7.2.7 Self-Protection against 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’ (6.7.7.4).  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 (7.3.4.1).  When threats are detected, action needs to be taken.

As described in the following sub-sections, countries can act to protect themselves independently or they can act collaboratively – by using formal legal agreements (7.2.7.1) or by creating ad hoc coalitions (7.2.7.2).  Whether alone or in concert, they have several ways of putting pressure on other countries (7.2.7.3).

If self-protection measures fail, countries have several ways of using ungoverned force against each other, as discussed later (7.3), but many problems arise in consequence (7.4).

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