Over at Google’s new Knol site, Heritage Senior Research Fellow Dr. James Carafano and Center for American Progress Senior Vice President Nina Hachigian are having a spirited debate over “What are the main security threats facing our nation?” Hachigian identifies nuclear terrorism, epidemics, and climate change Can as her biggest worries, to which Carafano replies:

The greatest proliferation threat to human existence is not weapons of mass destruction, but policymakers with mass disruption on their mind – officials who would label every matter, from avoiding bird flu to procuring fresh water, a “national security” issue.

To make matters more confusing, international organizations such as the United Nations have created terms such as “human security,” arguing for a collective responsibility to keep people free from want and fear. The problem with that approach is the tendency, in dealing with security interests, to centralize power and decision-making and restrain individual freedoms and free markets. It also justifies military solutions for everything from dealing with AIDS to oil.

Making every global challenge a security issue trumps free markets and limits personal freedoms. The concept of national security needs to be put back in the box, reserved for moments of peril in dealing with people (either states or non-states) who threaten through the use of violence to take away the political freedoms that governments are supposed to protect. We need to put an end to national-security proliferation.