National security

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National security is the maintenance of the survival of the state through the presence of armed forces and the use of economic power, diplomacy, power projection and political power.


  • The Soviets have really been quite single-minded. They increased their defense expenditures as we increased ours. And they increased their defense expenditures as we decreased ours.
    • Harold Brown, Secretary of Defense, Congressional testimony (January 31, 1979); Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1980, hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, 96th Congress, 1st session (1979), p. 278. In a statement before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Budget Committees in early 1979 regarding the fiscal 1980 budget, Brown further noted, "Soviet spending has shown no response to U.S. restraint—when we build they build; when we cut they build".
  • I do not hold that we should rearm in order to fight. I hold that we should rearm in order to parley.
    • Winston Churchill, radio broadcast, London (October 8, 1951); Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), ed. Robert Rhodes James, vol. 8, p. 8257.
  • Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: "Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valor, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the Will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be."
    • Winston Churchill, first radio address as prime minister, London (May 19, 1940); Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963 (1974), ed. Robert Rhodes James, vol. 6, p. 6223, referencing the heroism of the biblical Maccabees in I Maccabees (Apocrypha) 3:58–60.
  • The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.
    The worst is atomic war.
    The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.
    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
    This world in arms is not spending money alone.
    It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
    It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
    It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
    It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
    We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
    We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
    This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
    This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
    • Dwight David Eisenhower, "The Chance for Peace," address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1953. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953, p. 182.
  • A strong defense is the surest way to peace. Strength makes détente attainable. Weakness invites war, as my generation—my generation—knows from four very bitter experiences. Just as America's will for peace is second to none, so will America's strength be second to none. We cannot rely on the forbearance of others to protect this Nation. The power and diversity of the Armed Forces, active Guard and Reserve, the resolve of our fellow citizens, the flexibility in our command to navigate international waters that remain troubled are all essential to our security.
    • Gerald Ford, address to a joint session of Congress (August 12, 1974); Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1974, p. 11.
  • To draw around the whole nation the strength of the General Government, as a barrier against foreign foes,… to equalize and moderate the public contributions, that while the requisite services are invited by due renumeration, nothing beyond this may exist to attract the attention of our citizens from the pursuits of useful industry, nor unjustly to burthen those who continue in those pursuits—these are functions of the General Government on which you have a right to call.
    • President Thomas Jefferson, letter to Amos Marsh, November 20, 1801, reported in ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, vol. 10, p. 293 (1903).
  • All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.
    • Abraham Lincoln, address before the Young Men's Lyceum, Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838); Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 1, p. 109.
  • We are confident that we can penetrate any enemy defenses with our missiles. We know that we are more than the equal of any nation in the world.
    • Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense, conversation with newsmen after testifying before a joint session of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Defense Appropriations subcommittee (January 24, 1967), as reported by The New York Times (January 25, 1967), p. 17. McNamara denied there was an antimissile gap.
  • Fifth Column.
    • Emilio Mola, a term used by General Mola during the siege of Madrid in 1936, referring to the contingent of supporters within the city who would aid the army's four columns attacking from outside. A fully documented account of the term, its spread, its popularity, and its change of meaning may be found in Dwight L. Bolinger, "Fifth Column Marches On," American Speech, February 1944, p. 47–49. The first use in English, in a report from Spain, appears in The New York Times, October 17, 1936, p. 9, col. 4.
  • That is not to say that we can relax our readiness to defend ourselves. Our armament must be adequate to the needs, but our faith is not primarily in these machines of defense but in ourselves.
    • Chester W. Nimitz, speech at the University of California, Berkeley, March 22, 1950.—The San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 1950, p. 7, reported only the second sentence, but both can be found on a typed line of quotations by Admiral Nimitz received from the Navy Department Library.
  • If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.
    • George Washington, fifth annual address to Congress, December 13, 1793.—The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 33, p. 166 (1940).
  • To be prepared for War is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
    • George Washington, first annual address to Congress, January 8, 1790.—The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 30, p. 491 (1939).
  • A government without the power of defence! it is a solecism.
    • James Wilson, speech, Pennsylvania Convention on the adoption of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 11, 1787.—The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, ed. Jonathan Elliot, vol. 2, p. 520 (1836). Wilson, the leader of the Federalist forces at the convention, was the only member of the Pennsylvania Convention who had been part of the Federal Convention writing the Constitution.

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