Small Wars Journal

CNAS Releases New National Security Reports

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), an independent and bi-partisan national security think tank, released new reports at its second annual all-day policy forum, "Pivot Point: New Directions for American Security," on Wednesday, 11 June.

CNAS Reports and Synopsis of Each:

Making America Grand Again Report - Shawn Brimley, Michele A. Flournoy, Vikram J. Singh

Years of debate over the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the so-called "war on terror" have prevented Americans from grappling with the deeper challenges posed by changes in the international system. Beyond the threats posed by terrorism, new great powers such as India and China are rising, the process of globalization is accelerating, and the challenges of climate change and energy security grow more ominous by the day. The absence of an overarching strategic framework beyond simple debates over wartime tactics has contributed to an erosion of America's position in the world. The authors of Making America Grand Again argue that America's leaders must broaden their strategic aperture and recognize the value in renewing their commitment to sustaining the pillars of the global system -- common global goods such as stability in key regions, a vibrant global economy, and fair access to the global commons. Arguing that America's Cold War strategy consisted of two parts -- containing the Soviet Union while building and sustaining a resilient international system -- the authors lay out a case for why sustaining America's power and influence in the 21st century requires reinvesting in, and innovating within, the very global architecture that helped make America a superpower.

Iran: Assessing U.S. Strategic Options - James N. Miller, Christine Parthemore, Kurt M. Campbell

Dealing with Iran and its nuclear program will be an urgent priority for the next president. In order to evaluate U.S. policy options, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) convened a bipartisan group of experts on foreign policy and national security, retired military personnel, former diplomats and other government officials, and specialists on Iran and the region. Ambassador Dennis Ross presented a paper on diplomatic strategies for dealing with Iran, and Dr. Suzanne Maloney wrote on potential Iranian responses. Dr. Ashton Carter evaluated various U.S. military options, and Dr. Vali Nasr described likely Iranian reactions and other potential impacts. Ambassador Richard Haass considered the challenges of living with a nuclear Iran. Each of these papers represents an important contribution to a much-needed national discussion on U.S. policy toward Iran. Based on these papers and expert group discussion, as well as additional research and analysis, three CNAS authors (Dr. James Miller, Christine Parthemore, and Dr. Kurt Campbell) proposed that the next administration pursue "game-changing diplomacy" with Iran. While both Iran and the international community would be better off if Iran plays ball, game-changing diplomacy is designed to improve prospects for the United States and the international community irrespective of how Iran responds.

Shaping the Iraq Inheritance - Colin Kahl, Michele A. Flournoy, Shawn Brimley

American policy in Iraq will undergo two critical transitions throughout the remainder of 2008 and into early 2009: movement to a new U.S. posture in Iraq; and a wartime transition to a new administration. It is vital that both are handled in a way that best advances U.S. interests in Iraq and the region. Yet neither is being paid sufficient attention. Shaping the Iraq Inheritance outlines America's interests in Iraq and the region, analyzes recent security and political trends, presents a framework for understanding U.S. strategic options, and makes recommendations for how the Bush administration, the military, and Congress can best prepare for the dangerous period ahead.

The report places America's interests in Iraq within a regional and global context, and suggests that the United States must simultaneously attempt to avoid a failed state in Iraq while not strategically over-committing to Iraq. The report examines current security and political trends, and suggests that success in Iraq requires additional steps toward political accommodation and improved governance. The report then outlines a policy of conditional engagement—a strategy that initiates a phased, negotiated redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq while conditioning residual support to the Iraqi government on continued political progress—and argues that it offers the best chance of achieving sustainable stability in Iraq while balancing U.S. commitments worldwide.

Finally, the report outlines steps that must be taken to smooth the handover of Iraq policy from this administration to the next. The Bush administration must prioritize prepara tion in three areas over the next six months: the development of an interagency transition plan; enhancing the situational awareness of both the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates and their top national security advisers on Iraq; and hand-tooling personnel transitions for senior positions critical to Iraq policy and operations.

A Strategy for American Power: Energy, Climate and National Security - Sharon Burke and Christine Parthemore

To protect the American way of life and secure the future, the United States needs an energy security strategy that will cut both our dependence on oil and our greenhouse gas emissions. Today, the energy we use keeps our economy and security dependent on unstable and hostile states, vulnerable to natural disasters, and subject to the consequences of climate change. With a comprehensive strategy to change both our supply of fuels and our demand, the United States can win the energy war, just as the strategy of containment helped win the Cold War. This report gives an overview of the nature of the energy challenge, the main elements of a strategy for energy security, and then offers a plan of action for how to actually execute that strategy.

The Power of Balance: America in iAsia - Kurt M. Campbell, Nirav Patel, Vikram J. Singh

As the tides of influence and power shift from Atlantic to Pacific shores -- propelled by the remarkable ascents of China and India and the economic growth of an entire region that now accounts for over 30 percent of global GDP -- America must reassert its strategic presence in Asia.

Unfortunately, many strategists shape policies toward the region through either a Cold War or anti-terrorism lens; both are limited in dealing with Asian dynamism. The region must be described in creative and forward-looking terms -- Kurt Campbell and his team from the Center for a New American Security deem it iAsia -- and U.S. strategy must be made anew to match.

A traditional approach will not suffice if the United States is to protect American interests and help iAsia realize its potential. The new strategic vision, articulated as the "power of balance," involves creative engagement in multilateral forums while strengthening existing bilateral alliances and relations. It demands a willingness to enter agreements on specific issues, rather than as a means to cement broad-based, balance-of-power alliances. And, perhaps most importantly, it requires American political parties to perform a balancing act at home: bipartisanship in foreign policy debates must be the goal not lofty rhetoric. American engagement in iAsia demands as much.