to ensure national security, but their focus, structure, and application should be evaluated and reformed in light of current realities.

  1. An “Immune System” to Replace the “Hermetic Seal.” Ashton Carter has described the U.S. strategy of keeping secrets during the Cold War as a “hermetic seal” model: denying “technology to others by seeking to put an impermeable barrier around the American defense technology base.”2 In a globalized world, he explains, militarily critical technology advances occur “outside the barrier as well as inside” and therefore it is no longer in the U.S. interest to try to build a hermetic seal. He recommends an “immune system” model “that can sense dangers and combat the most dangerous ones selectively.” What would it mean to operationalize this idea? What steps are necessary for implementing such a system, and what will it look like in application? Is this the way to build “high walls around narrow areas” in a globalized world?

  2. Sharpening the distinction between weapons and their dual-use applications. The structure of today’s export controls, both multilateral and unilateral, depends upon categorizing technologies in two broad categories: munitions and dual-use. Significant gray areas between the two complicate export controls, lengthen and confound licensing procedures, and there remains a lack of a clear framework that separates a munition from its related dual-use technology. Better understanding of the term “munitions” and the controls that must be applied to them, which lie on the other side of this contention, would aid our clarification of the system as a whole. Closer study and the development of clarified working definitions for “munitions” and “dual-use” as they apply to export controls is necessary to clarify and expedite any and all export control regimes that are built upon either or both of these definitions.

  3. Streamlining the Government Classification System. Following the terror attacks of 2001, the default practice has become to classify government data. While a rather-safe-than-sorry approach is prudent, over-classification weakens the system.3 In addition, the use of the “sensitive


Keeping the Edge: Managing Defense for the Future. Edited by Ashton Carter and John P. White. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.


As Justice Potter Stewart said during the Pentagon Papers case, “when everything is classified, then nothing is classified, and the system becomes one to be disregarded by the cynical or the careless, and to be manipulated by those intent on self protection or self-promotion.” Available at Accessed October 29, 2008.

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