This paper takes an in-depth look at national security in terms of protecting the citizenry from threats to stability. The reader gleans a stronger understanding of the parameters of national security as it relates to protecting a political system from external threats as well as taking offensive measures in the name of national security.
Keywords Cold War; Espionage; Globalization; Mutually-Assured Destruction; NATO; Terrorism
Social Issues — Public Policy: National Security
For as long as nations have existed, the concept of national security has served as their core interest. Institutions with the directive of assessing and taking action against international threats have been established in every political system. Western nations have moved beyond traditional battlefields and towards efforts to uncover clandestine conspirators. The security of their citizenry is insured by assessing the strengths and motivations of those who pose a threat.
This paper takes an in-depth look at national security in terms of protecting the citizenry from threats to stability. The reader gleans a stronger understanding of the parameters of national security as it relates to protecting a political system from external threats as well as taking offensive measures in other nations in the name of national security.
The Meaning of National Security
The central responsibility of the nation state is its own survival. Dangers, both immediate and potential, consistently rest on the minds of political leaders. To defend against such threats to their way of life, governments create networks, institutions, and agencies designed to locate and eliminate threats to national security.
National security has been part of the collective psyche of political leaders throughout history. As the world became more integrated and interstate relations and conflict became more prevalent, national security became a central guiding principal of nation states.
In the years after its founding, the United States was not forced to consider its vulnerability to military attack, instead focusing on maintaining alliances and developing its domestic political infrastructure. The War of 1812 changed this sense of security, as British troops renewed their conflict with the newly formed country. On August 24, 1814, the British Army laid siege to Washington, DC, setting fire to the Capitol building and the White House.
The war ended fter Andrew Jackson led American forces to victory at the Battle of New Orleans and, subsequently, the Treaty of Ghent was signed in December 1814. However, the image of the two newest symbols of American democracy in flames left an indelible mark on American leaders regarding the necessity to protect the country against attack. Historian John Lewis Gaddis commented in 2004 that, after the War of 1812 and the attack on Washington, DC, Americans reacted differently to preventing potential future attacks, "by taking the offensive, by becoming more conspicuous, neutralizing, and if possible overwhelming the sources of danger rather than fleeing from them" (Blatt, 2004). American policy pertaining to national security became proactive, seeking to foil external conspiracies and anti-American fervor abroad.
India's Central Intelligence Bureau, believed to be the world's oldest intelligence and national security agency, traces its roots to the late 19th century, when British forces succeeded in quelling rebellion and began to establish India as a British dominion. The general goals of this national security agency were to gather information about remaining rebellious and destabilizing forces in the country, to quell indigenous Hindu and Muslim elements that threatened continued violence in the region, and to better gather intelligence on the friendly and hostile regimes of neighboring China, Russia and Afghanistan, as well as nearby Middle Eastern, African, and Southeast Asian nations (Dhar, 2007).
As the examples of the early United States of America and India under the British Crown demonstrate, there are two general themes of national security. On one hand, intelligence and security agencies look inward at destabilizing elements that threaten the country. On the other, they look outward at foreign elements which also pose a risk to national interests and security.
Security within Borders
In 1794, the government of the United States was faced with a domestic rebellion. Farmers and producers of whiskey, upset by the fact that Congress had passed a new tax on distilled products, boycotted the collection of taxes by intimidating and threatening tax collectors and committing acts of. President George Washington called up approximately 13,000 militiamen to march on western Pennsylvania, where the "Whiskey Rebellion" was most evident. Key leaders of the Rebellion were arrested, but later released ("Whiskey Rebellion," 2005). The incident represents one of America?s first national security crises.
Safeguarding the security interests of a nation does not always mean defense against international threats. Indeed, the Whiskey Rebellion provides proof that attention must be paid to domestic elements that endanger a states's political legitimacy and way of life.
Threats to national security exist in numerous forms. In many cases, threats to national security are economic. For example, counterfeit currency and the trade in illicit goods represents a significant threat to American businesses and the American economy. Global trade in counterfeit goods is expected to be valued at $1.7 trillion annually by 2015, up from $650 billion in 2008.
Counterfeit currency remains a viable threat to the economic institutions of the United States. In fact, the existence of technology that can make a counterfeit bills have made it easier to place such currencies into circulation. In 2006, the US Department of the Treasury seized $62 million in fake money, a 70 percent increase over the amount seized in 2003.
Threat to a country's national security are not always man-made. In 1918, as the First World War wound down,...
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