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Princeton Project on National Security
Current Strategy

Readings

The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (March 2006)

"A Critique of the Bush Administration's National Security Strategy" by Lawrence Korb and Caroline Wadhams The Stanley Foundation Policy Analysis Brief (June 2006)
Korb and Wadhams identify conceptual errors, an unclearly defined threat, and gaps between stated policy goals and budget allowances as among the key problems with the 2006 National Security Strategy.

The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 2002)

"A Strategy of Partnerships" by Colin Powell. Foreign Affairs; Jan/Feb2004, Vol. 83 Issue 1, p22.
Pundits claim that U.S. foreign policy is too focused on unilateral preemption. But George W. Bush's vision -- enshrined in his 2002 National Security Strategy -- is far broader and deeper than that. The president has promoted bold and effective policies to combat terrorism, intervened decisively to prevent regional conflicts, and embraced other major powers such as Russia, China, and India. Above all, he has committed the United States to a strategy of partnerships, which affirms the vital role of international alliances while advancing American interests and principles.

"The Bush Strategy at War" by Ilan Berman. National Interest; Winter 2003/2004 Issue 74, p 51.
A revolution has begun in American strategic thinking in terms of the way the United States uses force, defines defense, and approaches proliferation. But while these tools have already begun to alter the international strategic landscape, all three face substantial obstacles to their long-term success. In Iraq’s aftermath, the validity of pre-emption as a sustainable strategic concept has increasingly been challenged by three factors: conceptual clarity, premature strategic obsolescence (in the case of North Korea), and weakened legitimacy as a result of the inability to uncover Iraq’s WMD programs.

"The Bush Administration’s Security Strategy: Implications for Transatlantic Relations" by Ted Galen Carpenter. Cambridge Review of International Affairs; Oct 2003, Vol. 16, Issue 3, p 511.
The Bush administration’s security strategy has important implications for the transatlantic relationship, since the United States is encouraging NATO to become a junior partner for missions throughout the Islamic Arc. Given the growing divergence in U.S. and European interests and policy perspectives, the role that the Bush administration envisages for NATO is probably not sustainable.

"The Transformation of National Security" by Phil Zellicow. National Interest; Spring 2003 Issue 71, p17.
The United States has unique responsibilities as the greatest power in this pluralistic world. Those responsibilities have moved the Bush Administration to rethink the meaning of America’s national security. This vision is redefining: the geography of national security; the nexus between principles and power; the structure of international security; multilateralism; and national security threats in the dimension of time.

America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy by Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay. (Brookings, 2003)
George W. Bush has launched a revolution in American foreign policy. He has redefined how America engages the world, shedding the constraints that friends, allies, and international institutions impose on its freedom of action. He has insisted that an America unbound is a more secure America. However, the Bush revolution comes with significant risks. Raw power alone is not enough to preserve and extend America’s security and prosperity in the modern world. The United States often needs the help of others to meet the challenges it faces overseas, but Bush’s revolutionary impulse has stirred great resentment abroad. At some point, Bush could find that America’s friends and allies refuse to follow his lead. America will then stand alone—a great power unable to achieve its most important goals.

"The New National Security Strategy and Preemption" by Michael E. O’Hanlon, Susan B. Rice and James B. Steinberg. The Brookings Institution Policy Brief #113; December 2002
In the new NSS, the administration is broadening the meaning of preemption to encompass preventive war, in which force may be used even without evidence of an imminent attack to ensure that a serious threat to the United States does not “gather” or grow over time. The strategy also elevates preemption in importance, and visibility, within the tool kit of U.S. foreign policy. This policy brief examines the implications of this policy shift as well as the circumstances under which preemption, including the possibility of preventive action, might actually be applied.

"A Grand Strategy of Transformation" by John Lewis Gaddis. Foreign Policy; Nov/Oct2002 Issue 133, p 50.
The Bush NSS report could represent the most sweeping shift in U.S. strategy since the Cold War. Major innovations include: equating terrorists with tyrants as sources of danger; emphasizing cooperation among the great powers; and addressing the longer term issue of removing the causes of terrorism and tyranny. The strategy differs from its predecessors in that it is proactive, its parts for the most part interconnect, it is in tune with serious academic thinking, it sees no contradiction between power and principles, and it is candid. Potential weaknesses (from the perspective of Iraq) include: multitasking; reliance on a warm welcome; and assuming that we’ll have the moral highground, and hence multilateral support.

"The Bush Administration’s National Security Strategy: An Evaluation" by Ivo Daalder, James Lindsay and James B. Steinberg. The Brookings Institution Policy Brief #109; October 2002.
Although the NSS’s overarching goals make sense, its proposals for achieving them raise important questions. First, the Strategy sets as a goal promoting global freedom but gives priority to a counterterrorism policy that relies heavily on the help of countries that in many cases do not share America's basic values. Second, the Strategy fails to recognize the limitations of preemption as a policy tool or to specify when it should be used. Third, the Strategy emphasizes ad-hoc coalitions to address threats to international security but underestimates the contribution that broad-based alliances and institutions make to furthering U.S. interests over the long term. Finally, the Strategy warns that failed states threaten American security, but proposes economic and political assistance programs ill-suited to alleviating the danger.

Links

The White House. Policy in Focus – National Security http://www.whitehouse.gov/response/index.html

The National Security Council
http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/

Annual Defense Report to Congress
http://www.defenselink.mil/execsec/adr_intro.html

The Fletcher School, Tufts University

 

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