Essays for the Presidency
A Century's Worth of Candidates and Their Advisers Make Their Cases
Rebooting Republican Foreign Policy
Needed: Less Fox, More Foxes
Getting the GOP's Groove Back
How to Bridge the Republican Foreign Policy Divide
The Clinton Legacy
How Will History Judge the Soft-Power Secretary of State?
Renewing American Leadership
Rising to a New Generation of Global Challenges
Reengaging With the World
A Return to Moral Leadership
Toward a Realistic Peace
Defending Civilization and Defeating Terrorists by Making the International System Work
Security and Opportunity for the Twenty-first Century
An Enduring Peace Built on Freedom
Securing America's Future
A New Realism
A Realistic and Principled Foreign Policy
America's Priorities in the War on Terror
Islamists, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan
Bridges, Bombs, or Bluster?
A Strategy of Partnerships
Foreign Policy for a Democratic President
Campaign 2000: Promoting the National Interest
Campaign 2000: A Republican Foreign Policy
Campaign 2000: New World, New Deal: A Democratic Approach to Globalization
A Republican Looks at Foreign Policy
A Democrat Looks at Foreign Policy
America's First Post-Cold War President
A Republican Looks at Foreign Policy
A Democrat Looks at Foreign Policy
The 1988 Election: U.S. Foreign Policy at a Watershed
American Foreign Policy: The Bush Agenda
The 1988 Election
Foreign Policy and the American Character
After the Election: Foreign Policy Under Reagan II
The First Term: From Carter to Reagan
The First Term: Four More Years: Diplomacy Restored?
The First Term: The Reagan Road to Détente
Beyond Détente: Toward International Economic Security
For a New Policy Balance
The End of Either/Or
Asia After Viet Nam
Policy and the People
The Presidency and the Peace
Two Years of the Peace Corps
U.S. Policy in Latin America
A Democrat Looks at Foreign Policy
Putting First Things First
A Democratic View
The Senate in Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy in Presidential Campaigns
Korea in Perspective
November 1952: Imperatives of Foreign Policy
The Challenge to Americans
The Foreign Policy of the American Communist Party
The Promise of Human Rights
Our Sovereignty: Shall We Use It?
European Legislation for Industrial Peace
Labor Under the Nazis
The Permanent Bases of American Foreign Policy
Political Factors in American Foreign Policy
Some Foreign Problems of the Next Administration
Our Foreign Policy
A Republican View
Our Foreign Policy
A Democratic View
The Senate and Our Foreign Relations
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1921-1924
American Foreign Policy: a Democratic View
American Foreign Policy: a Republican View
American Foreign Policy: a Progressive View
After the Election
AN ERA OF CHANGE
At the opening of the twentieth century, the United States began a quest similar to today's. The rise of American power, revolutions in technology, and great clashes abroad set the stage for a historic transformation. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson dominated the age, as they debated and labored to promote their visions of America's role in a new international system. In 2000, the world is again in an era of rapid change, reminiscent of a century ago. The vitality of America's private economy, the preeminence of its military power, and the appeal of the country's ideas are unparalleled. But as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher cautioned her colleagues, we must "expect the unexpected." A primary task for the next president of the United States is to build public support for a strategy that will shape the world so as to protect and promote American interests and values for the next 50 years.
At the end of the Cold War, President George Bush built on Ronald Reagan's legacy by beginning to adapt American foreign policy to the challenges of changed circumstances. Recognizing the importance of economic ties, his administration negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), supported a free-trade agreement with Chile as a step toward free trade throughout the western hemisphere, and promoted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group to bind U.S. economic interests across the Pacific. The United States then employed these regional initiatives to bring the global trade talks of the Uruguay Round to the edge of conclusion. Those initiatives have created the most powerful movement toward free trade in history.
The United States also took advantage of its preeminent position to push hard for peace in a number of vital areas. In the Middle East, the United States used its standing after the Cold War and the Gulf War to break old deadlocks at the Madrid Conference and to push the Arab-Israeli peace process to a totally new plane. The Bush administration sought to reshape the strategic landscape across Europe and Russia by uniting Germany within NATO in 1990, defining a new strategic concept for NATO in 1991, opening the alliance to former enemies in 1990 and 1991, and negotiating landmark conventional and nuclear arms reduction agreements to underpin the new security framework. U.S. ties with Russia reached an impressive level of effectiveness, as demonstrated by their cooperation in the Gulf War. U.S. links with China were also slowly improving after the Tiananmen Square tragedy, as the Bush administration handled sharp differences in a way that still enabled it to foster positive change. By the end of its term, the administration had created a climate of cooperation among the world's major powers.
CLINTON'S FLAWED APPROACH
President Bill Clinton's intelligence and his ability to synthesize policy and politics at home held out the prospect that he could build on Bush's initial efforts to redefine America's position in the world. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration never adopted a guiding strategy or even demonstrated a sustained commitment to foreign policy. As a result, Clinton has failed to define a new internationalism for the United States, thus letting historic opportunities slip away.
Clinton's foreign policies have been stymied by five flaws. The first, an unwillingness to remain committed to his own priorities, has been demonstrated by his drift on international trade. Clinton started with an encouraging emphasis on trade, perhaps because he inherited a signed NAFTA deal and a partial Uruguay Round agreement that he could not abandon easily. But after 1994, the Clinton administration changed its course: it made pledges for free trade, but the reality of its policies did not match the rhetoric. Instead, the United States demanded managed-trade quotas with Japan—precisely the wrong remedy for a country needing deregulation—until it was compelled to retreat. Fearful of alienating protectionist political constituencies, Clinton was unwilling to build on NAFTA or even to defend it. After deferring to the new economic isolationists, Clinton seemed surprised in 1997 when he could muster only about 40 out of 200 members of his own party in the House of Representatives to support his forlorn search for the authority necessary to negotiate additional trade agreements.
These mistakes have had lasting consequences. In the early 1990s, countries throughout Latin America were competing to negotiate free-trade agreements with the United States. Recognizing the strategic value of NAFTA, they wanted to connect their economies, societies, security, and even political systems to America. Today, no one in Latin America or elsewhere expects the current administration to follow through on its statements. Latin Americans proceeded with their own customs union, which has been negotiating new trade ventures with the European Union (EU) and Japan. When East Asian economies faced their greatest financial shock in generations—creating possibilities for structural reforms but also a need to fight protectionism with mutual liberalization—U.S. trade negotiators stood on the sidelines. Without the initiative and leadership of the United States, all participants involved in launching the global trade talks in Seattle last November approached the meeting defensively. So the new trade round was stymied by stalemate. Washington has the power to shape global economic relations for the next 50 years, but it has marginalized itself in this crucial area.
The White House's second flaw has been to erode its credibility by offering words that are not backed by actions; this has taken a special toll with U.S. allies. It is ironic that an administration that came into office proclaiming "assertive multilateralism" has dissipated America's energies as a coalition leader. The Gulf War coalition is in tatters, not surprisingly, after years of strong language about the dangers of Saddam Hussein's machinations, followed by only tepid and reflexive actions. Despite the American military's overwhelming superiority in Kosovo, at the end of the bombing its European allies concluded that they needed to create their own alternative to U.S. political and security leadership. After China harshly criticized Japan for agreeing to new defense guidelines with the United States, Clinton could not find one minute during his nine-day trip to China to stand by his struggling Japanese ally. The administration managed to boot out a U.N. secretary-general, but it has never developed a sustained, consistent strategy toward the organization that would serve U.S. ends. (Only a few years earlier, America had proved that a more constructive approach to the U.N. was possible when it built the Gulf War coalition and organized the repeal of the "Zionism is racism" resolution.)
The Clinton administration's third flaw is its inability to frame strategies supported by operations, which has particularly damaged its dealings with China and Russia. Neither one is the "strategic partner" that Clinton proclaimed. In fact, the distrust created by the administration has made it hard for the United States to cooperate with either country on long-term mutual interests. Sadly, the Clinton legacy with both China and Russia—the two great powers whose future paths remain uncertain and potentially unstable—is one of tense and suspicious relations that have been getting worse.
In the case of China, at first the administration linked human rights to normal trading relations, but it later backed down—a clear sign of weakness. Clinton then mistakenly promised the Chinese that the United States would not grant a travel visa to the president of democratic Taiwan, Lee Teng-hui; his subsequent reversal of that decision generated distrust and counterreactions that have increased dangers between Beijing and Taipei. During Clinton's high-profile trip to China in 1998, he neglected to explain serious security differences, ultimately misleading China and failing to prepare the American public for China's missile buildup, its nuclear espionage, and its crackdowns on democracy. Next, Clinton prodded Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rhongji to offer the United States concessions in exchange for Chinese membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) but then inexplicably spurned Zhu's proposal during a high-profile visit, thereby weakening China's reform efforts. The agreement with China on the WTO in November 1999, although welcome, only underscores that Clinton could have cut a deal earlier that was as good or better—avoiding a crisis that left unnecessary scars.
Clinton's Russia policy has discredited free-market economics, squandered money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and generated widespread anti-Americanism. His "Monroeski doctrine" and his comparison of the battle in Chechnya to the U.S. Civil War have encouraged both a view of state power that conflicts with a modern, democratic Russia and a revival of Russian imperialistic attitudes. The administration's indifference to Yeltsin's shelling of the Russian legislature, among other autocratic measures, revealed a blind spot in the importance of Russia's rule of law and democratic process. Clinton has never seemed to grasp the costs of embracing an elected czar, one who oversaw a privatization drive that turned into massive theft and who now presides over pervasive corruption. Not surprisingly, this system has failed to improve the livelihood of average Russians, setting the stage for future trouble.
A fourth flaw has been Clinton's uncertainty on when and how to use American power—frequently hesitating, then overcommitting, and regularly failing to match means with ends. This weakness has shadowed his initiatives to resolve humanitarian and ethnic strife with military intervention. His "nation-building" failure in Somalia was costly in terms of lives, the reputation of the United States, and America's confidence that it can deal effectively with such problems. The U.S. invasion of Haiti and its multi-billion-dollar effort to bring "democracy" turned out to be an unhappy reminder that supposedly good intentions cannot save a flawed policy. The United States continued to be drawn into miniwars in the Balkans without clarifying its goals or being honest about the ongoing commitment of human and material resources these U.N. "colonies" would require. The history of false starts and missteps was captured well by Clinton's own new "doctrine" on intervention in such conflicts: his words were at first stunning in their reach but were then quickly reinterpreted, leaving the world to conclude that America is confused, cynical, or both.
Finally, many of Clinton's ventures have the disquieting feature of being driven significantly by political polls and calculations; this perception has made it exceedingly hard for him to call credibly for bipartisan foreign policies. As Clinton's ad hoc foreign policies have frayed, the administration has lashed out at its critics, calling them isolationists. In fact, Clinton's inability to develop a foreign policy disciplined by sustained priorities, reliability, strategy, selectivity, and frankness has squandered opportunities. The president's mistakes have made it harder for him to complete work in areas—such as the Middle East and Northern Ireland—where he has invested considerable effort in bringing parties together for peace processes. The Clinton foreign policy style has also taken its toll abroad. The administration has caused too many countries to be weary, and even resentful, of the United States. The power of the United States is obvious to the world, but Clinton has failed to use that power wisely or diplomatically. His rhetoric has contained much hubris but little credibility. America is more influential if it speaks softly, but with firm conviction. If it asserts that it is committed to do everything, its commitments to everything are suspect.
Five principles distinguish a modern Republican foreign policy. First, it is premised on a respect for power, being neither ashamed to pursue America's national interests nor too quick to use the country's might. By matching America's power to its interests, such a policy can achieve its objectives and build credibility both at home and abroad. U.S. policy should respect the histories, perspectives, and concerns of other nations, but it should not be paralyzed by intellectual penchants for moral relativism. All states do not play equally important roles. Given America's responsibilities in the world, it must retain its freedom to act against serious dangers.
Second, a modern Republican foreign policy emphasizes building and sustaining coalitions and alliances. Effective coalition leadership requires clear-eyed judgments about priorities, an appreciation of others' interests, constant consultations among partners, and a willingness to compromise on some points but to remain focused on core objectives. Allies and coalition partners should bear their fair share of the responsibilities; if they do, their views will be represented and respected. Similarly, to have an effective U.N., the key nations that compose it must recognize that their actions—not their speeches and posturing in an international forum—will determine whether problems can be solved.
Third, Republicans judge international agreements and institutions as means to achieve ends, not as forms of political therapy. Agreements and institutions can facilitate bargaining, recognize common interests, and resolve differences cooperatively. But international law, unlike domestic law, merely codifies an already agreed-upon cooperation. Even among democracies, international law not backed by enforcement mechanisms will need negotiations in order to work, and international law not backed by power cannot cope with dangerous people and states. Every issue need not be dealt with multilaterally.
Fourth, a modern Republican foreign policy must embrace the revolutionary changes in the information and communications, technology, commerce, and finance sectors that will shape the environment for global politics and security. Because of these changes, people's aspirations—to exercise their free will and transform their lives—are rising in all corners of the globe. Communities of private groups, whether organized for business or social ends, will achieve results far beyond the reach of governments and international bureaucracies. The United States can leverage this dynamism to open minds and markets. America's foreign policy must promote these global trends. It must take practical steps to move the world toward greater freedoms and human rights. It should link itself to the agents of change around the world through new networks of free trade, information, and investment.
Finally, a modern Republican foreign policy recognizes that there is still evil in the world—people who hate America and the ideas for which it stands. Today, we face enemies who are hard at work to develop nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, along with the missiles to deliver them. The United States must remain vigilant and have the strength to defeat its enemies. People driven by enmity or by a need to dominate will not respond to reason or goodwill. They will manipulate civilized rules for uncivilized ends.
POWER AND ECONOMICS
A modern Republican foreign policy should apply these principles within a long-term strategy to promote peace, security, and liberty. America must capture the dynamism of the era and transform its new elements into the economic and security foundations for a future system. The United States and its partners need to link the world's continental regions within a global economic system that secures the benefits of integration while coping with the inevitable stresses of capitalism. Looking at the twentieth century, it is clear that peace is not ensured through closer economic ties alone; so the United States must navigate changing great-power relations, strengthen its alliances, and maintain unquestioned military superiority over dangerous regimes.
In the information age, America should promote an open architecture in order to capitalize on its greatest assets: a vibrant, innovative economy and a society that continually reinvents itself. American concepts of corporate governance, shareholder value, benchmarking, and the "value chain" are now discussed in executive offices around the globe. By incorporating advances in information and communications technologies into business processes, U.S. corporations have triggered gains in productivity similar to those achieved when companies learned how to reengineer their businesses using electrical power 100 years ago. The surge in e-commerce, already a $500 billion activity, is transforming business models again. Governments everywhere are turning to privatization and deregulation to help their countries keep pace. The American entrepreneur commands an awe that matches the respect accorded the American military.
The American private sector is a powerful, attractive magnet. But the U.S. government has not used this energetic force to transform others in ways that enable America to build on its successes. Instead, growth and market imbalances have led to the largest trade deficits in American history. Although U.S. markets are generally open to the world, too many others remain closed to the United States. Countries should embrace changes that will tap the vitality and genius of people around the world, improve their livelihood and health, and open doors to freedom. Government efforts to turn back the clock, even if well-meaning, will end up hurting people. Instead, governments and societies should help people adjust to and benefit from new possibilities. Therefore, a successful U.S. foreign policy must also be based on superior education at home, low taxes that reward work and risk-taking, and secure savings and pensions for retirees.
The United States needs a strategic economic-negotiating agenda that combines regional agreements with the development of global rules for an open economy. To link up with Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region, the United States should propose free-trade agreements, with either individual countries or regional groups. If India continues its reforms, the United States should offer it a new economic partnership beginning with those Indian sectors that are open to the world or can offer large public gains through deregulation. As a new generation of leaders gains authority in the Middle East, possible peace agreements can be buttressed by drawing these societies into information-age economics and integrating their economies into world markets. African countries seeking to abandon the old, failed state controls need the incentive of open U.S. and world markets for their emerging enterprises, as well as financial backing for serious reforms. The EU and the United States should follow the lead of their increasingly integrated businesses by opening even more sectors to cross-investment and greater competition, with the aim of achieving transatlantic free trade.
These agendas should be ambitious—ranging from farm products to e-commerce. Tariffs should be cut further. The United States should support innovative business ventures to streamline common standards. It should promote the deregulation and opening of vast new global markets for services—in areas such as energy, airlines, finance, and entertainment. The United States should apply successful regional precedents in economic and trade liberalization to other regions or to global negotiations through the WTO. By operating at the center of this changing network, the United States—the one economy with a truly global reach—should promote openness among regions.
If some regions are too slow to open their markets, the United States should move on to others. America should spur a competitive dynamic for openness and transparency. Competition can work wonders: when the United States pursued NAFTA and APEC, the EU finally felt the pressure to complete the global Uruguay Round trade negotiations. If others hold back in the new WTO round, the United States should repeat this strategy of regionalism with a global goal in order to break the logjam.
This modern Republican design recognizes the benefits of regional integration and seeks to harness it for global purposes; regional integration can help countries deal more effectively with transnational problems, such as the environment or narcotics trafficking. The practice of joint action within regions, especially by private-sector groups, can be expanded to deal with common political and even security issues. The history of U.S. foreign policy is full of examples of private parties—from missionaries to engineers—who forwarded America's belief in the future by helping others face the challenges of the day. The very nature of the "new economy"—with its rapidly adapting technologies, fast-paced change, and innovative spirit—will elevate the role of private parties; they will often surpass the government in their ability to resolve inevitable disputes. These parties are not zero-sum thinkers. The U.S. government should create a climate in which citizens can serve both the private and the public good. Prosperity with a purpose is an idea that reaches far beyond U.S. borders.
If America links its economy to those of key regions, it can also promote its geopolitical agenda. Deeper integration with Latin America, Europe, and East Asia will support U.S. security commitments as citizens of these regions recognize their common interests. At best, economic interdependence will be a new glue that draws partners close together. More modestly, creating common rules for open economies will connect private sectors and help manage a combination of cooperation and competition.
This blueprint expands on America's political and economic principles. It promotes open markets and open societies, the free flow of information and ideas, and the development of the private sector—all of which contribute to the growth of economies, middle classes, and liberties. If China, Russia, India, and others want to keep up, they will have to open up. This plan offers a positive program around which internationalists of both parties can rally to counter protectionists and isolationists. It also challenges America to sustain its openness, a feature that attracts great thinkers and doers from all over the world. It creates a dynamism that gives its diverse society cohesion and a shared purpose; and it safeguards liberty and freedom.
The public international financial institutions—especially the IMF and the World Bank—also need to be overhauled to match the demands of the information age and the globalization of financial markets. Considering how private-sector financial firms have changed in recent years, it is understandable that the Bretton Woods institutions of 1944 require major reengineering. First, the operations of the IMF and the World Bank must be more transparent, on-line, and real-time. They should fight corruption, which can drain both money and confidence. But they should not, out of technocratic hubris, usurp the proper roles of either creditor or debtor governments or of the private financial sector. A dependency on international bureaucracies for solutions to tough problems will dissuade national governments from taking responsibility for their countries' futures and will ultimately erode the legitimacy of both governments and international financial institutions.
The IMF still has a role to play in buffering national financial markets against shocks that threaten global stability, until self-help rebalances the capital movements. But the IMF must exercise this role in a fashion that does not add to long-term financial instability by encouraging risks for which investors are not willing to pay. Furthermore, since today's global economy (different from what it was 50 years ago) rests on private capital flows, the IMF must "bail-in" creditors, not bail them out. Private creditors must play a financial role in restructuring "national bankruptcies," just as when they have loaned money to companies in trouble; creditors can reschedule loans, take discounts, and extend more money during workouts. The World Bank should concentrate on helping people adjust to change. In poor countries, this agenda may involve improving basic health and subsistence needs while creating economic opportunities. In other low-income countries, the World Bank can assist in developing markets that will enable people to benefit from self-help.
ALLIES, ENEMIES, AND IN-BETWEENS
In pursuing a reinvigorated foreign policy, the United States first needs to overhaul ties with its partners and allies: its North American neighbors and its two primary partners abroad, Europe and Japan. Mexico, Canada, and the United States share an interest in building on their common democracy and prosperity by addressing problems that require greater regional cooperation—such as narcotics, the environment, and illegal immigration. To operate effectively overseas, the United States must ensure that it has a strong neighborhood at home. Transatlantic and transpacific alliances can go a long way toward ensuring security in the eastern and western parts of Eurasia, where in the past dangerous powers have threatened the United States. These partnerships can enhance America's ability to address the uncertain futures of China and Russia. The EU and Japan are also important colleagues in ensuring an international economy hospitable to growth, dynamism, and the creative spirit.
The United States should not be complacent about its allies' roles. Europeans say they want to shoulder a greater defense responsibility—and they should—especially when it comes to policing their own continent. But a wide gap still separates Europe's defense oratory and its actual spending on the necessary capabilities. The United States should encourage its NATO allies to face this reality and to recognize the mutual benefit in having European defense forces operating in close concert with the U.S. military through coalitions. Ultimately, an effective European defense arm will require serious participation by British, French, and German troops.
Japan should evolve gradually toward assuming more responsibility for East Asian security, in concert with America and its allies. Only the United States can help Japan's neighbors accept this historic adjustment, which is the key to transforming Japan's domestic opinion. As a start, Japan, the United States, Korea, and Australia should form closer defense ties. Over time, Japan's forces should be more closely integrated to support the U.S. military in Asia. These steps will strengthen the posture of the Pacific democracies toward North Korea, demonstrate to China that it should seek security cooperation (and not competition) with the Asia-Pacific democracies, and channel any increased Japanese capabilities into a reassuring framework.
Second, the United States and its partners face three great challenges in Eurasia: China, Russia, and India. China has been rising, Russia has been weakening, and India has been reassessing its outlook. These are the "big ones," and more mistakes with them could cost America dearly in the future. The United States must be realistic, not romantic, about the prospects for China and Russia. These states should be integrated into the economic, security, and political arrangements that America and its allies have sponsored, although we must be prepared to shield against these countries if integration is not possible. These countries are "works in progress"; they are not yet friends and are certainly not partners, but they need not be enemies. The United States and its allies should explain to both China and Russia the steps that can build on shared interests and lessen differences. Ultimately, America will evaluate its own ability to cooperate—and the world will assess America's willingness to do so—based on concrete actions, not photo opportunities.
India, the world's largest democracy and before long its most populous nation, will play an increasingly important role in Asia. To grow and prosper, it will need to adjust to the global economy. To contribute to its prosperity and regional security, India will need to lower the risk of conflict with its neighbors. And to have influence with India, America must stop ignoring it. A more open India, possessing a broader understanding of its place in the world, could become a valuable partner of the United States in coping with Eurasia's uncertainties. In addition to proposing trade and investment liberalization, the United States should open a regular, high-level security dialogue with India on Eurasia and the challenges to stability.
Third, North America, the EU, and Japan need to reach out to the next group of potential partners. In varying degrees, moving at different paces, countries in central and eastern Europe, Latin America, and East Asia have been opening private markets, building middle classes, and developing representative democracies that respect individual liberties. But these countries have been subject to enormous stresses. With Latin America in particular, the United States has resumed its old, bad habit of overlooking its neighbors until problems compel it to pay attention. Resistance is slowing the momentum for democracy and free markets that Latin America kicked off a decade ago. More debt defaults, rising populism, frustrations with the lack of tangible results from economic reforms, and narcotics traffickers seeking to control governments all threaten to eclipse the movement toward what should be a historic and strategic achievement: a fully democratic and prosperous western hemisphere.
Fourth, the United States must counter those dangerous states that threaten its closest friends, such as Israel, or its vital interests, such as maintaining access to oil in the Persian Gulf. In dealing with the likes of Iraq and North Korea, the United States needs to offer consistent long-term directions to guide coalitions that will deter and even replace their brutal regimes. Concessions to blackmail and threats, even if they serve as temporary expedients, will exacerbate these problems. The United States must retain the initiative so that its opponents are so worried about what America is planning that they cannot plot attacks or new forms of blackmail. Theater and national missile defenses will let the United States counter missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction from those countries that might target U.S. conventional forces or paralyze the United States if it intervenes against their threats. Time is on America's side—not that of these decaying dictatorships—if the United States has the confidence and determination to stand up to, and if necessary defeat, its enemies.
America's leadership in the next century requires a strong military, wisely used. The Clinton administration has too often relied on the U.S. military to bail out speculative diplomatic ventures that turned sour. Concurrently, America's military has been cut back some 40 percent. At some point, doing more with less just becomes doing less with less. Given the current demands on the U.S. military, the Pentagon has made the troublesome choice of trying to fund present needs at the expense of future capabilities. This spending improvisation is divorced from the administration's own plans. As the military equipment bought in the early 1980s ages, the armed services are spending more and more funds just to keep old planes, ships, and tanks operating. The administration's undersecretary of defense called this quandary a "death spiral." The chair of the joint chiefs of staff called it a "nosedive." These are strong words. The failure to prepare for the future will become sharply apparent during the next decade, when the wheels start to come off the weapons purchased some 25 years ago. As one Marine general said, "If parents are uncomfortable sending their sons and daughters to college in 25-year-old cars, what will they think about sending them into harm's way in 25-year-old helicopters?"
The challenge for the next president is not just to spend more on defense but to spend wisely. In transforming its defense strategy for the future, the United States should seek to align the military's strength with the nation's strengths: America's people and technology. U.S. companies that have not incorporated the revolutionary advances in information and communications technologies have been swept away by their competition with surprising rapidity. The Pentagon cannot afford to run a similar risk. The United States must invest in a combination of sophisticated sensors, information technology, real-time communications, and precision-guided weapons that will enable the individual services to fight together seamlessly in joint operations. Future networked forces should be smaller, quicker, easier to deploy, more dispersed, and able to destroy targets with fewer sorties and greater "standoff" capabilities. They must be able to act together when executing discrete missions—such as suppressing air defenses, achieving complete air dominance, and destroying small, mobile targets—that will be vital in the new security environment. They will need "more teeth and less tail." At the end of the day, gutsy soldiers in muddy boots will still have to hold ground, but they need to be the fastest to get to decisive points, with the most precise firepower to support them.
This transformation will take time. In many respects, technology is the easy part. The challenge is to integrate technology into new operational concepts, doctrines, and organizational structures—and then to practice them. (In June 1940, the French army had more and better tanks than the German army, but the panzer leaders knew how to use blitzkrieg operations to overwhelm France within weeks.) The experience of the private sector points the way toward a smart, modernized defense for the future. Like private business executives facing new challenges, the next generation of military officers needs clear goals to guide change—and strong support in making the country's forces achieve these goals. Only the president can establish these goals and provide the needed leadership.
The Pentagon can also learn from the private sector about cutting costs. Although the cost of civilian information-technology systems has fallen tremendously, the price of analogous military systems has not. Like other professional organizations, the Defense Department must focus on its core missions and outsource supporting activities. In leading this transformation, the next president must also challenge America's allies to keep up. In critical areas, U.S. allies in Europe and the Pacific can share significant burdens and make major contributions. In order to fight together, their forces must be interoperable. And allies should assume greater roles in peacekeeping operations, supported by unique U.S. capabilities and backed by the hammer of its robust force.
THE RIGHT TRACK
As Americans enter a new century, the history of the last one may inspire a sense of both caution and opportunity. The United States in 1900 seemed to have unbounded potential. But the first half of the twentieth century involved frightful costs. And although America achieved great accomplishments over the past 50 years, these came at a high price of lives, money, and national attention. Now a new generation must chart a course for America amid revolutionary changes in technologies, economies, societies, and weaponry. It is a mistake for the United States simply to react to events. America needs a strategy that blends traditional truths with the opportunities of a networked marketplace and a modernized army. It must be realistic about human nature and conflicting interests while being optimistic about the world's potential. America must deploy its power wisely, selectively, and consistently to mold an international system that will enhance its influence in future events. Drawing on this influence, modern Republicans believe they can work with like-minded Democrats so that America can advance both its interests and its ideals. America's potential is extraordinary, and so is the world's. It is time to get on the right track.
Editors' Note: Democratic views will be published in forthcoming issues.