Americas Suicidal Statecraft

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Over time, it voluntarily signed up for the institutions of a system that would contain the competition, such as the Helsinki Final Act of Arms control, transparency, and confidence building treaties followed. In the end, the Soviet Union ceased being a revolutionary power and became a satisfied power in Europe. The same concept — taking steps to gradually and inexorably create a context that produces desired changes rather than dispatching military forces or implementing economic sanctions to force those changes overnight — can and should be the starting point for a revised conception of the international order.

With properly employed statecraft, values that Americans believe to be self-selling goods, from free markets to human rights to democracy, ought to prove attractive of their own accord. But the primary goal of such a strategy would be to encourage established and emerging trends toward liberal values rather than force them into infertile soil.

In the process of executing this strategy, the United States should eschew military intervention for humanitarian purposes except in select cases. Those would include situations in which the United States can obtain fairly universal endorsement in the form of such signs as U. Security Council support.

America's suicidal statecraft in the Middle East - Daily News Egypt

This rule would generally avoid throwing American weight behind region-wide revolutions, especially those that are likely to wash up on the doorsteps of other great powers. Washington should not cease being a beacon for democracy, but it also should think carefully about where democracy promotion is liable to engender political crises that could translate into security contests. The United States can amply fulfill its commitment to liberal values without disregarding the sovereignty or interests of other major powers. It can craft closer and more overtly supportive partnerships with rising democracies, boost foreign aid to developing countries that are building nascent democratic systems, expand humanitarian assistance missions and programs, and advance technical assistance and human capital development programs around the world.

Third, the revised approach to U. Secretary of Defense James Mattis — like many recent secretaries of defense — has spoken repeatedly and passionately about the importance of placing diplomacy at the forefront of U. Read in isolation, however, and considered alongside recent boosts in defense spending, 56 the new strategy documents seem to convey a vision in which the United States amasses military might to reaffirm U.

In an era when leading competitors are discovering effective means of bolstering their influence outside the military lane and below the threshold of conflict, while also investing heavily in the capacity to offset U. Direct competition, contesting regional balances of power with Russia and China, and a capability-centric approach continue to dominate the national security mindset.

Placing statecraft before military power would amount to a tacit acknowledgement that the United States is overburdened by an expansive alliance network in which the credibility of extended deterrence is every day more difficult. Arming the regional adversaries of powers like Russia and China, or further expanding existing alliances, will have profound consequences, as these great powers have both the will and the power to enact stronger and destabilizing countermeasures. This requires exercising judgment in the choice of weapon systems and forces deployed on Russian or Chinese borders.

It demands choosing deterrence over dominance in such theaters as the South China Sea, aiming to block potential Chinese aggression with far less expectation of power projection. However, it does not preclude creating other forms of affiliation, cooperation, and partnership beyond what has become a myopic fixation on NATO expansion.

As this last example suggests, the fourth and final characteristic of implementing a revised approach in U. These are major, resilient, and nuclear-armed adversaries, and there is no getting around the fact that these illiberal states will have a say in the order, just as the Soviet Union did before them, and just as the great powers did in the eras prior to the Cold War.

Some believe that this is the Manichean choice that confronts the United States in Europe and Asia and that no acceptable middle ground exists on which Russia and the West, or China and the United States, can each see their vital interests upheld while the rules and institutions of a shared order persist. There is now a tragic degree to which this has become a reality. For the foreseeable future, the U.

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In order for relations to stabilize, some form of settlement must come into place concerning Ukraine. And that may take a while. The current confrontation is not only likely to be the new normal, it is also certain to continue as long as Putin is in power. There is no deal to be made with him for two reasons. First, there is a broad political consensus in Washington that, after interference in the elections, Putin is de facto beyond the pale, and any condominium with him would be tantamount to betrayal.

Even if the executive branch were so inclined, Congress has dramatically curtailed its ability to make any deals with Russia. For much of the policy establishment, the confrontation with Russia is, if not personal, highly personalized when it comes to Vladimir Putin.

Were he to stay, the problem would remain much the same. Russia not only should be constrained, but also dealt with — and the only effective way to strike the necessary balances will be through statecraft rather than missionary confrontation. Absent a change in approach, the same fate will befall U. Such an outcome should never have been expected. Some Chinese provocations would be incompatible with central rules and norms of any meaningful international order: paramilitary aggression against the Senkaku Islands, military adventurism to claim sovereignty in the South China Sea, an unprovoked attack against Taiwan, or accelerated economic espionage and coercive industrial policies against outside companies.

The United States should lead multilateral processes to deter such actions though not always with military threats, even in the case of military aggression. The risk today is that the U. The conflict will then become total and ideological, just as it has with Russia. Yet, if the United States has failed to cow or isolate Russia, the prospects for doing so with China are virtually nonexistent.

Simply put, American power, both relative and absolute, is insufficient to underwrite the order as it is currently conceived. When a predominant power, convinced of its indispensability, and viewing the world through the lens of moralism rather than statesmanship, holds so tightly to an immovable reading of shared rules and norms, it can provoke unnecessary opposition and perhaps even trigger a disaster.

This new approach would lay down a few hard and fast rules designed to sustain the fundamentals of a rule-based order — prohibitions on outright territorial aggression, destructively predatory economic policies, and actions taken to disrupt and fracture the politics and societies of other states — but otherwise it would be open to compromise and half-measures.

At the same time, it would work even more energetically to gain truly multilateral support for that narrower set of rules. A new consensus limiting Russian-style political interference, for example, is likely to require painful concessions on U.

A revised strategic mindset would redouble efforts, and offer bold compromises, in order to achieve or renew bilateral arms agreements with both Russia and China. The changing military balances in Europe and Asia-Pacific call for regional security arrangements, treaties, and political agreements on behavior in global domains, such as cyber or space. A more robust American military presence should be coupled with stabilizing initiatives in conventional arms control and measures to drive the competition into stable deterrence rather than security dilemmas and spiral decision-making models, which Washington can doubtfully afford to sustain.

As the single superpower with both global responsibilities and burdens and a normative vision for the international order, the United States has everything to defend, and only stands to lose from an uncontrolled competition. History offers valuable lessons here. This period led to formal arms control agreements, recognition of political borders, military confidence-building measures, and economic and cultural exchange along with an acknowledgment of the importance of human rights.

Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions

Then, as now, the policy establishment was looking to find its footing in the face of American decline in its predominance in both military and political spheres. Today, similar forms of political, economic, and military agreements can be part of the recipe for reducing tensions with Russia and structuring the competition such that the United States retains leadership without eroding the order — that is, if the settlements become a way of reestablishing the order rather than forsaking it.

In sum, then, a new U. This does not mean that the United States should abandon its efforts to hold them to some standard. Quite the contrary. It is only by reining in its absolutism and behaving in a more multilateral and flexible fashion that the United States is likely to gain the global support it needs to sustain the most essential rules of the post-war order. And it is only by addressing the rising grievances of these two potentially dangerous revisionist powers — rather than simply declaring those grievances illegitimate — that the United States will begin to create the basis on which China and Russia themselves feel able to compromise.

At the same time, to succeed in the intensifying competition now underway, the United States will have to face the reality that if it does not get its own economic, political, and social house in order, it will be increasingly weak and vulnerable regardless of its military prowess.

Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower

Americans have now elected four presidents in a row who claimed that making America strong internationally meant, first and foremost, attending to the domestic sources of national power. Yet pressing issues like exploding debt, entitlement reform, a crumbling infrastructure, criminal justice reform, climate change, political polarization, and information security, to name a few, continue to beg for solutions. But that will require the political will to conceive of bold answers.

Major progress on several of these issues would do more to set back the ideological challenge of China and Russia and reaffirm the American model as the one to emulate, than any conceivable addition to the defense budget. The strategic moment, in other words, demands a lighter and more flexible touch abroad combined with bold action at home. Left unattended, however, the missionary mindset of U.

In his seminal speech, John F.

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Kennedy rejected these rigid formulations, arguing that. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead.

  • America’s Suicidal Statecraft by Shlomo Ben-Ami - Project Syndicate.
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He holds A. He has been a faculty member and associate dean at the U. National War College, president of the Henry L. Stimson Center, senior vice president for strategic planning at the Electronic Industries Alliance, senior fellow and journal editor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, legislative assistant for foreign affairs and chief writer in the office of Representative Dave McCurdy, and special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He served seven years in the U. Navy Reserve, in both enlisted and commissioned ranks, as an intelligence specialist.

The views expressed here are his own.

ISBN 13: 9780465002528

Kofman holds a M. See also Eric S. We would suggest he has defined the required elements of a strategy of primacy too narrowly.