— Volume IV No. 2: June 2008 —

Changing Homeland Security: What is Homeland Security?


July 15, 2008 09:33
Impressive article. Good coverage of a variety of paradigms for "Homeland Security." Watching the line drawing between "Homeland Security", "Law Enforcement", "Homeland Defense", and "Emergency Management" is enough to make the analysis of how many angels
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Christopher Bellavita

Christopher Bellavita teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. An instructor with twenty years experience in security planning and operations, he serves as the director of academic programs for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

There are at least seven defensible definitions of homeland security, based on claims about what homeland security emphasizes or ought to emphasize. The definitions focus on (1) terrorism, (2) all hazards, (3) terrorism and catastrophe, (4) jurisdictional hazards, (5) meta hazards, (6) national security, and (7) government efforts to curtail civil liberties. In a metaphorical sense, each definition represents a set of interests that seeks a niche in the homeland security ecosystem. As in a biological system, these semantic entities struggle for resources that give advantage for organizational or political survival and growth. The resources include space on the public policy agenda, money, semantic dominance, and doctrinal preeminence. The argument has been made that a single definition would be desirable and beneficial for reasons having to do with efficiency and effectiveness. But there is no one authority that can command everyone to use language the same way. Other important and often used terms — like terrorism, justice, disaster, or emergency management — also do not have single definitions. Yet we make progress in understanding and using each of those ideas. The absence of agreement can be seen as grist for the continued evolution of homeland security as a practice and as an idea. Even if people did agree to define homeland security with a single voice, there would still be the matter of behavior. What people, organizations, and jurisdictions do under the homeland security banner is as instructive as how they define the term.

Read full article.

Bellavita, Christopher. “Changing Homeland Security: What is Homeland Security?.” Homeland Security Affairs 4, issue 2 (June 2008)