Lt Gen Ashok Joshi (Retd)





A Worldview of Security

This is an effort to interpret ‘security’. The term is used in so many ways that unless most of what goes under the rubric is presented with reference to a framework[i][1], a deliberate and systematic study of security would be difficult. It is obvious that security means many things to many people. The plethora of definitions of national security[ii][2] is a testimony to this. There is something very innocuous and righteous about ‘security’ because it connotes, prima facie, a totally just and unexceptional proposition: protection and guarding of own assets. To that extent, it is comparable to ‘defence’; in no need of justification of any kind. It is a small wonder therefore that towards the end of World War II, a lot of ministries and departments of ‘war’ dropped that word, which had become odious by then, and replaced it by ‘defence’ or ‘defense’. In itself a cosmetic change but not to be slighted for that reason. Democracies show as much panache for nice sounding words as do totalitarian systems. It is only right to fight for anything that needs to be defended—democracy, free-trade, human rights, capitalism et al; and security of course cannot be denied to anyone.

In the worldview presented here security appears as a set of enabling preconditions that facilitate pursuit of interests. ‘Interests’ is rather vague. What is meant by interests is both preservation and protection of assets, as also, acquisition and assimilation of new assets. ‘Assets’, obviously, implies not just material assets, although they too stand included. Anything and everything that is essential for collective existence and happiness may be included under that rubric. ‘Security’ implies not only preservation and protection of existing assets but also freedom and opportunity to take up preferred activities and pursuits.

Apart from lack of vision or energy what inhibits ‘endeavour’ is the fear that it may entail an unacceptable level of risk which eventually may degrade or wipe out the original assets. What is meant by endeavour here is the totality of productive activity that an individual or a community undertakes. Fear is one of the ‘inhibitors’, and it can be of many kinds, and on many accounts. Some of the other inhibitors are—actual loss, pain, overwhelming costs, uncertainty, loss of hope, or obstructions.

Fear of rise in oil prices induces caution amongst all entrepreneurs except major oil producers. The actual rise is even worse because it cuts into profits and slows down the economy. The possibility of inadequate availability of energy presents a hopeless situation to many under developed countries. Repeated strikes by terrorists impose pain on the surviving victims and the bereaved which, in turn, impacts enlarging numbers till it reaches a level at which normal activity comes to a standstill as happened in Punjab in 1980s. Import restrictions kept in place by countries of industrialized North, under one pretext or another including the invocation of child-welfare, are obstructions that thwart developing countries in their effort to export. Export restrictions on outsourcing have a similar effect. When the impact of ‘inhibitors’ reaches an unacceptable level, it gives rise to doubts and inaction in the affected people which, ultimately, may lead to loss of hope. In many societies such conditions may lead to frustration and radicalism. Most people perceive security as opportunity to prosper, freedom from fear, and a reasonable chance to prevail. Every endeavour is associated with fears or uncertainties of some kind or the other, and unless the inhibitors are kept below the tolerance levels only the exceptional are likely to undertake anything worthwhile. Keeping them so is the essence of security. There are times and conditions when mere survival, virtually at any cost, appears like security and men and women, even under those trying condition, still try to clamber over rubble to build up new homes. Security minimally means survival with assets that can be salvaged; maximally, it could mean opportunity and means to prosper, and absence of inhibitors.


Unit of Analysis


In our times the nation state signifies the highest level of the architecture of collective identities to which individuals willingly subscribe and without reserve. It is perceived by most people as an expression of their sovereignty and uniqueness. Individuals willingly accept the nation state as the highest repository of its values and aspirations. It has been possible to seek at this level, though not always, a convergence of authority, responsibility and accountability in a manner that stable conditions can be maintained on the one hand and individuals do not feel suppressed on the other hand. This makes matters of trade and commerce and of war and peace somewhat manageable, alike for the decision makers at all levels, and for those affected by the decisions. If the decision makers had also to cope up with the claims made on them on account of conflicting values, things would be that much more difficult. Many more things can be demanded of the population, and many more things can be justified by the national leadership in the name of patriotism[iii][3]. An experiment to create a higher architecture like European Union is on hand but it remains untested at present.

 The nation state remains the prime unit of security related analysis at present, as it has indeed been for the past two centuries or more.  The primacy of the national security as the principal highway to all other genres of security—individual, global, that of the unborn, and so on—has been reinforced by the reactions of the US, and other nations of the industrialized North, in the wake of ‘nine-eleven’. The nation state remains the most palpable and convenient entity for enforcing accountability[iv][4] on the non-state actors. It is obvious that nation-building in Afghanistan at the behest of the US gathered momentum only in the wake of nine-eleven. Till 1996 the US was quite content to show either its indifference to, or mild approval of, the Taliban rule which was chaotic to say the least. Chaotic or not, it certainly was part of the Pan-Islamic movement. The US did attack the suspected hide-outs of the perpetrators of the US Embassy bombing at Nairobi in August 1998, but it was not unduly concerned with actual happenings there. Now that the fear of the non-state actors is predominant, there is a natural throw back to the nation state.

The nation state as the building block of the international system has outlasted global ideologies[v][5] because it confers, on the one hand, a justification for claims of absolute sovereignty and uniqueness on the part of every nation, and on the other hand, assures the international community that accountability can be enforced on it. In short, it lends itself to being a suitable building block of the international system that has to adapt itself to an uneven and ever changing distribution of power.

Global security may achieve real meaning and urgency only when a truly global actor emerges in a world in which boundaries get softened, if not eliminated, and desire for pre-eminence no longer drives the powerful. The United Nations Organization has not fulfilled the expectation of being a true representative of the world, any more than it has of being responsive to its real needs. One wonders if it was ever intended to. The UN Security Council looks after the security interests of the permanent members to the extent that there is a consensus amongst them. At present, and for many years to come, global security is unlikely to be anything more than the cumulative effect and resultant of the security of nation states. The cumulative effect and resultant is an algebraic sum: when the most powerful nation is insecure, the whole world feels insecure.

Some movements like the World Social Forum stress the divide between the governments and the governed and belabour the former. It is true that governments do attach a great deal of importance to their own security but that need not necessarily imply insecurity for the governed. If there is a dissonance between the two, the security of both will be in peril. That is an argument against bad governance and not against the nation state system. It is not being suggested that the World Social Forum is for globalization; it is not. But criticism of governments often gives the impression that nation state system is under attack. Movements such as these do serve a useful purpose in creating awareness of genuine security concerns of the individual and the disadvantaged, but for want of organizational strength and tools of power, they are unlikely produce any direct impact. Over a long period of time they may bring about the necessary changes in the value system and indirectly produce a positive impact on global security.

 Mankind does face truly common threats in our times: polluted environment; global heating with threats of submergence; shortage of water; AIDS; fears of nuclear winter and so on. But there is no agreement on the primacy of threat. One hears less and less of the nuclear winter and more and more of the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the rogues. This is so because even the threat perception lends itself to exploitation in the present system. In the absence of an appropriately empowered organizational structure that is not only sufficiently representative but also competent to address the truly global issues, there is very little likelihood of global threats being addressed globally. What is theoretically possible is the concerted action by nation states in addressing global security[vi][6]. But fate of the Kyoto protocol tells us otherwise. Totally fortuitous consequences of internal political rivalries within the US and the inherent checks and balances in the US-constitution may address some of the global security concerns and imbalances from which they spring.

Security of individuals—enshrined in the bill of rights and the rule of law—has little meaning if it is at the cost of national security. On the other hand, a collection of insecure individuals cannot be gang-pressed into contributing to national security over a long period of time. Individual needs will assert themselves. If individual and collective security are not aligned and do not complement each other, one or the other, or both would suffer. As a rule, in developing nations concerns of collective security are more dominant whereas in the developed world, for so long as stable conditions prevail, it is the individual who asserts himself against the state. This is not without irony in that it is in the developing world that large sections of the population are impoverished besides being routinely ill treated by the state which spends a great deal of money on raising and maintaining the heavy handed police and the armed forces. It is here that butter versus guns dilemma is projected as the major security concern. The elites in developed world attribute the attitude of the people in underdeveloped countries to their ignorance and helplessness on the one hand and the cussedness of their governments on the other hand. This analysis has some merit but it is far more likely that the people in the underdeveloped countries consciously equate stability with security. What they mostly fear are anarchy and chaos.  Perhaps the longevity of the nation state is to be attributed, at least partially, to its ability to balance the often conflicting demands of national and international security. It is for these reasons that national security remains the valid unit of analysis in not only international affairs but also in truly global concerns. Individuals and sub-national entities have also to seek security primarily in the context of their nation states.


The Proposed Framework


What is proposed here is to construct a framework for incorporating security related concepts by amalgamating two interrelated approaches. The first approach posits three overlapping ‘domains’ contained within national endeavour. Domains delineate and describe the spaces in which security related activity takes place and how various domains relate to each other.  The second approach embraces the view of security as a set of processes. It is felt that processes of this nature at the national level are driven by a host of factors including the feelings of national identity and consciousness. That may well explain why security concerns are conceived and pursued so very differently by nations who are comparably placed with regard to their material conditions. It is felt that if both the approaches—signifying structure and operations—are combined a more reveling picture may emerge. The purpose is to be able to separate wheat from chaff so that chaotic and inane actions, often thoughtless, that are passed off as security, can be excluded from analysis

If security is indeed a meaningful activity, and if there is a national security domain, then it should be possible over a period of time to arrive at and establish principles of national security—comparable to principles of war. It is true that when the idea of principles of war was mooted, it was not well received. It was a major struggle for those who propounded such a scheme. They went about mining tons of ore before arriving at nuggets. It must at once be stated that this author has not been able to arrive at principles of national security.





‘Domain’ is taken to be a field of purposeful and well directed activity. In other words, it is a field of activity which originates in deliberate policy. It is goal oriented and guided by strategy. A domain analysis may prove to be a good idea. No domain exists in isolation. The concept of national security domain gives rise to thoughts of the super-domain of which it is a part; it also raises questions about other connected domains.



The Super-Domain: National Endeavour


The totality of productive national effort is described here as national endeavour. National endeavour includes myriad activities, products, and processes in all spheres of life that are carried out in pursuit of individual and collective goals and aspirations. It is inclusive of development intended to ensure survival with dignity and honour. More specifically, and in the context of the model presented here, national endeavour encompasses, amongst others, three partially overlapping domains, namely, those of security, war, and ‘enterprise’. Here, enterprise implies productive effort that is especially directed at creating ‘exchange value’. Collective endeavour without enterprise tends to make nations self centered and inward looking; it diminishes their capacity to interact with the rest of the world.

There are overlaps between domains of security and war; as also between those of security and enterprise. Additionally, there is also an overlap between domains of enterprise and war. This may best be visualized by imagining that the three partially overlapping domains—security, war, and enterprise—girdle the surface of the globe that represents national endeavour.


Domain of Security


A beginning is made by describing rather than defining the domain of security. It includes feelings, thoughts, vision, policies, processes, plans, organizations, and action that deal with visualizing and creating appropriate pre-conditions for pursuit of national endeavour without undue risk, loss, cost, obstructions, or uncertainty.

There is a strong linkage between use of force and security and that is so for very good reasons. (1) Destruction caused by sudden use of force can be so severe that the resultant losses may well be ‘final’: some of the assets lost may turn out to be beyond renewal or replacement. If that were to happen, the whole concept of ‘security’ may be rendered meaningless. Losses in Nagasaki and Hiroshima could never have been made up, or for that matter, those in London, Hamburg, or Berlin. (2) Hostile force is often employed unilaterally and without warning, thereby creating conditions of shock that tend to produce a debilitating influence on decision making. Decisions taken under such conditions may prove to be more harmful in the long run than the loss directly suffered. This is best exemplified by decisions taken by governments while dealing with major incidents of terrorism or other violence. (3) Use of force creates possibility of the asymmetric warfare, that is, the weak striking at and getting the better of the powerful[vii][7]. Such use of force is difficult to predict and may lead over period of time to conditions of chaos or mayhem, the very antithesis of security, as happened after ‘nine-eleven’.

The thrust of action in the domain of security is in minimizing the use of force and in bringing about the desired results through ‘exchange of prizes’. The emphasis is on understanding the contender’s views and compulsions and bringing about a livable outcome through give and take. There is no great change in approach whether the contender is a group within the nation state or outside. A ‘political’ solution implies precisely this approach while dealing with separatist movements and insurgents. Force is certainly used and never wholly abjured, yet an effort is made to make room for adjustments rather than adopt an intransigent attitude. The main difference in approach to international and ‘internal’ security is that force within the nation state has to be used within the letter and spirit of the law of the land. Sometimes, efforts are made to bring about changes in the law so that force can be used and individual freedom can be curbed. We have seen this happening while the government has dealt with the Nagas, and the Bodos, and the Hurriyat in Kashmir. Prizes for exchange have to be found by making adjustments within the constitutional framework, or by offering economic benefits. If this fails the only recourse may turn out to be the greater and greater use of force eventually culminating in civil war.

While dealing with other nations, prizes for exchange have to be created or secured. Something has to be offered in return for what is sought. If a nation has economic or commercial or technological prizes to offer it may find it agreeable to bring about an exchange without undue risks or uncertainty. Since Pakistan would settle for nothing other than Kashmir which India was not willing to concede, and India had no other prizes to offer which would satisfy Pakistan, both nations felt insecure and tended to jump out of the security domain into the domain of war. And when there is no way of bringing about an exchange of prizes except by the threat or use of force, nations may well resort to use of force on an increasing scale resulting in war. Although use of force is common the approach is totally different in domain of security and domain of war. It is use of force that ties the two domains.

Use of hostile force has the potential to suddenly and irrevocably alter the preconditions essential for collective endeavour. What may not be so readily appreciated is that the use of reactive force may be unavoidable and necessary, and yet it may not prove to be fully efficacious in restoring a feeling of security or the intended normalcy.

Trends which can lead to imperceptible ebbing of strength and vitality, and those that are likely to result into increasing deprivation may lead to passivity or violence or both. Eventually they too are likely to turn into major security concerns.

The purpose of security is best served by preventing and preempting the use of hostile force in the first instance rather than by countering it in reactive mode. Such actions may worsen the already vitiated security environment by producing cycles of escalating violence leading to a disaster. Examples of both kinds come to mind: the signal effect produced by prompt and effective action by our Army to put down the uprising in Mizo Hills in 1960s prevented the spread of disturbance to unmanageable proportions. But such examples are few. As against that we have many more examples of self-defeating use of force after the event. The Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919 proved to be disastrous and did not serve the purpose intended by the British. It was meant to teach a lesson to those who had rioted and molested a woman but ended up by shaking the foundations of the British presence in India.

The use of preemptive force mentioned in the above paragraph is not in support of preventive war—of the kind undertaken by the US in Iraq. It alludes to use of force within a country as shock tactics to bring the miscreants to their senses. Preventive war, as a doctrine in the international arena, can only lead to instability and insecurity in the long run.

The need to restore tranquility as quickly as possible places natural limits on how much force can be used, and in what manner, and this is a principal divide between the domain of security and the domain of war.

Security implies denial of access to hostile force rather than its elimination, although that too may have to be undertaken. It implies management of inhibitors rather than their uprooting or elimination by force.

No matter how undesirable it is, some use of force is necessary in fulfilling security functions, and this being so, security remains a prerogative of government. Government is the principal actor and the security community is created and maintained by government. Some non governmental organizations and individuals may lend a helping hand in some situations. The citizenry at large plays an indirect and passive but not insubstantial role.

Activities in the security domain may hold the key to protection of the country from internal turbulence or war, and creation of preconditions for development and progress. It is appropriate that the security community is headed and guided by the highest political leadership rather than by professionals.

Good governance is the essential precondition for effective security. Law and order is inseparable from good governance which has a major political content but it may not be right to include all those who are connected with governance in the ‘security community’. Security related functions are performed by very diverse classes of departments and individuals. For example, diplomats and other specialists who, through trade negotiations and deals that stabilize prices, may contribute to security by preventing unrest and possible violence in a critical situation. They may be performing security related functions. Numbers of those who perform security related functions at one or two removes are very large, and yet their views and contributions have to be acknowledged, evaluated, and acted upon when necessary. This need is met by the National Security Council. So, separating out those who perform security related functions at one or two removes, the security community may be described as those functionaries who are directly responsible for the prevention of the use of hostile force and its harmful consequences.

Since the use of reactive-force is to be avoided as far as possible, preventive action holds the key in the domain of security. Therefore the importance of early, reliable, and actionable intelligence cannot be overemphasized. Administrators, intelligence apparatus, police, and paramilitary forces—including those who manage the border and the coastline—are the core of the professional element in the security community. They are the principal actors, although they are not the only ones. The armed forces have been extensively employed in India to perform the security functions. The hard core of the security community is professional and it tends to guard its turf. This is not unusual and soldiers do the same when it comes to the domain of war. The crux of security is balance and it cannot be attained without fully taking into account the overlaps and the higher security related functions.

It is well known that the principal actors in the domain determine the nature and quality of activity that is carried out. They also decide how far the domain should expand. Domain of security can expand to occupy a great deal of national endeavour, and in the process, impoverish it. We in India know what happened during the national emergency in 1970s. Fear prodded the lazy governmental and quasi governmental workers to deliver for a short period of time. But ultimately it throttled enterprise.

Security can easily be mistaken for the comfort zone, or the feel-good factor. The truth may be otherwise. Great Britain in early 1930s; India in the wake of a quick campaign to overcome the Portuguese in Goa, and before the debacle in the face of the Chinese aggression, felt comfortable but later events proved that they were far from secure.

Security as a state of mind of people in comfort zone may prove to be a poor indicator, and feel good factors may flatter only to deceive. In point of fact, a state of alertness and keenness to undertake substantive enterprise are the true indicators of national security.


Domain of War


War relies principally on threat and use of force to achieve war-aims which often include elimination or eradication of inhibitors, rather than their management. In that sense, war is the very anti-thesis of security, and it is  not without considerable irony that war implies opting out of security domain and acceptance of great risks, costs, suffering, and uncertainty in the hope that the inhibitors, which have become intolerable, can be conclusively eliminated, if not forever then for a considerable duration. War implies a willing suspension of considerations that dominate life in the domain of security. The domain of war is readily understood and the field of strategic studies and military science has been in vogue for many centuries. A credible capacity to go to war, and a reasonable chance of surviving it with honour, after inflicting greater punishment on the adversary, if not winning it outright, is often perceived as the best guarantor of security[viii][8]. It is war preparedness, and not actual fighting, that is directly relevant security.


Domain of Enterprise


Enterprise’ includes those activities and operations that create ‘exchange value’. Exchange value implies goods, information, knowledge-based products, skilled and unskilled manpower, and services on offer that can secure from the world at large the prizes of one’s choice in exchange. The capacity to create exchange value is crucial to security. If there are no prizes that can be offered in exchange, harsher options may have to be resorted to including the use of force.

Enterprise undoubtedly involves risk and uncertainty but not quite on the same scale as war. Ordinarily, enterprise does not include the use of force. The use of military as an instrument of power in aid of enterprise is as old as rocks, but it falls in the domain overlap and will be discussed later. What links domains of enterprise and security is the possibility of an advantageous exchange of prizes without the use of force. In rapidly shrinking world, security may often get reduced to bringing about suitable exchanges, and may be largely predicated upon ability to generate surfeit of exchange value. Security will enhance if the exchange value created is of a unique kind as exemplified by Japan, Switzerland, or Singapore.

Japan imports goods and raw material, carries out value addition, and then exports them. Japan will not even survive if it were to embrace a concept called self reliance. Of course Japan is self sufficient, but its approach to self sufficiency is via exchange value. Switzerland creates exchange value by offering much needed services like the Red Cross, certain unique banking facilities, and suitable neutral venues for conferences and negotiations, and so on. Singapore offers unique opportunities and facilities at a point where sea-lanes converge.

Spirit of enterprise need not always sore into outer space, but outer space has certainly helped the US in offering satellite related services. Creation of a stable balance through exchange is what is desired rather than a massive trade surplus. Monopoly in certain goods and services creates unique and enduring relationships provided these are not unduly exploited for short term interests.

Enterprise also includes capacity to create and invent new ways of creating wealth and making war. Multinational corporations through their enterprise have achieved for the industrialized North what colonization could not, and without some its problems.

The most important aspect of the domain of enterprise is that it is not dependent on governments, although governments are not excluded as promoters or supporters. We in India should know. We can recall the East India Company and the part played by the British Parliament in promoting it. Indian enterprise was one thing which the colonial masters did not tolerate; they certainly did not encourage it.

Enterprise is the outcome of the fusion of talent and opportunity. No wonder that if a mix of extraordinary talent and unfettered opportunity is created by design, the probability of enterprise is substantial. Talent can be spotted rather than created, but it certainly needs to be nurtured. The strength of the US lies in spotting and nurturing talent. Talented first generation immigrants are treated no differently than native born Americans. The US attracts talent by a variety of means and thrives on it. Nations and governments that weigh themselves down with ideological baggage and deny opportunity to the talented end up with brain-drain. That does not at all mean that all migration in itself poses a threat to the mother country. The progeny of the former indentured labour from India, in South Africa and the Caribbean, to mention only a few examples, has shown considerable enterprise and the exchange value produced by them may be of benefit to the mother country directly or indirectly.


The Overlaps


Though distinct, there is no sharp dividing line between the domains of security and war. There is a considerable overlap between domains of security and domains of war. The domain overlap between security and war encompasses activities to bring about a stable equilibrium that contributes to security. Paradoxically enough it is the capacity, preparedness, and determination to wage war—if and when the need arises—that is actually employed to substantially reduce the chances of hot war breaking out. Agreements on arms limitations, arms reduction, and confidence building measures go some way in this direction.

Effective deterrence and the underlying philosophy lie in this domain overlap: avoidance of war by making risks unacceptable to the likely victims. The logic of deterrence rests upon a mutually shared belief that defence is not a feasible proposition on account of the near certainty of terrible losses and punishment. It is the availability of numerous nuclear weapons, combined with an array of delivery means, which creates the near certainty of punishment and brings about the stated or unstated understanding that nuclear weapons are not for war fighting. It is this conviction that prevents the adversaries from hurling nuclear weapons at each other, or even raising temperatures to a level at which the adversary may be provoked into irrational behaviour. That is how nuclear weapons remain firmly in the domain overlap between security and war. They delimit but do not eliminate possibilities of war and all that is associated with it. Nuclear weapons are political weapons since they can never be used to fight wars. This is so because their likely use holds a credible threat of punishment of an unacceptable kind to the user, amongst others.

Dissuasion on the other hand rests on different logic: that defence is eminently possible, and the punishment that the aggressor will take would far exceed that which the defender is likely to suffer. Dissuasion achieves its purpose by setting a price on aggression that would be unacceptable to the aggressor. Dissuasion also lies in the domain overlap but is closer to the domain of war than deterrence. The political leadership cannot ‘articulate’ dissuasion and it is left to the professionals in the armed forces to achieve the desired result with supporting roles being played by the media and the political leadership.

Missile defence whether of the national or the theatre variety, may take nuclear weapons from the domain of deterrence into the domain of dissuasion with very dangerous portents. Actual military operations at whatever level—tactical, operational, or strategic—is the business of the professional soldiers, but the choice of warfare and the design of the force structure including its raising, equipping and maintenance very much lie in the domain overlap between security and war.

The decision to go to war, war objectives, and the exit policy firmly lie in the security-war domain overlap. These are amongst the most serious decisions that nations take. The professional advice from the principal actors from both the domains is vital, but ultimately it has to be a political decision. President Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile crisis is an arch example of pulling back from the brink of war and opting to remain in the security domain. And this was done against professional advice. It is equally educative to recall that the Prime Minister of India did not seek professional advice when opting for peace during July, 1972 at Simla. A nagging doubt remains about what the outcome would have been if professional advice had been sought. At the time, India did not have institutional machinery like the National Security Council, but there was no dearth of highly competent civil and military advisors.

Indian decision not to go to war against Pakistan in the wake of the terrorist strike on the Indian Parliament was one such decision. It would be applauded for years to come if the peace process launched in January, 2004 delivers.

 Unlike in the domains of security and war, there is no well defined community that sponsors or creates enterprise. Public sector undertakings in the former Soviet Union and in India filled this role to some extent but not with much success. Rigorous cost accounting was not in place and the profits made remained a conjecture. Governments have necessarily to depend upon expertise in multiple fields to give a fillip to enterprise. The bureaucracy, including the intelligence community and the diplomats can be of great help in watching and predicting trends and encouraging enterprise at one remove. But it is the exploitation of opportunities and chances created by natural enterprise of its citizens and expatriates that really matters. Of course, the vision and leadership of the ruling elites has to set an example like Disraeli did when he bought interest in the Suez Canal Company in the Eighteenth century against professional advice, and that too by raising money from bankers.

The domain overlap between war and enterprise is of some interest. It is antithetical to security, so to say. Activities in this overlap aim at creating ‘disequilibrium’ with a view to creating, acquiring, and assimilating assets. The principal actors, whether governmental or private, including those in the corporate world, tend to look after their own interests. Sometimes the mother country may benefit, but there is an equal likelihood that the security of the mother country may actually get jeopardized. It is quite true, although many in India do not believe so, that the tribal militias from the North West Frontier Province had set out to ‘liberate’ Kashmir with some help and support of the local government without any central directive from Karachi where the Pakistani government was located at the time. They started off a process which ‘acquired’ for Pakistan huge chunks of territory in Jammu and Kashmir. Did this activity in the domain overlap between enterprise and war made Pakistan more or less secure is something that history would decide in due course.

Risks and opportunities on the edges of domain are significant and are likely not to attract attention unless special care is taken. If the National Security Council were to particularly watch over the domain-overlaps, many opportunities may get exploited and many risks may be averted.




We have looked at security as the sine qua non—essential preconditions—for national endeavour in general and enterprise in particular. We have also concluded that these preconditions are established by keeping the inhibitors in check so that they do not rise above the threshold. That is another way of saying that security implies a desired ‘regime’ that is maintained by a set of processes. This interpretation of security—as a set of processes—focuses attention on how the security regime is realized.


Collective Consciousness


The motive power to launch processes resides in the consciousness of the main actor—in this case the nation. It is the national consciousness which determines the end product and produces the prime impulse which is distinct from the machines actually employed and the physical energy supplied to them. It is the national consciousness which creates the nation state. It is the polity that expands to conform to the space that is already occupied by national consciousness. Had it been otherwise, German unification would be inexplicable. It is the nature and quality of collective consciousness which determines the essence of attitudes and ambitions of nations. American exceptionalism has often been talked about and justified on the basis of the stupendous achievements of the US in the 20th century. The US rejoices in being the most powerful nation in the world and goes out of its way to prove it now and then even though it may not always be to its advantage to do so. The US aspiration to lead the world is costing it more than 300 billion dollars a year, but it cannot make the necessary adjustments that would allow it to cut back its budget for the Pentagon. It cannot avoid the ‘imperial over-reach. India has had a totally different approach. Recall the Prime Minister’s speech on the first Independence Day in August 1947, and how it thrilled millions in India. That was so because it struck a cord in minds of most Indians who felt elated at the thought of taking a pledge to dedicate themselves to a “still larger cause of humanity”. Many Indians forgot about their half-filled bellies and illiteracy and saw no irony in being called upon to serve the larger cause of humanity. Possibly it was the collective consciousness of India that the first Prime Minister alluded to when he talked of the ‘soul of the nation’. It is their collective consciousness that seems to determine how the environment is perceived by nations and how they react to it. Collective identity is as much a product of history, as it is of demography, and geography. It is collective consciousness which creates collective identity which, in turn, determines how a nation looks upon its material and non-material inheritance; either as an asset, or as a liability, or with indifference. The Buddha statues at Bamiyan in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban; anywhere else, or even during other times, they would have been treated as precious assets. ‘Ruling the waves’ has been a matter of pride for Britain and the ability and freedom to do so has always been a part of British aspirations. It was the sudden spurt in the strength of the German Navy that rang the alarm bells in Great Britain, and thereafter Britain started preparing to go to war with Imperial Germany. It is the collective consciousness which determines the self-image that the people strive to live up to. Governmental determination will prove to be of little avail unless it elicits a suitable response from the people.

Major changes in quality, intensity, and coherence of collective consciousness come about in response to the impact of dominating influences and personalities.


Dominating Influences


The spirit of time (zeitgeist) is a factor difficult to define but easy to describe. It is the spirit which brings about changes in the general outlook about life and propriety. It reflects what an overwhelmingly large number of people think and feel about. If there is a gap between what is in law books and the spirit of time, it is the law books which have to be modified. Perhaps that is what explains why there are definite shifts in how the highest judiciary interprets the law of the land and even the constitution. Ultimately, the law has to be enforceable without undue coercion. Do we notice that there is a shift in favour of productivity and efficiency, and away from distributive justice in India? Will we be right in presuming that the so called ‘socialistic pattern’ no longer finds favour with the spirit of time and the judiciary is not immune to it? It is the spirit of time which approves of the multi-religious, multiethnic, multi-racial states. Pan-national movements which subvert the nation state are out of step with our times. It was this spirit of time which caused the eclipse of the communist international much before the Soviet Union crumbled, and which has now militated against the Pan Islamic Jihadi movement. The spirit of time does produce an impact on all societies but not of the same kind, and not to the same extent. Some societies have been so conditioned by religious or secular ideologies that the spirit of time would take very long in permeating there.

The opinion makers in Pakistan seem to have realized that backing the Jihadi movement is not only anachronistic it will also stand in the way of modernization. Opinion makers in Pakistan talk a different idiom today as do some of its decision makers. In our times any kind of architecture of collective identities is acceptable as a nation state for so long as it creates room for all the constituents. Majority-ism of any kind and driving out or persecution of minorities is no longer acceptable. A certain concept of rule of law and human rights has taken root and even the most powerful nation in the world cannot get away by doing things which were considered perfectly normal only sixty years ago. The US is finding it very difficult to justify occupation of Iraq because times have changed. Not all notions of security can transcend the spirit of times, not always. It may be possible to create a current that runs counter to the spirit of time but not for long. The holding of prisoners captured in Afghanistan without trial is exercising some minds in the US although the majority lives in fear of terrorists and approves of such measures without saying so in as many words.

There is an inexorable movement towards civil society although the current in the underdeveloped world is somewhat weak. If the nation state stands in the wake of this movement the discontented may drift in the direction of the superpower, as has happened too often in the past, but not on a significant scale. Nation states in the developing world tend to subsume this very significant movement and often act counter to it. Creation of regional forums to which the oppressed can turn to may be a better answer than their having to take recourse to the United Nations or the US because there is a better appraisal of ground reality in the region than in distant lands.

The geopolitical context determines the natural continuities and fault-lines. It tells us that the Sub-continent has the potential to evolve into an effective association; it also tells us that China need not necessarily be our adversary, but there is a fault-line that divides China from India and special care would have to be taken to avoid a confrontation or conflict, if not in near future, then in distant future. Indian Sub-continent devoid of internal strife has the potential to be a countervailing entity to China. There is nothing new in this formulation but it did not come into immediate reckoning in all these years. As India gathers strength, it will be a major factor in India’s foreign policy making.

Access to and actual availability of technology, military technology in particular, produces a major impact on how nations approach their security processes. Capacity of a nation to forge ahead in the field of military technology with a decisive edge can bring about such drastic changes in its mindset. The US it would seem equates it security with its capacity to punish and destroy: shock and awe. It hopes to save its precious lives by making abundant use of its superior and undoubtedly impressive technology. Nations like India, a few decades behind the leading edge, must necessarily take a different view of security even as they try to catch up with the arms technology. They are aware that they may have to make up the gap, where it is possible to do so, with a different doctrine and motivation; they may have to match quality with quantity where it is possible to do so.

The dominating influences cited above are indicative and they certainly do not represent the entire field. Depending upon the worldview many could be added to the list.

Charismatic Leadership


Charismatic leadership brings about coherence in collective consciousness by aligning and orientating elements already there. It rarely introduces something new. It energizes people by raising intensity of collective consciousness to levels at which individuals cannot but act feeling all the while that they are acting of their own volition to live up to ideals that  they themselves have selected. Leadership converts this coherent energy into mass movements, selects achievable ideals, creates organizational strength, and directs the efforts.

The late Mr. MA Jinnah did not create Pakistan by performing some sort of miracle. He created coherence in the collective consciousness of Muslims in the Sub-continent. They were already fearful of democracy because of the Hindu numbers, and feared reprisals from the dominant majority after the departure of the British. Jinnah’s dream of Pakistan met with a resounding echo in millions of minds.

Was it Napoleon who created the mass armies and led them to unprecedented victories, and ultimately, to their unprecedented humiliation? Or was it that Frenchmen of those times showed these nascent aspirations for war and glory? Did Napoleon merely provide them an opportunity?  Answers to these questions with finality cannot be produced; nor is charismatic leadership available on order. What is of importance and relevant in the present context is that this factor needs to be taken into reckoning while reckoning possibilities.


The Process


As we have seen that war, security, and enterprise are interlinked; similarly processes that lead to war or an era of security and enterprise cannot be considered separately. These processes are considered to be an ongoing interaction between two triads: the stimulus triad, and the response triad. It is the matrix of national consciousness that contains, as it were, both the triads. It is for this reason that it is the most single significant factor amongst those that govern the security processes. The nature and intensity of national consciousness holds the key to understanding these processes.


The Stimulus Triad


The stimulus triad has for its three sides the self-image, national assets, and the environment. It is the self-image that propels the national endeavour, just as it creates the envelope within which the effort would be directed, and satisfaction sought. It is of interest to note that it is the self image, not necessarily a product of rational or objective factors, that determines the ‘value’ of values, and the value that is attached to the range of assets that nations command or aspire to. No one can really think of an asset without thinking of related threats to those assets, real or imaginary. How many times do we ‘touch wood’? How many times do grown men and women say a prayer to ward off an ‘evil eye’? These superstitions are overlaid by a fundamental truth: perceptions of precious assets and warding off threats to them are inseparable. Would the rising population be perceived as a national asset, or something to be ruthlessly cut down? Is secularism as an ideology so very important that it must deny the concept of theocratic states in the Sub-continent? Is Kashmir Valley to be treated as the touchstone of this determination? If so, is India justified in pulling out all stops and going to war to make the point that Indian Union is capable of containing an overwhelmingly Muslim region in its constitutional structure? One encounters reports now and then that the Hindus would be in minority in the Sub-continent by a certain year. Soon thereafter vehement denials of such possibilities are published. Do many Hindus perceive their decreasing numbers as a major threat just to the Indian Union? Answers to such questions cannot be explained purely in terms of profit and loss, or some such material evaluation. Stimulus to action comes often times from answers to questions of the kind just raised and not from rigorous logic.

The self-image is a creation of national consciousness and nothing more needs to be said about it, except that nations try to live up to their self image.

‘Environment’, here, is meant to contain all ‘material’ reality that supports and sustains or threatens and denies national endeavour in entirety. It is most relevant, and if properly expanded could fill a lot of pages, but this is what mostly gets written about in the context of war and peace, and no special emphasis is necessary.


The Response Triad


This triad comprises policy, strategies, plans and action. Lasting policy represents the national consensus although in democracies this consensus is deliberately subsumed for political purposes and minor differences are highlighted to make a bid for votes. If the policy is in consonance with what already lies in minds of the people in latent or nascent form, the people respond with a fervour by which even they themselves are surprised. Policy inspires when it draws upon the inner strength of the collective consciousness. The methods of Mahatma Gandhi worked wonders because they were an extension of a long-standing tradition in India although their use to deny effective governance to the British was indeed innovative. Policy has to draw upon such diverse tangible and non-tangible factors that it remains the business of the political leadership. Policy, equally, must lie in the realm of what is possible and doable.

Strategy encompasses creation of organizations and instruments essential for achieving the selected security objectives. As we have seen earlier, the security objectives cannot be achieved without effective armed forces although their actual use in primary role is no part of the security domain.

After the end of World War II, both the super-powers opted for undeclared limited wars and wars by proxy. No matter in which garbs they came about—whether in Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan—the pattern was still the same: keep the violence below a certain ceiling and away from the principal assets; use limited wars to achieve security goals through containment and management of risks. This was innovative up to a point, and this method of ‘waging’ security served its intended purpose. But in due course, the pawns in the proxy wars—non-state actors who would use ruthless force in support of this or that ideology with total support from their backers—became full-fledged terrorists. They ultimately emerged in Chechnya and on the mainland US.

Beyond the creation of the infrastructure, strategy also includes planning—including contingency planning—for the employment of the created means to achieve the desired ends. What is so very important about the planning process is the habit of planning rather than specific plans. Most plans do not withstand the first contact with reality and have to be modified or changed. Those in the habit of planning develop a capacity to bring about modifications in the existing plans and also to improvise. Detailed contingency planning also reveals gaps in intelligence and an effort can then be directed to fill them, if need be by creating new structures and organizations. The process of planning brings about interaction between departments and agencies cutting across boundaries and yields improved understanding of each other’s capabilities. 

Action it is for which policies and strategies are worked out and plans made. If action is halfhearted or pusillanimous, or is not in conformity with the immediate and the higher purpose, the entire exercise may be robbed of its meaning. The above may give an impression that the activity determined and guided by governments is the main components of the response triad. It is of importance to recall that the British Empire was created without any directive from the government. Now and then the governments made some attempts to control and regulate—does the Regulating Act come to mind?—but not always with great success. It was the response of the British people to the environment in their own country and elsewhere in the world, and their genius, that created the Empire. Britons ‘created’ four English speaking nation states across two continents who share their race, values, and spirit. This miracle was produced by individuals acting independently in response to the coherence in national consciousness. This proved the ultimate security to Great Britain when its survival was at stake in World War II. Will Indians, in good time, respond to the current environment to forge ahead in the knowledge-based industry, and so prevail in the domain of enterprise that security is delivered as a by-product?



Handling of crises is the first test of the security process. Numerous crises are a firm indication that there are inherent flaws in the security structure and processes. Crisis has a way of creating conditions in which unforced errors are committed and precedents established. Crises by their very nature cannot be fully avoided but their management sends strong signals to hostile elements. A close scrutiny of the actions of the security community in the wake of the hijacking of Indian aircraft to Kandahar would be very educative in this regard




Study of security affairs can indeed include most things under the sun in which case the study may lose all focus and usefulness. A framework needs to be created so that security affairs can be studied with reference to it. This paper has made such an effort by interpreting national security related activities as a process that takes place within three partially overlapping domains and by emphasizing that neither war, nor security, nor enterprise can be appropriately considered in isolation.

[i][1] The last paragraph of Mr. Bidwai’s article titled ‘Security Paradigm as Mirage’ reads as follows:

“The conclusion is inevitable. The dominant Indian ‘National Security’ paradigm is based on assumptions that are, at best, tenuous and, at worst (or rather, normally), downright adventurist, unreliable or false. Such doctrines and strategies cannot possibly provide security, not even stability. They are a recipe for disaster”

Praful Bidwai, South Asian, Lahore, Pakistan, January-March 2004.

The effort in this paper here is to create a framework for security studies so that a particular security paradigm can be evaluated.

[ii][2] A perusal of even a few definitions reveals that the scope of ‘security’ remains what a person makes of it.


"Security means development into a modernizing society; security is not military hardware though it may include it, security is not military force, though it may involve it, security is not traditional military activity though it may encompass it." Robert McNamara: The Essence of Society, 1968.                


“[Security means] Protection of a nation from physical attacks and safeguarding its economic activities from devastating outside blows". Stanley Hoffman: Security in the Age of Turbulence.” Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., 1989. The Contributions of Strategic Studies: Future Challenges, Adelphi Papers, 235, IISS, London.


[iii][3] The nation-state concept put down firm roots in Europe in the Seventeenth century. Aldous Huxley says of Father Joseph, otherwise a god-fearing man-- “And yet here he was, pursuing a policy patiently and with consummate skill, which could only increase the suffering of the poor he had promised to serve…First no doubt, and all the time he reminded himself that, in working for France, he was doing God’s external will. .. France was divine, that those who worked for French greatness were God’s instruments, and the means that they employed , could not but be in accord with God’s will”

Aldous Huxley, ‘Grey Eminence, A Study in Religion and Politics’, Chatto and Windus, London, 1949.


We need not go very far. We have our very own ‘Vande Mataram.’

[iv][4] The quotes are from ‘The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002’. It is available on the internet.

“The events of September 11, 2001, taught us that weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states.”

“For freedom to thrive, accountability must be expected and required.”

The US Security document gives us a clear indication that the US has concluded that it is possible to enforce accountability in respect of the nation states; and it is so much more difficult to do so in respect of non-state actors who are not responsible or accountable.


That is what explains the nation-building exercise in Afghanistan.


[v][5] “He is no Socialist who will not sacrifice his Fatherland for the triumph of the Social Revolution.”

The above quote ascribed to Lenin has been mentioned by

Winston S. Churchill.

‘The World Crisis, The Aftermath’, Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1929. (Page 70).

We have come a long way since then. Russia has survived the Soviet Union for which not many were willing to fight.

[vi][6] This is an idea of circa 1918. In a very imaginative portrayal of what could be under consideration of the World leaders—Clemenceau and Lloyd George—at the time, Churchill has the following to say:

 League of Nations must be set up not as a Super-State but as a super function to discipline the recalcitrant.”

Op. cit.; Page 27.

[vii][7] Two important aspects of asymmetrical warfare are its cost-effectiveness to the weaker party; and its capacity to bridge the economic and technological gap to hit out at the most powerful nation.

“The decision to refuel in Aden claimed the lives of seventeen young Americans, caused $240 million in damage to one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced destroyers, and signaled the United States’ impotence in the face of what defense experts call asymmetrical warfare—a fancy term for David killing Goliath.”

Peter L. Bergen, ‘Holy War Inc., Inside the Secret World of Osama bin laden’, The Free Press, New York, 2001. (Page 190)

[viii][8]  This quote is from the US National Security Strategy:

“To defeat this threat we must make use of every tool in our arsenal—military power, better homeland defenses, law enforcement, intelligence, and vigorous efforts to cut off terrorist financing. The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration.”

The US obviously believes that war will get what it wants—security.