National Security and Public Anxiety: Our Changing Perceptions

Sir Richard Dearlove

in The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195375886
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

National Security and Public Anxiety: Our Changing Perceptions

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This article discusses the changing perceptions on national security and civic anxiety. During the Cold War and its aftermath, security was rather a simple and straightforward issue. The countries knew their enemies, where they are and the threats they presented. On the event that, the enemies's secrets were unknown, probing techniques were employed to determine the weaknesses of the enemy. This formulaic situation which seeped through in to the twenty-first century left little room for innovation. In fact, in some countries, security maintained at the Cold War levels despite criticisms that new and emerging national security threats should be addressed at a new level. Of the powerful nations, America maintained the role of a world policeman and adapted its national security priorities according to its perception of a new series of strategic threats; however these new security strategies were without a sense of urgency. However, the perception of global threats and national security radically changed in the event of the 9/11 attack. The sleeping national security priorities of America came to a full force which affected the national security priorities of other nations as well. In the twenty-first globalized world, no conflict remains a regional clash. The reverberations of the Russian military action in Georgia, the Israeli intervention in Gaza, and the results of the attacks in Mumbai resonates loudly and rapidly through the wider international security system. While today, nations continue to seek new methods for addressing new security threats, the paradox of the national security policy is that nation-states have lost their exclusive grip of their own security at a time when the private citizens are assailed by increased fears for their own security and demand a more enhanced safety from the state. Nation-states have been much safer from large-scale violence, however there exists a strong sense of anxiety about the lack of security in the face of multiplicity of threats. Nations have been largely dependent on international coordinated action to achieve their important national security objectives. National policies and security theory lack precision. In addition, the internationalization of national security has eroded the distinction between domestic and foreign security. These blurring lines suggest that the understanding of national security is still at the height of transformations.

Keywords: changing perceptions; national security; security; global threats; national security policy; domestic security; foreign security

Article.  3581 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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