The Strategic Landscape, Domestic Imperatives, and National Security
Sam C. Sarkesian
Throughout the Cold War period, American domestic and national security agendas were linked primarily by superpower issues and ideological challenges. While some areas in the domestic arena had little to do with national security, the fear of nuclear war and the continuous challenge of Marxist- Leninist ideology constantly reminded Americans of a dangerous world. The victory of the Chinese Communists, the Korean War, and Vietnam, among other events, periodically and dramatically brought national security issues into the domestic arena with a vengeance. The security landscape seemed relatively clear and predictable. The clear adversary was the Soviet Union-- the Evil Empire. International politics were driven mainly by East-West issues emerging from the confrontations between the United States and the U.S.S.R.
The post-Cold War international environment, however, has dramatically changed the security landscape. As a result, the United States has entered into what is an agonizing period of reappraisal and rethinking with regard to its national security posture. All of this is complicated by the difficulty in drawing clear distinctions between domestic and national security policy. The 1992 presidential election campaign set the stage for the complexities that emerged in 1993. Not only did a new administration come to office, but in 1993 national security issues emerged from the shadows of the 1992 presidential campaign to virtually overshadow domestic issues. That election seemed to be based primarily on the American economy and domestic issues, almost precluding any serious debate on the international issues and American national security. This was the case even though one of the more compelling security issues was (and is) U.S.-Russian relationships. Many Americans also turned inward as the fear of strategic nuclear war with the Soviet Union faded with the dissolution of the Evil Empire. Indeed, some argued that military force had lost its utility; economic power was the real