National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States after World War II. Initially focusing on military might, it now encompasses a broad range of facets, all of which impinge on the non military or economic security of the nation and the values espoused by the national society. Accordingly, in order to possess national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security, etc. Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as other nation-states but also non-state actors such as violent non-state actors, narcotic cartels, multinational corporations and non-governmental organisations; some authorities include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage in this category.
Measures taken to ensure national security include:
- using diplomacy to rally allies and isolate threats
- marshalling economic power to facilitate or compel cooperation
- maintaining effective armed forces
- implementing civil defense and emergency preparedness measures (including anti-terrorism legislation)
- ensuring the resilience and redundancy of critical infrastructure
- using intelligence services to detect and defeat or avoid threats and espionage, and to protect classified information
- using counterintelligence services or secret police to protect the nation from internal threats
There is no single universally accepted definition of national security. The variety of definitions provide an overview of the many usages of this concept. The concept still remains ambiguous, having originated from simpler definitions which initially emphasised the freedom from military threat and political coercion to later increase in sophistication and include other forms of non-military security as suited the circumstances of the time.
A typical dictionary definition, in this case from the Macmillan Dictionary (online version), defines the term as “the protection or the safety of a country’s secrets and its citizens” emphasising the overall security of a nation and a nation state. Walter Lippmann, in 1943, defined it in terms of war saying that “a nation has security when it does not have to sacrifice its legitimate ínterests to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain them by war”. A later definition by Harold Lasswell, a political scientist, in 1950, looks at national security from almost the same aspect, that of external coercion:
“The distinctive meaning of national security means freedom from foreign dictation.”
Arnold Wolfers (1960), while recognising the need to segregate the subjectivity of the conceptual idea from the objectivity, talks of threats to acquired values:
“An ambiguous symbol meaning different things to different people. National security objectively means the absence of threats to acquired values and subjectively, the absence of fear that such values will be attacked.”
The 1996 definition propagated by the National Defence College of India accretes the elements of national power:
“National security is an appropriate and aggressive blend of political resilience and maturity, human resources, economic structure and capacity, technological competence, industrial base and availability of natural resources and finally the military might.”
Harold Brown, U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1977 to 1981 in the Carter administration, enlarged the definition of national security by including elements such as economic and environmental security:
“National security then is the ability to preserve the nation’s physical integrity and territory; to maintain its economic relations with the rest of the world on reasonable terms; to preserve its nature, institution, and governance from disruption from outside; and to control its borders.”
In Harvard University history professor Charles Maier’s definition of 1990, national security is defined through the lens of national power:
“National security… is best described as a capacity to control those domestic and foreign conditions that the public opinion of a given community believes necessary to enjoy its own self-determination or autonomy, prosperity and wellbeing.”
According to Prabhakaran Paleri, author of National Security, Imperatives and Challenges, national security may be defined as:
The measurable state of the capability of a nation to overcome the multi-dimensional threats to the apparent well-being of its people and its survival as a nation-state at any given time, by balancing all instruments of state policy through governance,that can be indexed by computation, empirically or otherwise,and is extendable to global security by variables external to it.”
See more at: National security – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.