History's most violent century is ending under conditions of general peace, cooperation, and progress. The integration of the world economy and spread of democracy have combined to create a strong sense of common interest among the most advanced powers. There is a growing respect for the norms of responsible international behavior. The successful free-enterprise democracies serve as a beacon for those states emerging from communism and other forms of authoritarianism.
This global security environment is favorable to the United States: to its interests, ideals, and friends. The Nation's survival and territory are not threatened; its way of life is secure. As a result, the U.S. population now concerns itself mainly with the quality of life. Thanks to a growing involvement in the world economy, success in information technology, and the streamlining of industry and government, the United States is experiencing economic resurgence and sustained growth. This has helped eliminate the Federal budget deficit and enabled the country to afford its current defense budget.
The other great economic powers, the European Union (EU) and Japan, despite occasional friction, are close and trusted allies and friends of the United States. Together, the three have built a democratic, free-market core, which is now spreading throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Consequently, an expanding area of the globe is increasingly peaceful and prosperous. The flow of goods, capital, and know-how throughout this area is growing and being freed from barriers and threats of interruption.
Just as the current security environment is positive, so are most (but not all) trends promising. There is no sign that great-power rivalry will displace comity as the essence of U.S.-European or U.S.-Japanese relations, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union. The three largest states outside this core--China, India, and Russia--have embarked on a transition of economic reform and integration. They know that cooperation with the leading core democracies is key to national prospects. By contrast, rogue regimes that reject the norms of the core must rely on oppression to survive and therefore face a bleak future.
The enemies of the United States are thus few, isolated, and relatively weak. No global challenger or hostile alliance is on the horizon. America's ability to maintain robust military capabilities is not in doubt, thanks to its technology, the quality of its personnel, and the scale of its defense effort.
These favorable conditions and trends do not mean the United States should retire from its international responsibilities or further reduce defense outlays (down by 40 percent since the end of the Cold War). On the contrary, U.S. military strength and international engagement are essential in preserving and shaping conditions favorable to U.S. interests--and well worth the cost. The U.S. public accepts this fact and is therefore willing to support a defense budget of roughly $250 billion, as well as continued commitments abroad. Warnings of a revival of U.S. isolationism underestimate the good sense of its citizens, most of whom appreciate that the Nation cannot be indifferent to an outside world on which its prosperity increasingly depends. While hesitant about intervening militarily where national interests are not clearly at stake, the American public has nonetheless been willing to support the use of U.S. forces in defense of important norms, provided other core states share in the risk.
The defense effort and international role of the United States are warranted not only to sustain today's conditions, but also to prepare for a potentially bright but quite possibly hazardous future. The United States can shape the international security environment but cannot control it and would be ill advised to try. In time, new adversaries could appear on the scene, possibly even large transition states "gone bad," perhaps in league with rogue states. The United States can slow but not reverse the spread of technologies that could make potential adversaries more dangerous, including the means to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction (WMD), cheap high-technology weapons, and the know-how to disrupt information networks. Predatory states could threaten their neighbors or escalate their struggles against the democratic core. Energy supplies on which the world economy depends could fall under hostile control or otherwise become inaccessible because of turmoil in the Middle East and former Soviet Union. Fanatical or criminal groups, operating transnationally, could proliferate, feasting on weak and failing states and striking practically anywhere, with only the signature they chose to leave. The U.S. society, territory, and infrastructure could be threatened directly by state and non-state actors with the reach, cause, and nerve to try.
For all the encouraging developments of recent years--victories over communism, apartheid, and despots--such perils must be recognized. So great is the uncertainty surrounding these dangers that it is impossible to say whether U.S. interests will be more or less secure in 10 years than today. Because of its strong position, the United States can affect its security environment, making it less likely to face a more dangerous future if it remains strong and engaged.
But the United States should also be motivated by an affirmative goal for the century to come. In essence, it seeks an expansive community of responsible democracies, bound together by the free flow of goods, resources, and knowledge, encompassing all the world's great powers, and safe from rogues with hostile ideas and dangerous technologies. Whether such a vision is realistic depends on the skillful use of U.S. influence.
For all its strength, the United States seeks the respect of other countries, not hegemony over them. While it possesses a unique set of capabilities, the United States is not determined to be superior to others. Power is not its purpose; defending its primacy is not its strategy. The United States has a major equity in the effectiveness of international institutions. It needs partnerships with others of means who share the same goals and are prepared to accept more responsibility.
The security strategy of the United States in this new era ought to promote and protect its growing equity in a promising, changing world, aiming toward the prosperous and secure community of responsible democracies just described. This equity takes different forms, depending on the stage of progress of the other world actors:
*The first group consists of core partners--successful democracies that can join the United States in shouldering the burdens of the core's security and expansion. This group has less than one-fifth of the world's population but four-fifths of its economic capacity.
*The fate of the second group, transition states, will determine how much farther the core will grow and therefore whether the future will be fundamentally more or less secure. This group accounts for most of the world's population.
*The third group, rogues (state and nonstate), rejects the ideals and, given the means and the chance, would attack the interests of the United States and its core partners. Rogue states are especially eager to acquire WMD and other dangerous technologies.
*The fourth group, failing states, is typically ravaged by upheaval and war. While relatively few and small, these states could impose huge humanitarian demands on the United States and its partners.
U.S. security and prosperity have benefited greatly from the success of its Cold-War allies--free-enterprise democracies in Western Europe and Northeast Asia. The United States and these core partners have common concerns, including access to the one vital resource that lies mainly beyond their control, petroleum, and safety from WMD and other unconventional threats to their societies and economies. These concerns give the United States an interest in adapting the alliances it built with Europe and Japan originally to block Soviet expansion.
Within the framework of those alliances, the United States wants its partners to accept greater responsibility for the security of core interests. Divergent security policies, especially in the context of global commercial competition, could tear apart the community of leading economic powers upon which the global economy and the advancement of other U.S. interests depend. As well, a perception in the United States that wealthy allies are not bearing a fair share of the risks and costs of common security could undermine cohesion, as could a perception by U.S. allies that the United States wants followers, not partners. U.S. unilateralism and lack of fair allied burden sharing could become a vicious circle. The political health of the core is thus crucial to its economic health and its security.
The core is now expanding, in part because of its economic and political attractiveness and in part because of the heavy flow of private investment into value-added industry in emerging nations. The globalization of both production and markets, enabled by information technology and fostering economic and political reform, is working its way (somewhat unevenly) through Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. As it does, it is improving living standards, political legitimacy, stability, and security in regions previously among the world's most troubled. Most of the states of these three regions are poised to join the core. From Chile and Argentina to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, to Malaysia and Thailand, the roots of reform have grown sturdy, and acceptance of core norms has solidified. The United States has an interest in making these gains irreversible and, in time, getting these emerging nations also to accept greater international responsibilities--that is, to become new core partners.
Of course, the U.S. interest in enlarging the core is especially great with regard to the largest transition states, above all China, but India and Russia, too. The Chinese and Indian economies will rank third and fourth in the world by the year 2000. All three have nuclear weapons, which in Russia's case number in the thousands and are vulnerable to weakened state control. While they are vastly different--China is already a major trading power, India is a democracy, and Russia is the main remnant of a failed superpower--the United States welcomes the success and integration of all three.
At the same time, the United States cannot assume, much less assure, the transition of these three states, let alone of the rest of Eurasia and the Middle East. So it must be prepared to discourage any aggressive tendencies exhibited by states, even the largest, that reject reform and international norms. This broad interest includes ensuring that the use of China's growing power does not upset stability in East Asia, containing the spread of dangerous materials and technologies if disorder weakens Russia, and safeguarding oil supplies in a turbulent Middle East.
Protecting the Core
Rogue states are dwindling in number and are weakened by flawed economic policies, isolation, and illegitimacy. Globalization and the spread of information technology are gradually encircling them. As the core grows and prospers, rogue states will be forced to choose between reform (thus progress) and oppression as the way to deal with domestic discontent. They can be brutal, resilient, extremist, desperate--and dangerous. To maintain their grip on power, coerce their neighbors, and carry on their battle against the United States and its partners, these states might threaten to use any means of destruction they can acquire, including nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons of mass destruction, cheap high-tech weapons, and information warfare (IW). If Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, or Serbia, for example, displays menacing behavior, the United States will have to protect itself, its interests, and its friends.
Because rogue states can threaten the security of the core, the United States has an interest in rallying its partners and key transition states, including China and Russia, to isolate these states and hasten their demise. This will not come easily. The recent past provides many instances of Russia, China, and even U.S. allies trafficking in dangerous technologies with the likes of Iran--a proven sponsor of terrorism that hardly conceals its aim of acquiring nuclear weapons. Rogues can be counted on to exploit any differences between the United States and its partners; thus, a united front, at least among the United States and its NATO allies, is imperative.
At the same time, the United States cannot exclude the possibility that even the worst regimes can change, or be changed. Zaire's Mobutu fled at the first sign of serious internal opposition, abetted by the country's neighbors, his failing health, and the withdrawal of Western backing. From time to time, reform seems a possibility in Serbia; and some U.S. partners argue that the Iranian and Cuban regimes could be moderated if engaged. When there is concrete evidence that a rogue state is ending its hostile ways, the United States can afford to offer encouragement without lowering its guard. In the meantime, however, a rogue state's behavior must be policed and its grip on power loosened.
Rogues need not be states. Separatists, militant fundamentalists, drug cartels, and other criminal and paramilitary groups can obtain the means to attack society and governments--means that might include WMD, information warfare, and more conventional weapons targeted on innocent people. Compared to national governments, these shadowy actors are hard to track, punish, and deter, especially if they take the form of networks utilizing the latest communications technology. Moreover, the core's growing economic integration, connectivity, and reliance on a common infrastructure are creating vulnerabilities that are difficult to gauge, let alone prevent. Being elusive, fanatical, and cunning, rogue groups determined to strike directly at U.S. territory or citizens could become a serious national security problem. The United States has an interest in controlling and defeating such transnational threats, especially if they involve chemical or biological weapons. Sometimes, this will entail a role for U.S. military forces, and sometimes not. In any case, given the character of these threats, the United States needs the cooperation of its core partners and transition states alike.
Worldwide, millions of humans cannot count on their own states to govern and protect them, or in some cases even let them live in peace. The recent chaos in Central Africa gruesomely shows what can happen when states collapse or turn against their citizens. Birth rates are high and economic growth low or negative among these countries, with many people crowding into megacities that can provide for them no better than could the land they left. When order and infrastructure crumble, prolonged suffering is often punctuated by large-scale humanitarian crises. When, in addition, tribal violence erupts, massacres can ensue, either despite or at the hand of the failing regimes.
The consequences of these spiraling human crises are not always confined to the victims' agonies, as when refugees flood across borders, destabilizing entire regions. Terrorism, international crime, drug trade, ecological ruin, disease, and other transnational dangers can be caused and spewed by these conditions. The aggregate effect of such situations could entail major risks and costs for the core states. Of course, if state failure were to occur in one of the large transition states such as Russia, or in a heavily armed rogue state such as North Korea, the consequences could include the loss of control over WMD and rampaging rabble from disintegrating armies.
The interest of the United States and its partners in preventing these sorts of effects suggests a need to address the economic and political conditions that breed state failure-- a task mainly for U.S. foreign and aid policies. But the refusal of many regimes to reform and to seek productive employment for their people hinders the value of external help. Corporations in search of safe and profitable investments treat failing states with extreme caution, so there will be a number of states that find no niche in the world economy. The United States must expect more situations such as these in Somalia, Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Zaire.
Because it can neither ignore nor handle this problem by itself, the United States has an interest in improving multilateral options to stop and relieve mass suffering and to contain other effects of state failure. This interest is sometimes argued on economic or security grounds, namely that the United States and its partners will one day face serious material consequences if they permit the deterioration of a significant part of the world, where population growth is outpacing productive potential and where states either fail or assault their people. In any case, the credibility of the great democracies suffers when genocide and other mass suffering go unchecked. Thus, the United States has an interest not only in the health, security, and expansion of the core but also in its ability to act out of moral integrity and political responsibility.
The interest of the United States and its partners in limiting the damage from failing states highlights the fact that the U.S. stake in the world cannot be reduced to purely physical interests. The core democracies observe and champion a set of norms that flow from their ideals and buttress their interests. Promotion of these norms does not mean the imposition of "Western" values on other nations and cultures, but rather a growing acceptance of basic standards of decent behavior by legitimate governments.
Broadly stated, the norms of the core include:
*Those that bolster international peace: nonaggression, the right of collective self- defense, the laws of war, arms control, peaceful settlement of disputes, antiterrorism covenants, respect for the authority of the UN Security Council, and respect for other instruments and institutions that affect directly whether and how conflicts occur.
*Those that govern the functioning of the international economy: freedom of commerce, law of the sea, access to resources, noninterference with the flow of information, environmental protection, the rules of open multilateral trading, and cooperation in addressing transnational problems.
*Those that bear on the treatment of people by states: human rights, the rule of law, representative and accountable government, individual liberties, freedom of the press, and other tenets of civil societies and states.
All three classes of norms affect the international security environment. The first
applies directly to state behavior in peace and war. The second can help ensure that
economic activity is a force for peace and not war. The third addresses underlying
conditions that can cause or reduce instability and conflict.
While deviations remain all too frequent, and sometimes flagrant--Saddam Hussein has flouted all three categories--these norms are in fact increasingly honored and enforced. The collapse of communism, the expansion of the core, and the democratization of many developing nations open up the possibility of near-universal acceptance. At the same time, these norms are demanding more of states, constraining their freedom of action, and intruding into their sovereignty. While the rules governing international security are well established (if not always observed), those concerning the international economy are being developed as that economy becomes integrated. Those affecting internal politics and human rights are the most sensitive and difficult to guarantee.
Generally speaking, these norms support the ideals of the core democracies and reflect the progress of those societies no less than does their enrichment. The United States therefore has an interest in sharing with its partners the responsibilities and sacrifices not only of abiding by the norms but also of enforcing them against rogue states and of helping peoples whose states fail.
States in transition are still ambivalent about these norms. In their ideological days, Russians and Chinese saw some of the norms as serving Western, and thus adversary, interests. The United States has a stake in gaining acceptance of the norms by transition states, as part of the wider process of reform and integration. This is, of course, especially critical for the large transition states--China, Russia, and India--which are less likely to challenge U.S. interests as they come to accept as their own the principles that currently guide the core nations.
Rogue states reject many of these norms, in deed if not in word. Iran's support of terrorism, North Korea's illicit quest for chemical and biological weapons, and Iraq's assaults on its Kurdish and Shiite minorities, for example, place these states outside not only the core but also the broader international community. If they are allowed to operate with impunity, the norms could be generally eroded.
When states fail, norms are often trampled, as has happened repeatedly in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States, its partners, and others may choose to provide relief and protection of human beings in such circumstances. Such responsibility cannot be accepted lightly, since it can lead to the use of U.S. forces in circumstances, hostile or not, where vital U.S. interests are not at risk. At a minimum, the leading democracies must appreciate that any tolerance of genocide--which they have all sworn is intolerable--will affect the core's integrity and credibility, however difficult it may be to stop.
U.S. norms and U.S. interests are linked. Whether using its forces in war, in operations short of war, or in shaping the perceptions and behavior of others in peacetime, the United States is most effective when guided by a combination of interest and principle. The use of deadly force to uphold these norms is rarely required, though in peacekeeping and other operations short of war the United States might have to take up arms to reinforce the norms.
Where the United States perceives that it must use force because vital interests are at risk, it must preserve the option to do so unilaterally, if need be, and therefore should maintain the independent capacity to do so. But where the United States might choose to engage its forces--such as enforcing norms despite the absence of a direct threat to national interests--it will want, perhaps even need, to do so multilaterally and therefore should concentrate on building a coalition military capacity to do so.
Arms control has figured importantly in U.S. national security policy at least since the early days of the nuclear age and the Cold War. Although arms control has been used to promote international political understanding, its success has commonly flowed from rapprochement rather than produced it, as evidenced by the waning years of East-West confrontation. Still, arms control can help diminish military threats and build confidence, thus improving the security environment, as the recent START II and chemical weapons treaties are intended to do. But it is only prudent to admit that arms control has not stopped those determined to acquire WMD from doing so. While the United States remains a champion of the norms and pursuit of arms control, it remains to be seen whether major agreements like those that accompanied the end of the Cold War will play a role in the new security environment.
For much of the 20th century, Western Europe and Northeast Asia were two of the world's most explosive regions. They are now among the most prosperous, stable, and secure. With important exceptions--Korea and Taiwan--the core is generally free from the threat of territorial aggression and from the enmity of a competing bloc. Moreover, nearly a decade after the disappearance of the Soviet threat, and despite the fierce economic competition of their firms for world markets, the United States and the other leading economic powers continue to be friends and to collaborate on shared interests. This unity is encouraged, though not guaranteed, by the merging of the economies of the leading democracies, resulting from growing trade and investment, the free flow of ideas, and the integration of financial markets. It is reinforced by a commonality of values and norms that has been unaffected by the end of the Cold War.
At the same time, there is an understandable tendency on the part of the leading partners of the United States to exercise increasing independence in world and regional affairs, owing to their economic success and the absence of a mortal threat that only the United States can counter. This tendency is accentuated in Europe by significant, if at times halting, progress toward EU-based security collaboration to accompany economic union. In Eastern Asia, Japan and its neighbors are approaching the matter of greater Japanese security responsibilities more cautiously. In general, the United States is searching for a balance between asserting its political leadership in its partners' regions and shifting more of the burden and, necessarily, more independence in their direction. Those partners, in turn, welcome greater independence while wanting the United States to stay in their regions and displaying ambivalence about accepting more responsibility. The U.S. force posture in Europe and Eastern Asia will both affect and be affected by its new relationships with old friends.
The experience of NATO in Bosnia points toward a general solution emerging in Europe: Europeans will take on more responsibility to respond to security dangers, albeit within their alliance with the United States and with significant U.S. involvement. In Eastern Asia, the keystone remains the U.S.-Japanese security relationship, which is being reoriented from protection of Japan to bolstering broader regional security.
The expansion of the core is as important as the recasting of ties among its charter members. As noted earlier, a group of nations--from Europe's new democracies to the democratizing states of Latin America and Eastern Asia--has progressed and integrated to the point it is essentially part of the core, politically and economically. In some cases (e.g., Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic), the nations are becoming formal allies; in other cases, South Korea (already an ally) and Taiwan, they play significant roles in the global economy.
The emergence of these new partners is fundamentally reshaping the security environment by enlarging the expanse of interests the United States might feel compelled to defend, and also by propagating outward from the core the conditions of prosperity, stability, and legitimate government undergirding peace. While external threats to the core are not on the order of the old Soviet threat to the West, a de facto security perimeter is pressing beyond the Cold War frontier--with potentially new demands on U.S. military capabilities. At the same time, an ever-growing circle of societies and states is living and acting in ways that engender international security. What remains to be seen is whether this circle is also willing to share in the responsibility for preserving international security commensurate with its success.
Globalization of production, markets, capital, know-how, and reform might or might not reach all parts of the globe over the next 20 years or so. The forces behind these phenomena are mainly private and not managed, propelled, nor even fully understood by states--not even the U.S. Government. This process has considerable momentum in regions adjacent to the established core: Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. But it would be an error simply to extrapolate this trend, at the same rapid pace, throughout all of Eurasia, including China, Russia, and India.
China is the most important transition state, by virtue of its size, aspirations, untapped human potential, prosperous expatriate community (some 150 million strong), and location in the world's most vibrant region. The overarching goals of the Chinese leadership are political stability and economic progress. These goals explain their commitment to aggressive economic reform, their drive to integrate China into the world economy as its largest source of labor-intensive production, and even their grudging acceptance of the need for (gradual) political reform--democracy "within 50 years," in the words of Jiang Zemin. But China's growing power and resolve to reunify Taiwan with the mainland will increase the likelihood of friction, or outright conflict, with the United States, especially if the Chinese become convinced that the aim of U.S. regional presence and global strategy is to block China's rise. Moreover, the gradual growth of Chinese power-projection capabilities will unsettle regional security and demand U.S. attention, even if no hostile Chinese intentions are evident.
India, already democratic, has recently begun to institute economic reforms and to invite foreign direct investment. Having been friendly with but not dependent on the Soviet Union, India has not suffered with the end of the Cold War. On the contrary, India's advantages over Pakistan are growing, and Indian hegemony in South Asia has become realistic if not a reality. Sino-Indian relations are currently quiescent, which serves China's interest in focusing its attention on national unification with Hong Kong and Taiwan. But the growing economic and strategic power of India and China--neighbors with old feuds, as well as nuclear weapons--could be a source of serious future instability that the United States will find hard to ignore but just as hard to influence.
Russia's transition has been as difficult as could be expected for a people who have never known economic or political freedom. Whether Russia can follow the path cut by Poland and other former Soviet satellites is clouded by the dangers of self-isolation, organized crime, corruption, and disintegration, as well as the seductiveness of authoritarianism. Russia is unlikely to emerge as a major threat to the core: the free-fall of industrial production, the lack of domestic investment, inhospitable conditions for value-added enterprise, and the country's deteriorating human capital point toward a continued contraction, not a rebound, of Russian power. Apart from the danger Russia could present to its weaker neighbors in the "near abroad"--themselves at best nations in transition--the greatest problem for the United States and its partners is that Russia could become a source of dangerous technologies for rogues. The trends are worrisome: arms and dangerous technologies are among the few Russian-made products that others will buy--especially rogues who often have nowhere else to shop.
A number of other states are especially important because of their geographical proximity to the core: Ukraine, the Baltics, the Balkans, states of North Africa, and much of Latin America. The key to their future lies in their relationship with the advanced democracies--investment, trade, and technology transfer--and their own determination to get through the often-painful process of reform. While the outlook for this class of states is generally bright, the failure of even a few to complete the transition--Algeria and Turkey, for example--could cause such transnational problems as migration and drugs for the core.
The information revolution and the integration of the world economy could, in time, sweep over most rogue states. As their people learn what is happening outside and inside their countries, it is becoming difficult for all but the most brutal of these regimes to cling to power. North Korea's Stalinist regime may be near the end of the line, perhaps foreshadowing what is in store for others who resist the trend toward openness and integration. Iran, Iraq, and Cuba are suffering economically, though the regimes that rule them are clearly more resilient than the East European communists who were jettisoned by their subjects the moment Soviet protection was withdrawn.
Cuba illustrates the despot's dilemma: either reform, and risk losing economic and political control; or reject reform, and face a grim and potentially explosive future. Ideology is used to maintain power in Iran and could breed new radical rogues (hence the concern about Algeria). At the same time, the strongmen of Iraq, Syria, and Serbia have no genuine ideology and instead rely on ruthless politics, palace cliques, and the manipulation of information to remain in power. How long they can hang on is a crucial question. Even if economically weakened and politically isolated--or perhaps because they are weakened and isolated--they can be vicious, desperate, and reckless. While their ranks might shrink, a few very dangerous outlaw states could last indefinitely.
For this reason, the most disturbing trend in today's security environment is the growing access of embattled rogue states to technologies and weapons that could be used--perhaps in desperation--against their neighbors, the core, and possibly the United States. North Korean ballistic missiles and WMD pose an increased threat to South Korea, Japan, and American troops, even as many North Koreans near starvation. The danger posed by such states could be compounded as the core's economy and infrastructure become more integrated and interconnected, making them vulnerable to acts that shock markets, sever circuits, and disable nodes, whether physically or electronically.
The diffusion of technology is one of the defining trends in world economics, politics, and security at this turn of the century. For the most part, the spread of technology improves the global economy, enables less developed states to emerge, and benefits the United States and its partners. This is especially true of information technology, which has the added benefit of fostering the exchange of ideas and thus democracy. The risk is that rogues will acquire the tools and techniques that can disrupt the information networks of the U.S. and the global economy. In any case, as the core economy integrates and expands, it is hard and getting harder to restrict the diffusion of these technologies.
The most acute problem of technology diffusion is the growing availability of the knowledge and materials to make WMD, as well as delivery systems. Stemming the spread of nuclear weapons is both more crucial and more straightforward than limiting access to other WMD technology. Biological and chemical weapons are easier to assemble and might be considered less risky than nuclear weapons to possess and use. In general, nonproliferation conventions, while worth having, are porous, especially where determined rogue states are involved. The only prudent assumption is that rogues will acquire and threaten to use WMD as the surest perceived way of neutralizing and deterring superior U.S. might.
Thus, the general trend is toward increased destructive power in the hands of fringe regimes that can strike asymmetrically at the powerful democracies they oppose. The pace set by the United States in inventing and applying new technology to strengthen international security will be fast. But the pace at which this technology spreads will also be fast, especially as the world economy integrates.
Not only rogue states but also rogue groups other than states can create havoc for international security by acquiring devices of mass destruction or terror and information "weapons." Nonstate terrorists and criminal organizations pose especially pernicious transnational threats because they cannot easily be held accountable to international norms. Unlike rogue states, they face no problem of domestic dissent--no pressure to reform. These threats could increase as information networks enable such groups to increase their reach and efficiency without becoming easier to find and extinguish. Thus, while rogue states are experiencing heightened challenges in the information age, abroad and at home, potentially destructive nonstate actors are on the rise.
It is possible to imagine two widely divergent alternative futures concerning the number and impact of failed states--both consistent with present conditions. In the best case, only a handful of sub-Saharan states and none outside Africa will fail in the way that Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Cambodia, and others failed. This scenario requires the assumption that nearly all regimes and elites throughout Africa and elsewhere eschew corruption, adopt economic reforms, find a niche in the world economy, and, with the help of the core democracies, invest in their human capital and infrastructure. In the alternative scenario, most of Africa, along with some heavily populated nations elsewhere, could fail to take these steps and slip into the familiar pattern of crumbling infrastructure, declining living standards, anarchy, and tribal violence, which scares away potential investors and makes external aid futile.
Imagine the problems posed for the United States and its core partners if states the size of, say, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria, sank into chaos. Not only would the security and stability of their regions be threatened by chaos, but also severe transnational threats (e.g., drugs, criminal organizations, paramilitary forces, and migrations) could rise, persist, and menace the international system as a whole. The difference in the consequences of these two scenarios for U.S. and global security underscores the importance of inducing as many states as possible to embark on the reforms and integration that could save them from failure.
Well short of the worst-case scenario, the failure of states can have significant implications regarding the demands U.S. forces might be called upon to meet. An increase in large-scale humanitarian crises, especially involving genocide, would leave the United States and its partners--especially its European allies--little choice but to organize coalition capabilities to intervene on the side of humanity and order. Because such demands are most likely to appear beyond the pale of vital U.S. interests, public support cannot be assured, though it could be more easily marshaled if U.S. partners were prepared to take their share of the responsibility.
Whether in defusing tribal war or battling 21st century pirates, U.S. forces could be involved in demanding and dangerous operations, even if not "war" in the classical sense. This prospect must be taken into account in designing, building, and managing those forces for the near and long term.
The new security environment is far too fluid to believe that the future can be predicted by extrapolating trends or calculating point outcomes based on a Newtonian interaction of international forces. At best, an entire "space" of possible futures can be imagined in which to doublecheck whether U.S. capabilities and policies can cope with such conditions. With this in mind, it is illuminating to bracket the range of plausible futures.
In the best case, the core economy would continue its steady integration and growth. America's partners would accept increased international responsibilities. Enlargement would not slow but instead gain speed, extending from Southeast Asia into South Asia, from Eastern Europe into the former Soviet Union, and from Europe into the Middle East. China's growing economic and military power would be used responsibly and thus contribute to Asian stability and global security, as China comes to value its stake in the core and acts increasingly as a partner. Instead of failing, African states would embark on reform and economic growth, finding a place in the world economy. Technologies would continue to spread throughout that integrated economy, but the number of rogue and revisionist states that might misuse these technologies would decline sharply. The expansion of the core and wide sharing of responsibility for international security would present a near-global united front against transnational terrorists and criminals. Norms would prevail, so widely accepted that they rarely would need to be enforced, but with the strengthened core able to enforce them if need be.
In the worst case--at least a very bad one--the expansion of the democratic core might stall. Rivalry and dissension among the United States, the European Union, and Japan could fracture their security alliances and sap their shared prosperity. Emerging nations and new democracies, including the large transition states, might lapse into stagnation, authoritarianism, and ethnic conflict. Lacking the support of its erstwhile partners, the United States would be less able to dissuade China from becoming a hostile, revisionist power, dominating or at least destabilizing Asia. China's enormous energy needs could lead to close ties with Iran and other rogue states, in turn giving them a new lease on life, access to dangerous technology, and greater ability to threaten U.S. interests.
A desperate Russia, its reform having stalled, might participate in this unfriendly constellation via the sale of its WMD technologies. Hope would be lost for the transition of scores of other states, and a growing number of failing states would produce human suffering on a biblical scale, with the democracies too preoccupied and too divided to respond. In the absence of international cooperation, predatory nonstate actors could proliferate, with access to weapons of mass destruction and information warfare and incentives to use these technologies to challenge U.S. interests and neutralize U.S. forces. All three classes of norms, described earlier, would be unenforceable and collapse.
In both cases, the United States possesses unmatched technological, military, and political power. But in the best case, the world's other powers are friends that share responsibilities, whereas in the worst case, the United States is nominally "superior" but beleaguered. In both cases the United States has and needs the ability to project power to protect its global interests. But in the best case its interests are secure and its ability to protect them is great, whereas in the worst case its interests are insecure and its ability to protect them is degraded. In the best case the U.S. homeland is essentially a sanctuary from international violence; in the worst case, it is a target.
This exercise in best and worst scenario spinning illustrates that the gap between polar but plausible outcomes is vast--and the implications for U.S. interests profound. It underscores the importance of an active, skillful engagement of U.S. power, including military forces, whether in influencing the security environment or in response to emergencies.
The complex interplay of U.S. interests and norms on one hand, and international conditions and trends on the other, as presented in this chapter, will determine the choice, use, and role of U.S. forces. Strategic Assessment 1998 examines how U.S. military power, as prescribed by the recent Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), can:
Shape an even more favorable international security environment
Respond to operational demands in today's world
Prepare for whatever the future holds.
In this volume, the timeframe for the shape and respond perspectives is 10 years (to 2008), and for the prepare perspective, 20 years (to 2018).
Shaping the international security environment means, quite simply, advancing and safeguarding U.S. interests without having to fight--the essence of successful national security strategy. While the strategy also includes crucial foreign and international economic policies, which are not elaborated, U.S. forces and other defense resources play a key role. In addition to being used in military contingencies, they can help:
Deter potential aggressors and encourage all states to resolve their differences peacefully
Promote a climate of international confidence, trust, and cooperation
Improve coalitions by encouraging U.S. partners to accept greater responsibility for international security
Limit the threat from hostile and potentially hostile states
Promote political and military reform among transition states.
Chapters two through eight examine how U.S. forces and other defense resources can achieve such results across regions. They will spell out U.S. interests, regional trends bearing on those interests, and regional defense postures that can shape those trends. These chapters will confront the challenge of how to take advantage of U.S. military capacity to influence world politics in a positive direction without appearing hegemonic in goals or methods.
The ability to respond to operational military contingencies is the sine qua non of U.S. defense policy. Even successful shaping strategies will not eliminate the need to be prepared to use U.S. forces in large conflicts or, more likely, small-scale operations. In turn, shortcomings in operational capabilities not only pose risks to U.S. interests and forces, but also devalue those forces in shaping the attitudes and behavior of partners, transition states, and adversaries. The U.S. stake in the world in the new era imposes a wide range of possible operational demands, in contrast to the Cold War, when containing Soviet power was the overriding interest and defined a relatively straightforward (though by no means easy) test for determining the requirements for U.S. forces. The new era imposes not only a wide range of demands but also a broad band of uncertainty which surrounds each possible demand. Gone are the days when it was acceptable to plan on one or two war scenarios: U.S. forces must be adequate for many contingencies, and contingencies within contingencies.
As the interests described earlier suggest, U.S. forces might have to respond to wars in the conventional sense, to other contingencies, to adversaries using unconventional and asymmetric threats, and to unconventional adversaries. Chapters nine, ten, and eleven explore how the U.S. military would cope with such a welter of military demands. Chapter nine analyzes U.S. strategy for the use of deadly force in "major theater wars"; chapter ten examines the demands of peace operations and other "small-scale contingencies"; chapter eleven anticipates how adversaries might attempt to outflank U.S. military superiority and how, in turn, the United States should respond. Chapter twelve considers U.S. nuclear posture and policy in the new era, and chapter thirteen analyzes threats from non-state actors and how they can be countered.
Chapters fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen explore how trends or shifts in strategic conditions could affect the requirements for and nature of U.S. military power to the year 2018. Preparing for the dangers and demands of the more distant future is not something that can wait. The forces chosen today will be in use well into the 21st century, so they must be designed for the future insofar as its contours can be grasped. Since that grasp is unavoidably a weak one--the flux and uncertainty of today make precise forecasting of the future little more than a lottery--the forces built for today and planned for tomorrow should be adaptable by design, at least to reduce the cost and potentially dangerous delay in order to make them suitable for different conditions. Chapter seventeen summarizes the key ideas of the volume regarding the roles U.S. forces play in protecting America's stake in the world.
The recent reviews conducted by the Department of Defense and the National Defense Panel are meant to be the beginning, not the end, of a journey to transform U.S. military capabilities for the next century. In that context, Strategic Assessment 1998 is intended to inform the debate and add to the knowledge that will guide us on that journey.
Refugees on the move
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