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"National Security" as an Ambiguous Symbol Author(s): Arnold Wolfers Reviewed work(s): Source: Political Science Quarterly, Vol.

67, No. 4 (Dec., 1952), pp. 481-502 Published by: The Academy of Political Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2145138 . Accessed: 05/11/2012 19:57
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that the foreign policytheyadvocateis dictatedby the inby the nationalsecurity morespecifically nationalinterest, thatthisshouldbe so. Today any terest. It is not surprising of security is likelyto ringa sympato the pursuit reference theticchord. such as " nationalinterHowever,when politicalformulas
" gain popularity they need to be est " or " national security

NATIONAL SECURITY " AS AN AMBIGUOUS SYMBOL

who wishto be conand scholars TATESMEN, publicists

areinclined to insist sidered as manydo today, realists,

withparticular care. Theymaynot meanthesame scrutinized people. They may not have any precise thing to different and a to offer guidance at all. Thus,whileappearing meaning to basisforbroadconsensus everyone theymay be permitting withan attractive and possibly label whatever policyhe favors name. deceptive In a veryvague and general way " nationalinterest"does from a direction of policywhichcan be distinguished suggest which It as alternatives. several others themselves maypresent which thatthepolicyis designed demands to promote indicates rather thanto individuals, areascribed to thenation sub-national that the policy as a whole. It emphasizes groupsor mankind subordinates other interests of thenation. But beyond to those it has very meaning. little this, WhenCharles Beard'sstudy of The Idea of NationalInterest in theearlyyears was published of theNew Deal and underthe
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the lineswere drawndifferimpactof the Great Depression, ently than they are today. The questionat that time was whether Americanforeignpolicy, then largelyeconomicin thewelfare was aimednot at promoting scopeand motivation, the interests of the nationas a wholebut insteadat satisfying interest or pressure of powerful sub-national material interests whatwas in theingroups. Whileit was foundhardto define standards by whichto welfare or to discover terest of national measure it, therecould be no doubt as to what peoplehad in policymakers riseabove the to see national mind: theydesired of partsof thenationto interests narrow and specialeconomic inclusive interests of thewhole. focustheir attention on themore interest to to a policyof thenational Today, the alternative is of a different character.They fearpolicy whichpeoplerefer of all of withthe " interests makers may be undulyconcerned the less inclusivena". They see themsacrificing mankind to the widerbut in theiropinionchimeric tionalcommunity is not one of transcending worldcommunity.The issue,then, as it was at thetimeof Beard'sdiscusnarrow groupselfishness, moreexclusive devotion to the one of according sion,but rather causeof thenational self. narrower betweenthe currentand the There is anotherdifference it earlier debate. While would be wrongto say thatthe ecoit is overshadowed hasceasedto attract attention, nomicinterest interest.Even in therecent desecurity todayby thenational in thefirst instance bateson theSt. Lawrence an clearly Seaway, the defenders of theproject, whenseeking economic enterprise, " involved, withthe" national their listeners interest to impress in of thevalueof theSeawayformilitary defense spokemainly whilesomeopponents stressed its vulnerability wartime atto tack. a welfare to a security The changefrom of the interpretation Today we are symbol" nationalinterest"is understandable. of external aglivingundertheimpactof cold war and threats rather thanof depression and socialreform. As a regression interest has come to be pracof the national sult,the formula with the formulaof national security. tically synonymous for a policywhichwould Unlessexplicitly denied,spokesmen

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take the nationalinterest as its guidecan be assumed to mean thatpriority shallbe givento measures of security, a term to be analyzed.' The question is raised, therefore, whether thisseeminglymorepreciseformula of nationalsecurity offers statesmen a meaningful guidefor action. Can theybe expected to knowwhatit means? Can policies be distinguished and judged on theground thattheydo or do not serve thisinterest? The termnationalsecurity, like nationalinterest, is well enoughestablished in thepolitical discourse of international relationsto designate an objective of policydistinguishable from others. We know roughly what peoplehave in mindif they complain thattheirgovernment is neglecting nationalsecurity or demanding excessive sacrifices forthe sake of enhancing it. Usuallythose who raisethecryfora policyoriented exclusively towardthisinterest are afraidtheir country underestimates the externaldangersfacingit or is being diverted into idealistic channels unmindful of thesedangers. Moreover, the symbol suggests protection through powerand therefore figures more frequently in thespeech of those who believe in reliance on nationalpowerthanof thosewho place their confidence in model behavior, international or the United Nations to cooperation, their carry country safely thetempests through of international conflict.For these reasons it wouldbe an exaggeration to claim thatthe symbol of nationalsecurity is nothing but a stimulus to semantic confusion, though closeranalysis will showthatif used withoutspecifications it leavesroomfor moreconfusion thansoundpolitical counsel or scientific usagecan afford. The demandfor a policy of nationalsecurity is primarily normative in character. It is supposedto indicatewhat the
1 Hans Morgenthau's In Defenseof the National Interest(New York, 1951) is the most explicit and impassioned recent plea for an American foreign policy which shall follow " but one guiding star-the National Interest". While Morgenthau is not equally explicit in regard to the meaning he attaches to the symbol " national interest", it becomes clear in the few pages devoted to an exposition of this " perennial" interest that the author is thinking in terms of the national security interest, and specifically of security based on power. The United States, he says, is interested in three things: a unique position as a predominant Power without rival in the Western Hemisphere and the maintenance of the balance of power in Europe as well as in Asia, demands which make sense only in the context of a quest for security through power.

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policyof a nationshouldbe in orderto be either expedient-a meanstowardan acceptedend-or moral,the bestor rational in least evil courseof action. The value judgments implicit willbe discussed. these normative exhortations of Before shouldbe drawnto an assertion doingso, attention if notexplicit in mostappealsfora policy factwhich is implicit guidedby nationalsecurity.Such appealsusuallyassumethat their whenidealin facthavemadesecurity nations goal except the ismor utopianism of their leaders hasled them from to stray traditional path. If such conformity of behavior actuallyexit wouldbe proper thata country to infer isted, from deviating the established of conductwould riskbeingpenalized. pattern This would greatly the normative strengthen arguments.The with the trouble contention of fact,however, is thatthe term " covers a range " security of goalsso widethathighly divergent can be interpreted policies as policies of security. of protection of valuespreviSecurity pointsto somedegree a nationis secure ouslyacquired. In Walter Lippmann's words, to theextent to whichit is notin danger of havingto sacrifice if it wishes corevalues, to avoidwar,and is able,if challenged, themby victory to maintain in sucha war.2 What thisdefinitionimplies is thatsecurity rises and fallswiththe ability of a an attack, nationto deter or to defeat it. Thisis in accordwith common usageof theterm. is a value,then, of whicha nationcan havemoreor Security lessand whichit can aspire to havein greater or lesser measure.3 It has muchin common, in thisrespect, withpoweror wealth, two othervalues of greatimportance in international affairs. But whilewealthmeasures the amountof a nation'smaterial
2 Walter Lippmann, U. S. Foreign Policy (Boston, 1943), p. 51. 3 This explains why some nations which would seem to fall into the category of status quo Powers par excellence may neverthelessbe dissatisfiedand act very much like " imperialist" Powers, as Morgenthau calls nations with acquisitive goals. They are dissatisfiedwith the degree of security which they enjoy under the status quo and are out to enhance it. France's occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 illustrates this type of behavior. Because the demand for more security may induce a status quo Power even to resort to the use of violence as a means of attaining more security, there is reason to beware of the easy and often self-righteousassumption that nations which desire to preserve the status quo are necessarily " peace-loving ".

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possessions, and poweritsability to control theactions of others, in an objective security, sense, measures the absenceof threats to acquired values, in a subjective sense, theabsence of fearthat such valueswill be attacked. In both respects a nation'ssecuritycan run a wide gamutfromalmostcomplete insecurity or sense of insecurity at one pole,to almost complete security or absence of fearat theother.4 The possible between discrepancy theobjective and subjective connotation of the termis significant in international relations the fact thatthe chanceof future attacknevercan be despite measured "objectively "; it must alwaysremaina matterof subjectiveevaluationand speculation. However, when the FrenchafterWorld War I insisted that theywereentitled to additional guarantees of security becauseof the exceptionally whichFrancewas said to be facing, situation dangerous other the view that ratherthan to Powersin the League expressed submitto what mightbe Frenchhysterical the apprehension relative security of Franceshouldbe objectively evaluated. It fact thatnations, is a well-known and groupswithinnations, in their differ reaction situwidely to one and thesameexternal thedanger whileothers ation. Sometendto exaggerate underit. 'Withhindsight estimate it is sometimes possible to tellexactly how far theydeviatedfroma rationalreactionto the actualor objective stateof danger at thetime. Even if existing thisdifference in the reaction to similar for no otherreasons, to make it probablethat nationswill differ threats suffices in moresecurity.Somemayfindthedanger their to obtain efforts normal and in linewiththeir to whichtheyareexposed entirely
termsif securitycould be attained 4Security and powerwould be synonymous of power,which will be shownnot to be the case. the accumulation only through to the sense-is also not proportionate in the subjective The fearof attack-security would someweak and exposed of a nation. Why,otherwise, powerposition relative moresecuretodaythan does the UnitedStates? themselves nationsconsider Kaplan,Powerand Society(New Haven, 1950), Harold D. Lasswelland Abraham " stressthe subjectiveand speculative as "high value expectancy defining security " ; the use of the term" high", by usingthe term" expectancy of security character aims level,would seemto implythat the security-seeker no definite whileindicating enunmolested at a positionin which the eventshe expects-here the continued more than an even chance of maconsiderably joymentof his possessions-have terializing.

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it unbearable consider whileothers modest security expectations thisis not theplace to livewiththese samedangers. Although whichaccountfor one or to set up hypotheses on the factors the hunchthat might confirm theotherattitude, investigation whichhave to threats thosenationstend to be mostsensitive attacksin the recent past or, havingpassed either experienced of highdegree through a prolonged periodof an exceptionally of thrust into a situation security, suddenlyfindthemselves to achievegreater security danger.5 Probablynationalefforts in partat least,to be a function of thepower wouldalsoprove, whichnationspossess of reducing dangerby and opportunity their own efforts.6 mustbe exand even stronger reason whynations Another is thatthey arenotall or constantly pected notto act uniformly facedwiththesamedegree of danger. For purposes of a workmay findit usefulat timesto postuing hypothesis, theorists late conditions whereinall statesare enemies-provided they are not allied againstothers-and wherein are all, therefore,
5 The United Statesoffers a good illustration and may be typicalin this respect. For a long timethis country was beyondthe reachof any enemyattackthat could to dismissany be considered probable. During that period,then,it could afford seriouspreoccupation with security. Events provedthat it was no worse off for had ceased to exist,governhavingdone so. However,afterthis happycondition ment and people alike showed a lag in their awarenessof the change. When raisedhis voice in the yearsbefore World War II to advocate NicholasJ. Spykman a broadersecurity outlookthan was indicated by the symbol"WesternHemisphere of the role of defensive military power,he was Defense" and a greater appreciation and impliedin it. If Hans Morgenthau dealingwith this lag and with the dangers in Spykman's othersraise theirwarningvoices today,seemingly footsteps, treading into wishful in 1945 a nationwhichaftera new relapse thinking theyare addressing towardexcessive has been radicallydisillusioned and may now be swinging security apprehensions. " or " level" of securityare not intendedto indicate 6 Terms such as " degree to the breadth in respect differences. Nations may also differ merelyquantitative as whenAmerican leadersat Yalta wereso preoccupied of theirsecurity perspective of the UnitedStatesthat theyfailed countries withsecurity againstthe thenenemy vis-a-visthe Soviet Union. The or refused to considerfutureAmericansecurity is soughtas differences may apply,instead,to the time rangefor which security France short-run were readyto offer when the Britishat Versailles security guarinsistedthat the "German danger" anteeswhile the Frenchwith more foresight would not becomeacute for some ten years.

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equallyin dangerof attack.7 But, while it may be true in theliving world, too,thatno sovereign nationcan be absolutely safe fromfuture contendthat attack,nobodycan reasonably as Canada, forexample, is threatened todayto the sameextent like Iran or Yugoslavia,or that the British had as countries muchreason in the to be concerned abouttheFrenchair force twenties as aboutHitler'sLuftwaffe in the thirties. This point,however, Therecan shouldnot be overstressed. withthegeneralization be no quarrel thatmostnations, mostof the time-the greatPowersparticularly-have and had shown, reasonto show,an activeconcern about somelack of security been and have prepared to makesacrifices forits enhancement. Danger and the awareness to be, of it have been,and continue in thisresufficiently someuniformity widespread to guarantee whichleaves room both for the spect. But a generalization frantic kind of struggle formoresecurity whichcharacterized French and fortheneglect policyat times of security apparent in American thecloseof bothWorldWars foreign policyafter little throws lighton thebehavior of nations. The demand for conformity wouldhave meaning onlyif it could be said-as it in theworking couldundertheconditions postulated hypothesis of pure powerpolitics-thatnationsnormally all subordinate other valuesto themaximization of their security, which, howis obviously ever, not thecase. Therehave beenmanyinstances of struggles formoresecuritytakingthe formof an unrestrained race for armaments, alliances, strategic boundaries and the like; but one need only recallthemanyheated parliamentary debates on armsappropriationsto realizehow uncertain has been the extentto which peoplewill consent to sacrifice foradditional increments of security. Even whenthere has beenno question thatarmaments would meanmoresecurity, the cost in taxes,the reduction in social benefits or the sheerdiscomfort involvedhas militated effectively againstfurther effort.It may be worthnotingin
7 For a discussion of this workinghypothesis-aspart of the " pure power " hypothesis-see my articleon " The Pole of Powerand the Pole of Indifference " in WorldPolitics,vol. IV, No. 1, October 1951.

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this connection that thereseemsto be no case in history in whicha country started a preventive war on thegrounds of security-unlessHitler'swantonattackon his neighbors be allowedto qualifyas such-althoughtheremusthave been circumstances whereadditional security could have beenobtained by war and although so manywarshave beenlaunched forthe enhancement of othervalues. Of course, wheresecurity serves only as a cloak for othermoreenticing demands, nationsor ambitious leaders mayconsider no priceforit too high. This is one of the reasons why veryhighsecurity tend to aspirations makea nationsuspect of hiding moreaggressive aims. Insteadof expecting a uniform driveforenhanced or maximumsecurity, a different hypothesis mayoffer a morepromising lead. Efforts forsecurity are boundto be experienced as a burden;security afterall is nothing but theabsence of theevil of insecurity, a negative value so to speak. As a consequence, nations will be inclined to minimize these efforts, keeping them at the lowestlevel whichwill providethemwith what they consider adequateprotection.This level will oftenbe lower than what statesmen, military leaders or otherparticularly security-minded participants in the decision-making process believeit shouldbe. In any case,together withtheextent of the externalthreats, numerous domestic factorssuch as national character, tradition, preferences and prejudices will influence thelevelof security whicha nationchooses to makeits target. It mightbe objectedthatin thelong run nations are not so freeto choosethe amount of effort theywill put intosecurity. Aretheynotundera kindof compulsion to spareno effort providedtheywishto survive? This objection againwouldmake sense onlyif thehypothesis of purepowerpolitics werea realistic imageof actual worldaffairs.In fact,however, a glance at history will suffice to show that survivalhas only excepbeen at stake,particularly tionally for the major Powers. If nations werenot concerned withtheprotection of valuesother thantheir survival as independent mostof them, states, mostof thetime, wouldnothavehad to be seriously worried abouttheir

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security,despite what manipulatorsof public opinion engaged in musteringgreatersecurityefforts may have said to the contrary. What " compulsion" there is, then, is a function not merelyof the will of others,real or imagined,to destroythe nation's independencebut of national desiresand ambitionsto retain a wealth of othervalues such as rank, respect,materialpossessionsand special privileges. It would seem to be a fair guess that the efforts for securityby a particularnation will tend to vary, other things being equal, with the range of values for which protectionis being sought. In respectto thisrange theremay seem to exist a considerable degree of uniformity. All over the world today peoples are making sacrifices to protect and preservewhat to them appear as the minimumnational core values, nationalindependenceand territorial integrity. But there is deviation in two directions. Some nations seek protectionfor more marginal values as well. There was a time when United States policy could affordto be concerned mainly with the protectionof the foreign investments or marketsof its nationals,its " core values " being out of danger, or when Britain was extendingits national self to " regionsof speinclude large and only vaguely circumscribed cial interest". It is a well-knownand portentousphenomenon that bases, security zones and the like may be demanded and acquired for the purposeof protecting values acquired earlier;and they then become new national values requiring protection themselves. Pushed to its logical conclusion,such spatial extension of the range of values does not stop shortof world domination. A deviationin the opposite directionof a compression of the range of core values is hardly exceptional in our days either. There is littleindicationthat Britainis bolstering the security of Hong Kong although colonieswere once consideredpart of the national territory. The Czechs liftedno fingerto protecttheir independenceagainst the Soviet Union and many West Europeans are arguing today that rearmamenthas become too destructiveof values they cherishto be justifiedeven when national independenceis obviouslyat stake.

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The lack of uniformity does not end here. A policyis not characterized by its goal,in thiscase security, alone. In order to becomeimitable, the meansby which the goal is pursued mustbe takenintoaccountas well. Thus,if two nations were bothendeavoring to maximize their security but one wereplacing all its relianceon armaments and alliances, the otheron meticulous neutrality, a policymakerseeking to emulatetheir behavior would be at a losswhereto turn. Thosewho call for a policyguidedby national security arenotlikely to be unaware this of fact,but theytakeforgranted thattheywill be understoodto meana security policybasedon power, and on military powerat that. Wereit notso,they wouldbe hardput to prove that theirgovernment was not alreadydoingits best for security, thoughit was seeking to enhanceit by such meansas international codperation or by the negotiation of compromise agreements-means whichin one instance may be totallyineffective or utopianbut whichin others mayhave considerable protective value. It is understandable whyit shouldso readily be assumed that a questforsecurity mustnecessarily translate itself intoa quest forcoercive power. In viewof the fact thatsecurity is being sought against external violence-coupled withinternal perhaps subversive violence-it seemsplausibleat firstsightthat the response shouldconsist in an accumulation of the samekindof forcefor the purposeof resisting an attackor of deterring a would-beattacker. The mostcasualreading of history and of contemporary experience, moreover, suffices to confirm theview " " hasbeentherulewith thatsuchresort to powerof resistance nations withserious threats grappling to their however security, muchthespecific form of thispowerand its extent may differ. would so manynations whichhave no acquisiWhy otherwise tive designs maintain costlyarmaments?Why did Denmark with her stateof complete disarmament remainan exception evenamongthesmallPowers? But again, the generalization that nationsseekingsecurity usuallyplace greatreliance on coercive powerdoes not carry one far. The issueis not whether there is regularly somesuch

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reliance butwhether there areno significant differences between nationsconcerning theirover-allchoice of the means upon whichtheyplace their trust. The controversies the concerning bestroadto future thatareso typical security of coalition partnersat thecloseof victorious warsthrow lighton thisquestion. Francein 1919 and all theAlliesin 1945 believed thatprotection againstanother Germanattackcould be gainedonly by meansof continued military superiority basedon German militaryimpotence.President Wilsonin 1919 and manyobservers in 1945 wereequallyconvinced, however, thatmorehope for security lay in a conciliatory and fairtreatment of thedefeated whichwould rob himof future enemy, incentives to renew his attack.While thisis not the place to decidewhich side was right,one cannot help drawingthe conclusionthat, in the matter of means, theroadswhichareopenmaylead in diametricallyopposeddirections.8 The choicein everyinstance will dependon a multitude of variables, including ideological and moral convictions, expectations concerning the psychological and politicaldevelopments in the camp of the opponent, and inclinations of individual policymakers.9 Afterall thathas beensaidlittle is leftof thesweeping genthatin actualpractice eralization nations, guidedby theirnationalsecurity interest, tend to pursuea uniform and there8 MyresS. McDougal (" Law and Peace" in the American Journal of International Law, vol. 46, No. 1, January 1952, pp. 102 et seq.) rightly criticizes Hans Morgenthau (and GeorgeKennanfor what Kennanhimself wrongly believes to be his own pointof view in the matter;see fn. 15 infra) for his failureto appreciate the role whichnon-power methods, such as legal procedures and moralappeals, may at times successfully play in the pursuitof security. But it is surprising how little aware McDougal appearsto be of the disappointing modesty of the contributions which " have actuallymade to the enhancement these"other means of security and the quite insignificant contributions theyhave made to the promotion of changes of the statusquo. This latterfailuresignifies that they have been unable to remove the main causesof the attackswhich security-minded peoplesrightly fear. 9 On the problem of security policy (Sicherheitspolitik) with special reference to " see the comprehensive collectivesecurity and illuminating study of Heinrich Rogge, " Kollektivsicherheit Voelkerbund Buendnispolitik ", Theorie der nationalen und internationalen Sicherheit(Berlin, 1937), which deserves attention despitethe fact that it was written and published in Nazi Germany and bearsa distinctly "re" slant. visionist

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foreimitable policyof security. Instead,thereare numerous reasons whytheyshoulddiffer widely in thisrespect, withsome standing closeto thepoleof complete indifference to security or complete reliance on nonmilitary means, others closeto thepole of insistence on absolutesecurity or of completerelianceon coercive power. It shouldbe added that thereexistsstillanothercategory of nationswhichcannotbe placed withinthe continuum thesepolesbecausetheyregard connecting security of anydegree as an insufficient goal; instead theyseekto acquire new valuesevenat thepriceof greater insecurity. In thiscate" gorymustbe placednot onlythe mad Caesars ", who areout for conquestand gloryat any price,but also idealistic statesmenwho would plungetheir country intowar forthe sakeof thebenefits spreading of their ideology, forexample, of liberating enslaved peoples. The actualbehavior of nations, pastand present, doesnot affectthenormative to whichwe shallnow turnour proposition, attention. Accordingto this proposition nationsare called uponto givepriority to national security and thusto consent to any sacrifice of value whichwill providean additional incrementof security.It may be expedient, moralor bothfornationsto do so evenif theyshouldhave failedto heed suchadvice in the past and forthe mostpart are not livingup to it today. The first somedefinable question, then,is whether security policycan be saidto be generally thechoice expedient.Because of goalsis not a matter of expediency, it would seemto make it is expedient no senseto ask whether fornationsto be concernedwiththe goal of security itself;onlythe meansused to thisend, so it would seem,can be judged as to theirfitnesstheirinstrumental rationality-to promote security.Yet, this is not so. Security, like otheraims,may be an intermediate thanan ultimate rather goal,in whichcaseit can be judgedas a meansto these moreultimate ends. the protection and preservation of national Traditionally, corevalueshave beenconsidered endsin themselves, at leastby in thefootsteps those who followed of Machiavelli or, forother

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stateor nation reasons of political philosophy, placedtheprince, at thepinnacle of values. Those who do so of their hierarchy thatnationalseat the meresuggestion todaywill be shocked in termsof highervalues curityshouldhave to be justified is a largeand perhaps whichit is expected to serve. But there in growing current of opinion-as a matter of factinfluential this idea. to We thiscountry fora long time-whichadheres theirown tocondemn Nazis and Communists for defending talitarian countries instead of helping to freetheir peoplefrom hereand in Allied tyranny; we enlistsupport for armaments, that theywill protect countries, not so much on the grounds national security but thatby enhancing suchsecurity theywill humanvalueslike individual serveto protect ultimate liberty. in Europeand Asia to military measAgain,opposition security uresis basedin parton thecontention thatit would helplittle to makenational corevaluessecure, if in theprocess theliberties and the socialwelfare of the peoplehad to be sacrificed; the prevention of Russianconquest, someinsist, is useless, if in the course of a war of defense a largepartof thepeoplewereto be exterminated and mostcitiesdestroyed.'0 Whileexcellent can be made to support arguments thethesis thatthepreservation of thenational independence of thiscountryis worthalmost any priceas longas no alternative communityis availablewhichcould assurethe same degreeof order, justice, peaceor individual liberty, it becomes necessary to provide such arguments whenever nationalsecurity as a value in itselfis being questioned. The answercannot be taken for granted. But turning awaynow from theexpediency of security as an intermediate goal we mustask whether, asidefromany moral considerations whichwill be discussed later,a specific level of
10 Raymond Dennettgoes further in making the generalization that," if economic pressures becomegreatenough,almostany government, when put to the finaltest, " (such as the alliancesystem will moderate or abandona politicalassociation of the United States with its usefulness to nationalsecurity) " if only an alteration of policyseemsto offer the possibility of maintaining or achieving livingstandards adequate enoughto permitthe regime to survive." "Danger Spots in the Patternof American Security ", in World Politics,vol. IV, No. 4, July 1952, p. 449.

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security and specific meansof attaining it can claimto be generally expedient. Whenone setsout to define in terms thelevel of expediency to which of security a nation should aspire,one might be tempted to assumethatthe skyis the limit. Is not insecurity of any kind an evil fromwhich any rationalpolicy maker wouldwantto rescue hiscountry? Yet, there areobviousreasonswhythisis not so. In thefirst place,every increment of security mustbe paidby sacrifices additional of othervaluesusuallyof a kindmoreexactingthanthe mereexpenditure of precious timeon the part of policymakers. At a certain like point,then,by something the economic law of diminishing returns, the gain in security no longercompensates forthe added costsof attaining it. As in thecaseof economic valuecomparisons and preferences, there is frequently disagreement among different layersof policy makers as to where thelineshouldbe drawn. This is trueparticularly becauseabsolutesecurity is out of the questionunless a country is capable of world domination, in whichcase, " the insecurities however, and fearswould be "internalized and probably magnified.Becausenations must" live dangerously", then, to some extent, whatever consent they to do about it, a modicum of additional but onlyrelative security mayeasily become unattractive to those whohaveto bearthechief burden. thetaskof statesmen renders in a democracy Nothing moredifficultthan the reluctance of the people to followthemvery far alongthe road to highand costlysecurity levels. In the secondplace,national security policies whenbasedon the accumulation of powerhave a way of defeating themselves if the target levelis set too high. This is due to the factthat " cannotbe unmistakably "power of resistance distinguished from" powerof aggression ". What a country doesto bolster its own security through powercan be interpreted by others, as a threat therefore, to theirsecurity. If thisoccurs,the vicious circleof what JohnHerz has described as the " security dilemma"setsin: theefforts of one sideprovoke countermeasuresby the otherwhichin turntendto wipe out the gainsof

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the first. Theoretically thereseemsto be no escapefromthis frustrating consequence; in practice, however, thereare ways to convince thosewho might feelthreatened thatthe accumulationof poweris not intended and will neverbe used forattack.11The chief levelwithin wayis thatof keeping thetarget in a position moderate boundsand of avoiding placingoneself whereit has to be raisedsuddenly and drastically.The desire to escapefromthisviciouscirclepresupposes a security policy in the choice of muchself-restraint and moderation, especially to pursuea seof thetarget level.12 It can neverbe expedient to or incentive curity policywhichby the factof provocation failsto increase and the nation'srelative others powerposition capability of resistance. The question forthepurpose of of whatmeansareexpedient enhancing security raiseseven morethorny problems. Policy theirreliance makers must decidehow to distribute on whatevermeansare availableto themand, particularly, how far to can be push the accumulation of coercive power. No attempt made hereto decidewhat the choiceshouldbe in orderto be expedient. Obviously, therecan be no generalanswerwhich would meetthe requirements of everycase. The answerdeA weak country pends on the circumstances. may have no thanto proveto stronger better meansat its disposal neighbors can be trusted. Potentially that its strictneutrality strong countries may have a chanceto deteran aggressor by creating ". In someinstances of strength " positions theymayhave no whilein others other even theymay way of savingthemselves; such a policy,if not to findit moreexpedient to supplement
11 Not everyone Benthamwrote that agrees that this can be done. Jeremy " with takenfor projectsof aggression are naturally " measures of mereself defense the resultthat "each makes haste to begin for fear of being forestalled." PrinLaw, Essay IV. ciplesof International 12 The Quakers,in a book on The United States and the Soviet Union: Some Quaker Proposalsfor Peace (New Haven, 1949), p. 14, state that "it is highly world through an atcan be achievedin the modern whether security questionable of military an overwhelming power." This can be preponderance temptto establish preponderance military targetthan overwhelming read to meanthat a less ambitious security. mightbe a meansof achieving

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replace it, by a policyintended their to negotiate out opponent of his aggressive designs. " is not the general The reasonwhy " powerof resistance panaceawhichsomebelieveit to be lies in the natureof securityitself. If security, in the objectivesenseof the termat least,risesand fallswiththe presence or absenceof aggressive intentions on the part of others, the attitude and behavior of thosefrom whomthethreat emanates are of prime importance. and behavior neednotbe beyond Suchattitude therealm of influence by the country seeking to bolster its security.Whenever theydo not lie beyondthisrealmthe mosteffective and leastcostly in inducing security policyconsists theopponent to While thereis no easy way to determine when meanscan and shouldbe used whichare directed not at resistance but at the prevention of the desire of others to attack,it will clarify the issue to sketchthe typeof hypotheses whichwould link specific security policies,as expedient, to some of the most typical political constellations. One can think of nations linedup between the two polesof " attackpropensity maximum and minimum ", withthoseunalterably committed to attack,provided it promises at success, one pole and thosewhomno amountof opportunity for successful attackcouldinduceto undertake it at theother. While in respect security to the first groupcan comeexclusively as a " sufficient resultof " positions of strength to deteror defeat attack, coulddo moreto undermine nothing security in respect to thesecond groupthanto start accumulating powerof a kind whichwouldprovoke fearand countermoves. it can never Unfortunately be knownwithcertainty, in pracwithin tice,whatposition the continuum one'sopponent actually occupies. Statesmen cannotbe blamed, if caumoreover, tionand suspicion a closer lead themto assume proximity to the firstpole than hindsight provesto have been justified. We believe we have ampleproofthatthe SovietUnion todayis at or veryclose to the first pole, while Canadianpolicymakers probably placetheUnitedStates in itsintentions toward Canada at the secondpole.
give up his aggressive intentions.

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It is fairto assumethat,wherever the issueof security becomesa matterof seriousconcern, statesmen will usuallybe dealingwithpotential opponents who occupya position somewherebetween but much closerto the first of the two poles. This means, thatan attackmustbe feared then, as a possibility, eventhough theintention to launchit cannotbe considered to have crystallized to the pointwherenothing could changeit. If thisbe true, a security policyin order to be expedient cannot avoidaccumulating powerof resistance and yetcannotlet it go at that. Efforts have to be made simultaneously towardthe goalof removing theincentives to attack. This is onlyanother wayof saying thatsecurity policy mustseekto bring opponents to occupya position as closeto thesecond pole as conditions and Such a twofold thegreatest policypresents dilemmas because efforts to change theintentions of an opponent mayruncounter to theefforts to buildup strength him. The dangers against of any policyof concessions, symbolized by " Munich ", cannot be underestimated. The paradox of this situationmust be faced,however, if security policyis to be expedient.It implies that nationalsecurity policy,exceptwhen directed againsta country unalterably committed to attack,is the morerational themoreit succeeds in taking theinterests, the secuincluding rityinterests, of theother sideintoconsideration. Only in doing so can it hope to minimize the willingness of the otherto resort to violence. Ratherthan to insist, then,thatunderall conditions be soughtby reliance security on nothing but defensive powerand be pushedin a spirit of nationalselfishness toward thehighest it shouldbe stressed targets, thatin mostinstances efforts to satisfy demands of others legitimate are likely to promise better in terms results of security."'That is probablywhatGeorgeKennanhad in mindwhenhe advisedpolicy makers to use self-restraint in thepursuit of thenational interest. Whilein the face of a would-beworldconqueror who is beyondthe pale of external influence it is dangerous to be di13 As A. D. Lindsay putsit, " The searchforperfect security . . . defeats its own ends. Playing for safetyis the most dangerousway to live." Introduction to ThomasHobbes,Leviathan, p. xxii.

capabilitiespermit.

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vertedfromthe accumulation of sheerdefensive power,any mistake abouthis truestateof mindor any neglect of opportunities his designs, to influence where it has a chanceof being therulesof expediency.It shouldalwaysbe violates successful, keptin mindthattheideal security policyis one whichwould lead to a distribution of valuesso satisfactory to all nations that the intention to attack and with it the problemof security would be minimized. While this is a utopian goal, policy makers and particularly peacemakers would do well to rememberthatthere whengreater areoccasions to such approximation a goal can be effected. We can now focusour attention on the moralissue,if such therebe.14 Those who advocatea policydevotedto national are not alwaysawareof the fact-if theydo not exsecurity plicitlydenyit-that theyare passingmoraljudgment when theyadvisea nationto pursuethe goal of nationalsecurity or whentheyinsist thatsuchmeansas the accumulation of coercive power-or its use-should be employed forthispurpose.'5 Nationslikeindividuals or other not groups mayvaluethings becausetheyconsider themgood or lessevil thantheir alternative; they may value them because they satisfy theirpride, their senseof self-esteem heighten or reducetheir fears. However,no policy,or humanact in general, can escapebecoming a subjectfor moraljudgment-whether by the conscience of the actorhimself or by others-which calls forthe sacrifice of other as anysecurity values, policyis boundto do. Here it becomesa matter of comparing and weighing valuesin orderto
14 On themoral problem in international relations see myarticle on " Statesmanship and Moral Choice" in WorldPolitics, vol. I, No. 2, January 1949, pp. 176 et seq., especially p. 185. In one of his most recentstatements on the subject,Reinhold Niebuhr,The Irony of American History (New York, 1945), pointsspecifically to the moral probleminvolvedin security ", he writes, nation policy-" no imperiled "is morally able to dispense withweapons whichmightinsure its survival" (p. 39).

15 It is not withoutironythat of the two authorswho have recently come out for a policy of the nationalinterest, the one, GeorgeF. Kennan,who calls for a policy of national self-restraint and humility,usually identified with morality, " (American should deny " that state behavior is a fit subjectfor moraljudgment Diplomacy,1900-1950,Chicago, 1952, p. 100), while the other,Hans Morgenthau (op. cit.), callingfor a policyof unadulterated national egotism, claimsto speakin the nameof morality.

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decidewhichof themare deemedsufficiently good to justify theevil of sacrificing others. If someone insists thathis country shoulddo moreto build up its strength, he is implying, knowingly or not,thatmoresecurity is sufficiently desirable to warrantsuch evils as the cut in much-needed social welfare benefits or as theextension of theperiodof military service.-' ManyvividexamplPs of themoraldilemma arebeingsupplied by current controversies concerning American security policy. " " Is a deal with fascist Spain morallyjustified, providedit added an increment to our security, thoughprinciples valued highly by somewerebeingsacrificed? Shouldwe engage in subversive activities and riskthe livesof our agentsif additional security can be attained thereby?Shouldwe perhaps go so far as to starta preventive war, when ready,with the enormous evilsit wouldcarry withit,if we should become convinced that no adequatesecurity can be obtained exceptby the defeatof theSovietUnion? In thislastcase,wouldnot theexponents of amoralism have somemoralqualms,at leastto thepointof rationalizing a decision favoring such a war by claiming thatit would serveto satisfy not primarily an egotistical nationaldemand for security but an altruistic desireto liberate enslaved peoples? It is easier to arguefortheamorality if one of politics doesnot have to beartheresponsibility of choiceand decision! Far be it froma politicalscientist to claim any particular in deciding competence whatefforts fornational are or security are not morally justified. What he can contribute hereis to of any general pointto theambiguities normative that demand be boughtat whatever security priceit maycost. He mayalso be able to make it moredifficult for advisers or executors of policyto hidefromthemselves or others themoralvalue judgments whichunderlie and preferences whatever security policy theychooseto recommend or conduct. The moralissuewill be resolved in one of several ways de16It would be unrealistic to assume that policy makersdivide their attention strictly between endsand meansand onlyafterhavingchosena specific target level as decide whether the meansby which it can be attainedare being morallyjustified is more likely to be passedon the totality morally acceptable. Moral judgment of a courseof actionwhichembraces boththe desired end and the meanswhichlead to it.

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pending on the ethicalcode upon whichthe decision is based. Fromone extreme pointof viewit is argued thatevery sacrifice, if imposed especially on othernations, is justified it provided in anywayto national contributes security.Clearly this implies a position thatplacesnational at theapex of the value security it to constitute pyramid and assumes an absolute good to which all othervaluesmustbe subordinated.Few will be foundto take thisposition becauseif theysubscribed to a nationalistic ethics of thisextreme typetheywouldprobably go beyondsecurity-themere preservation of values-and insist thatthenationis justified in conquering whatever it can useas Lebensraum or otherwise.At theopposite extreme are theabsolute pacifists whoconsider theuseof coercive eviland conpoweran absolute demnany security whichplaces reliance policy,therefore, on suchpower. For anyone who doesnot share these extreme viewsthemoral issueraisedby the quest fornationalsecurity is anything but clear-cut and simple. He should haveno doubts abouttheright of a nation to protect andpreserve valuesto which it hasa legitimatetitle or evenaboutitsmoraldutyto pursue a policymeant to servesuchpreservation. But he cannotconsider security the law as Machiavelli supreme wouldhavethestatesman regard the ragionedi stato. Somewhere a line is drawn,whichin every instance he mustseekto discover, thatdivides therealm of neglect, the " too-little ", fromthe realm of excess,the " toomuch". Even Hans Morgenthau who extolsthemoraldutyof self-preservation seemsto take it forgranted thatnakedforce shallbe usedforsecurity in reaction onlyto violent attack, not forpreventive war. are facedwiththe moralproblem, Decisionmakers then,of first thevalueswhichdeserve choosing protection, withnational independence ranking highnot merely forits own sakebut for the guarantee it may offer to values like liberty, justiceand peace. He mustfurther decidewhichlevelof security to make his target. This will frequently be hismostdifficult moraltask terms suchas adequacy though or fairshare indicate thekindof that may guide him. Finally,he must choosethe standards meansand thusby scrupulous computation of valuescompare

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thesacrifices, whichhis choiceof meansimplies, withthe securitytheypromise to provide. It follows thatpolicies of national farfrom security, beingall good or all evil,may be morally or condemnable praiseworthy depending on their character specific and theparticular circumstances of thecase. Theymaybe praised fortheir self-restraint and the consideration whichthisimplies for valuesotherthan security; be condemned theymayinstead forbeinginadequate to protect national values. Again,theymaybe praised in one instance for the consideration givento the interests of others, particularly of weaker or condemned in another nations, because of therecklessness withwhichnational valuesare risked on the altarof somechimera. The target levelfallsundermoraljudgmentforbeingtoo ambitious, egotistical and provocative or for beinginadequate;the meansemployed forbeingunnecessarily in othervaluesor forbeingineffective. costly This wide range of variety which arises outof themultitude of variables affecting the value computation would make it impossible, and in fact to pass moraljudgment, meaningless, positive or negative, on " national security policyin general ". It is thislack of moralhomogeneity whichin matters of security policyjustifies attacks on so-called moralism, though not on moralevaluation. The " moralistic " approach is takento meana wholesale condemnation either of any concern withnationalsecurity-asbeingan expression of national egotism-or of a security policyrelying on coercive and therefore evilpower. " " The exponent of such moralism is assumed to believethat forall peoples security can be had todayby theexclusive use of such " good" and altruistic meansas modelbehavior and persuasion,a spiritof conciliation, international organization or worldgovernment. If there are anyutopians who clingto this notion, and haveinfluence on policy, it makessense to continue to disabuse themof whatcan surely be provedto be dangerous illusions. It is worthemphasizing, however, that the opposite line of whichwithout argument, regardfor the specialcircumstances wouldpraise everything donefornational security or moreparticularlyeverything done for the enhancement of national

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of applying and abpowerof resistance, is no lessguilty simple moralprinciples to judge each case realisstract and of failing tically on its merits. admoniit can be said,then,thatnormative In conclusion, security tions to conduct a foreign policy guidedby thenational thanthestatement areno lessambiguous interest and misleading whichwas discussed earlier. of fact concerning past behavior wouldhaveto specIn order to be meaningful suchadmonitions of security whicha nationshallaspireto attain ifythe degree in a givensituation. and themeansby whichit is to be attained It maybe goodadvicein oneinstance to appealforgreater effort it may be no lessexpedient and morally and morearmaments; instanceto call for moderation and for advisablein another reliance power. Because greater on meansotherthancoercive so easilyfromextreme the pendulum of publicopinionswings from utopian reliance on complacency to extreme apprehension, " goodwill" to disillusioned in nakedforce faith only, it is parpanacea,even of ticularly important to be waryof any simple in therealist one thatparades of a policy guidedsolely by garb thenational security interest.
ARNOLD
YALE UNIVERSITY

WOLFERS