Democracy Declassified: The Secrecy Dilemma in National Security, Michael P. Colaresi
If democracies are to conduct effective foreign policies, they must be able to simultaneously keep secrets and secure public consent. U.S. foreign policy successes from Operation Overlord during World War II to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 relied on secrecy. At the same time, argues Michael P. Colaresi, they were possible because the U.S. government had broad public support. These examples notwithstanding, it is not easy for democracies to achieve this balance. Indeed, they confront a dilemma: secrecy is vital for foreign policy effectiveness, but it is also an impediment to generating widespread and enthusiastic consent because publics cannot be sure governments are acting in their best interests.
Colaresi suggests that the key to ameliorating the secrecy dilemma lies in retrospective oversight. Several democracies have instituted rules and procedures, including legislative committees and freedom of information laws, that are useful for evaluating foreign policy performance after the fact. When such arrangements are in place, secrecy and consent can coexist. Executives are not expected to reveal their current thinking, decisions, or actions, so the secrecy crucial to effective foreign policy can be maintained. Meanwhile, publics are inclined to furnish their leaders with the material and political support they need, safe in the knowledge that th
To continue reading, see options above.
Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.
Developments in Beijing
Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilsonview additional issues
CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY
Articles | Book reviews
The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.
With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.