According to the National Security Strategy outlined by the George W. Bush Administration in 2006: “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. In the world today, the fundamental character of regimes matters as much as the distribution of power among them. The goal of our statecraft is to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.
This is the best way to provide enduring security for the American people ” One can surmise that America's security lies in its relationship with the rest of the world in as much as it must concern itself with its domestic affairs, looking after the well-being of the American people ranging from education to (social) welfare. Any presidential administration realizes that despite giving attention to these important needs, they must not take for granted securing the peace of the United States.
When one speaks of America's national security, this is not limited to the borders of the United States but extends beyond it, where its strategic interests lie, as well as acting as the world's “global policeman,” ready to respond in times of distress when other nations are incapable of addressing their problems. This entails a commitment to support through providing assistance in a all forms and in most extreme cases, intervene in order to restore order in the world. Since the 20th century, history has shown how America's involvement in world affairs has brought order in the face of turmoil caused by war.
This was underscored in America's participation in two world wars and the occasional “police action” in some trouble spots around the world. It is because of this that America is often the proverbial “go-to guy” whenever there is trouble in the world. This makes it respectable in the eyes of the international community system. It should be noted that this has been recently defined by the (second) Bush Administration following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and has included terrorists as a significant threat and how to deal with them.
The question now is if this strategy continue to be relevant 10 to 15 years from now. It is foreseen that in the next 10 or 15 years, the world is moving towards globalization to the point that it would be a “global multipolar” world based on the international system by 2025. Analysts have identified factors that would contribute to this system – the rise of incipient world powers, globalization, a transfer of wealth and power from west to east and the increasing role on non-state actors in the international arena.
In addition, there are also unlikely shocks and surprises that could not be predicted in the absence of indicators that could prove it and may be forthcoming. Given this likely scenario, it is foreseen that by 2025, the United States will be less dominant compared to what it was in the 20th century . This is due in part to the participation of many actors from both state and non-state entities that will make an impact on the social, economic and political landscape of the world.
In the face of the changes that will take place between now and 2025 and despite the perceived “downgrading” of America's dominance or supremacy, it cannot be avoided that the United States will still have enemies; some are known, others are potential adversaries and there will be those that have yet to be identified plus other “surprises. ” Despite America's status as a world power and perhaps the greatest benefactor in the world, there will be those who will continue to resent it and are bent on doing harm to it, one way of the other. These enemies range from nation-states to subnational or non-state actors such as terrorist organizations.
Their motives for wanting to take on the United States also vary from challenging America's role as a world power in an attempt to dislodge it from its lofty position or to be motivated by resentment or revenge on America for its wrongs, real or imagined. Besides “physical” enemies. There are also so-called “wild-card” scenarios, unlikely or unexpected situations that can also threaten the national security of the United States such as a financial crisis and even a global epidemic or pandemic that could rival the Black Death of the Middle Ages .
In terms of nation-states and not counting several of America's military misadventures, enemies of the US have varied. There were some smaller nations with arrogant authoritarian governments like Panama that dared take on the US after becoming rather inotxicated with power coming from their misguided sense of nationalism and patriotism which gave them a false sense of confidence and rival powers like Germany and Japan during the Second World War as well as the Soviet Union and China (under Mao Zedong) during the Cold War that underestimated the capabilities of the US to take them on when the shooting started.
It is rather interesting to note that during the two world wars, the US never got involved in the beginning of hostilities, joining only the moment they were provoked, as they have done when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. It can be inferred from these past events that whenever the United States would commit its forces to war, it always makes sure they have “moral supremacy” besides the material supremacy which has always been instrumental in their victories in these conflicts.
By championing freedom and democracy, Americans reaffirm the values they cherish and at the same time advances their interests beyond their borders in promoting these values. Americans abhor tyranny of all forms and would never tolerate or let it reemerge within American soil. Likewise, they would not permit tyranny to prosper overseas for in the long run, they could threaten the security of the United States and other nations of the world, especially if it involves weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Such nations create an atmosphere of fear, especially nation-states adjacent to the state in question . At present and looking ahead, it is by far anybody's guess which nation-state would be a potential adversary of the United States as far as challenging it is concerned aside from the ongoing war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the moment, one has to look at the potential flashpoints around the world. Wherever there are flashpoints, it would be very likely that the United States would be involved militarily.
America is likely to be involved because any conflict that would erupt in these flashpoints would have a far-reaching effect on its national security as well as that of the world as well. West Asia (Middle East). Biblical prophecies aside and with the exception of the current war in Iraq which has yet to have closure, the Middle East has been one of the troublesome spots in the world. The likeliest trouble spots in the region would be those involving Israel and its Arab neighbors on one hand and Iran on the other. The United States has been the “traditional” ally of Israel ever since the formation of the Jewish state.
Fortunately for the US, Israel's neighbors have been forging peace agreements with its erstwhile adversary through American brokerage. By far, terrorist groups pose a threat to the security of the region and to the US as an act of reprisal towards these developments. This shall be discussed further on how America deals with non-state entities. Another flashpoint in the region is Iran. Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the formation of an Islamic Republic, Iran has maintained a hostile attitude towards the United States, even calling it “The Great Satan.
” What worries American policymakers is Iran's ambitions of developing nuclear technology which they fear would be used to develop weapons of mass destruction and they might be tempted to use it against them in one form or the other. Iran as the potential to be an “economic tiger” as it is capable of producing a generation of young people today who would be its work force for the future, and they are far from being brainwashed fanatics of the 1980’s sent to their deaths fighting Iraqis.
They are mostly college graduates and even some have advanced degrees and they could be the pillars of Iran’s modernization. What the west fears is these technocrats might encourage the development of a nuclear energy program for Iran. Despite its claim of using it for beneficial purposes, conservatives in Washington believe Iran might develop nuclear-grade weapons with it . Iran continues to adopt an anti-Israel policy which has been in place since 1979. The two states used to be very close during the Pahlavi Dynasty of Iran, being a non-Arab state despite being Muslim.
They even had a tacit military agreement. The theocratic government that deposed the Shah made Iran’s foreign policy do a sudden about face and is committed to seeing to Israel’s destruction. By far, Iran’s anti-Israeli commitment is to train and arm the Hizbollah terrorist organization notorious for suicide bombing attacks within Israel. This is further heightened by announcements of developing their own ballistic missile that is capable of reaching Israel. As far as national security is concerned, Israel is a nation that takes threats seriously.
The Iraqi Scud attacks are never forgotten and they do not belittle Iran’s claims of its capability. Israel is also known for its proactive national security strategy that entails conducting preemptive military offensives like what they did when they bombed Iraq’s only nuclear power plant in 1981. Should Israel do that, this would be something Iran would not take sitting down and respond and the instability in Iraq may benefit the Islamic republic. As stated before, Iran continues to assume a hostile attitude towards the United States, as evidenced by calling it the “Great Satan.
” Short of engaging the US openly in combat, Iran’s terrorist “clients” also conducted terroristic acts against US interests in the region. On a larger stage, they are also building up their military capability with the prospect of dominating the Persian Gulf region and attempting to challenge America’s naval forces in the body of water which they believe is theirs, owing to the fact it is called the Persian Gulf and therefore have the right to roam along it as they please. Having nuclear weapons at its arsenal could very well tip the balance in Iran’s favour knowing that conventionally, they are no match for America’s military might.
East and Southeast Asia. In this seemingly peaceful region, the possible threat or adversary the United States could face here is North Korea and China. The armistice of 1953 may have brought about the cessation of hostilities in the Korea peninsula but it did not officially end the war. As far as the parties involved are concerned, the state of war still exists in the peninsula which could break out anytime which is why one needs to tread lightly in this region lest they reignite the conflict.
South Korea enjoys one of the growing economies in the region which would rival its neighbor Japan and also Taiwan. Conflict in this region could destabilize not only the peace but the economies of the said countries and North Korea would be the most obvious culprit. North Korea has an anachronistic regime whose attitude has never changed since the Korean War despite the change of leadership following the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994 and the succession of his son Kim Jong-Il.
The regime is very much anti-American and has proven it time and again in several hostile acts against American forces along the Korean peninsula since the armistice . Like Iran, North Korea has been developing a nuclear program and despite the difficulty in getting any information from this reclusive communist society, political and military analysts believe North Korea is capable of developing nuclear weapons which is further underscored by its frequent test-firing of ballistic missiles which sends war jitters in South Korea and Japan.
Pyongyang also claims to develop a longer-ranged missile that can reach US territory such as Alaska and Hawaii and this is a major cause for alarm on the part of Washington which responded with frequent joint military exercises with South Korea to go along with the peace talks and reunification efforts. Given the unpredictability and uncertainty of the political climate of North Korea, one can surmise in expecting the worst . In his novel, The Bear and the Dragon, Tom Clancy has provided a hypothetical yet fictional glimpse on the possibility of the threat China poses to the peace and security of the world.
Even though pundits see China content on being a regional power rather than a global power, one cannot help but not discount the possibility of China's ambition to become a global power. This image is nothing new as China boasted of being one thousands of years ago. If Clancy’s novel is to be used as a hypothetical model, economic concerns would be one of the reasons that would make China go to war. If China’s economy would go bankrupt, its only recourse would be to do what Japan did in the 1930’s – aggression. Their target would be the resource rich Siberia .
China is bound to upset the balance of power in the region by taking on Russia. Then there is the issue of Taiwan which Beijing has threatened to invade to bring it back to the fold. This would be the most likely conflict China would have with the United States as the US Navy regularly patrols the Taiwan Straits to keep the peace. China recently announced that it has developed an anti-ship missile capable of sinking their vaunted aircraft carriers but as far as America is concerned, this is nothing new as they used to face the former Soviets who had that capability and have developed measures to counter it as well .
This would probably be the only other conventional war the United States would fight short of using nuclear weapons. Besides these two, a possible “wild card” would be Japan. Another Tom Clancy novel, Debt of Honor, provides yet another “hypothetical” scenario on how another war could break out between the United States and Japan and it would be quite different from how it was during the 1930's and 1940's.
Instead of political leaders, a resurgent “zaibatsu” or business conglomerate would be the one to initiate conflict by using their influence on government officials due to strong patron-client relations practiced in Japanese society. It would be a case of history repeating itself again though this is very unlikely. Despite helping rebuild Japan after the Second World War, conflict between Japan and the US is mainly cultural in nature as both sides try to assert one another’s will over the other in the economic arena but would not be enough to start a new war between the two.
Besides nation-states, one must not also discount non-state actors as potential enemies of the US. Since the 1970's, terrorist groups have begun to demonstrate that they are force to be reckoned with on the international stage. By far, the boldest attack terrorists made against the US was the one on September 11, 2001. It is foreseen that terrorists might try something even more bolder and more devastating and this is where weapons of mass destruction is brought into the equation.
Even though America’s nuclear resources are secure, other nations with nuclear capability is suffers from lax security measures which makes their nuclear, as well as resources for manufacturing biological and chemical weapons prone to theft or pilferage by terrorist groups or those colluding with them. Tom Clancy’s novels, The Sum of all Fears and Executive Orders show how it could be possible to bring in WMD’s and employ it in American soil. Though fictional, this hypothetical scenario shows how plausible and likely this scenario is .
What can be inferred here is that today’s terrorist and those of the future will be smarter than before and become more clever and cunning to accomplish their goals. They know one of America’s weakness is its blind adherence to the letter of the law and democracy itself, with their talk of human rights and dignity as well as the laws that guarantee it, and they would not dare stoop low to their level which they will exploit to the hilt and contrary to what sceptics say, American soil can still be attacked by terrorists .
Given these threats to the security of the United States and the other democratic nations of the world, what can America do to make the world safe for democracy? It is presumed that succeeding administrations would follow the national security strategy laid down by the (second) Bush Administration. The most obvious response would be intervention but there is also a strategic component in the grand design of America’s national security. It would not limit itself to employing its vaunted military might, but at the same time employ its “gentler” side through economic aid to developing countries, especially to enemies like Iran.
America must know why some nation-states resent them and thereby address them appropriately rather than respond militarily to every attack against their citizens and their interests . Despite peaceful overtures, this does not mean America will not reserve the right to use its military might on those that mean it harm. America will continue to uphold its “tradition” of never fighting a war of aggression and will only fight for just causes notwithstanding a few military misadventures, whether their freedoms are threatened or at the behest of an ally, they stand ready to respond anytime. America’s armed forces has been equipped for that purpose.
Corollary to this, given the war on terrorism, the US must be prepared to adapt to the conditions dictated by low-intensity conflict where conventional means is not always the answer. It is for this reason that America has developed unconventional warfare capabilities that is up to the task . While this may not be the ultimate solution to eradicating terrorism, it intends to serve notice that America is not weak and will respond with greater force and would never let an affront or a violation of its freedom go unanswered. This is America’s commitment not only to its people, but also to the international community for the years to come.
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