National Security

The "securitization" of HIV/AIDS has become an issue of significant debate between the paradigms of "national security'54 and "human security."55 Orthodox conceptualizations of national security are overly militaristic and myopic, ignoring a plethora of issues (such as environmental change, disease, and migration issues) that threaten states in the modern era. Conversely, while human security arguments may be intuitively appealing, Roland Paris has argued that they present significant conceptual and analytical hurdles.56

In relative terms, the absolute mortality that AIDS has induced within the Zimbabwean population vastly exceeds deaths resulting from any armed conflict in the recorded history of that country, and it is increasingly common to hear Zimbabweans refer to the epidemic as a "holocaust." Moreover, the epidemic's contribution to demographic contraction, economic destabilization, and sclerosis in governance directly threatens the material interests of the state, and of Zimbabwean society. Thus, HIV/AIDS has a direct negative effect on Zimbabwean security.

In many countries, military and law-enforcement forces serve as control mechanisms to ensure and sustain the peace within society. In Zimbabwe, however, these units also function as instruments of terror. President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF party use them to prop up and fortify an illegitimate government, which faces claims that it stole the national presidential election in March 2002 through corruption, vote rigging, and voter intimidation.57 Moreover, the Mugabe regime apparently continues such practices as it subverted the democratic process in the March 2008 general elections and kept the MDC from attaining power.

The nascent literature on health security views AIDS-induced destabi-lization as contributing to intra-state and inter-state conflict. Elbe and Ostergard have argued that AIDS-induced mortality and morbidity jeopardize the efficacy of military institutions and may thereby promote conflict between states.58 Elbe argues that AIDS is eroding the functional efficacy of African military institutions along four dimensions:

[AIDS generates] the need for additional resources for the recruitment and training of soldiers to replace those who have fallen ill, have died, or are expected to die. . . . Additional resources are also required to provide health care for soldiers who are sick or dying. Second, the spread of HIV/AIDS is affecting important staffing decisions. High HIV prevalence rates lead to (1) a decrease in the available conscription pool from which to draw new recruits (2) deaths among officers higher up the chain of command, and (3) a loss of highly specialized and technically trained staff who cannot be easily or quickly replaced. Third . . . it can result in increased absenteeism and reduced morale. Fourth, HIV/AIDS is generating new political and legal challenges for civil-military relations. . . .59

A 2001 estimate by South Africa's Institute for Security Studies places the respective sizes of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) at 35,000 and 4,000.60 Historically, military and paramilitary organizations have also served as primary vectors for the spread of sexually transmitted pathogens, including HIV. In 2001, according to estimates by the political scientist Lindy Heinecken, Zimbabwe's armed forces had an aggregate seroprevalence rate of 55 percent.61 Extensive planning will be needed now to replace the losses of more than 1,000 professionally trained personnel per year just to maintain minimal levels of professional competency. In Zimbabwe, HIV-related military attrition will create a loss of continuity at the command level and in the ranks as experienced higher-ranking officers are forced into early medical retirement. The military analyst Rodger Yeager of the Civil-Military Alliance to Combat HIV and AIDS notes that military staff attrition also results in "increased recruitment and training costs for replacements, and a general reduction in preparedness, internal stability, and external security. In this sense, HIV/AIDS can easily serve as a domestic and regional destabilizer and a potential war-starter."62 Thus, Mugabe's military strength, which serves as an instrument of control over legitimate democratic processes, will slowly and almost invisibly erode over the next decade. Losses of more seasoned and experienced military staff through HIV- and AIDS-related attrition will induce institutional fragility in the apparatus of coercion.

In 1998, Zimbabwe dispatched military personnel and arms to fortify the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in support of the regime of Laurent Kabila.63 By 2001, 8,000 members of the Zimbabwe military were deployed to the DRC.64 Deployment of Zimbabwean military personnel further compounds the transmission of HIV, as separation from one's family often results in increased sexual contact with prostitutes and other high-risk partners. The fact that other sexually transmitted diseases often go unchecked within this group, especially during active military conflicts, exacerbates the problem. Estimates have placed HIV seroposi-tivity levels of the Zimbabwe servicemen returning from the DRC as high as 80 percent.

Zimbabwe's Air Force also will degrade substantially without a plan that overcomes likely human capital losses caused by HIV and AIDS. Compulsory HIV screening, mandated for US military personnel, is not utilized in Zimbabwe's Army, but it is selectively utilized in its Air Force. For example, Air Force aircrew and medical officers receive regular testing. HIV-positive pilots and medical officers are subject to grounding, reassignment, and eventual discharge.

Beyond the loss of gifted professionals and seasoned military leaders, the AIDS-induced erosion of human capital creates broader problems for Air Force and Army operations. It creates major gaps for sustaining crucial operational aspects of these services. For example, morbidity- and mortality-induced losses of technical talent (e.g., airplane mechanics, computer and information specialists, accountants, procurement officers) weaken the service and the mission of these organizations. According to John Daly, AIDS-induced losses in the Zimbabwe Air Force (AFZ) from 2004 to 2014 will range from 1,300 to 2,600.65

In the case of Zimbabwe, the progression of AIDS will weaken the military and its capacity to sustain national security. Although AIDS-induced mortality has certainly weakened the power of the Zimbabwean state relative to its regional rivals, there is no empirical evidence that the rising levels of contagion will precipitate war between sovereign states. This results from the fact that other proximate states are also confronting the operational difficulties associated with the contagion, such that external military adventures are becoming prohibitively costly for all affected states in the region. Further, those states that exhibit lower rates of infection, and therefore increasing relative power, will be reluctant to conduct martial campaigns in affected territories, fearing the infection of their soldiers. Moreover, the subsequent demobilization may intensify transmission within the aggressor state. This is not to say, however, that the rising levels of disease will equate with pacific relations within the state.

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