There are many complexities ahead of us on both sides of the Atlantic with respect to the area of national security. Of course, no-one has ever lived in a golden age: it was always a previous period. But when one thinks back to the 1940s and 1950s and maybe through the middle of the 1960s, I am struck by the fact that there was a substantial consensus about the general direction in which we were supposed to go. Moreover, there was some mutual reinforcement between groups like the IISS and those in governments, not in the sense that the intellectual community always agreed with what people in the government did — in fact they very frequently disagreed — but it was within a matrix of assumptions which permitted a dialogue that in the long run could only be helpful. I have the impression that in almost every country represented at this IISS Conference and in the national security community in general, these shared assumptions have substantially broken down. Thus, while it is perfectly possible to have debates about individual policies, what seems to be lacking is criteria for what we are trying to do and what reasonable goals might be.
KeywordsInternational Context Weapon System Intellectual Community Shared Assumption Liberal Community
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