Building confidence is intended to enhance national security of nations. But the changing concepts of national security must be considered. Of course prevention of armed conflicts remains at the core of these concepts, but military threats do not seem to be as dominating a factor as in the past. Economic disparities among nations and frustrations over restricted access to international economic resources are at the root of many disputes. Disruption of ecological systems due to pollution and to the ravaging of biological resources has been described by some scientists as a threat to survival of no less significance than major wars. The AIDS virus raises new concerns over the safety of national populations. And food shortages continue to dominate the survival agendas of many countries.
How does this ever-broadening concept of national security relate to confidence building? Very simply, confidence must be instilled in many more parties than in the past. It is not enough simply for the generals or the intelligence services or even governments to be satisfied that they know what is happening throughout the world. The other parties which play a national security role must also have confidence in international intentions—the businessmen and financiers, the scientists and environmentalists, and even the farmers and doctors.
The industrial base of a nation is of great importance from a national security viewpoint. Not only is the size of the base important, but the composition of the base (and particularly capabilities to produce dual-use technologies) is critical. While the size of the armed forces of the larger countries may be shrinking, the desire to equip the new forces with the most advanced technologies increases. If such technologies also undergird commercial developments as well, the nation benefits accordingly. As to the smaller countries, a high technology industrial sector can have profound implications, both economically and militarily.
Finally, a word about the impact of the communications revolution on the way that nations interpret international developments. CNN can certainly help us focus on this topic.
Dual-use technologies have made the information revolution possible. At the same time, the rapid dissemination of information can lead to better understanding of the way dual-use technologies are being employed. Unfortunately, fragmentary information can also give erroneous impressions of the potential use of such technologies. In short, the new capabilities to transmit information around the globe both simplify and complicate efforts to build confidence among nations.
In recent years many advanced technologies developed within a number of countries have supported both military and civilian activities, and more are in various