The “national security state” refers to a political system in which the military, intelligence, and security agencies hold a central role and influence in government decision-making and policies. Often at the expense of civil liberties and personal freedoms. This type of state prioritizes national security and defense above all else, and may take actions to protect state secrets and restrict access to information. The “culture of secrecy” refers to a societal norm in which information is restricted and kept confidential, often for reasons of national security or political sensitivity. This culture can be reinforced through government policies, such as classification systems, and can impact the behavior of individuals within society. It can also create an environment in which secrecy and misinformation flourish, potentially undermining transparency and trust in government
During the Cold War, rural Nevada and Utah were sites of significant nuclear build up as part of the US government’s efforts to maintain national security and ensure a nuclear deterrent against the Soviet Union. The presence of nuclear weapons and related facilities in these areas helped to reinforce the power and influence of the national security state. These rural regions were transformed into highly secured areas, with strict access controls and surveillance measures implemented to protect the nuclear assets and maintain the secrecy of the government’s activities. This helped to create a culture of secrecy in these areas and reinforced the idea of the national security state as a necessary component of national defense.
Yes, the national security state still exists today, even though the Cold War officially ended in 1991. The events of 9/11 and the ongoing global war on terrorism have reinforced the importance of national security and led to an expansion of the powers and influence of intelligence and security agencies in many countries, including the US. The continued threat of international terrorism, cyber attacks, and other security challenges have contributed to the persistence of the national security state. In practice, this has manifested in increased government surveillance and information-gathering activities, increased military intervention in foreign conflicts, and a general expansion of the security state’s influence in policy and decision-making. The ongoing need for secrecy and the protection of sensitive information in the fields of intelligence, defense, and diplomacy has also reinforced the culture of secrecy and maintained the importance of the national security state in contemporary society.