STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT 1995: CHAPTER ONE


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Possible Principles
For U.S. Involvement

President Clinton, in his July 1994 National Security Strategyof Engagement and Enlargement, stated:

Our national security strategy is based on enlarging the communityof market democracies while deterring and containing a range ofthreats to our nation, our allies, and our interests.

The Strategy stressed three primary objectives to thatend: enhancing security, promoting prosperity at home, and promotingdemocracy.

Our analysis of world trends and U.S. interests tends to confirmthe importance of these goals. We would explain the goals of engagementand enlargement as follows:

Engaged Selectively
Promoting Enlargement


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Engaging Selectively

It is no longer necessary, as it was during the Cold War, forthe U.S. to dedicate its resources to achieving one overridinggoal, and the country is free to turn more of its attention tosecondary goals. But not all of those goals are worth pursuingsimultaneously, given their costs and the competing domestic demandsfor resources. A good rule of thumb is to engage only in thosecases that enable the United States simultaneously to promoteits national interests and its principles.

Guerillas in Nagorno-Karabakh However, defining those principles for which the U.S. will actis no easy matter, as recent administrations have found; the oldCold War standards are no longer so clear-cut. For example, onequandary is how to reconcile potentially conflicting principlessuch as:

  • National self-determination versus the inviolability ofinternationally recognized borders;

  • The right to refuge versus protection from excessive immigration;and

  • The protection of human rights versus non-interventionin internal affairs.

    Defining U.S. interests is also no easy matter. Our analysisargues that the most important U.S. ties are with the other majorpowers, both in Europe and increasingly in rapidly-growing EastAsia. To be sure, the U.S. also has several vital ties in otherparts of the world, based on access to key resources (the PersianGulf), historic interests (the Korean peninsula and the Arab-Israeliconflict), and concern about problems in the U.S. backyard (thetrans-Caribbean basin). In addition, transnational threats andhumanitarian disasters will sometimes demand a response from Washington.

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    Promoting Enlargement

    Whereas during the Cold War the priority was to contain communism,the new focus of U.S. foreign and security policy is on enlargingthe community of market democracies. Enlargement has a role toplay in each of the three areas of the emerging world order. Someof these tasks are more vital than others:

  • Sustaining democracy and free markets in what wecall the community of market democracies. Although of vital importanceto the U.S, this task does not require urgent efforts, becausefree institutions usually face little challenge in the marketdemocracies.

  • Promoting the transition from totalitarianism orauthoritarianism in what we call the transitional states--forexample, Russia, South Africa, and China. This task is both vitaland time-consuming for policy makers.

  • Encouraging the development of democracy and freemarkets in what we call the troubled states. This difficult taskis important from the perspective of promoting U.S. values andserving long-term U.S. geostrategic interests. Nevertheless, enlargementto encompass the troubled states is not in our view at the topof the list of short-term national security interests.


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