The White House released an update to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America today, a revision of the strategy document released in 2002 notable for its emphasis on the doctrine of pre-emption.
I’ve just read through it, and I’m disappointed by the minimal attention to “homeland security” in it. The last chapter of the report makes a passing mention of the decision to create DHS, and there are references to counter-WMD efforts, disaster response capabilities, and public health challenges, but primarily in the international context: not in terms of our efforts and capabilities at home.
There’s nothing in the strategy about border security. Nothing about travel security or cargo security. Nothing about critical infrastructure protection. Nothing about emergency response capabilities at home. Nothing about domestic law enforcement and intelligence, other than a passing mention of the Patriot Act.
I understand the fact that this strategy is an NSC document, and that homeland security and national security operate on parallel tracks at the White House, through the Homeland Security Council and NSC respectively. And I’m well-versed in the National Strategy for Homeland Security issued by the White House in 2003.
But bureaucratic and institutional issues aside, isn’t homeland security a very critical – arguably the most critical – element of national security? And after four years of reflection, shouldn’t more thought have been given to integrating homeland security into the national security framework that this strategy articulates? While there may be solid reasons for institutional separation, there’s no good reason for there to be a conceptual or strategic schism at the water’s edge between the concepts of national security and homeland security. Hopefully future strategy documents will break down these conceptual barriers and think about homeland security in a more meaningful way.