Question 1. A National Security Strategy for a New Administration
International Security Environment
There are not threats that can compromise the US supremacy in the short term but
there are a number of issues that can, if not dealt with, cause damages to it in the long
term. The most critical in the scope of this assessment are described below and are not
Given the geopolitical position and the fact that it is not under the international
regime of inspections, North Korea allegedly uses its nuclear weapons development
program as a counterweight to its deplorable economic situation.
It is important to bear in mind the chance that all the material of nuclear powers
like Russia and Pakistan is neither counted for nor under control.
The attacks on the world Trade Center and the Pentagon confirmed, in a terrible
way, that non-state actors can play a decisive role on the world stage.
It is uncertain if the “war on terrorism”, the way it has been conducted, is
achieving the desired effect. The networks, mainly Al-Qaeda, seem to operate without
In connection with the weapons proliferation issue, the possibility of terrorists
gaining access to nuclear, chemical or biological devices might not be discarded.
Organized crime activities like drug trafficking are a fertile ground for
destabilization around the world. Similar to terrorism, can be fueled by precarious social
conditions and corrupt societies. Sometimes they can operate together as it happens in
The United States is the main engine of the world’s economy but maybe not in the
best way. A great deal of anti-Americanism is derived from the way other countries see
the US trade practices.
The great dependency on fossil fuels determines a realist approach to foreign
policy that can jeopardize partnerships. It is also a weakness that can be exploited by
The huge US debt constrains the flexibility needed to respond to new threats or
unexpected scenario changes.
The Free Trade Americas Area negotiations are practically stalled. Meanwhile,
European Union and China are working on bilateral agreements with Mercosur (Brazil,
Argentina and Uruguay).
The developed countries face increasing opposition from the developing ones,
China and Russia included, in the trade arena. They negotiate en bloc whenever they
understand that there is not any benefit from globalization.
The intricate economic network that has been built by information technology and
globalization makes the true ambiguity level of uncertainty more likely than it was in the
past. This can be illustrated by the opinion shared by great part of the Latin America
population that life was better under military dictatorship than neoliberal democracy.
Greater Near East
Part of the US preeminence is at stake in Iraq. Escalating costs and violence can
be regarded as signs of failure and lead to comparisons with Vietnam War which is not
constructive in wartime. If this venture does not succeed, the other “rogue states” will
have not too much to fear from US preemptive doctrine.
Al-Qaeda operatives are still hidden in Afghanistan and in Pakistan regardless of
the efforts to bring them to justice.
India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and are still to settle their differences about
The end of Cold War, the European Union relative success in becoming
integrated and the rift about the US-led invasion of Iraq made policymakers of both sides
to realize that the differences are more evident than were supposed to be in a lot of issues
like dealing with Russia, trade and common security.
This is a very complex region because presents a curious diversity of states and
respective interests. From a failed communist one with nuclear ambitions and its
capitalist “southern twin” to the communist nuclear power with market economy, passing
through the world’s second economy and the world’s greatest Muslim nation to give an
idea. This complexity is aggravated by the fact that terrorist networks probably have
bases in some countries of the region.
This is another region used by terrorists to hide or settle bases. In addition to that,
it is the poorest region of the planet with the highest rates of mortality and devastated by
HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
US legitimacy has been questioned because of unilateral decisions in opposition
to international agreements.
Proposed Grand Strategy
The environment assessment shows that the world is a dangerous place mostly
because there is a lot of room for blaming the powerful ones for the fate of those not that
powerful, regardless if properly or not. It is pretty much about perception, very human
indeed. Without the bipolarity, everybody looks at the so-called leader. If the leader does
not seem to be consistent, his leadership is questioned. The bad news is that this
questioning is not restricted to state-actors anymore and the level of uncertainty of the
actions of non-state actors is too high. The cooperative security is the grand strategy
flexible enough to deal with these different scenarios. The other ones lack flexibility and
are less consistent with the American Values although were responsible for the position
the United States occupy in the world today.
The actors, state or non-states, are much more connected and interdependent than
in the past. This can be exploited either as weakness or as strength. Cooperative security
does the latter.
It is true that a lot of compromise is necessary for implementing such strategy but
it will pay in long term if planned carefully and executed accordingly. It is likely that
addressing the “gap” and bringing more states to the “core” is going to cost less than
military intervention. Invest rather than invade.
The burden will be shared with partners; understood as states, international
institutions and non-governmental organizations; and the resources the United States is
going to spend will be proportional to the risks and employed the optimum way.
There is no such thing as instantaneous change in strategy. The critics tend to
compare the strategy with a snapshot of the current situation. During the transition - that
can take years because such thing is not supposed to change very often like every four
years for example - the other strategies can be effective while the necessary arrangements
for the implementation of the proposed one are made.