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Strategic Studies or Security Studies – Better Insights into Security Issues
20 Aug 2021

When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, widespread belief in a so-called “peace dividend” was created. The end of the Cold War also had a negative impact on Strategic Studies, since Strategic Studies had been very closely associated with the study of the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and its erstwhile adversary, the Soviet Union. Given the apparent demise of the strategic nuclear balance, what value could Strategic Studies then have?

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When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, widespread belief in a so-called “peace dividend” was created. The end of the Cold War also had a negative impact on Strategic Studies, since Strategic Studies had been very closely associated with the study of the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and its erstwhile adversary, the Soviet Union. Given the apparent demise of the strategic nuclear balance, what value could Strategic Studies then have?

Intellectual attention consequently shifted to the subject of Security Studies. In exploring conceptions of security that transcend the narrow focus on military power characterised by Strategic Studies, Security Studies was widely seen in academic circles to provide better clues to security issues in the post-Cold War world. However, which of the two subjects would offer better insights, if any, to states facing 21st century security problems?

As part of its 25th anniversary, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) organised an online debate between Professor Heng Yee Kuang from the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo, and RSIS’s Head of Research, Dr Pascal Vennesson, on 20 August 2021. After a lively and thought-provoking discussion, both speakers came to the conclusion that Security Studies and Strategic Studies do not have to be mutually exclusive subject areas. Instead, they are inter-related and inter-connected fields of study of the same phenomenon, i.e. international security, albeit approaching the issue from different perspectives and starting points.

Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel:

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