The word on the street is that the Administration will release its updated National Security Strategy tomorrow. Consequently, the news is full of hints and pundits are abuzz with prognostications. It’s been said to be a return to a cooperative diplomatic, economic and alliance-centric approach, and include a new focus on “home-grown” threats. Most predictably, it’s being heralded by many as a break with the Bush administration, which seems to still be the pinnacle of achievement in the minds of many. Surprisingly absent from the previews is any discussion of the roles the ongoing global economic and financial responsibility crises pose to security, despite recent comments from Secretary Gates. All in all, the buzz makes the new NSS sound like the Navy’s cooperative strategy on steroids.
All the details revealed to date and subsequent commentary and discussion seem to reveal no major departures from the Administration’s strategy-in-practice of the last 17 months. We’ll talk (a lot) before we shoot. We’ll try to get others to bear a hand with the heavy lifting. So the big question after the release will be what it always is after major policy announcements: will it work?
To try and answer that question, I’ll ask my own question: how’s it working so far? Well, here are some examples:
- Iran — No noteworthy departures from previous approaches or progress.
- North Korea — Nuclear program still chugging along, with the loss of a RoK national asset and 46 sailors dead as collateral costs. Relations spiraling and the “great powers” are looking less “great” every day.
- Russia — Successfully reasserting their influence–without major obstruction–in their near abroad. Appears to be winning in their battle against a U.S. national BMD system.
- China — Proceeding with a military buildup like none since the inter-war years. Flexing their muscles inside the first island chain and increasing their reach into the second island chain. Proving they’ll continue to support rogue states when it’s to their benefit.
- United Kingdom — Busy planning the funeral for the “special relationship”
- Israel — Increasingly finding themselves all alone in an increasingly harsh wilderness.
Thus far, the answer to “will it work” doesn’t look promising to me. What say you?
Chris van Avery is a Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The views expressed herein are his own.