Security is Everything and Everything is Security?

George Kennan famously defined national security as “the continued ability of this country to pursue its internal life without serious interference.”  The Obama Administration, with the release of its National Security Strategy, has re-defined it beyond all meaning.

I make the case at greater length in my New Atlanticist essay “Obama’s National Security Strategy Sleight-of-Hand.”

The essence of the case, though, is that, for the first time, huge sections of the document are devoted to domestic programs so tangentially related to traditional definitions of security as to be unrecognizable.   And there’s plenty of evidence that it’s being done as a means to “fund otherwise lower priority projects under the mantle of security, which has generally received precedence in budget fights.”   Rather clearly, the aim is to justify spending on diplomacy, international assistance, education, environmental programs, and other agenda items at the expense of the military and intelligence community.

Frankly, I could be easily persuaded that some of this is a good idea.   But attempting to do so by rhetorical tricks makes me very suspicious.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Trumwill says:

    Well, it got the Interstate system built. So it’s not all bad.