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In Focus: Policy Analysis for National Security Studies


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Department of National Defense National Defense College of the Philippines

Academic Affairs Division


No. 2 (July) 2021

In Focus: Policy Analysis

for National Security Studies


Gen. Arturo Enrile Avenue, Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Quezon City, Philippines 1110

+63 (2) 8912 1412



In Focus: Policy Analysis

for National Security Studies

Ananda Devi Domingo-Almase

NDCP Faculty Paper, No. 2 (July) 2021


This paper is composed of critical and comprehensive discussions on the importance of studying policy analysis and applying this correctly in the field of national security. This is driven by epistemic questions on why policy analysis should be the centerpiece of National Security Studies; what the nature of national security policy analysis is, compared with normal public policy analysis; how a nuanced understanding of these two fields of policy analysis helps examine decisions and options for national security; and, what appropriate methods of policy analysis can be used by security analysts in academic and policy circles. The insightful answers to these areas of inquiry aim to place national security policy analysis in proper focus and at the center of National Security Studies, especially in the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP).


About the author:

Ananda Devi Domingo-Almase, DPA is a Professor III of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) and the Course Director of the National Security Policy Analysis Course in the Master in National Security Administration (MNSA) Program of NDCP. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Public Administration, which are all from the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City. As part of her continuing professional education, she also took up the Advanced Security Cooperation Course at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) in Honolulu, Hawaii; and two Executive Education Courses on Mastering Negotiation, and on National and International Security for Senior Executives at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

The views expressed in this NDCP Faculty Paper are hers alone and do not represent the opinion or position of the NDCP nor of the Department of National Defense (DND).


Table of Contents

I. Introduction


II. Why Policy Analysis Should Be

the Centerpiece of National Security Studies


A. National security is a policy construct 4

B. National security is a an extraordinary policy 7

C. National Security Studies is about policy analysis 10

III. How National Security Policy Analysis

Compares with Normal Public Policy Analysis


Table 1. Comparison Between Normal Public Policy Analysis

and National Security Policy Analysis 12

IV. Kinds and Methods of Analyzing Policy Choices


A. Two types of policy analysis as to paradigm 16

1. Quantitative policy analysis 16

2. Qualitative policy analysis 16

B. Two kinds of policy analysis as to purpose 17

1. Analysis FOR policy 18

a. Strategic evaluation 18

b. Systems analysis 19

c. Operations research 19

Table 2. General Guidelines and Logical Procedures in Conducting

an Analysis FOR Policy in National Security Administration 20

2. Analysis OF policy 20

a. Analysis of policy determination 21

b. Case study 22

c. Discourse Analysis 23

d. Other analytical perspectives 24

Table 3. General Guidelines and Logical Procedures in Writing

an Analysis OF Policy in the Academia 26

V. Summary


VI. Reference List





In an uncertain world where problems are more complex than before, figuring out possible solutions is never easy because the future is hard to see.1 As I wrote in the beginning of my analysis of the Philippines’

foreign policy gambit in 2020:

Now more than ever, we live in a world that is uncontrollable and unpredictable. As it is in constant change, we grapple and gamble with the odds that lie ahead. But with theoretical frames, we try to make sense of complex relations in order to explain causations, especially in conflict situations. And with analytical tools, we strive to weigh in our policy choices so as to predict likely consequences, even with limited information.2 (Underline provided.)

In a field of inquiry where value judgements are made about national security, the examination of the core properties of policy choices is critical to survival. Knowledge of why and how policy is determined matters a lot in changing a problematical state of affairs or in continuing a beneficial status quo. This is despite the fact that time and information, which are needed to make good policy, may not be sufficient;

and that the strategic environment, which a course of action is directed at, cannot completely be controlled.

Given these realities, we should have the intellectual discipline to make sense of complexity, trace multiple causalities, and anticipate possible outcomes of policy alternatives.

With theories and tools to analyze policy, we are able to understand the broader context within which certain actions or reactions have to be considered vis a vis their cost and effectiveness, among other value criteria. With best option and informed decision at hand, we can increase our chances of getting effective results and also of gaining control of the situation. All this is the purpose and function of a theory-based and empirically grounded policy analysis.

In the study of Public Administration3, policy analysis is basically defined as a multi-disciplinary process of inquiry through which component parts of a policy problem are analyzed, policy options are evaluated, and a best course of action is recommended to resolve a problem and/or improve an existing policy.4 Policy analysis informs policy-makers and administrators at national and/or local level(s) on what to do with public problems and how government resources will be used for public good and welfare. This, in essence, is what public policy is all about: whatever government decides to do or not to do about issues, problems, and opportunities in the societal environment.5

1 That the future is hard to see when making decisions in national security arena was asserted by Richard L. Kugler in Policy Analysis in National Security Affairs: New Methods for a New Era (Washington, DC, USA: Center for Technology and National Security Policy, National Defense University, 2006), pp. xv-xvi.

2 Ananda Devi D. Almase, “Duterte’s Gambit: How the Two-Level Game Theory Explains the Odds of Terminating the US Visiting Forces Agreement,” NDCP Faculty Paper No. 1 (July 2020), p. 1. ISSN: 2719-0773. http://www.ndcp.edu.ph/TRANSPARENCY%20 -%20PDF%20FILES/Faculty%20Paper/NDCP%20Faculty%20Paper%20(Online%20Copy)%2005022021%20v

3 Public Administration (PA), which is capitalized, refers to the name of the academic field; public administration, which is in small letters, refers to the practice. The late Dr. Raul P. De Guzman, Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines (UP) and father of Philippine Public Administration, defined PA as a professional and scholarly discipline that is concerned about the formulation and implementation of public policies and programs, as well as the socio-cultural, economic, and political factors that bear on them.

According to him, PA “deals with the systematic study of institutions and processes and the interplay of factors involved in authoritative decision-making on goals, in implementing them and in achieving desired results.” [Raul P. De Guzman, “Is There a Philippine Public Administration?,” in Introduction to Public Administration: A Reader ed. by Victoria A. Bautista et al. (Diliman, Quezon City: UP Press and UP College of Public Administration, 1993), p. 4.]

4 For comprehensive definition and scope of policy analysis, see William N. Dunn, Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction Fifth Edition (New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education Incorporated, 2012).

See also Carl V. Patton, David S. Sawicki & Jennifer E. Clark, Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning Third Edition (New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education Incorporated, 2013).

5 This classic definition of public policy can be sourced from the foundational readings authored by Friedrich and Mason in 1940 and Dye in 1976. [See C.J. Friedrich and Edward S. Mason, Public Policy (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: The Harvard University Press, 1940); and Thomas R. Dye, What Governments Do, why They Do It, and What Difference it Makes (Alabama, USA: University of Alabama Press, 1976).]


An example of public policy that aims to address a socio-economic problem is the social amelioration program carried out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the Philippines. This policy measure provides conditional cash grants to indigent families to improve their living conditions and enable their children to go to school.6 The DSWD program is similar to the conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme distributed to poorest families in Latin America and Africa. Another example of a public policy adopted by the Philippines, as well as by other countries, is the empowerment of women and promotion of gender equality through what is known as the gender and development (GAD) program. This policy approach with gender dimension is deemed critical to poverty alleviation, sustainable economic development, and good governance in the Philippines and in the region. Aside from distributive and development-oriented policy measures like the CCT and GAD, there are other types of public policies that are aimed at regulating procedures, penalizing lawbreakers, extracting revenues, resolving disputes, as well as organizing and administering government bureaucracy.

In National Security Studies7, which is a sub-discipline of International Relations8, policy analysis has the same logic as that in the praxis of public administration. The former, however, has different orientation and direction. National security policy analysis probes into issues and problems directly affecting the national interests. It also provides information and insights on making decisions for defense, security, and foreign policies. Some examples of policy questions are: whether the Philippines should terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States (US); what course(s) of action should the Philippines take to address the security threat in the South China Sea (SCS); and, how should the Philippines engage with China to protect the Philippines’ interests post SCS arbitration.

National security policy analysis helps the national leadership conduct foreign policy wisely and use instruments of national power [e.g., political diplomacy, military, trade and economy, and information and technology] effectively. It clarifies national security goals and/or identifies new direction to be pursued in relation to emerging threats and opportunities in the security environment. It gives estimates of costs and benefits of available options, weighs up comparative values of trade-offs and pay-offs, as well as alerts decision-makers to spoilers and red flags. National security policy analysis helps government minimize risks of failure by analyzing beforehand whether policy choices are wise or likely to succeed.9

Aside from the practical and political purposes of policy analysis, scholars also ask questions or research puzzles about policy cases to illumine key issues of policy debates and/or explain causal mechanisms in policy determination. Academics also look into contents of policies to deconstruct policy arguments and analyze their theoretical underpinnings.10 Whether in public management, public safety

6 This policy measure is known as “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” (4Ps), aimed at improving the health and education of children from the poorest families in the Philippines.

7 National Security Studies is a specialized field of inquiry under International Relations. In some colleges in the US and United Kingdom (UK), National Security Studies is a separate graduate program that is especially designed for intelligence analysts, academic scholars, and future strategic leaders and diplomats in national security affairs. The course is about the theories and tools of understanding threats to national and international security, and of analyzing national security policies and/or strategies of concerned states.

8 International Relations (IR), which is singular and spelled with initial capital letters, is an interdisciplinary study of the political dynamics and power relations between and among sovereign states, along with independent actors, in an international system with no governing system above them. The academic field of IR—which has a claim of equal status with other established courses in social sciences—is concerned about the international political economy and the traditional and non-traditional threats to national security, international order, and global commons. [For basic introduction to IR, see Karen A. Mingst and Ivan M. Arreguin- Toft, Essentials of International Relations 5th Edition (New York, USA: Norton, W.W. & Company, Inc., 2011). See also Charles Jones, International Relations: A Beginner’s Guide (London, England: Oneworld Publications, 2014).]

9 For comprehensive discussions on the purpose of policy analysis in national security domain, see Kugler, pp. 2, & 12-17.

10 Deconstruction is as a method of critiquing language and semantics to unravel some conceptual instability and ambiguity in the substance and structure of a discourse, such as a policy argument. [Ananda Devi D. Almase, “Strategic Ambiguity:

Deconstructing Duterte’s 2018 National Security Strategy,” University of Nottingham Asia Dialogue, 1 October 2018, https://




governance, or national security administration, policy analysis sharpens our thought processes and decision-making skills. It enables us to think clearly and critically about the logic, rationality, suitability, feasibility, and/or acceptability of policy choices. But to come up with coherent analysis and argument, we must learn about the field in which we try to explain and resolve particular problems.

For example, when a journalist asks a policy question of whether to stop the 8 million dollar rehabilitation project of Manila Bay, due to allegedly harmful dolomite sand being dumbed there, he or she should have background on public choice theory,11 local governance, and/or sustainable development from the study of Public Administration in order to come up with sound analysis and policy advocacy. When a critic questions the Philippines’ pivot to China and soft stance on China’s harassment in the West Philippine Sea, he or she should have orientation in International Relations, particularly National Security Studies, to be able to comprehend why weak states behave the way they do. And when an analyst explains the case of the Philippine drug war, he or she should have knowledge about securitization theory12 and the politics of existential threat to argue for (or against) the difficult decision to take extraordinary measures beyond normal procedures.13

In all of the foregoing examples, educated perspectives are important to justify or judge the merits of policy choices. I do not mean to say that scholars and analysts from the same field of study always agree with each other; in fact, they also argue with their nuanced frames of analysis from different schools of thought. My point is that the quality of policy debates will not be compromised when analysts have appropriate theories or bases of knowledge to advance coherent arguments. This is precisely what a policy analysis is made up of in the academia, and the reason why professionals and practitioners pursue continuing education in policy-oriented fields of social sciences, such as National Security Studies.

With that in mind, I articulate three important questions as points for discussion: Why should policy analysis be the centerpiece of National Security Studies? What is the nature of national security policy analysis and how does this compare with normal public policy analysis? Lastly, how does a nuanced understanding of the two fields of policy analysis help examine decisions and options for national security? Simply put, what are the appropriate methods and guidelines for national security policy analysis, which can be used by researchers and analysts in academic and policy circles?

As a faculty of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), I endeavor to write a paper that will explain the nature and purpose of the subject in focus: policy analysis for National Security Studies. The intention is to place in proper perspective why policy analysis should be central to, rather than on the side of, discussions of national security concerns in this College. Learning best the theories and methods of our field is essential to good analysis and better policy. This is the key to develop and enrich the interdisciplinary studies of national security in NDCP.

11 Public choice theory uses the economic approach [e.g., cost-benefit analysis and risk aversion] to explain decision-making processes in government. For comprehensive discussions of public choice, see Dennis C. Mueller, “Public Choice: An Introduction,”

The Encyclopedia of Public Choice Vol. 1 ed. by Charles K. Rowley and Friedrich Schneider (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004), pp. 32–48.

12 Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde’s securitization theory explains that securitization happens when a problem is presented as an existential threat, requiring emergency measures and justifying actions outside the normal bounds of political procedures. As the authors wrote: “Securitization can thus be seen as a more extreme version of politicization.” [See Barry Buzan, Ole Wæver, and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework of Analysis (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc, 1998), p. 23.]

13 See Ananda Devi D. Almase, “The Case of the Philippine Drug War: When the State Securitizes an Existential Threat to Public Safety,” University of Nottingham Asia Dialogue Dialogue, 5 September 2017, https://theasiadialogue.com/2017/06/01/the-case- of-the-philippine-drug-war-when-the-state-securitizes-an-existential-threat-to-public-safety/.



Why Policy Analysis Should be the Centerpiece of National Security Studies

The discipline of analyzing national security policy is not just about the mastery of tools and techniques of problem-solving.14 More importantly, it is also about the study of theories and ways of thinking about the subject of analysis, that is, what to do about a national security problem.15 The thought process begins with broad and deep understanding of threats to national security of a state in relation to the international political system or to a regional security complex.16

The capacity to analyze the state of nature in this century is the starting point of coping with difficult challenges in the vulnerable, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world that we live in.

How we argue about security problems and come up with necessary countermeasures are the function of a theory-based policy analysis in National Security Studies. Since the latter delves into modes of intelligent discussions and normative prescriptions about national security, constructing powerful policy arguments (as well as deconstructing weak ones) is crucial. It is along this line that I will discuss important points as to why policy analysis should be front and center in National Security Studies, especially in a defense college like NDCP.

National security is a policy construct

I would like to begin by pointing out that national security is a loaded, two-word phrase. The logic of the grammatical structure is explicit: the adjective “national”17 modifies the abstract noun “security.”18 This indicates a categorical description of security that is distinct from other kinds of security [e.g., social security, health security, economic security, and environmental security]. What then is “national

14 As Kugler wrote in the preface of his 2006 book on Policy Analysis in National Security Affairs: New Methods for a New Era:

“This is not a recipe book for measuring and calculating or for otherwise employing techniques and procedures. Along the way, it covers these facets of policy analysis, but it is not mainly about them. Instead, it is a philosophical and conceptual book for helping people think deeply, clearly, and insightfully about complex policy issues. It is anchored in the premise that knowing how to think enhances the odds of reaching sound judgments. Thus, it is a thinking person’s book because thinking is the wellspring of good policy analysis.” (Underline provided.) [Kugler, p. xv.]

15 Alan Stolberg, in his article on national security policy-making, wrote that policy can simply be defined as “what to do about something” or “what is to be done.” His formal definition of policy is: “a course of action or guiding principle that provides guidelines, boundaries, and limitations intended to influence and determine decisions and actions, to include guidance for the development of an implementing strategy.” [Allan G. Stolberg, “Making National Security Policy in the 21st Century,” US Army War College Guide to National Security Issues Volume II: National Security Policy and Strategy ed. by J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr. (Pennsylvania, USA: US Army War College, 2012), p. 41.

16 The regional security complex theory (RSCT) refers to patterns and intensities of geopolitics and security relations between and among units, usually the states, with common and/or conflicting security interests in their own region. Specifically, Buzan et al. defined security complex as “a set of units whose major processes of securitization, desecuritization, or both are so interlinked that their security problems cannot reasonably be analyzed or resolved apart from one another.” [Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, pp. 42-43, 201.]

Buzan and Wæver explained RSCT as an emergent structure of international security. The RSCT frame of analysis enables scholars to analyse, explain, and anticipate (to a certain degree) strategic developments in any region. It provides a more nuanced view of the international political system instead of describing this as unipolar, bipolar, or multipolar. A substructure of the international system, regional security complex has “important mediating effects on how the global dynamics of great power polarity actually operate.” The RSCT works along with realist and liberal theories since the formation and operation of regional security complex(es) are determined by patterns of amity and enmity among the system’s units and also by their national security policies. [Barry Buzan and Ole Wæver, “Security Complexes: A Theory of Regional Security,” Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 40-82.]

17 In Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde’s framework of analysis, “security” is a generic term that means survival in the face of existential threats. However, what constitutes threat is not the same across different sectors: political, military, economic, societal, and environmental. [Buzan,Wæver and de Wilde, p. 27.]

18 That national security is distinct from other kinds and levels of security is clear in the semantics of Caldwell and Williams when they wrote that security studies need “to go beyond national security” to include human security and cooperative security in this century. [Dan Caldwell and Robert E. Williams, Jr., Seeking Security in an Insecure World Third Edition (London, UK: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016), p. 258.]



security” and how is this oriented to policy? This is what we are concerned about in this section, that is, the modified meaning of security that has analytical purchase to policy researchers and professionals in national security affairs. In my lectures in NDCP, I introduced national security first as a concept, then as a subject of analysis, and lastly as a policy—around which National Security Studies should revolve.

As a concept, national security is socially constructed, culture-bound, threat-based, and even politically contested.19 This means that the idea of national security is not universal to all societies in diverse regions of the world and in different periods of time. What makes a state secure or insecure is also not the same for nations, as well as scholars of National Security Studies. Realists equate national security with military power to deter aggression or, if deterrence fails, with superior armed forces to defend the state against armed attack. They put high premium to economic wealth in order for a country to be strong. Liberals, on the other hand, believe democracy, as well as cooperation, is the key to guarantee peace and development in national and international communities. For critical advocates, it is human security20 [i.e., human rights] that can emancipate peoples from conflict and ensure them of quality living. But if impressions about national security are stretched to all things that can make people feel secure at their level, how are we to grapple with the loose concept of national security? This is a rhetorical question that is better addressed in this essay rather than merely articulated as a puzzle.

As scholars of International Relations (IR) will tell us, “national” in national security refers to the state or nation-state, as in the “national interest” and “national defense.”21 Here, security is defined at the level of the state that constitutes the international political system.22 In National Security Studies, the classic definition of security pertains to the security of the state against military threat. This has always been the primordial concern of IR, an academic field borne out of the need to understand the causes of wars in the 20th century. For realist scholars, to think about national security is to study about war or threat of war. In this traditional notion of security, military force—as the means by which wars are waged or deterred—is thought about as the primary or the sole guarantor of national security.23

Stephen Walt, in his 1991 article on The Renaissance of Security Studies, defined this academic field as the study of the threat, use, and control of military force.24 The American scholar argued that extending the security ambit to regular public problems [e.g., pollution, disease, child abuse, and economic recession] is problematic. This extended purview would destroy the intellectual coherence of the term, thus making it more difficult to come up with solutions to any of those public problems, according to Walt.25 In response to this argument, Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde—in their 1998 book on Security: A New Framework for Analysis—spelled out the need to classify and clarify what is and what is not a security worthy issue. The British professors warned of “intellectual and political dangers” of

“simply tacking the word security onto an ever wider range of issues,” as this would have “undesirable

19 In a 2013 article on what the subject of security really means in the Philippines, I wrote that the concept of national security is subject to perceptions, deliberations, and even tensions in the academe and the political realm. Competing values and interests make the subject naturally contestable in different nations and policy communities. That security is a “contested concept”

was articulated by scholars with different theoretical perspectives and policy imperatives on how security is to be seen, satisfied, and strengthened. There are at least two different worldviews on the focus and scope of security: the realist, narrow focus on deterring the enemy and defending the state against external as well as internal threats; and the constructivist, wide frame of protecting and enhancing human lives in all dimensions. [Ananda Devi D. Almase, “What the Subject of Security Really Means: A Look into the Content and Context of the 2011-2016 National Security Policy Analysis in the Philippines,” National Security Review (2013), pp.


20 According to the 1994 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), there are seven dimensions of human security: community security, health security, economic security, food security, political security, environmental security, and personal security. [See UNDP, Human Development Report 1994 (New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 1994).]

21 Caldwell and Williams, pp. 17 & 184.

22 Ibid., p. 7.

23 Ibid. pp. 7-8.

24 Walt’s argument was quoted in Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, pp. 3-4. See also Stephen M. Walt, “The Renaissance of Security Studies” International Studies Quarterly Vol 35, No. 2 (1991), pp. 211-239.

25 Ibid, p. 213.



and counterproductive effects on the entire fabric of social and international relations.”26

Likewise, Baylis, Wirtz, and Gray—in their 2010 book on Strategy in the Contemporary World—

asserted that if defense and foreign policies are removed from the picture, the humanist view of security will become synonymous with well-being and people’s welfare. With this, everything that might negatively affect human lives and/or ways of life is considered as a security problem. If the idea of security is expanded to accommodate all things related to human development, the former will lose its meaning and value, and so will the distinct field of National Security Studies.27 As Baylis, Wirtz, and Gray asserted: “(m)ilitary power remains a crucial part of security and those who ignore war to concentrate on non-military threats to security do so at their peril.”28 It is for this reason that realists scholars give emphasis on strategy, i.e., use of force, at the heart of any security policy in the 21st century VUCA world.

While there is no universally accepted definition for national security, which is the case in any analytical construct in social science, there is a need to ensure logicality in defining and delimiting the use of this politically powerful label. This epistemic concern in the scholarly field has serious implications on policy. As I wrote in a 2013 article on What the Subject of Security Really Means in the Philippines:

Despite the reinvention of the concept of security in the approach of the 21st century, critical thinkers warn against its obscure meanings and leanings if this is to be translated in actual policy, especially by a conservative state. Understanding the subject of security is crucial in defining a security problem and devising appropriate policy to address it.29

As a subject of analysis, national security is theoretically grounded, policy relevant, and strategically oriented. Only with a comprehension of these dimensions can we begin to engage in thoughtful conversations about the subject of national security. What makes a state secure or insecure is a question of theory and policy, as well as of strategy in a policy continuum. For instance, realist scholars will explain that power disparity in the international system is both the source of threat and the means of security. Thus, sovereign states build up their militaries as deterrence or defense against aggression and as leverage in international politics. Liberals, on the other hand, will argue that the use of force is not necessary and sufficient for national and international security. For this reason, powerful nations strive to build international institutions, create international laws, and foster economic cooperation among diverse countries for international peace, stability, and prosperity.

In the 2015 article with the title of Perspective on National Security Policy Framing, I defined national security as an enduring principle and purpose of the state, which is communicated in the language of policy and strategy.30 In this regard, I see national security as a policy statement of what the country intends to do and how it will use its power sources and security networks to protect the national interests. This is primordial in the constitution of any sovereign and independent republic.31 It must be noted that the raison d’etre of the state is to provide law and order, public safety, and national security in its sovereign territory. The state ought to have the monopoly and legitimacy to use force and organized violence in order for it to eliminate sub-state violence, deter external aggression, and defend itself against enemy attack.32 However, it cannot be refuted that a state too could abuse and misuse

26 Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, pp. 1-2.

27 John Baylis, James J. Wirtz, and Colin Gray, Strategy in the Contemporary World Third Edition (Oxford, England: University of Oxford Press, 2010), p. 13.

28 Ibid.

29 Almase, 2013, p. 86.

My earlier thoughts about the policy-orientedness of security is the same as those of Caldwell and Williams who asserted in 2016 that decisions are based on some definition of security. As they wrote: “Our starting point is the assumption that the quest for security must begin with a thorough understanding of the sources of security; solutions must always be grounded in an understanding of the problems.” [Caldwell and Williams, 2016, p.20.]

29 Almase, 2015, p. 28.

31 Ananda Devi D. Almase, “From Policy to Strategy: The Quest for a Real National Security Strategy in the Philippines,”

Philippine Public Safety Review Vol. 2, No. 2 (2016), p. 15.

32 Here, I refer mainly to fully developed states with credible defense posture. Newly independent states with weak armed



military and police powers against its own citizens in the name of national security. Drawing from the lessons of history, there is also a need to effectively govern the use of force within the domestic domain, which is the concern of security sector reform.

In their 2016 book on Seeking Security in an Insecure World, Caldwell and Williams defined national security as principally concerned with threats that are traditional [i.e., from rival powers and other states], non-traditional [i.e., from transnational, non-state actors such as international terrorists and criminal groups; and from other souces of threats such as climate change, natural disasters, and pandemics]. All these are matters of national security because they pose serious threats to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political and economic systems of a state.33 Although the American perspective of national security is largely external in nature, Caldwell and Williams recognized that intrastate conflict—particularly in weak and failing states—is the modern face of war.34

In the tradition of National Security Studies, national security policy and defense policy are generally regarded as interchangeable whether this serves to deter external threats—in the case of developed democracies in the West, or to suppress rebellion and drug-related crimes—in the context of some dictatorial and/or developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.35 This perspective of national security policy clarifies that the condition of stability or secure relationship is only possible when a state undertakes effective countermeasures to stabilize conflictual or threatening relations.36

All in all, national security cannot just be constructed or reinvented without regard to its real nature, political purpose, and policy cost. When this happens, the true meaning of national security will be diluted and debased. Hence, there is a need to be educated on what national security really means for this to have any value to the study and praxis of the field.

National security is an extraordinary policy

That national security is an extraordinary policy is evident from its distinct characteristics:

politics of existential threat, national emergency, sense of urgency, state mobilization, use of force and/

or extraordinary measures, and budgetary priority. To quote from Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde’s discourse on how security ought to be constructed and analyzed:

The invocation of security has been the key to legitimizing the use of force, but more generally, it has opened the way for the state to mobilize, or to take special powers, to handle existential threats. Traditionally, by saying

“security,” a state representative declares an emergency condition, thus claiming a right to use whatever means are necessary to block a threatening development.37

According to the above-cited scholars, security must be conceptualized as something much more specific than threat to people, community, economy, and/or environment upon which government should act. To count as a matter of security—especially national security—it has to meet “strictly defined criteria” that distinguish it from regular public problems or what Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde classified as politicized issues. These problems, which I refer to here as regular [i.e., usual business of government], are those that are made part of public debate and/or acted upon by government. In this case, politicized problems require legislation, budget allocation, and/or executive action. To note,

forces have to rely on the security umbrella provided by their former colonizers or the United Nations (UN). Other small states, which do not have their own standing military at all, depend on powerful countries or regional security forces for national defense.

Regardless of whether a country has a powerful military or not, national defense will always remain as the primary agenda of national security even without the rhetorical drama of securitization.

33 Caldwell and Williams, p. 257.

34 Ibid., pp. 192 & 196.

35 Ibid., p. 9.

36 Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, p. 4

37 Ibid., p. 21.



non-politicized issues are not in the policy agenda, which means they can be taken care of without a need for government intervention. In a conceptual spectrum devised by Buzan et al., politicization of a public issue is distinguished from securitization of a threating condition. The dichotomy in their typology explains the gravity and extremity of securitizing a problem by removing this from regular procedures of government.38

For a problem to be securitized, it has to be staged as an existential threat by the securitizing actor [i.e., the president] who generates endorsement of extraordinary measure that would not be warranted if the issue were not given the security label in a powerful speech act.39 There should be an urgency and an utmost priority to protect a security referent [e.g., nation, territory, military posture, public safety, constitution, and political regime] that has the legitimate claim to survive; otherwise, the future would be sacrificed. Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde wrote that the security discourse has to take “the form of existential threats, point of no return, and necessity” in order to “gain enough resonance for a platform to be made from which it is possible to legitimize emergency measures.”40 Because, according to these scholars, “if the problem is not handled now it will be too late, and we will not exist to remedy our failure.”41

From my previous study of the presidency, former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos’

public address on suspending the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 can be taken as a perfect example of a speech act that had the logic and rhetoric of securitization. To quote from his speech:

In my study of revolution,there is one lesson that we have learned and that is, we can tolerate subversion, we can tolerate dissension, we can tolerate conspiracy against state and against our Republic only to a certain extent. Beyond that point, if you allow the insurgency to grow, then the disease would so worsen that it could paralyze the entire body politic, and the state and the Republic will be lost. I say it and I declare it: we have reached a point when tolerance must end. The ultimate point of tolerance, the point of no return, has been reached and we can no longer allow the Communists to grow stronger. If they grow stronger, two years from now no government would be able to dismantle the communist apparatus without very heavy cost. Because of this, now is the time to act.42 [Underline provided.]

President Marcos followed through his securitization move when he stated the following in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in January 1972, eight months before his declaration of martial law in September of the same year.

The most urgent problem of the nation today—possibly through the rest of the decade—is the problem of peace and order. All our plans for development, themselves urgent, are contingent upon our successful management of this grave national problem. Only in conditions of calm and social stability may we hope to undertake the manifold and diverse tasks necessary for sustained growth. Peace and order, therefore, leads the agenda of government through the remainder of my Administration. I am determined that the challenge to public authority posed by criminal and lawless elements will be met this year and the next with all the power and resources of the government.43 [Underline provided.]

It can be seen from Marcos’ speech acts that a security discourse has all the essential elements of a policy argumentation. William Dunn, in his 2012 textbook on Public Policy Analysis, presented the following elements that constitute a compelling argument for policy: policy relevant information [e.g.,

38 Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, p. 25.

39 Ibid., p. 5.

40 Ibid., pp. 23-24.

41 Ibid., p. 26.

42 “The Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” Address of Ferdinand E. Marcos, President of the Republic of the Philippines, at a Meeting with Local Chief Executives on 1 September 1971. Parts of the speech was quoted in the Chapter on “Authoritarian Administration and the Campaign for Democratic Revolution for National Security and Social Equity, 1971-1985,” in Ananda Devi D.

Almase, A Saga of Administrative Thought in Presidential Rhetoric: An Analysis of the State of the Nation Addresses and Speeches of Philippines Presidents, 1935-2006 (Dissertation submitted to the National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, 2007), pp. 317-318.

43 “Strength Through Crisis, Growth in Freedom,” State of the Nation Message of President Ferdinand E. Marcos on 24 January 1972. Parts of the speech was quoted in Almase, 2007, p. 319.



existential threat of growing communist insurgency]; policy claim [e.g., suspension of the writ of habeas corpus], warrant [e.g., justification for securitization], and backing [e.g., reference to cases of failing states if insurgency is allowed to grow].44 A well-argued policy position will have more explanatory power when it is not only focused on its own agenda but also conscious of counterargument(s). It should not only explicate a policy choice but also anticipate and address opposing views.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s speech act in the war against illegal drugs in the Philippines is another example of a security discourse that has all the aforementioned elements of a policy argumentation. As the firebrand President stated in his inaugural address in 2016:

I know that there are those who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality. . . and illegal drugs and corruption. They say that my methods are unorthodox and verge on the illegal. In response let me say this: . . . I have seen how illegal drugs destroyed individuals and ruined family relationships. I have seen how criminality, by means all foul, snatched from the innocent and the unsuspecting, the years and years of accumulated savings. . . In this fight, I ask Congress and the Commission on Human Rights and all others who are similarly situated to allow us a level of governance that is consistent to our mandate. The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained.45 [Underline provided.]

A quintessential case of how securitization theory operates in an unfamiliar security situation is the worldwide policy to combat the novel coronavirus disease in 2019, otherwise known as COVID-19.

A severe and acute respiratory disease, COVID-19 has common symptoms of flu, fever, and shortness of breath that could lead to pneumonia, multi-organ failure, and death. At no time in world history did nations experience a devastating infectious disease that rapidly spread across the globe in an unprecedented rate and scale like COVID-19. The first case of the COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan City in China in December 2019 and travelled quickly to 210 countries and territories, forcing cities and communities around the world into quarantine and lockdown for the first time. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency to alert the international community about the existential crisis of the COVID-19. On 11 March 2020, the WHO raised the alarm at the level of a pandemic, which means the epidemic had become worldwide, crossed national boundaries, and affected large number of people. Before the end of April 2020, more than 2.6 million people got infected by COVID-19, while more than 180,000 died of the disease in various countries. A year after in April 2021, more than 132.5 million people contracted the virus, resulting in 2.8 million deaths around the world.46

A largely invisible and non-human threat, COVID-19 crossed borders undetected and devastated people by surprise. Even a strong military, which can destroy an enemy’s capability and morale, does not have the power to deter nor defeat this kind of threat. This is a nemesis that is not capable of reasoning, unlike rational states or nations that had settled wars in the previous century and past millennia. The COVID-19 is a faceless and formless threat whose very nature does not fit the definition of “threat” in classical realism,47 but does change the landscape and mindset of security in the twenty-first century.

As world history shows, plagues and pandemics are old. However, their inclusion in contemporary research agenda of International Relations and National Security Studies is new. Buzan et al.’s securitization theory, which broadens the security agenda, helps us understand why and how public health and safety is being securitized by government as a matter of policy. Securitization of a public health problem means controlling the spread of the disease, taking care of the sick, and protecting

44 Dunn, 2012, pp. 20-22.

45 See Inaugural Address of President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivered at Malacanang Palace on 30 June 2016.

46 “COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,” Worldometer, 6 April 2021, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.

47 For realist scholars, a security-worthy threat means a state or a non-state actor with the capability and intent to do harm against another state. Apart from traditional threats of great power rivalry, armed conflicts, and weapons of mass destruction, the new security agenda have broadened to include transnational crimes, climate change, and infectious diseases. Although the human intent is absent in the threat formula of some new sources of insecurities—like environmental disasters and pandemics—their natural and deterministic processes to devastate people and societies are clear as day. [Caldwell and Williams, pp. 13-15.]



the people from infection in ways beyond the normal, day-to-day business of government. It means taking aggressive and extreme measures [e.g., lockdown] to fight the infectious disease before it is too late for government to act on the existential threat to human security. In times of national emergency, securitization could be the only option for people, as well as the system, to survive. Restricting their civil liberties—such as suspending their freedom of movement and other non-essential operations—is a hard decision taken as a necessity by government and accepted as a civic duty by citizens. Securitization calls for difficult sacrifices, which would be totally unimaginable in a democratic society if it had not been devasted by the pandemic.48

It is not uncommon for people outside of National Security Studies to think about security as a universally good thing and a desirable end-state. But the securitization theory of the British school argues the opposite: security is a negative condition and a failure of dealing with the problem through normal politics and procedures. Unless securitization is avoidable, the ideal state of affairs is the usual politics of democratic control. But this will have to take a back seat if and when the nation is in crisis. Under this condition, the extraordinary exemption from the business as usual attitude of government is a necessary action. That being the case, a security policy should not be taken lightly because it comes with a huge cost and risk.49 Those who desire security must be willing to pay a high price. This is particularly true in the securitization of non-traditional security problems in public safety administration. Securitization has counterproductive effects to other sectoral interests, which is why securitization must be carefully weighed in and out by government. This is a core argument in national security policy analysis.

National Security Studies is about policy analysis

In essence, the logic of securitization is structured using the elements of a policy argument, which is the subject of analysis in National Security Studies. Scholars can very well identify this pattern through discourse analysis of the speech acts of securitizing actors—whose extraordinary ways of managing security problems made a difference in their countries’ administrative histories.

For Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, securitization constitutes the analytically valid meaning of security. They succinctly described security studies as an academic field that is concerned about “who can speak and do security successfully, on what issues, under what conditions and with what effects.”50 Some of the key questions raised by these scholars are as follows: What will happen if we securitize and if we do not? Do we choose to attach a security label with ensuing consequences, which are both intended and unintended?51 What are the effects of these security acts? Who influenced decisions? Is it a good idea to make an issue a matter of national security concern, thereby transferring it to the agenda of “panic politics,” or should it be better handled by normal politics?52 All in all, these questions are the substance of national security policy analysis. The queries point to the reality that securitization is a

48 In the Philippines, the national government in March 2020 came up with an emergency act consisting of different kinds of policy measures: regulatory, distributive, and constituent. Their complementary objectives are as follows: to mitigate the transmission of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19); to deliver goods and basic necessities to indigent families and individuals affected by the imposed community quarantine; to provide social amelioration program and safety nets to affected sectors during the pandemic;

and, to establish health care facilities and testing centers for COVID-19 in concerned local governments units. See Declaration of Policy in Section 3 of Republic Act No. 11469, otherwise known as “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.” [Congress of the Philippines, AN ACT DECLARING THE EXISTENCE OF A NATIONAL EMERGENCY ARISING FROM THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19) SITUATION AND A NATIONAL POLICY IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, AND AUTHORIZING THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR A LIMITED PERIOD AND SUBJECT TO RESTRICTIONS, TO EXERCISE POWERS NECESSARY AND PROPER TO CARRY OUT THE DECLARED NATIONAL POLICY AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, Eighteenth Congress (23 March 2020), Republic Act No. 11469.]

49 As Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde wrote: “National security should not be idealized. It works to silence opposition and has given power holders many opportunities to exploit “threats” for domestic purposes, to claim a right to handle something with less democratic control and constraint. Our belief, therefore, is not “the more security the better.” Basically, security should be seen as negative, as a failure to deal with issues as normal politics.” [Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, pp. 4 & 29.]

50 Ibid., pp. 27 & 32.

51 Ibid., pp. 32-33.

52 Ibid., p. 34.



difficult decision and a very costly policy action. It is for this reason that a security policy, in the real sense of the word, should be given much more careful thought by scholars, analysts, and policymakers.

National Security Studies is about policy analysis: from problem structuring, agenda setting, and decision-making; to implementing, monitoring, and recalibrating policy for national security. As I introduced in the beginning, policy analysis generally refers to selection of desired goals and courses of action based on particular interests and value preferences vis a vis some costs and trade-offs. It is also about the analysis of the causes, content, context, conduct, and consequences of policy.

For scholars of national security, the fundamental concerns in policy analysis are: what the nature of threat is; what national interests are at stake; why a problem becomes a security issue; and, how this is argued as part of the security agenda, which means this must be prioritized over non-security issues. It is in this light that policy analysis should be the end-all and be-all of National Security Studies, especially in NDCP.

How National Security Policy Analysis Compares with Normal Public Policy Analysis

Policy analysis reflects for the most part the theoretical frames and value preferences of the areas of study in which policy problems are examined. While the basic logic of policy analysis in Public Administration is the same as that of National Security Studies, the latter has different set of beliefs and reasons for determining what should be done against threat to national interest. The existence of threat—which can be an enemy or a phenomenon with the capacity and/or intention to destroy a country—is a key concern in national security policy analysis. The nature of the security environment, in which security actors and strategic players operate, also changes the rules of the game or the criteria for policy-making.

Understanding the kind of politics that engenders national security policy is fundamental to analyzing its content and context. It must be noted that the policy regime of national security is not regular and regulated. It is also not confined to the domestic domain where government has absolute authority to make policy, compel citizens to follow the rule of law, and impose penalty on law breakers.

Having said that, national security policy is not directed at routine problems concerning the bureaucracy, local governance, or public administration at large. Rather, national security policy is aimed at managing extraordinary problems in a strategic setting over which government has no complete control. This is especially true in the international political system where there is no governing authority above sovereign states as well as independent non-state actors.

In view of the foregoing, national security policy analysis has a distinctive character when compared with what I call normal public policy analysis. I have at least two broad reasons for this perspective: First, national security policy analysis has particular paradigms for making sense of security problems in the strategic setting. And second, it has peculiar parameters for making value statements on a best course of action to take to protect the country’s core interests. In both cases, the unique rhetoric of policy analysis in national security affairs can be distinguished from the usual semantics of policy analysis in public administration and governance. The significant nuances and differences between the two must be understood deeply, especially by newbies in policy studies.









Based on extensive review of academic literature, I outlined in Table 1 some basic, characteristic concepts that compare national security policy analysis with normal public policy analysis. The following are the fundamental constructs that distinguish the two fields of study: (1) subjects of analysis;

(2) paradigms and frameworks of analysis; (3) nature of the policy problem; (4) assumptions about the policy environment; (5) nature of politics in policy-making; (6) key policy actors; (7) value preferences;

(8) purposes and functions of policy; (9) purposes and functions of policy analysis; (10) policy models;

(11) levels of analysis; and, (12) kinds and methods of policy analysis.

The paradigmatic biases of policy analysis as applied in public administration and in national security affairs make one distinct from the other. Unless analysts make heads and tails out of these unique bases of knowledge, they cannot get their analysis right. If they are not grounded on the realities of the security regime, their value judgement will likely be determined by regular rules and procedures of policy making. Their argument and/or recommendation on what to do about an existential threat and how to go about resolving it—the way people are accustomed to in administering a public bureaucracy—will not simply work in a different context of security and survival. That being said, a deeper understanding of the nuances and uniqueness of national security policy analysis is crucial in making better judgement of a security situation and in taking a strategic course of action at the most opportune time.

Kinds and Methods of Analyzing Policy Choices

Policy analysis uses a methodology or a system of methods to explain a policy choice or prescribe a best policy option. Richard Kugler, in his 2006 book entitled Policy Analysis in National Security Affairs: New Methods for a New Era, defined methodology as the “entire intellectual process” through which analytical products are generated: from framing the correct policy problem and asking the right questions, to getting relevant information and producing directive knowledge.53

Calling his work as a “thinking person’s book,” Kugler argued that the methodology required from policy analysts is highly conceptual and creative.54 This can be explained more fully by his own writings, which I quote below:

The term analytical methods is often misinterpreted to mean scientific techniques for gathering and interpreting data. But methodology is far more than this narrow function. For example, Einstein said that he relied on “thought experiments”(gedan-kenexperimenten), not laboratory testing, to create his theory of relativity. Creative and disciplined thinking, not measuring, was the heart of his methodology for theoretical physics. Such thinking is, similarly, at the heart of policy analysis.55 (Underline provided.)

This part of the paper delves on the methods and approaches of policy analysis from the quantitative and qualitative paradigms in social science research. Policy analysts, as well as other social scientists, examine policy choices for two reasons: to evaluate policy options and recommend a best course of action, which we call as analysis FOR policy; and to explain the reasons behind a policy decision, which we call as analysis OF policy. Under these two kinds of policy analysis, I will define various methods and approaches to policy analysis and also give few examples of topics and queries that I worked on in previous research. I will also add tables of the general guidelines and logical procedures on how to conduct an analysis FOR policy in national security administration and also on how to write analysis OF policy in the academia.

53 Kugler, p. 20.

54 Ibid., p. xv.

55 Ibid., p. 18.



Two types of policy analysis as to paradigm: quantitative and qualitative

There are two general types of policy analysis as an applied social science research: quantitative and qualitative.56 These are research paradigms with their own sets of ontology [i.e., how analysts look at the essence of a thing/phenomenon/problem under investigation], epistemology [i.e., how analysts explain the subject and communicate such explanation as knowledge to other people], and methodology [i.e., how analysts use framework of analysis and resolve policy inquiry].57 A methodology is driven by intelligent questions that set things in motion—whether in a discipline-oriented, problem-oriented, or applications-oriented policy analysis.58 A theory-based process of inquiry weaves the essential parts of the analysis and gives it logic. This is not only true for an academic policy research submitted by a student to the faculty in school, but also for a “quick policy analysis”59 provided by a technical staff to the client or decision-maker in government.

Quantitative policy analysis. This type of study is rooted on the ontological idea that reality is given in a natural world, independent of human cognition or experience. Scientists from this school of thought believe that reality is and should be objective; otherwise, it is not real and thus not worth looking at. The units of analysis must be factual in order to be accounted for, measured, and related.

Logical relations between or among discreet variables are established and generalized for all other cases. This epistemological principle is what is known as logical positivism, which is thought to be the only legitimate form of knowledge in the tradition of quantitative paradigm. For instance, national power is measured in terms of military capability, economic wealth, population, and other quantifiable assets that make a state great and secure. The objective indicators of power determine the position and ambition of a sovereign and self-interested state, a theoretical assumption regarded as true for all others in anarchic, international politics. This neo-realist theory not only explains state behavior in a naturalistic, strategic environment; it also calculates and predicts policy actions of rational actors when faced with systemic threats. This type of policy analysis uses scientific method(s) and/or mathematical model(s) of data collection, correlation, and projection to test hypotheses and confirm an established theory. The quantitative methodology is prescribed for analyzing samples of the population and generalizing the findings for the entire universe, or simply put, for the entire set of elements relevant to the discussion.

However, the field of social science is far more complex than hard facts and discreet numbers.

Qualitative policy analysis. This type of study is grounded on the ontological belief that reality is socially constructed, experienced, and/or agreed by human agents. Values and perceptions are central to sense-making and knowledge production, which make the latter essentially relative and intersubjective.

A good example of this epistemic principle is a constructivist theory that frames the analysis of how culture and norms influence a national security policy, or how threat perceptions make weak states insecure about powerful ones. Qualitative analysis uses idiographic methodology to diagnose a policy problem, construct an argument, gather information, and discuss findings. Its research strategy includes extensive review of the literature, document analysis, interview of key informants, and/or insights of the researcher herself/himself. Kugler wrote that national security policy analysis requires “the dynamics of reasoned creativity and deliberate scrutiny.”60 In this respect, the qualitative methodology is appropriate for understanding complex security problem, explaining the motivation of policy actors, arguing in favor of a policy alternative, deconstructing a security discourse, and building future scenario(s). Here,

56 For discussions on the qualitative and quantitative paradigms in social research, see John W. Creswell, Research Design:

Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (Thousand Oaks, California, USA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2014).

57 For discussions of the subjective and objective dimensions of ontology, epistemology, and methodology, see Gibson Burrell and Gareth Morgan, “In Search of a Framework: Assumptions about the Nature of Social Science” in Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis (Burlington, USA: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005), pp. 1-7.

58 The three types of policy analysis discussed by Dunn, in the Third Edition of his textbook on Public Policy Analysis: An Introduction, are: discipline-oriented, problem-oriented, and applications-oriented policy analysis. [Dunn, 2012, p.12.]

59 Patton and Sawicki termed a practical decision-analysis as “quick, basic policy analysis.” This is distinguished from policy research of scholars in the academic community.

60 Kugler, p. 20.


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