Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
A security dilemma is a situation in which the actions taken by a state to increase its own security cause reactions from other states, which leads to a decrease rather than an increase in the state's security. Some scholars of international relations find that the security dilemma is the most important source of conflict in international relations. They argue that in the international realm, there is no legitimate monopoly of violence—that is, there is no world government—and as a consequence, each state must take care of its own security and survival. For this reason, the primary goal of states is to maximize their own security. Even if states focus solely on this goal and have no intention of harming others, many of the actions taken by states to increase their own security—such as weapons procurement and the development of new military technologies—will decrease the security of others. Decreasing the security ...