As mentioned before, even though the term “security” is quite ambiguous by nature and has no cut-and-dry definition, there are arguably three elements of “national security” which pertain to every single country and government. For one, there is the element of political independence that is vital for every country and government. Second is the element of economic viability. And third, there is the element of territorial sovereignty. All three of these elements of “national security” are also interconnected and interdependent.
But in many cases, the desire for autonomy and political independence on the part of small countries is mutually exclusive from the impulse towards control and domination on the part of major powers. As the political philosopher Hannah Arendt argued, the basic policy of major powers is to make smaller countries subservient. And if smaller countries resist becoming subservient, then force is used by the major powers against smaller countries who resist becoming subservient to the major powers. And in some cases, if there is a real and persistent pushback on the part of smaller countries against the impulse towards control and domination on the part of major powers, the limits of control and domination may become manifest, as in the case of Afghanistan on more than one occasion through the course of modern history.
Ironically, Washington resorted to a policy of global hegemony in the 21st century, even though the legal and political foundations of America were built as a result of revolution against British control and hegemony. In turn, a hegemonic policy means scarce societal resources are used by major powers towards inefficient and unwise practices for a futile aim and purpose, thus discrediting and rendering the major powers as foolish and myopic amongst the broader international society over the course of time. Plus, if the policy of global hegemony failed in a place like Afghanistan, then it will most likely fail vis-à-vis places like Russia, China, Iran, and even North Korea.
The policy also failed in Venezuela as well as Cuba, which is a small island about 90 miles across from Florida. During the historic ‘Cold War’ of the 20th century, Cuba proved to be a case of a small and resource-scarce island with a fiercely independent and self-educated leader who refused to be controlled or dominated by a foreign power that was much bigger militarily and economically. Cuba went toe-to-toe with a global superpower without sweating over the military or economic consequences of brinksmanship. Fidel Castro — who was one of the most charismatic and majestic leaders not just of modern history, but of world history as a whole — went as far as daring Washington into starting a nuclear conflict at the height of his brinksmanship with Washington in the midst of the infamous ‘Cuban Missile Crisis.’
And surprisingly, Castro got Washington to back off from a nuclear confrontation with Moscow and in turn got Washington to concede to Moscow’s demand that American missiles aimed at Russia be removed from Turkey. Before the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis,’ Castro was able to fend off CIA assassination attempts, in addition to fending off a CIA-led coup attempt carried out by a Miami-based paramilitary force comprised of Cuban exiles which has been dubbed the “Bay of Pigs Invasion.”
Today’s “Cold War context” and thus the challenge to the status quo on the part of revisionist or revanchist or even revolutionary forces is based on the most basic social bifurcation or dichotomy of international society, namely, the rift between “the haves” on one hand and the “have-nots” on the other hand. As a result, the impulse to control or dominate smaller countries and individuals on the part of major powers does not necessarily stem from a need to maintain military and economic superiority over other countries. Rather, the impulse to control or dominate smaller countries and individuals stems from the most classic flaw of all major powers throughout history, namely hubris. Essentially, hubris brings together a confluence of other factors which lead to civilizational and imperial decline: As stated in Proverbs 16:18-21: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, than to divide the spoil with the proud. Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.”