Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts U.S. Helps Others and Self in Exporting Security
U.S. Helps Others and Self in Exporting Security

U.S. Helps Others and Self in Exporting Security

The second edition of Exporting Security by Derek Reveron highlights again the growing role of the U.S. military in both security cooperation and security assistance as a core part of how the United States engages the world around it and seeks to secure its global national security goals. The book also has taken on increased timeliness as the Trump administration proposes extensive cuts to U.S. foreign assistance budgets, while simultaneously boosting military spending. Reveron’s work helps us better understand the potential impacts of such a move, and suggests they could be extensive. Indeed, Exporting Security clearly shows that the United States already had been grappling with questions about how to square its global leadership and extensive national security interests with associated costs, well before Trump’s rhetorical commitment to “America First.”

The United States as Security Exporter

Most importantly, this book introduces readers to the world of contemporary security cooperation and international engagement. The U.S. involvement in training, cooperating with, assisting, and selling to other nations’ armies in pursuit of strategic interests is, of course, long-standing. It was a key part of the strategic toolset in the Cold War, as the United States used security assistance to help support regimes who themselves supported U.S. interests, maintained the military edge of key allies, secured access and influence in key parts of the globe, and helped fight wars (including, less officially, irregulars fighting Soviet forces by proxy). Reveron argues that while much of this engagement remains important to U.S. national security, there has also been an important post-Cold War shift from security assistance to a much more expansive idea of security cooperation. This shift was strengthened following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the lessons taken about the roots of those attacks. The author shows how U.S. military activities and interactions with “partner” militaries have both ballooned and evolved in their aims and underlying organizational structure. Reveron further ties this expansion to the United States’ broad—and broadening—view of its own national security in a threatening world that continues to globalize and change. Security cooperation, for Reveron, is becoming an integral part of U.S. national security strategy in the twenty-first century and changing the very nature of the U.S. military itself.

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