By ROBERT MCNAMARA
The rub comes in this: We do not always grasp the meaning of the word“ security” in this context. In a modernizing society, security means development.
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. Security is development. Without development, there can be no security. A developing nation that does not in fact develop simply cannot remain “secure.” It cannot remain secure for the intractable reason that its own citizenry cannot shed its human nature.
If security implies anything, it implies a minimal measure of order and stability. Without internal development of at least a minimal degree, order and stability are simply not possible. They are not possible because human nature cannot be frustrated beyond intrinsic limits. It reacts because it must.
Now, that is what we do not always understand, and that is also what governments of modernizing nations do not always understand. But by emphasizing that security arises from development, I do not say that an underdeveloped nation cannot be subverted from within, or be aggressed upon from without, or be the victim of a combination of the two. It can. And to prevent any or all of these conditions, a nation does require appropriate military capabilities to deal with the specific problem. But the specific military problem is only a narrow facet of the broader security problem.
Military force can help provide law and order but only to the degree that a basis for law and order already exists in the developing society: a basic willingness on the part of the people to cooperate. The law and order is a shield, behind which the central fact of security – development – can be achieved.
Now we are not playing a semantic game with these words. The trouble is that we have been lost in a semantic jungle for too long. We have come to identify “security” with exclusively military phenomena, and most particularly with military hardware. But it just isn’t so. And we need to accommodate to the facts of the matter if we want to see security survive and grow in the southern half of the globe.
Development means economic, social, and political progress. It means a reasonable standard of living, and the word “reasonable” in this context requires continual redefinition. What is “reasonable” in an earlier stage of development will become “unreasonable” in a later stage.
As development progresses, security progresses. And when the people of a Nation have organized their own human and natural resources to provide themselves with what they need and expect out of life and have learned to Compromise peacefully among competing demands in the larger national Interest then their resistance to disorder and violence will be enormously increased.
Conversely, the tragic need of desperate men to resort to force to achieve the inner imperatives of human decency will diminish.