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National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the nation-state through the use of economic, military and political power and the exercise of diplomacy.

Measures taken to ensure national security include:

History of the national security concept

The relatively new concept of national security was first introduced in the United Statesmarker after World War II, and has to some degree replaced other concepts that describe the struggle of states to overcome various external and internal threats.

The concept of national security became an official guiding principle of foreign policy in the United States when the National Security Act of 1947 was signed on July 26, 1947 by U.S. President Harry S. Truman.

The majority of the provisions of the Act took effect on 18 September 1947, the day after the Senate confirmed James V. Forrestal as the first Secretary of Defense.Together with its 1949 amendment, this act:

During the Cold War's bipolar system, states were relying on the two superpowers to guarantee their national security.

But any system is not everlasting. Communism collapsed and sovereign states emerged without a guarantor. States had to build a nation, maintain national security and rely on themselves.

Following the terrorist September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, and subsequent terrorist incidents around the world, national security has become a paramount concern for governments and societies.

National security and rights & freedoms

The measures adopted to maintain national security in the face of threats to society has led to ongoing dialectic, particularly in liberal democracies, on the appropriate scale and role of authority in matters of civil and human rights.

Tension exists between the preservation of the state (by maintaining self-determination and sovereignty) and the rights and freedoms of individuals.

Although national security measures are imposed to protect society as a whole, many such measures will restrict the rights and freedoms of all individuals in society. The concern is that where the exercise of national security laws and powers is not subject to good governance, the rule of law, and strict checks and balances, there is a risk that "national security" may simply serve as a pretext for suppressing unfavorable political and social views. Taken to its logical conclusion, this view contends that measures which may ostensibly serve a national security purpose (such as mass surveillance, and censorship of mass media), could ultimately lead to an Orwellian dystopia.

In the United States, the politically controversial USA Patriot Act and other government action has brought some of these issues to the citizen's attention, raising two main questions - to what extent, for the sake of national security, should individual rights and freedoms be restricted and can the restriction of civil rights for the sake of national security be justified?

Technical aspects of national security

Because of the highly competitive nature of nation states, national security for countries with significant resources and value is based largely on technical measures and operational processes. This ranges from information protection related to state secrets to weaponry for militaries to negotiations strategies with other nation states. The national security aparatus depends largely on combinations of management practices, technical capabilities, the projection of images both internally and externally, and the capacity to gain enough of the will of the people to gather taxes and spend them on useful efforts. While some nation states use power to gain more power for their leadership, others provide quality of life improvements to their people, thus creating larger geopolitical conflicts between types of governments. These all have foundations in internal education and communications systems that serve to build the nation states on strategic and tactical bases and create the conditions for success and failure of the nation state. Increasingly the world is replacing transportation with communication and thus the ability to communicate effectively and convey messages in the information environment is critical to national security for the Western nations. Issues like global warming and research priorities increasingly dominate the reality of competition between nation states. All of these lead to the need to have a clear understanding of the technical issues underlying national security in order to create and sustain the institutions that ultimately feed the future of the nation state.

See also


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