National Security after the Cold War

The national security state has grown tremendously since the Cold War. the concept of national security state is that it refers to a state in which the military and intelligence agencies have a dominant role in the governance and security of a country. This protects the state secrets and a high degree of government control over information. The “cultures of secrecy” is a practice and belief that prioritize confidentiality and withholding information, especially national security. This often involves a legal framework that supports secrecy and a social norm that view it as necessary for protecting the state and its interests.

The national security state in Nevada and Utah played a big role in the buildup of the national security in the US. Specifically, in these areas the US government established a key number of military and intelligence installations, which includes nuclear testing sites. Therefore, the presence of these nuclear testing sites helped reinforce the idea of national security because the government put a lot of information in these areas that are not good for the public eye or other threatening countries. If people knew about information, they usually kept quiet because they were fearful of repercussions. Nuclear power plants are incredibly unhealthy for the local communities, because toxic chemicals are in the air and they did not have a choice whether or not the nuclear testing site was in their local community, this created distrust and tension between the government and local communities, this ultimately reinforced the idea of a national security state separate from ordinary people.

I think the concept of the national security still exists today in the US; however, there appears to be growing interest in transparency and providing more information to the general public. The US government has large intelligence and military agencies that play a huge role in security. The funding that is provided through our federal government to the military and intelligence agencies takes up a large percentage of the overall budget and part of that budget goes to protecting our secrets. The US also has the Espionage Act which basically protects state secrets and restricts classified information. We just have this desire to keep secrets from ordinary people and keep that information within the government. The consequences for sharing government secrets with the public or other countries are severe as a result of our goal to keep this information from others.

I think sometimes it is okay for us to not know everything just because many people would go into a manic state, but I also think it’s not fair to keep us out of the loop. We are just as valuable as people who work in the government and deserve to know what is happening in the US and even outside countries. It is difficult to consider the United States as a democracy if there is information that is kept from the voters. In some cases, it is important to have the voters know this information so that they can make sure they are protecting their interests. For example, it is unlikely that people would vote for someone that would set up a nuclear testing site near where they live. Regardless, I will say that we do a good job of challenging issues of transparency, accountability, and civil liberties in the United States because of our Constitutional Rights.

2 thoughts on “National Security after the Cold War

  1. Great post. I thought you made a really interesting point about how in certain situations it is not fair to keep information away from normal citizens of the United States. Classified information that only politicians have could absolutely affect their public opinion as well as positions, and is it fair to voters to keep this confidential? If this confidential information would impact voter decisions, then it would be undemocratic and that the government would be protecting and prioritizing people of power and not normal citizens. This also makes me think about if confidential information got out today with the technology and social media we have, if the consequences would be worse than what they would have been during the Cold War?


  2. Lauren,
    Excellent post. I wish I shared your optimism about larger trends in transparency in the federal government. In the information era, it seems as though there is simply more information to be had day by day, and it seems the odds of any one person corralling it all and freely disseminating it to the American public are low. Perhaps a free and fair democracy doesn’t need perfect transparency to begin with.
    As a sidebar, I found it almost quaint reading about finding out government secrets via the intestines of sheep, as opposed to a whistleblower like Edward Snowden. What a world.


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