Communications is a specific knowledge area that will be of vital importance in science and academics in our era. But as with many other areas, it is enriched, reinforced, and establishes its presence in different realms, such as politics, technology, the corporate world, or any other social or outreach context where it might be applied. The very topics about which a social communication process is undertaken condition and determine how it is carried out and the degree of knowledge about it. This is the reason why we have included some of the proposals from this 1st Forum within this type of interdisciplinary approach. Security is one of these areas; it becomes more and more important as the processes of digitalization and connectivity advance, and it is increasingly involved in the development of technology and strategies, whether they be regarding information and communication or those used in the fight against misinformation and digital and cyberspace crime.
National Security and Communications. This is how general Francisco José Dacoba, director of the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies, wanted to entitle his conference during Communications Week. This serves as a guide to better understand just how important communications in security systems is and the risks and threats that the evolution of knowledge society towards the global “fifth generation” environment in which we currently find ourselves entails. In the unequal and multipolar world that we know today, after years of American hegemony, disruptive communications technologies are reconfiguring international relations. With varied players, who were unknown until recently, criminal groups and terrorists with capacity to act, demographic and population movements that are going to change the face of the planet, and global problems that we are not able to deal with alone,
the concept of security has changed for good. “Firstly, because ever since September 11th, 2001, security is no longer the almost exclusive responsibility of the Department of Defense; this responsibility is now assumed by all government entities, and is perceived as a whole that affects all countries, international organizations, and society itself.” From the defense culture, which is how efforts to generate social support for the activities of the Armed Forces was called, to the current push to raise awareness about security (which brings together national security forces and authorities, the Spanish government as a whole, and non-governmental and social players), security communications and its role in these efforts have changed substantially, as have the complicated dynamics of international relations.
From the period where the United States dominated global influence, after the fall of the Soviet Union, where it was multilateral while under Democratic governance and more unilateral under the Republicans, the international structure has evolved. After the economic crisis, the emergence of new powers and players and the Jihadist phenomenon, it has morphed into a multipolar society where three powers dominate and vie within the global framework: the United States, which continues to be a leader in defense and communications, among other things; China, which acts as a disruptive power in trade and economic matters, with ambitious projects such as the New Silk Road, aspiring to expand its influence; and Russia, which continues its rivalry over security matters in certain realms and regions. “Europe needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up,” says general Dacoba, to showcase the weakness of the Europeans in defense and the need to reinforce our national and supranational idea of democracy, values, and shared stability, in addition to solving specific aspects such as the dilemma of security on the southern and eastern border, in a way that is equal among the European countries.
Technology is another area where the scramble to consolidate positions on the future world stage and virtual arena is quite obvious today and will become even more so in the future. China has launched its project, Made in China 2025, to openly compete with American and Western communication technologies, and even India, which can become an ever-increasingly important player in a short period of time, just like other minor powers, is doing the same. With this complex and unstable scenario, new information and digital technologies produce different phenomena, which general Dacoba condensed into five noteworthy trends: a virtual, de-localized, transversal, and uncontrollable society; within this society, new forms of terrorism and crime emerge; fake news, difficult to neutralize, appears; innovations in communications are used as destabilization instruments; the players, countries, and powers also seek to manipulate the public perception and opinion, and attempt to influence them, both their own as well as that of other countries, including rivals. The reality of security, determined by communication and new and future technologies, has changed and integrates strategies and concepts such as cyberwar and hybrid conflicts; at the same time, its complexity also increases. Thus, it becomes imperative that its scope be known and that citizens and civil society be engaged as players in risk reduction and in strengthening the multidimensional security systems. “Fostering awareness with a unique, open argument by the Armed Forces” is, in general Dacoba’s opinion, a basic strategy to tackle the challenges posed in the past few years, such as the creation and broadcasting of true, objective messages, as “we have nothing to hide in a full democracy such as Spain’s,” and maintaining fluid communication with the media.