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Safeguarding Democratic CapitalismU.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015$
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Melvyn P Leffler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196510

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196510.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

National Security

National Security

(p.317) 11 National Security
Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism

Melvyn P. Leffler

Princeton University Press

This chapter reflects on the concept of national security in early American foreign policy. It also illuminates the relationships between the concept of national security and the burgeoning numbers of books and articles dealing with grand strategy. Here, national security had come to mean the defense of core values from external threats. As understood by U.S. officials, national security was a dynamic, changing concept, responding to the evolution of threats abroad and the definition of core values at home. Core values themselves were elusive, forcing historians and scholars of international relations to discover and analyze precisely what interests, ideals, or values policymakers most wanted to defend. Similarly, external threats existed in the eyes of beholders; different observers perceived danger in dramatically different ways. What were real threats and what were perceived threats might only be resolved in the aftermath of events, and perhaps not even then. Nonetheless, to understand the making of national security policy, the historian had to empathize with the policymakers and had to understand their perception of threat (however accurate or skewed).

Keywords:   national security, grand strategy, core values, threat perception, U.S. policymakers, national security policy

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