“INSSSL Defence Review 2018” launched by National Security Think Tank
the 25th July 2018, the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka
(INSSSL) launched the Second Volume of its flagship journal, the INSSSL
Defence Review 2018. The event was graced by the presence of members of the
diplomatic corp, distinguished military officers, academics, authors and
Defence Review stands as the sole academic journal of the Ministry of Defence
to be endorsed by His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena, comprising
scholarly articles relating to traditional and non-traditional security issues.
The published works comprise premier research of the highest national regard.
The following is a review of the journal by Ms Shenali Pilapitiya Research
Assistant INSSSL Undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley
Political Science and Legal Studies.
The Second Volume of the INSSSL Defence Review seems to perfectly
encapsulate the ever-changing world we live in, as security concerns increasingly
move out of the conventional, militaristic sphere and manifest themselves in
the form of socio-cultural dialogues, the arts, the environment and our
education system. Hence, as security concerns supersede conventional
boundaries, we must now adjust our cognitive lenses to embrace critical,
unconventional and nuanced approaches to research. I feel that this has been
achieved by the 2018 review, yet is also an area for further progress to be
I would first like to commend the cognitive lenses explored through
the Defence Review. Military and Civilian personnel contributed to this review,
reflecting a conscientious effort to explore security and insecurity in both
traditional and non-traditional ways.
To begin, Professor Eugene de Silva grapples with key questions of
whether politicization exists within intelligence agencies, and whether such
concerns can be addressed through a dynamic approach to freeing the
intelligence cycle of such convolutions. This, in short, seems to encapsulate
the goals of the INSSSL review – recognizing existing problems in new arenas of
security, working towards multidisciplinary solutions, and launching
independent, new thought processes to achieve such goals.
The navy perspective of Captain R Joseph in his paper on Maritime
Blindness demonstrates how individual experiences can enrich our understanding
of security at a national level, as we tap in to the expertise of a single navy
official, through his independent body of work, to apply his knowledge at a
national and regional level in maritime law.
Professor Stephen Nagy explores socio-economic security, bridging
connections between Japan’s ventures in maritime strategy and economic
relations. Once again, this demonstrates the multidisciplinary cognition that
is crucial to national security in the 21st century, recognizing the
nuances of traditional security such as maritime ventures, and the economic,
social and cultural undertones of such endeavors.
Dr. James Ross perhaps best encapsulates the way in which cognitive
lenses are being readjusted in the 21st century, looking at symbolic
and cultural security through music, and how the arts can prove a transcending
security force. He ties into his independent experiences in artistic fields to
contribute to the review in a distinctive way.
Ms. Vibusha Madanayake encompasses a progressive mindset in her paper
on why the youth rebel, urging the creation of a new political climate that is
conducive to uplifting the youth, and devoid of corruption and malpractice.
A particularly local outlook is achieved through Ms. Isuri
Siriwardhana and Ms. Thilini Kasturi’s case study of environmental democracy on
Sri Lanka, once again providing a progressive and new proposal for governance
in Sri Lanka, which focuses on merging democratic institutions with
Finally, Squadron Leader Gunaratne and Major Lasantha recognize
traditional security concerns through an exploration of nuclear proliferation
and geopolitical significance of South Asia, tapping into their expertise in
military service to do so.
Of course, this review does not encompass a single, holistic outlook
on security concerns, in the same way that policy briefs, or national security
doctrines might. In this sense, the Defence Review constitutes the preliminary
phase of national decision making. Individuality is preserved in this Defence
Review, each body of work embracing its author’s unique perspectives and
thought processes. I believe that this is critical within a think tank or any
body of policy making. By acknowledging the individuality of such works, we
also recognize the humanness of the issues at hand. Security concerns are not
reduced to something that needs to be ticked off of a federal checklist – they
present real life concerns of people, and the Defence Review allows those with
a passion and background in these areas to explore prospective solutions.
At the same time, it is essential that personal biases or experiences
do not cloud our research, particularly within the realm of security, where the
prospect of “perceived threats” can be harmful. Bellicose rhetoric such as
defining states and non-states as “enemies”, “malicious” or “insidiously
motivated” will do more harm than good when drafting security solutions.
The Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka is focused on
policy, not politics. This is a key distinction to be made, especially when
attempting to secure our nation in a way that uplifts and safeguards all of its
people. Politics are connotative, referring to the
activities associated with the governance of a country or area. It is therefore
difficult to ignore the dynamics of power-play that dictate politics. Policy,
on the other hand, is not motivated by power-dynamics – the goal is to better
one’s nation at a social, cultural, environmental, economical and political
level. The cognitive lenses of this Defence Review assure that this will be