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A War on ‘Risk’? British Government and the National Security Strategy



This article explores the United Kingdom's National Security Strategy (NSS) since 2008, considering what the NSS discloses about how contemporary Whitehall conceptualises ‘risks’ to Britain. It contends that rather than being a strategy in the Clausewitzian sense, the NSS represents a political exercise in risk management. In addressing a range of quite different problems, the NSS suggests that those in Whitehall now conceive their role as being to shield the citizen from any conceivable threat to their safety, wellbeing, and even emotional security. Yet this constitutes a highly expansive vision, and elevates the state's provision of public goods to a potentially unmanageable level.