Saturday, September 29, 2012

The weaknesses of 'national security'

The weaknesses of 'national security'
By Dallas Darling

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

It has become common to argue that appeasing Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Third Reich was a major cause for the slaughter that occurred during World War II. Absent from this argument, however, is that Hitler's and the Nazi Third Reich's "security through superiority" doctrine was their undoing and led to their devastating, including the military occupation of their nation.

Government leaders typically argue that their prime responsibility is the maintenance of national security. They do so by propagating the "security through superiority" doctrine. It is an

ideology that is often invoked but rarely scrutinized. It is easy and all to simplistic to equate strength with military power and safety. Vulnerability and weakness, or small militaries, are usually derided and associated with danger and insecurity. [1]

Fearing to be viewed as too weak, too appeasing, too easily pushed around, some government leaders are prone to build and maintain large land and sea armies. They either spend enormous resources on developing massive and deadly weapons systems, or at least try and purchase them. These same government officials are usually prone to use threats of military force in efforts to coerce or bully opponents.

Strong and superior national security states appear more belligerent and more likely to initiate conflicts and wars than vulnerable national security states that pursue political, diplomatic, and more peaceful-oriented strategies. Powerful and overbearing national security states misinterpret their opponents actions, imagine fears and threats, justify their actions, and pursue "any means necessary" to prevent embarrassing mistakes.

Strong national security states have to distort geopolitical processes and history while devouring their own. For decades, the US has declared that "any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States". In hindsight, Persian Gulf nations merely wanted to develop petroleum resources to improve their economies and societies.

The US justified a superior national security state, expanded its military presence around the world, and even committed genocidal policies against more weaker and vulnerable nations, like Vietnam, to prevent the supposed spread of communism and due to the Domino Theory. While the Domino Theory never transpired, communism was not always spread by steel but popular, democratic movements.

Strong national security states increase international tensions, making their nation and the world less secure. They project hostility, aggressiveness, and belligerency onto more vulnerable countries. Cuba's communists never did launch an assault against the US - but the US did attempt to invade Cuba. Neither did the Sandinistas invade or bomb the US as the Reagan Administration propagated. But the US did attack and bomb Nicaragua.

The John F Kennedy administration constantly verbalized a "missile gap" theory. What this really meant was a massive increase of nuclear-biological-chemical weapons that led to the illogical Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine. The Ronald Reagan administration, along with those that followed, argued for a "margin of safety". This actually meant superiority through military strength. The George W Bush administration's ill-fated preemptive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed a kind of "absolute" national security.

But like the Third Reich, a strong absolute national security state and its "security through superiority" doctrine is having a devastating impact on the US In retrospection, a more stronger national security would have sought diplomacy, appeasement, accommodation, and would have trusted other nations to help bring to justice those responsible for September 11. Real superiority would have meant pursuing a policy of patience and "smart" power.

In the great majority of species, conflict between two animals of the same kind almost invariably stops short of slaughter. The fight continues until one of the combatants gives in and retreats, or appeases, the other combatant. The jackdaw will offer the vulnerable back of his skull to the beak of his attacker. An appeasing wolf will avert his head and present his jugular vein to his assailant's teeth.

A submissive rat will roll over and expose his soft underbelly to the victor. A turkey will acknowledges defeat by stretching its neck out. Some animals will utterly stop fighting, signaling a peaceful compromise and truce. [2] Still yet, and even in hierarchical orders, alpha-leaders will not fight to their death. Instead, they carefully and cautiously choose their battles. These instincts help them survive and to save their strength.

Animals practice a "balance of power", more so than humans. Unlike animal kingdoms, human kingdoms are more likely to commit massacres and engage in genocidal wars. In the 20th century, and with reference to World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, tens of millions of humans were killed and slaughtered. Such extreme national security and violent aggression would have caused mass extinction among many animal species.

To prevent more regional human-like extinction, perhaps its time to scrutinize major national security states that practice security through "military" superiority. Again, real national security may be better realized through diplomatic, peaceful, and other more "vulnerable", overtures. Superiority through strength might be realized by trusting other nations and being susceptible to the ideals of appeasement and smaller militaries.

Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas' writings at and

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.

(Copyright 2012 Dallas Darling)

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