We live in a time with and without precedent. In the blink of an eye, we went from a fairly predictable, and yet dangerous world, where security was framed as a balance of power between the United States and former Soviet Union, to a global interdependent era. Despite this paradigm shift, the United States government and our thinking is still by and large stuck in a Cold War mentality.
Our limited ability to address a Post Cold War world is typical when rapid change occurs and careers are sustained by the previous dominant era. This generational divide by itself has positives. But a nation as great and powerful as the United States must continue to look forward and lead. Otherwise, we run the risk that our influence will substantially diminish around the globe. Therefore, the question is: can we integrate all generational perspectives to create a modern national security framework?
The national security paradigm shift presents our Nation with two distinct challenges. The security concerns from Cold War era continue and must be managed, perhaps for many decades. At the same time, the new paradigm includes four interrelated issue groups that transcend national borders:
*Global Environmental Change/Resource Management;
*Economic Interdependence/Risk Management of Financial Markets;
*International Terrorism/Weapons of Mass Destruction;
*Emerging Infectious Disease/Food Related Illnesses.
One can never predict the future, but it is entirely possible that another group or two may emerge. The key point is these 21st century threats will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation, engagements, and information sharing that was improbable to consider a few decades ago.
Since 1947, our nation has spent trillions or dollars prosecuting a Cold War strategy. We have the best defense, the best technology, the brightest minds, and well trained solders. But just like a championship football team, a good defense and offense is required.
Our new offensive international security team must have the resources, experts from all disciplines, and independence from existing national security infrastructure. This group must have the explicit support of the president and report directly to him. A modest core group can be formed by identifying the best and brightest from every government agency, laboratories, and the private sector.
It is perfectly fair to ask why a new group is required to make the transition to a new security framework. Can't the existing national security infrastructure simply shift gears with a simple call from President Obama?
History is loaded with examples of why a two track approach is needed to proactively address the security imperatives of any era. The typical pattern is that when a new reality for national security emerges the status quo fights back. For instance, Billy Mitchell was court-martialed after the First World War for having the temerity to suggest that air power was critical to national security. Likewise, when missile power became an essential element to Cold War national security, the bomber leadership at the Strategic Air Command fought back.
The global security issues we face today and into the future are many times more complex. Yet, we have proven that a new path can be successfully navigated. FDR had the good sense to realize that if the Department of Defense had the sole authority to invent the atomic bomb internal fighting may potentially delay or kill off the project. The Manhattan Project remains a stroke of genius. President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative is another, if not limited, example of how a separate group was created to develop a ballistic missile defense.
The United States is in a unique position to lead the way in this endeavor. Our political experiment created one nation while allowing small nation states to thrive under one sovereign entity. Unity and diversity coexist. Ideally, our model can serve as a template for the type of international cooperation required to address the cross border security issues affecting the world community.
The president can kick this off with a special address to the Congress, the American people, and the world: the formation of the 21st Century Global Security Initiative. The president will empower the Council to harvest the trillions of dollars invested in technology and research during the Cold War and redirect our wealth of knowledge to a towards a new endeavor. All of America's ingenuity and political creativity will be needed to help our country compete and thrive in an interdependent era. Moreover, international cooperation is required to help all nations. We have already seen that any country, regardless of size, can impact the economy, environment, energy, health, and security of any nation around the globe.
The work of the 21st Century Global Security Initiative will be on going for decades. It will be anything but easy. Cynics will argue that it cannot be done, it's impossible, and doomed to fail. Such thinking runs counter to everything America has stood for over the last 200 plus years. The American political experiment continues to succeed because every generation dares to dream and break through man made barriers.
Now is the time to begin anew. World leadership for all mankind by the greatest country on Earth.