Collective security is a type of coalition-building strategy in which a group of nations agrees not to attack each other. They also agree to defend each other against an attack from one of the others, if such an attack is made. They work on the principle that "an attack against one is an attack against all. " It differs from "collective defense" which is a coalition of nations which agree to defend its own group against outside attacks. Thus NATO and the Warsaw Pact were examples of collective defense, while the UN is an attempt at collective security.
Collective security, in other words, is another way to maintain peace. Collective security is a much more effective approach to security than individual countries trying to act alone, as weaker countries cannot possibly defend themselves, and countries that try often become involved in never-ending arms races which actually reduce their security over the long term. Collective security arrangements encourage international cooperation. Although the UN got bogged down in the superpower conflict during the cold war, now that that era has ended, many observers expect and hope that the UN will become a much more effective actor in protecting the security of its members. The recent best example of collective security is visible in the American intrusion in Iraq.
All the member of NATO also joined hands with America in attacking Iraq. They called it a war against a common enemy who has nuclear and chemical weapons for mass destruction. Thus collective security can sometimes be misused by superpowers to conquer weak countries to exploit their wealth. Although they are pledged to defend each other, many countries will refuse to do so, if such an act is not in their own best interests or is thought to be too risky or expensive. In addition, it has been argued, collective security arrangements will turn small struggles into large ones, and prevent the use of alternative (nonviolent) problem solving, relying instead on the much more costly approach of military confrontation.
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