11/16/2009 02:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Alternative 25 Year National Strategies

A large number of options are now available to the United States in developing a 21st century security strategy.  No single strategy will suffice so long as global conditions continue to evolve rapidly and conditions are subject to virtual overnight change.  Here are three of a number of strategic options, as well as a fourth option that is a mix of all three.

            1.  Maritime Strategy: The United States is an island nation, not a continental power.  Since the end of the Cold War and the sharply reduced threat of strategic attack, America returns to a condition in which its northern and southern borders are occupied by friendly nations and its defenses once again rely heavily on naval superiority.

These conditions require the United States to rely heavily on sea power and maintain naval superiority both to protect its long east and west sea coasts and ports and to establish mobile and flexible presence in a variety of oceans and venues worldwide.

As it is often pointed out, the advantages of a maritime strategy include: the ability to shift fleets from ocean to ocean; the flexibility to establish presence in littoral waters and to withdraw over the horizon as circumstances require; the strength to use carrier-based aircraft in long-range attack mode and shorter-range close air support of on-shore operations; the competitive domination the U.S. has in submarine capability; and the increasing capability of mounting swift insertion operations for rapid response.

             2.  Regional Alliances: As NATO represents the triumph of collective security in a Cold War 20th century, so new realities require new alliances beyond the capabilities that NATO represents.

Forming new alliances with new regional power centers offers several advantages.  Emerging regional powers can be made partners rather than antagonists or rivals.  Identifying mutual and collective security interests with the United States and formalizing a collective approach to securing those interests empowers regional powers further and signals that the U.S. respects their legitimate concerns.  Formal regional security alliances create diplomatic and administrative structures that anticipate, rather than react to, new realities and new threats in the region.

Several regional powers are candidates for new alliances.  Russia and the U.S. have mutual interests in stability of the Moslem republics on Russia’s southern border, in the Caucuses, and in the Middle East.  Russia’s interests are not necessarily antagonistic to those of the U.S., as some insist.  The same is true for China.  We have mutual interests in limiting the North Korean threat and helping a transition from dictatorship to a more congenial form of government.  A nuclear North Korea or a disintegrating North Korea are more threats to Chinese security than to the U.S.  The same is true of Japan which should also be part of a new 21st century East Asian security regime.

India has an immediate interest in a stable Pakistan and could be part of a new South Asian security alliance.  A 21st century national security strategy should at least in part be based on the exploration of new regional security alliances.

            3.  Global Security Arrangements: Rather than the United States bearing the burden for the security of global oil supplies, the management of failed and failing states, the response (or non-response) to genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, and elsewhere, and isolation of terrorism, these can and should become more formal international concerns.

There is every reason to create a Zone of International Interest in the Persian Gulf whereby a collection of all oil importing nations guarantee continue distribution of petroleum resources from the region regardless of almost guaranteed instability within and among oil producing states.

There are many reasons for having an international rapid deployment force to intervene in failing states both to prevent civil wars and, if necessary, create a security environment in which diplomats can manage the peaceful restructuring of nations.

Likewise, if climate damage creates massive dislocations due to decreased water supplies, crop dislocations, and rising sea levels, as predicted  by the Center for Naval Affairs study, the United States should now take leadership to create international institutions and capabilities to limit the disruptions and instability these conditions will create.

A strategy of new internationalism is anticipatory rather than reactive, appreciating that major disruptions will occur globally so rapidly that reliance on time to react is unrealistic.

Posted from Senator Hart's new blog at Matters of Principle.