National Security Policy in the Making (Russia’s National Security Policy in the Context of Globalization Problems).
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Sergei Kortunov


Professor, is Head of the International Affairs Department at the State University–Higher School of Economics.

The concept of ‘national security’ was introduced by Walter
Lippmann in his book U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic
published in 1943. The concept was officially accepted in the 1947
National Security Act which laid the basis for the establishment of
the U.S. National Security Council. Initially, the concept of U.S.
national security was formulated in somewhat ambiguous terms and
was later continuously revised. It took a few decades before the
concept became well-structured and clearly defined.

In Russia, the perception of a national security policy and its
official formulation was introduced half a century later.
Naturally, Russia’s first moves in this sphere, like those of the
U.S., were rather ineffective. Attempts to imitate the American
model, while at the same time retaining the patterns of the
Communist Party reports, resulted in eclectic and ambiguous
definitions, as well as superfluous estimates of all the aspects of
Russia’s domestic and foreign policy. In this respect the book by
Sergei Kortunov favorably differs from all previous publications on
the subject.

The book starts with a brief overview of legislative acts and
messages by the President of the Russian Federation (from 1992 up
to the present) in which national security policy guidelines were

Section 1, entitled Theoretical and Methodological Problems of
Shaping Russia’s National Security Policy in the 21st Century,
considers the means and resources for ensuring national security,
global processes determining its current state and  the
mechanisms for implementing national security policy. It also
introduces some methodological fundamentals for formulating
security policy and sets the priorities in Russian domestic and
foreign policy.

The author correctly concludes: “Modern perception of the
methodological basics of national security maintenance… is,
unfortunately, utterly outdated” (p. 34). In the meantime,
theoretical and methodological fundamentals are of crucial
importance; this is, of course, unless Russia is not going to learn
the art of planning and choose the means and resources needed to
ensure national security on the spot, i.e. by cut-and-try method,
which would require another fifty years. The author believes that
national security policy should be formulated on the categorical
level. On the whole, the methodological section of the book is
undoubtedly a serious contribution to political science.

It is noteworthy that the second step in developing the U.S.
national security concept was the emergence of the formula
“national security in terms of world security.” It is most likely
that the same logic made Kortunov almost literally reproduce this
formula in the title of Section 2 National Security in the Context
of the Emerging International Security. However, whereas in the
U.S. the development of the national security concept continues
differentiating the notions ‘national security’ and ‘defense,’
Kortunov, in my view, considers the issue in a broader modern
context – he makes a critical analysis of the previous (and still
existent) instruments of interna-tional security and looks for new
models of world governance.

The book has twelve chapters, each of which could be easily
expanded to a separate section, considering the abundance of
information the author provides (actually, each of the sections
could be expanded to a separate book). Instead, all of the
principles, methodologies, ideas, concepts, facts and documents are
presented in Kortunov’s book in a condensed way, which helps the
reader to immediately catch the key points. Except for Chapter 12,
titled Russia’s National Identity, never does the author fail to
maintain the position of an unbiased observer. This is especially
valuable since for almost half a decade Sergei Kortunov, as one of
the Kremlin officials, was directly involved in projects for the
development of Russia’s national security strategy.

As is well known, a daily routine, an overload of urgent matters
and continuous fast-paced work of a civil servant can hardly
promote creative thinking or theorizing. Original thinking with
government officials is hampered by the bureaucratic machine which
automatically opposes any views that do not correspond to the
general line. Abundant bureaucracy constrains normally separate
people who generate ideas from those who make decisions. This is
why only very few innovative proposals can break out from the
bureaucratic labyrinth. Even if a proposal does find its way
through, it usually changes beyond recognition due to incessant
coordination procedures and compromises between various government
departments, as well as due to numerous amendments made by those
who never take the trouble of consulting the author of the

Yet, Sergei Kortunov, while working in the capacity of an
assistant to the Russian President’s aide for national security,
Deputy Head of the Defense Council Office and Chief of the
International Analytical Department, was given carte blanche to
engage in creative activities. He was assigned to organize a ‘brain
factory’ that would seek effective solutions to defense and
security issues, and he did his job perfectly. Kortunov inspired
and coordinated the efforts of many teams of the best Russian
experts. The book under review actually embodies the vast
experience and new ideas gained by the author during his work under
government projects.

It is also precisely for this reason that, in a way, the book
appears to be a collective work: documents presented in it actually
have integrated the ideas and proposals made by many experts. The
author was scrupulous enough to list all the people who worked to
formulate national security documents.

In my opinion, Sergei Kortunov has successfully considered at
least five tasks in his book.

First, the book should evoke the interest of Russian political
scientists and policymakers in national security problems.

Second, it provides any Russian citizen concerned with the
country’s security with a clear idea of the different factors
determining national security policy, and thereby contributes to a
better understanding of the problems the nation is facing

Third, it outlines the ways that help develop strategic thinking
in the security field.

Fourth, it produces a concise guide to various concepts,
priorities, guidelines, means and mechanisms of implementing
national security policy.

Fifth, it sums up a decade’s progress in developing and
implementing Russia’s security policy and outlines prospects for
the future.

I believe that the book should be considered an achievement in
its main goal if it has an impact on at least one high-ranking
politician dealing with Russia’s national security issues and leads
to at least one prudent and effective solution in this sphere.

Yuri Baturin