Democracy Declassified: The Secrecy Dilemma in National Security

Hardcover | August 13, 2014

byMichael P. Colaresi

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Democracy Declassified tackles an enduring question of particular current importance: How do democratic governments balance the need for foreign policy secrecy with accountability to the public? Democracies keep secrets both from potential enemies and their publics. This simple fact challengesthe surprisingly prevalent assumption that foreign policy successes and failures can be attributed to public transparency and accountability. In fact, the ability to keep secrets has aided democratic victories from the European and Pacific theatres in World War II to the global competition of theCold War. At the same time, executive discretion over the capacity to classify information created the opportunity for abuse that contributed to Watergate, as well as domestic spying and repression in France, Norway and Canada over the last 40 years.Therefore, democracies face a secrecy dilemma. Secrecy is useful, but once a group or person has the ability to decide what information is concealed from an international competitor, citizens can no longer monitor that information. How then can the public be assured that national security policiesare not promoting hidden corruption or incompetence? As Democracy Declassified shows, it is indeed possible for democracies to keep secrets while also maintaining national security oversight institutions that can deter abuse and reassure the public, including freedom of information laws, legislativecommittee powers, and press freedom.Understanding secrecy and oversight in democracies helps us explain not only why the Maginot Line rose and the French Republic fell, or how the US stumbled but eventually won the Cold War, but more generally how democracies can benefit from both public consent and necessary national securitysecrets. At a time when the issue of institutional accountability and transparency has reached fever pitch, Democracy Declassified provides a grounded and important view on the connection between the role of secrecy in democratic governance and foreign policy-making.

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Democracy Declassified tackles an enduring question of particular current importance: How do democratic governments balance the need for foreign policy secrecy with accountability to the public? Democracies keep secrets both from potential enemies and their publics. This simple fact challengesthe surprisingly prevalent assumption that ...

Michael P. Colaresi is Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.

other books by Michael P. Colaresi

Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:August 13, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199389772

ISBN - 13:9780199389773

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroductionI Democracy Classified: The Uses of Secrecy1. Theories of Democratic Transparency and Foreign Policy Success2. Not So Exceptional: The Theory, Uses, and Reality of National Security Secrecy in DemocraciesII The Abuses of Secrecy and Public Consent3. The Potential Abuses of National Security Secrecy4. The Consequences of Potential Abuse for Public ConsentIII Democracy Declassified: the Dilemma and Oversight5. Solving the Secrecy Dilemma6. The Consequences of National Security Oversight in DemocraciesIV The Evidence7. A View of National Security Oversight Institutions8. Revealing Evidence: Support, Spending and SuccessV Conclusion9. Implications and InnovationsAppendices: Formal Models, Data and Statistical ResultBibliography