The Fundamentals of American Security

Our best journals and worst statesmen sound the same theme. A new era has dawned, and the lessons of past decades, not to mention centuries, no longer pertain. America’s very national interests, and the means to advance them, must therefore be divined de nova, if not ex nihilo, in a quarrelsome cacophony of internationalists, economic nationalists, unilateralists, multilateralists, and neo-isolationists. On the one hand, we read that for the frost time in over fifty years, no serious threat to U.S. security exists. On the other, we read that every global trend poses a long-term threat, be it disease and famine, ecological damage, drugs, pollution, ethnic strife, religious zealotry, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or economic competition. Nowhere in the planning documents of the secretary of defense or Joint Chiefs of Staff do we read about potential threats from the former Soviet Union or China. No foundation supports research on potential great power conflicts; indeed, foundations seem to have lost interest in strategic affairs altogether. It seems that the Clinton administration and the foreign policy community in the United States are content to wonder only how much and how quickly the ranks of market democracy will be enlarges as a matter of historical inevitability, not how they might be defended in need.

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