Richard H. Shultz, Jr., Roy Godson, George H. Quester, eds. Security Studies for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C., and London: Brassey's, 1997. vi + 466 pp. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-57488-066-3.
Reviewed by Daniel S. Gressang (Joint Military Intelligence College)
Published on H-Teachpol (September, 1998)
Can Security be Taught? Security Studies for the 21st Century
Richard Shultz, Roy Godson, and George Quester offer, in Security Studies for the 21st Century, a well-presented series of suggestions for teaching security studies in a changing and quite dynamic international environment. Intended to serve as a set of course models for those designing primarily graduate-level courses in security studies, this book is an invaluable tool for the development of meaningful courses in security. The editors achieve quite well their stated goal of presenting models which "address traditional shortcomings and reflect the dramatic and evolving changes in the contemporary international environment" (p. 1). This volume offers a variety of perspectives on security studies, illustrating the often overlooked and unique aspects of the topic, with commentary on each of those presentations.
Shultz, Godson, and Quester seek to provide the reader with a broad panorama of security studies, as seen by a number of leading thinkers and practitioners of the subject. In updating and expanding their previous effort, the editors bring a range of new topics--such as economic, cultural, and environmental aspects--to the reader's attention. While recognizing that teaching security studies often serves to highlight the normative perspectives and policy preferences of the instructor, the editors seek balance by also offering constructive criticism and commentary for each presentation. Rather than seeking to present a sanitized value-neutral presentation, Security Studies clearly recognizes the limits to full objectivity inherent in the topic. Thus presented, Security Studies remains true to its declared purpose.
In the first chapter, Hadley Arkes, James W. Child, Charles W. Kegley, Jr., and Terry Nardin offer their thoughts on the role and impact of values and ethics with respect to national security. While these four discussions vary significantly with respect to the degree to which each author's normative positions are displayed, the set of essays leaves the reader with a very strong sense of the perceptual gulf that exists among academics on the proper and appropriate extent of ethical and moral considerations in the development and implementation of security policy. Indeed, the reader is also stuck by the degree to which these four essays offer conflicting perspectives of security. While readers will also likely take issue with some of those conclusions and perspectives in Chapter One, or may quibble about the order of presentation, the editors do a remarkable job in twenty-five short pages of highlighting the contentiousness and emotional impact of the subject. No sincere explanation of the wide range of views offered of national security could illustrate the nature of disagreement as well.
Chapters Two through Eleven offer a more standardized overall presentation in which a topic or model for a course is presented in some depth, followed by the comments of two knowledgeable discussants. In each, the presenter discusses the course outline, the content of the course, the rationale for that perspective, and the expectations and scope envisioned for the course. A suggested syllabus follows each discussion. Like Chapter One, each of these offerings raise issues and perspectives which some will undoubtedly find contentious, opening each course model to constructive criticism by the discussants, although many of those comments seem limited to highlighting conceptual and perceptual difference.
After presenting competing viewpoints on the role of ethics and morals, the editors provide an introduction to international security, authored by Richard Shultz. In his essay, Shultz sets the tone for the following chapters by covering considerable theoretical and policy ground. Shultz provides an excellent foundation for beginning the study of international security, ideally as an introductory course, by touching on topics ranging from the more general causes of conflict and war to the more focused operation and implementation of U.S. national security policy. This range, however fundamental to a discussion of international security, raises a question concerning the requisite depth of inquiry necessary to provide students with an adequate understanding of the topic.
Shultz's introductory offering, then, sets the analytical tone for Security Studies by demonstrating the need for balancing depth of coverage with breadth. Subsequent presentations address this question by offering selected frames of reference and limited portions of the topic. Roy Godson, in Chapter Three, offers a framework for assessing "Transstate Security," although his efforts to transcend the traditional state-centric view of security do not seem to offer a clear and unambiguous definition of the threats posed by either organized crime or "Islamists." Indeed, the pleas for greater clarity found in the comments of discussants Walker Connor and Graham Fuller could not be more relevant.
The changing nature of the international security environment is further explored in terms of "Nontraditional Uses of Military Force" (Chapter Four, by George Quester), the "Future Use of Military Power" (Chapter Five, by Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr.), "Economics and National Security: The Evolutionary Process" (Chapter Six, by Richard Rosecrance), "Environmental Degradation and Security" (Chapter Seven, by Terry Terriff), and "Regional Security in the Third World" (Chapter Eight, by Steven R. David). Each offering touches on and explores many important points for consideration, as well as issues and perspectives sure to generate debate. Nevertheless, each fits well with the intent and purpose of the book by stimulating thought and providing a sound foundation for course development.
Roy Godson continues the exploration of security by offering "Intelligence and Security" (Chapter Nine), although this reviewer found his framework a bit disappointing in its emphasis on academic interpretations of intelligence issues, rather than being more reliant on recently declassified and released original source materials. Godson's framework, further, leaves out much of the richness and variety that make up the world of intelligence. While the natural inclination of most observers is to focus on the "sexy" aspects of human intelligence (or HUMINT) and covert action, much of the work of intelligence agencies remains more firmly rooted in the more mundane tasks of processing, analysis, and interpretation for the benefit of policymakers and military leaders. Using original materials, such as recently released National Intelligence Estimates, rather than academic interpretations of those documents, would seem to provide a more comprehensive and balanced appreciation of the greater role of intelligence in security affairs.
Eliot Cohen's "Strategy: Causes, Conduct, and Termination of War" (Chapter Ten), and Lt. Gen. (USA, Retired) William Odom's "National Security Policymaking: The Kinds of Things That Must Be Decided for Defense" (Chapter Eleven), are, like Godson's intelligence offering, so narrowly focused that the reader--and, for the most part, the discussant--is tempted to question their overall utility. Indeed, Odom's offering seeks to draw lessons from decisionmaking at all levels of authority, from the president to the tactical military commander. While Odom is quite correct in his assertion that all such decisionmaking levels contribute to the conduct and implementation of national security policy, his analysis quickly gets lost in the weeds of minute detail. Don Snow's comments that Odom's course seems more suited to a professional military audience is particularly relevant (p. 432).
Regardless of one's agreement or disagreement with each of the perspectives offered in Security Studies for the 21st Century, the book remains a valuable addition to the library of anyone teaching, planning, or developing security studies courses. While many of the frameworks offered are sure to generate debate and discussion, this stimulation of thought is the fundamental strength of the text. There are a number of ways of thinking about security issues. This book offers models and outlines illustrative of the rich variety of interpretations existent. By consciously not seeking to present those outlines as the most acceptable, the most objective, or the most appropriate available, the editors use diversity of opinion to the greatest advantage.
That same strength, however, also provides the book's greatest weaknesses. Besides a noticeable inconsistency in the quality among some offerings, each chapter focuses in large degree on U.S. national security and the American perspective of security studies. Thus limited, Security Studies cannot adequately take into account the security concerns of other states in the international systems--concerns which may or may not reflect those of the United States in scope or relative importance. Domestic security, internal ethnic conflict, concerns over maintenance of territorial integrity in the face of severe and pervasive threat, and cultural subjugation come easily to mind. The editors recognize and boldly acknowledge this shortcoming, and they work admirably to prevent an overwhelmingly American-centered perspective. The limits of perspective, however, remains almost palatable.
In a similar vein, the editors' commendable efforts to explore a range of "new" aspects of security studies in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse and the end of the Cold War also limits the work's overall perspective. As we focus more and more attention on the constituent elements of security studies, we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture. Security studies, and national security, are more than conflict, military force, and defense policy. Security also encompasses economics, crime, internal politics and foreign affairs, and, increasingly, environmental concerns. The editors clearly recognize this--as evidenced by Godson's offering on transstate security, as well as those by Quester, Rosecrance, and Terriff. The majority of the course outlines presented, taken both as a whole and separately, remain largely focused on the narrowly traditional concerns of defense and military force.
Despite these weaknesses, Security Studies for the 21st Century is an extremely valuable contribution to the discipline and should find its way onto the shelves of every individual teaching or planning a security studies courses. While not intended for either the undergraduate or graduate student audiences, the book provides a generally well-thought out and argued set of foundations upon which instructors can build their own security-oriented courses. This book is, first and foremost, a reference for faculty, and it serves that purpose well in stimulating thought on a variety of security perspectives. In that stimulation of thought and discussion, Security Studies succeeds in prompting more informed and considered thought on just what constitutes security studies and how it can--and perhaps should--be taught to succeeding generations of scholars.
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Daniel S. Gressang. Review of Shultz, Richard H.; Jr.; Godson, Roy; Quester, George H., eds., Security Studies for the 21st Century.
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