Small Wars Journal

Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy

Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bruce W. Jentleson, Ivo H. Daalder, Antony J. Blinken, Lael Brainard, Kurt M. Campbell, Michael A. McFaul, James C. O'Brien, Gayle E. Smith and James B. Steinberg - Center for a New American Security.

Synopsis: The next president of the United States must forge a new national security strategy in a world marked by enormous tumult and change and at a time when America's international standing and strategic position are at an historic nadir. Many of our allies question our motives and methods; our enemies doubt American rhetoric and resolve. Now, more than at any time since the late 1940s, it is vital to chart a new direction for America's global role.

About the Phoenix Initiative: The Phoenix Initiative is a collective effort to provide an intellectual and policy framework for the next administration. The group initially came together three years ago to discuss on a regular basis the state of the world, America's place in it, and the best ways for advancing America's interest and values. Our goal was to develop ideas and concepts that made sense from a policy—as opposed to a political—perspective and to make the case for them on that basis alone. That is also the basis of this first report—a manifesto meant to marshal the best practices and ideas of the progressive tradition in U.S. foreign policy and adapt them to a rapidly changing world.

Preface by Susan E. Rice: As one of the founders of the original Phoenix Initiative in early 2005, I felt strongly that it was time for a group of younger foreign policy thinkers to come together and work through common positions not only on a set of specific issues, but also on how America should define and pursue its interests in a post-Cold War world, a world still resistant to tidy categorization. The point was not to write a paper in support of a specific candidate or for a specific occasion or political purpose, but instead to consider a fresh strategic perspective. I regret that my responsibilities as a Senior Advisor to the Obama campaign prevented me from seeing this project to fruition.

Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy is the product of over three years of discussions and debate on everything from fundamental assumptions about the nature of the international order in the 21st century to US policy toward the Middle East. At a time when the United States truly must rise from the ashes of a failed foreign policy, this report breaks away from such traditional concepts as containment, engagement, and enlargement and rejects standard dichotomies of realist power politics versus liberal idealism. It starts from a set of US national interests as old as the nation itself and asks how we can safeguard and pursue those interests in this 21st century world. Without pretense of answering all questions and addressing all issues, the report offers bold and genuinely new thinking about America's role in such a world.

Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy


Ken White

Thu, 07/24/2008 - 10:20pm

Interesting document. I see what I believe to be at least three problems with it.

They say<blockquote>"This is not a document of domination, denial, or disengagement, but rather a program of action meant to marshal the best
practices and ideas of the progressive tradition in American foreign policy and adapt them to a rapidly changing world."</blockquote>It is my observation that while Europe and many Europeans would agree with that statement, the majority of the world is far from progressive, would not agree -- and they (and the Europeans) are not likely to be terribly fond or supportive of any policy that puts excessive emphasis on "American leadership." Thus, I suspect this proposal for strategic leadership is likely to be DOA.

<blockquote>" As the United States
revamps its counter-terrorism strategy, the highest priority should be given to preventing catastrophic terrorism."</blockquote>

Sounds great. I will certainly enjoy reading their proposals for even a few concrete methods to start accomplishing that aim just in this huge, open and very diverse nation, much less the world...

<blockquote>" The next president should
reaffirm that America seeks a world free of nuclear weapons."</blockquote>I have even greater anticipation with respect to this putting toothpaste back in the tube exercise.

JoshNarins (not verified)

Thu, 07/24/2008 - 9:30pm

I found Small Wars Journal when looking for Lt. Col Nagl. Coincidentally, I heard about the Phoenix initiative for the first time earlier today, on the Atlantic Monthly blog of Matthew Yglesias.

Let's just say, for sake of argument, I could adjust your entire framework for viewing both the problems of the world and their solutions. It seems to match reality, as far as I and my associates have been able to detect.

Pretending for a moment, that I actually could change the way you think about the world's problems, adjust your focus when considering problems of war, what would that be worth?

Are you offering me a job, if that is the case?