Exploitation of confusion between public and government interest
Exploitation of national security claims Abusive definition of national interest Misuse of national interest to avoid political embarrassment
Government ministers, as representatives of political parties, are frequently confronted with situations where it is prudent to claim that the national interest precludes disclosure of certain information. In such situations it is often difficult to discern the extent to which such non-disclosure is primarily to avoid political embarrassment, thus weakening their position in relation to any opposition, and only secondarily to avoid placing the country at a disadvantage in relation to other countries. It is clearly to the advantage of unscrupulous government ministers to use national security and national interest arguments wherever possible. Even when successfully challenged it is always possible to claim that non-disclosure and the avoidance of political scandal facilitate acquisition of international trade and maintenance of the value of the national currency, whether or not the amounts are of marginal significance.
The cover-up surrounding major presidential scandals in the USA, such as Watergate, Irangate and Whitewater, have all documented in detail the challenges faced in this area. The BBCI scandal drew attention to the way in which the presidency of the USA, acting in the name of national security, gave its secret services a free-wheeling licence to operate with scant regard for law and morality. In the UK similar difficulties have been documented in relation to the Matrix Churchill affair (concerning the supply of arms-producing machinery to Iran) documented by the Scott Inquiry in 1993, and the aid-for-trade arrangements associated with the Pergau dam publicized in 1994.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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