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date: 21 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Existing explanations of national security policy are overwhelmingly structuralist in orientation. They are thus blind to, and even shunt aside, the politics of national security. This chapter brings politics back in via the often-ignored, yet crucial, process of mobilization and its constituent processes, notably legitimation and coalition management. Drawing on existing rationalist and constructivist scholarship, it explores the techniques and tools that politicians employ to fix the contours of debate, construct the policy menu, legitimate chosen policy, and forge and sustain supportive elite coalitions. In keeping with this Handbook’s focus on the future, the chapter also examines how three contemporary developments—the rise of the transnational, the information and communications revolution, and the fragmentation of authority and community—are complicating mobilization, and, from this vantage point, it briefly advances the case for a policy rooted in pragmatism.

Keywords: national security, domestic politics, mobilization, legitimation, narrative, coalition management, grand strategy, pragmatism

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