A New National Security Strategy in an Age of Terrorists, Tyrants, and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Three Options Presented as Presidential Speeches

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Korb, Lawrence J. A New National Security Strategy in an Age of Terrorists, Tyrants, and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Three Options Presented as Presidential Speeches. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2003.

Since the end of the Cold War and the subsequent demise of the Soviet Union, the United States has been in search of a new grand strategy. Over time, the question "What should be the postCold War U.S. grand strategy?" evolved into "What should the United States do with its preeminence?" The answers provided by the various erstwhile successors to George Kennan, who gave us the Cold War's "containment," have ranged from neo-isolationism-dubbed "strategic independence" by some of its advocates-to primacy, the consolidation and indefinite preservation of U.S. hegemony, of what had initially been thought to be a "unipolar moment." Some, most notably neoconservatives, have even made the case for a U.S. empire-primacy on steroids.

The declaration by the United States of a global war on terror following the attacks of 9/11 has done little to bring closure to the grand strategy debate. Indeed, the brutally manifest new threat and the response to it, particularly as formulated in the Bush administration's September 2002 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, and implemented in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, served to further fuel the debate. For many, the boldness, even arrogance, exhibited in the administration's security strategy, especially the explicit embrace of "preemption" and the aftermath of the Iraq campaign, have raised more questions than have been answered.

It is here that Korb, with this admirably concise and sharply focused volume, steps up to the plate. In the tradition of such previous Council on Foreign Relations Policy Initiatives as Reshaping America's Military by Korb (2002) and Future Visions for U.S. Defense Policy by Hillen and Korb (2000), Korb here lays out, in the form of presidential speeches, three alternative national security strategies.

As a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, former director of the National Security Studies Program at the Council of Foreign Relations, and former assistant secretary of defense, Korb possesses the intellect and experience this project requires.

The author takes as his point of departure the concerns-in some corners, furor-generated by the Bush administration's 2002 security strategy. Controversies surrounding four issues are highlighted: the embrace of preemption (and apparent abandonment of containment and deterrence); the willingness to sacrifice the principles of political and economic liberalism in the global war on terrorism by recruiting the likes of Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to the cause, for example; the inclination to go it alone; and the evident internal tensions and contradictions, particularly the call for maintaining and enhancing U. …