Defense is often used as government doublespeak for "war." The U.S. Department of Defense, for example, was formed by merging the Department of War and Department of the Navy. Hugh Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms & Other Doubletalk explains the term as follows:
- Defense, Department of. In the beginning -- i.e., in 1789, when George Washington was putting together his first cabinet -- there was the War Department, later supplemented by a separate Navy Department (1798). This arrangement lasted until 1947, when the "Department of Defense" was created as the umbrella for the Departments of the Army (erstwhile "War"), Navy, and Air Force. Naturally, the nonaggressive Defense Department was formed just as the Cold War was, as the saying goes, heating up -- and just as the development of nuclear weapons was giving the ultimate lie to the notion of effective "defense."
"Defense" planners usually define their authority as broadly as possible so as to achieve maximum discretion over the largest possible budget. Control of its definition is key to maintaining a military-industrial complex. Defined broadly enough, any means of protection, e.g. emergency response or even means of persuasion, e.g. persuasion technology might qualify, along with so-called reconstruction and foreign aid expenses.
A major issue in defense disinformation is the privatized military.
Along with justice, infrastructure, education and currency, defense is considered a crucial element of classical political economy. However, in modern terms, it is often hard to tell these tolerances apart.