Jermalavičius, Tomas and Parmak, Merle (2010) Towards a resilient society, or why Estonia does not need ’psychological defence’. Research Report. ICDS: International Centre for Defence Studies, Tallinn, Estonia.

Two years ago Estonia’s strategic national security and defence documents put forward
the idea of ‘psychological defence’ as a means to protect the values and cohesion of
Estonian society from subversive influences. The idea drew sharp criticism from some
sections of society for being inappropriate for a democratic state, even though the
intentions behind it were noble. The paper suggests that ‘societal resilience’ is a more
attractive and relevant concept in strategy making because it reflects the inherent
complexity of states, societies and their highly dynamic threat environments without
carrying negative and antagonistic connotations. It is argued that by focusing on the
constituent elements of ‘societal resilience’, e.g. human and social capital, Estonia can
better prepare for a wide range of security stressors than by pursuing ‘psychological
defence’. In addition, ‘societal resilience’ offers a more appealing narrative for engaging the
non-governmental sector and civil society in national security affairs, and even for putting
them at the forefront of national security efforts (a ‘whole-of-society approach’). The paper
also examines the practices for building ‘military resilience’ and their relevance to society at

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