, ISIS regularly kill Muslim’s, the very people they are supposed to be looking out for and protecting.

On the international scene, ISIS cannot carry out their aims and will be never satisfy with their reasons for hating the west, as they would need to become a functioning state. For this, according to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 5 things are necessary: Assist in the acquisition of new technologies, Mobilize and channel resources to productive sectors, Enforce standards and regulations, Establish social pacts, Fund deliver and regulate services and social programmes. While ISIS may be enforcing standards and regulations – on their ideology based on the Qur’an – it is failing to fulfil all of the other criteria, and therefore cannot be considered a state. Due to their limited capacity as simply a caliphate, their impact on international security is very limited.

Chapter 2.3 North Korean diplomatic relations

The result of the recent survey on international security suggested that North Korea was the country that most British voters were concerned by as demonstrated by the study published in the independent (Dearden, 2017). North Korea or the Democratic People’s republic of Korea (DPRK), have recently been causing strife among the international community due to their supreme leaders, Kim Jong-Un, insistent on perusing a campaign of developing nuclear weapons. To determine whether North Korea is a threat to international security, we must look at the current diplomatic situation with the North Koreans and other world powers.

Anglo-North Korean relations have never been the strongest due to the Korean War; the United Kingdom has a poor relationship with the DPRK as they were on opposing sides. The UK is now, and has always been an ally of the United States, whereas the North Koreans are allied with China and Russia, who also have a poor relationship with the UK. This means that in the event of an international crisis, the UK and DPRK would most likely be on opposing sides.


[1] This source is reliable as ComRes is an independent and professional organisation who regularly conduct polls across the UK meaning their sampling would be good and there should be little, if any, political bias. The independent is also a relatively unbiased newspaper and so the results should be reliable. However, this poll was conducted straight after a nuclear test by the DPRK. If the poll was conducted after a terrorist attack by ISIS, perhaps the results would have been different.

[2] Hammer’s publication of the Gallup International survey is highly reliable as Gallup International is again an independent research organisation and all research is conducted in strict adherence to the ICC/ESOMAR International Code of Marketing and Social Research Practices. This means their results are highly reliable. However, the issue with the research is that it was conducted a number of years ago meaning that the results may not be applicable to the current international climate.

[3] The source may be unreliable as it was written for a newspaper, all of which have different agendas to promote, depending on the political affiliation of the owners and editors. In addition to this, the article was published in 2015 and so the aims of ISIS may have changed in the last three years, meaning the source may be invalid. However, ISIS is continuing to act as it did in 2015 so the source is most likely still valid.

[4] The source is unreliable as it a newspaper article from a right-wing newspaper, with its own separate agenda, which it is pushing. However, The authors gets their information from a statement already released by ISIS, which makes it a lot more reliable than if it was just a newspaper article, as it comes from ISIS themselves.

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Is America the biggest threat to international security?
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Jack Griffiths (Author), 2018, Is America the biggest threat to international security?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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