Unconventional Conflicts in a New Security Era: Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

By Sam C. Sarkesian | Go to book overview
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9 The United States and the Emerging Security Agenda
Although Americans may disagree on what U.S. national interests specifically are, they mostly agree on the broad significance of U.S. national interests. This includes the following:
1. Survival of the American way of life
2. Protection and perpetuation of the American political system
3. Protection of the homeland
4. Survival and protection of America's economic system
5. A peaceful and stable world order

Further, according to President Bush's 1991 national security strategy statement, our interests and objectives in the 1990s include, "healthy, cooperative and politically vigorous relations with allies and friendly nations" and "a stable and secure world, where political and economic freedom, human rights and democratic institutions flourish." 1 Such interests are not limited to the immediate homeland of the United States. "If national interests are invoked only in those cases in which the homeland is directly threatened and its survival is at stake, then the concept is of little use-- indeed, waiting until then may be too late." 2 Translating these interests into security policy and strategy is difficult, given the uncertainties of the contemporary world. It is even more difficult when attempting to apply the specifics of national interests, to design a strategy, and to shape force postures in responding to Third World conflicts.

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