7.2.7 Combating External Threats

Theoretically, countries could choose to rely upon multinational and global institutions (6.6.5 and 6.6.6) to protect them – but most countries have decided that these are insufficiently robust to guarantee the safety of their inhabitants.  They want to be able to protect themselves: a form of ‘realpolitik’ (  Although the need for national armed forces might be expected to diminish, it is politically inconceivable in the short to medium-term that countries will feel able to manage without them. 

Governments can lessen some risks by gathering intelligence, to be able to intervene before the threat becomes overwhelming, although intelligence-gathering is controversial – as discussed later (  When threats are detected, action needs to be taken.  Countries can act to protect themselves independently or they can act collaboratively, as described in the following sub-sections:

Countries can form defensive alliances such as NATO, which asserts that it is subject to international law, although America’s history of aggression has caused Russia and China to see NATO as a threat (

They can create ad hoc coalitions in response to specific threats ( 

Whether alone or in concert, they have several ways of putting pressure on other countries (  These include the use of military force, as described in the next two segments of this chapter, although this has proved very problematic.



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This is a current page, updated since publication of Patterns of Power Edition 3a.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/727a.htm.