Adam Mount

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Policy Roundtable: The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy

Policy Roundtable: The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy

In this roundtable, we asked our chair, Van Jackson, to write a prompt essay on the future of progressive foreign policy, and had each of our contributors respond.

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                    [post_content] => *Editor's Note: We have also published a roundtable on the future of conservative foreign policy that you can find here.


1. Prompt Essay: Wagering on a Progressive versus Liberal Theory of National Security

By Van Jackson Progressives are in search of a collective voice on foreign policy and national security.[1] As one senior Democratic Senate staffer confided to me over the summer, “I keep asking, ‘What is a progressive national security policy? Are we a bunch of progressives on education, healthcare, etc. who happen to do foreign policy and it should look the same no matter who’s in charge? Or do we have a distinctly progressive outlook on the world that we’re trying to implement as practitioners?’” Until recently, the left has been unable to reliably answer these questions and it’s understandable why. For one thing, the progressive movement is intellectually diverse. Self-identified progressives range from committed socialists to left-leaning neoliberals and — at the extreme edges of the movement — both hardcore pacifists and anti-fascist militants. Progressives have considerable differences of opinion about capitalism, using force to achieve political ends, and America’s role in the world. In general, the progressive voice has also historically been muted when it comes to foreign policy, which has partly to do with its modest resourcing and representation. Since the Cold War, the Democratic Party has been captured by the politics of “third way” liberalism.[2] At home, it vacillated between Roosevelt-era, New Deal-style social welfare politics and an alliance with unfettered capitalism, increasingly favoring the latter over time. Abroad, the “third way” amounted to sustaining the once taken-for-granted and now much-contested “liberal international order” — essentially a foreign policy premised on U.S. military superiority underwriting a series of global institutional, economic, and human rights commitments. At most, these “third way” positions only ever partly reflected the priorities of political progressives. The left’s chronic under-representation within the Democratic Party extends to its presence in the “ideas industry” as well.[3] Authentically progressive ideas are scarce in the Washington think tank landscape, and progressive mega-donors tend to finance domestic policies and projects, not foreign policy.[4] Constrained in all these ways, progressives have failed to articulate their own “theory of security” — a term of art referring to how their preferred pattern of foreign policy decisions defines and realizes U.S. interests. The lack of one, as Vox reporter Zach Beauchamp concluded, has meant that “foreign policy debate tends to be conducted between the center and the right.”[5] Indeed, the inadequacies of U.S. foreign policy traditions may exist because progressives have a history of rarely showing up analytically to foreign policy fights. But while these limitations have prevented the left from cohering around a clear theory of progressive national security, it’s possible to tease one out of the progressive worldview all the same, and that progressive vision partially accommodates America’s default position of liberal internationalism: Regional balances of power and alliances still matter, and there is a role for both the U.S. military and international institutions. But the progressive theory of security also makes its own analytical wagers, requiring alterations in key areas of the national security agenda — namely re-scoping the size and shape of the U.S. military, emphasizing political and democratic alliances, rebalancing how international institutions work, and pursuing mutual threat reduction where circumstances allow. Saving Liberal Internationalism from Itself America’s traditional theory of security consists in a mix of realist and neoliberal beliefs: military superiority, alliances, economic interdependence through global capitalism, and international institutions to legitimate and sustain the entire enterprise.[6] By pursuing all of the above — it’s typically conceived of as a package deal — the United States is able to keep open a stable international trading system, maintain balances of power in key regions of the world, and minimize the prospect of arms races and interstate wars.[7] Democrats and Republicans have assigned greater or lesser weight to different elements within this formula, but both parties have upheld the basic meta strategy over time. Progressive principles are not entirely hostile to this theory of security. Despite its intellectual diversity, the progressive movement has a common core emphasizing the pursuit of a more just world through democracy, greater economic equality, and human rights protections, as well as opposition to imperialism and authoritarianism.[8] Progressives are also conditional advocates for the rule of law and international institutions. As leftist author Michael Walzer has argued, “We still need global regulation by social-democratic versions of the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization…”[9] More controversially, there are strongly ingrained biases against the military in some quarters of the left.[10] “Anti-militarism” is an emotionally loaded and imprecise term, but it translates into inherent skepticism about the value of both military spending and the use of force abroad. Taken together, these principled positions and attitudes logically require alterations to America’s longstanding theory of security, but not a wholesale rejection of it. From Military Superiority to Military Sufficiency The traditional realist foundation of U.S. national security has been military superiority — ensuring the U.S. military can “deter or defeat all potential future adversaries.”[11] This theory presumes that the capability to prevail in any plausible conflict is necessary for the United States to make credible threats against adversaries and credible reassurances to allies.[12] Military superiority also sustains regional balances of power, ensuring that no other state in Asia, Europe, or the Middle East can exercise hegemony or control of their region. Even in a progressive government disinclined to call on the Pentagon to solve problems, the U.S. military will need to be capable of projecting power into key regions, making credible threats, and achieving political objectives with force and minimal casualties if called on to do so. But a force structure sufficient to meet these purposes might be achieved without the endlessly increasing requirements of military superiority. A standard of military sufficiency — as opposed to superiority — is both analytically plausible and more morally congruent with progressive principles for several reasons. First, the U.S. military is traditionally sized to win in temporally overlapping wars in different regions, but the Pentagon’s force planners have assumed very little help from local allies in those fights — this fact is obvious from the massive size of the U.S. military. Yet, looking across the globe today, there is no plausible conflict that would ensnare only (or even primarily) the United States. And in any case, progressives have a consistent track record of opposing unilateral wars of choice. Second, the idea that it takes military superiority to prevent other states from dominating their regions involves some dubious assumptions about the ability of military power to prevent other countries from exercising international political influence. Stopping others from controlling a region does not mean the United States must be able to exercise regional control itself. As such, there is a case for making America’s security more entwined — not less — with the security of regions of interest by making U.S. force structure more networked with trusted allies and partners. This could meaningfully reduce the defense budget, and the only real risk it would entail is in the assumption that friends will provide significant contributions to a fight involving U.S. forces. It also potentially makes the dirty business of war a more democratic and less imperious endeavor by wagering that “multilateralizing” force structure to a degree tamps down on the tendency to opt into ill-advised conflicts. Military sufficiency potentially ties the hands of future presidents, making them less able to launch unilateral wars, and simultaneously increases the likelihood that any conflict involving large numbers of U.S. troops will be multilateral and cooperative. It would also befit the analytical claim — which some on the left already make[13] — that the world is less dangerous than the Pentagon supposes, implying that a posture of military sufficiency would not hazard any great geopolitical risks. Preserving Democratic Alliances In liberal internationalism, alliances are a means by which the United States deters aggression against its allies. They also make it possible for the United States to reliably project military power into key regions, and serve as a unique means of exerting influence in world politics. Not only do alliances act as mechanisms of risk management by controlling the aggression of allies under threat, they have also been a means of preventing nuclear proliferation.[14] The default theory of security bets that these advantages of alliances far outweigh the calculable downsides. Progressive principles are not necessarily at odds with the traditional reasons for the United States upholding military alliances. In fact, a wide range of progressive thinkers writing on foreign policy have also endorsed sustaining U.S. alliances,[15] though with some qualifications. Progressives are quick to emphasize political — not just military — commitments at the state and sub-state level, and take a very circumspect view of allying with illiberal actors.[16] The idea that “[w]e should act abroad only with those who share our commitments and then, only in ways consistent with those commitments”[17] implies solidarity with democratic countries who see their alliance with the United States as a source of security. But it is likewise a rejection of “[p]olitical and military support for tyrannical, predatory, and corrupt regimes.”[18] Because one of the principal threats to U.S. security in the progressive view is the spread of authoritarianism and fascism,[19] the United States must keep faith with democratically elected governments that rely on an alliance with the United States for their security. That includes NATO as an institution, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. But where allies turn autocratic or become incubators for fascism — such as Turkey or Hungary (both NATO members) — a commitment to the individual country will have to be tenuous, as a matter of principle. An illiberal state’s membership in an alliance institution will not prevent U.S. policy from promoting solidarity with anti-authoritarian forces within that country. NATO will not be a shield that implicitly permits the growth of illiberal, reactionary politics in Europe. Alliances are also crucial to a progressive theory of security to the extent the United States seeks to divest itself of the military superiority imperative. As argued above, moving to a concept of military sufficiency without simply becoming isolationist (which itself would be anti-progressive) requires maintaining allies. It would be logically untenable to seek international solidarity with likeminded countries and peoples abroad while destroying alliance architectures around the world — one action would undermine the other. And where the abdication of an alliance is likely to lead to nuclear proliferation, conflict, or the spread of fascism, the alliance may have to stay in place as a short-term exception to the rule. But even then, the principle of supporting only democratic actors remains. In sum, then, the progressive theory of security requires fidelity only to democratic alliances, and any expansion of the U.S. alliance network is likely to emphasize political support first and military support last, if at all. Reforming International Institutions U.S. foreign policy debates routinely center on the merits of sustaining the mélange of international institutions that constitute the “post-war” or “liberal international” order: the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization, among many others. These institutions play an essential role in how U.S. liberal internationalism conceives of keeping America secure.[20] Collectively, they preserve a stable international trading system that facilitates conflict-deterring economic interdependence. The existence of international institutions also allows many (not all) nations around the world to escape the predations of international anarchy. The belief in reliable institutions lets many liberal-democratic states be liberal and democratic in their foreign policies — by focusing on trading relations and taking for granted the appearance of international stability. In the liberal internationalist theory of security, this partly explains why neither Europe nor Asia has experienced interstate wars in more than a generation — an architecture that combines U.S. military superiority and alliances with international institutions. It’s a package deal. The institutions part of that deal preserves a “capitalist peace”[21] through economic interdependence, and at the same time encourages many states to opt out of militaristic foreign policies. The left embraces international institutions in principle because they promote multilateralism, the rule of law, and can help attenuate conflict — all of which favor justice and egalitarianism. But some international institutions must be repurposed or reformed to serve a more democratic, and less corrupting, imperative. This is not just about justice for its own sake, but rather that justice, in the form of equality, lessens the likelihood of war. Progressives believe that yawning gaps in economic inequality are a structural cause of conflict. As Bernie Sanders remarked in 2017: “Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own country. This planet will not be secure or peaceful when so few have so much, and so many have so little…”[22] A progressive security policy would therefore bet significantly on international institutions, but in qualified ways that differ from default liberal internationalism. It would seek to essentially save capitalism from itself by regulating it. At the international level, this might translate into a more democratic distribution of voting rights or agenda setting powers in international financial bodies — especially the World Bank and IMF — and a more relaxed attitude toward economic protectionism in instances where fairness or just labor practices are called into question. Although anathema to the traditional liberal bargain, these steps would serve as a means of attenuating giant wealth transfers across borders, as well as the political corruption that often accompanies those transfers, as dictators around the world have learned to “play” globalization processes to enrich themselves.[23] Such regulations of capitalism might also dramatically elevate the importance of the International Labor Organization, a moribund body that for decades has promoted not labor but rather pro-market deregulation trends.[24] But the larger point is best summarized by Bernie Sanders: “[W]e have got to help lead the struggle to defend and expand a rules-based international order in which law, not might, makes right.” The progressive theory of security wagers on the same institutional arrangements that make up liberal internationalism, but argues for their reform, in order to address the inequality gap, transnational corruption, and authoritarianism, thus prioritizing long-term systemic causes of conflict, even if it might risk the “capitalist peace” in the near term. Mutual Threat Reduction The final, and most distinct, element in the progressive theory of national security — one that’s absent from America’s default posture toward the world — is what might be called mutual threat reduction. If the progressive sensibility leads to the military being treated as a policy tool of last resort, progressives would have to prioritize the use of diplomacy to attenuate the threat landscape as a compensatory move. There is a defensible logic in this wager, because deterrence — managing threats by making threats — is not an end in itself but rather a means of buying time.[25] The ultimate success of deterrence derives from whether the time bought was used to ameliorate the conditions that gave rise to the need for deterrence in the first place. In the progressive view, diplomacy in the name of mutual threat reduction takes on concrete meaning: arms control, Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, and international regimes that regulate technology development, transfers, and use. These kinds of initiatives are not new to U.S. foreign policy, but the progressive theory elevates their importance, and justifies taking a certain amount of risk in pursuing them with greater gusto. Progressive principles commit the United States to doing the spade work necessary to discover whether real and potential adversaries are willing to restrain arms competitions or increase transparency into their military thinking, and to reciprocate when they do. Such a probe may require limited unilateral gestures from the United States. Advocates of realpolitik may see no reason to ever trust the intentions of an enemy or shrink U.S. advantages in military matters. But progressives should be willing to accept some amount of geopolitical risk — while stopping short of naiveté — in the name of, not only probing, but nudging the intentions of a threatening adversary toward the goal of mutual accommodation. In 2012, the Obama administration made a fleeting attempt at getting beyond mutually assured destruction with key competitors like Russia and China to reach a place of “mutually assured stability.”[26] The premise of that forgotten project — that recognized that probing and stimulating opportunities for threat reduction is an essential part of avoiding unnecessary future wars — would be renewed in a progressive security vision. More importantly, it would become a preferred starting point for evaluating all strategic issues, from North Korea to arms races in emerging technologies. Playing the Long Game There are significant continuities between the liberal internationalist theory of security and that of progressive internationalism. Nevertheless, the divergences are not trivial. The table below summarizes these distinctions. Table 1. Comparing Progressive and Liberal Internationalist Theories of Security [table id=10 /]   The progressive wager is not without risks. The process of changing American foreign policy in this way may jeopardize certain sources of stability that the progressive worldview takes for granted. But it also addresses long-term sources of recurring conflict that liberal internationalism ignores. Every theory of security amounts to a bet with distinct tradeoffs and risks. The progressive bet is that the American interest is best served by having a more peaceful world, and that’s only possible by pursuing greater justice and equity, and opposing tyranny wherever it arises.   Van Jackson is an associate editor at the Texas National Security Review, a senior lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. He is the author of On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War (Cambridge University Press, 2018). The views expressed are solely those of the author.  

2. Back to Basics: The Core Goals a “Progressive” Foreign Policy Must Address

By Heather Hurlburt Both supporters and opponents of what gets marketed as “progressive foreign policy” base their definitions of it on a series of tactical litmus tests. Progressive foreign policy, one typically hears, must oppose militarism, interventionism, and alliances with dictators. However, by using this narrow definition, progressive thinkers fall prey to an error that has swept across American foreign policy thinking more broadly. Successful national strategies typically flow not from tactical choices — the how — but rather from fundamental goals — the what for. Progressive foreign policy should be aimed at achieving core progressive goals for society: improving economic justice and social cohesion, defending democratic institutions and norms, and fostering a patriotism in which diverse identities belong and flourish. Rethinking U.S. Interests American foreign policy thinkers, overall, need to take a step back and consider what goals for society they seek to promote — and what dangers to society they seek to avert. Much of what has been published on the topic in recent months seems to assume that the interests protected and promoted through U.S. foreign policy are set and unchanging, as is the way in which they interact — or don’t — with what happens outside America’s borders. Essay after essay has failed to engage with the profound challenges facing institutions, norms, economic equality, community security, and social cohesion, not just in the United States but in many other societies as well.[27] Those assumptions are wrong. Two hundred and thirty-five years of America’s history have seen repeated shifts in the national consensus around what foreign policy was protecting Americans from, and how it was achieved, as well as pitched battles among ideological, financial, and other interests when a prior consensus fell apart. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton famously disputed which great European power posed the core threat to the new American experiment. Would the radicalism of the French Revolution (which Hamilton called the “caricature of human depravity”) prove a “debauching influence” on the United States? Or would the status quo of Britain’s political and economic dominance snuff out the unique character of American institutions, if not liberty itself?[28] Elites of the 1920s and 1930s were slow to focus on fascism as an existential threat, assuming that existing institutions and allies could handle revanchist new powers, whose goals might very well be exaggerated.[29] That elite indifference to foreign threats was replaced, after World War II, by a bipartisan consensus that the threat posed by global communism required not just a security response, but political, economic, and cultural ones as well. The decades that followed the Cold War have failed to produce a national consensus about the policies and messaging that connect security, economics, norms, and institutions. The Trump era has laid bare many weaknesses of U.S. foreign policy, and created some new ones. At the same time, elite American politics are scrambled, and definitions of foreign policy orthodoxies are up for grabs. Some progressives align with a bipartisan camp that sees great power competition as the paramount challenge.[30] Others give allegiance to a movement that conceives itself as anti-war or anti-militarist, and which sometimes crosses partisan lines to encompass notable conservative and libertarian thinkers, such as Andrew Bacevich. Curiously, neither camp engages deeply with the issues that are motivating younger progressive voters, as well as the civil society and activist groups that have seen the most growth and energy since 2016.[31] When those activists — and future office-holders from the left and center-left — engage with international issues, their focus is most likely to be climate change and a knot of interrelated issues surrounding poverty, insecurity, human rights, discrimination, and migration.[32] Opposing those competing strands of progressive thought are President Donald Trump and his “sovereigntist” allies. This group sees “globalism,” and a range of efforts aimed at “global governance, control, and domination,” as the main threats to “American sovereignty and our cherished independence.”[33] This sovereigntist, or nativist, approach posits a straight line between socio-economic dislocations at home and malevolent actors overseas. Progressives don’t have as clear a story of how developments they favor abroad impact communities at home. Nor have they built the intellectual or personnel connections between progressive approaches to domestic and foreign affairs. Those gaps undercut any ability to achieve policy ends. Writing about “weaponized interdependence,” Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman point out that, under conditions of contemporary globalization, “economic institutions, which were created to promote efficient market interactions, have become powerful sites of political control.”[34] This dynamic poses a threat to core domestic institutions and progressive priorities and inserts international affairs into what was once the domain of domestic policy experts alone. U.S. national security strategists ought to recognize as much, regardless of their ideological position. Progressives in particular ought to focus on three areas where those connections are vital: The prosperity and sustainability of American communities depend on choices the United States makes in the global economy, as well as at home; U.S. democratic institutions and norms are subject to a withering stress test driven, in part, by a rival autocratic model with global reach; and the project of constructing a cohesive American identity that thrives on diversity is under profound pressure from that rival autocratic model, aligned with profoundly regressive forces inside the U.S. A national security strategy that fails to evaluate policies on how they further these goals is not “progressive” — nor is it a particularly good strategy. Economic and Social Cohesion In the past, it was obvious to U.S. foreign policy thinkers when foreign powers posed a threat to American prosperity and way of life. Take, for example, Britain’s imperial system, with its chokehold on certain products and trade routes following American independence, or Soviet communism from the 1950s to the 1980s. But the belief in the unipolar moment in the 1990s — that no alternatives to American-style capitalism remained to challenge the United States following the end of the Cold War — got the foreign policy establishment out of the habit of connecting the construction of global economic arrangements to the realities of how Americans lived their lives at home. At the same time, economic globalization shifted control of Americans’ daily economic lives from the realm of domestic affairs to international affairs, as corporations consolidated away from regional headquarters, supply chains globalized, and the influence of financial markets dwarfed that of managers.  As long as the U.S. economy continues to perform well, it is tempting for foreign policy strategists to decide that the United States can keep its nose out of international economic affairs. But that view is ahistorical — successful foreign policies have always incorporated economic fundamentals, while foreign policy failures have often occurred because planners neglected to account for the resources needed to support their plans. Moreover, if the aim is to develop an expressly progressive foreign and security strategy, then there is no excuse for many recent strategic proposals that ignore the economic and social considerations that are fundamental concerns of progressivism.[35] A progressive American foreign policy should have three economic pillars: ensuring the basic health and sustainability of the U.S. economy, addressing inequality, and attacking absolute poverty both at home and abroad. (Progressives can debate the relative importance of the three.)  Grand strategists, then, need to have a clear understanding of the foundations of the U.S. economy that they are promoting. They must also be judged on whether their view of grand strategy has expanded to include climate, energy, and other challenges too — as my colleague Sharon Burke has argued.[36] Increasingly, too, as Van Jackson’s leading essay in this roundtable rightly emphasizes, progressive security strategists need to care about inequality. Strong social science evidence warns that inequality — and public perceptions of inequality — undermine faith in democratic institutions.[37] Over the last three decades, inequality has surged in the United States, in other industrialized economies, and in many emerging economies.[38] Economists cite multiple factors as possible contributors to this stubborn trend, including shifts in how capital moves and is accumulated, trade-driven downward pressure on wages, replacement of skilled and semi-skilled workers by automation, and the failure of national governments to implement redistributive and retraining policies to match the scale of changes in patterns of capital and trade movement.[39]  This dynamic of rising inequality affects the cohesion of the European Union and NATO, as well as the rise of populist authoritarianism, spanning from Brazil to Sweden to the Philippines. And it interacts with preexisting racial and gender prejudices to heighten volatility around policy areas that have a transnational component, from migration and refugees to international organizations to trade. America’s international economic policy choices have contributed to the rise of inequality through several of those factors, not just trade. This means, however, that the United States also has multiple levers to shift them in the future — if it is willing to use them, and if it is able to leave behind the current administration’s unilateral blustering in favor of strategic coordination with other countries that face the same societal pressures. Future administrations will face a weakened global economic architecture, giving them the freedom to integrate creative strategies into overall thinking, from the future of U.S.-E.U. trade to rejoining a World Trade Organization (WTO) reform process. The creative thinking is out there: Jennifer Harris has written thoughtfully on a renegotiated bargain with U.S. global business.[40] Climate thinkers have made a range of proposals for how existing international economic structures can speed progress toward a low-carbon economy.[41] Washington has now isolated itself from talks over WTO reforms, which seems to have had the regrettable effect that progressive policy thinkers are not engaging with the possibilities there as much as they might. Institutions and Norms Post-Cold War foreign policy has seen American institutions and norms as givens, neither challenged from abroad nor even affected by strategic choices. But in the history of the American experiment, that attitude is an anomaly. Thomas Jefferson saw an alliance with French republicanism as the preferable path to defend, and perhaps even spread, the American form of government; Alexander Hamilton saw the stability and spread of British structures as a better bet; George Washington preferred studied neutrality between London and Paris. (Jefferson thus inaugurated the grand American tradition of excessive optimism about regime change.) As has been typical ever since, actual U.S. foreign policy wound up being a little of each. Certainly, the early Cold Warriors saw the Soviet threat to U.S. institutions and norms, as well as those of U.S. allies, as a profound one. Anti-communism was the major driver for much of American foreign policy. It was used to justify initiatives from the moon shot to the Civil Rights Act. But it also led to McCarthyism. Joseph McCarthy’s legacy may make it uncomfortable for progressives to assert that American democracy is under threat from without as well as within. Yet more progressives agree on the profound contemporary threat to U.S. democracy than one might expect. Consider two recent statements:
The return to rivalry was inevitable, if tragically so. It is rooted in a clash of social models — a free world and a neo-authoritarian world — that directly affects how people live. China and Russia are very different powers with different strategies, but they share the objective of targeting free and open societies to make the world a safer place for authoritarianism.[42] … [W]hat we are seeing now in the world is the rise of a new authoritarian axis. While the leaders who make up this axis may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, constant paranoia about foreign plots, and a belief that the leaders of government should be able use their positions of power to serve their own selfish financial interests.[43]
The first is from the center-left Brookings scholar (and contributor to this symposium) Thomas Wright; the second, from Sen. Bernie Sanders. But if a broad range of foreign policy thinkers — and 63 percent of Americans who identify as Democrat or Democratic-leaning[44] — agree on the threat that contemporary authoritarian states pose to U.S. institutions and the American way of life, they have not coalesced around a plan for what to do about it. Sanders calls for a variety of measures to fight economic and political corruption at home, including “reconceptualiz[ing] the global order,” participating in “an international movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people,” and standing for “unity and inclusion” in the face of “division and hatred.”[45] But Sanders’ October 2018 speech offered no specific policies aimed at shoring up NATO, building coalitions of pro-democracy forces, or combatting the challenges of cybersecurity, election meddling, and propaganda meant to heighten societal divisions. Wright, by contrast, calls for a “free world” strategy that seeks to deter Russia and other authoritarian meddlers by “focusing as much on measures short of general war — such as economic weapons and political interference — as on large-scale military buildups.”[46] But he skips over the possibility of strengthening and reforming American institutions so that they can better resist outside pressures, writing, “[T]he American system is too open to protect fully.”[47] The reality is that the United States will have to do a little of both: shoring up its institutions — and Americans’ trust in them — as well as developing more effective methods to push back against authoritarian regimes, including deploying the tools of an open society against authoritarian regimes. The peculiarities of the Trump administration’s Russia policy have delayed a number of commonsense bipartisan measures related to election security and broader cyber concerns, while think tanks that include leading Democrats have developed proposals for comprehensive public-private response strategies.[48] It is surprising to see how many so-called progressive national security strategies pass over the challenges to America’s democracy, Identity and Belonging Finally, as many commentators on the future of democracy have noted, one of the key battles at the moment is over identity and belonging.[49] The United States and other democratic societies are becoming internally divided in ways that spill into foreign affairs, repudiating notions of the state as a unified, monolithic entity. Cities are conducting foreign policy and are taking the lead in responding to progressive priorities like climate change.[50] But right-wing populists, authoritarians, and even white nationalists have built effective international cooperation — with profound consequences. In response, Wright wants to invigorate democratic alliances, ratcheting up pressure on non-democratic allies as need be. Sanders wants to build global popular movements.  But for either approach to succeed, the U.S. national security community itself is going to have to wrestle with issues of identity and belonging. Too many specialists avoid engaging on issues that connect international affairs with nasty domestic politics — from the prejudice and restrictions against Muslims with U.S. citizenship and those counted as key allies in the fight against terrorism, to U.S. foreign policy toward Central America and the crisis of family separation at U.S. borders, to the racialized resentments that simmer just beneath the surface of trade policy. But national security and foreign policy, as fields, can’t flourish apart from domestic policy. And the Trump administration’s rhetoric has shown that, where internationalists are reluctant to wade in and draw connections to Americans’ daily life, nativists will take their place. Finally, for avowedly progressive thinkers to fail to engage identity and diversity is unacceptable. The field of writers recognized as qualified to opine on national security strategy lacks the diversity of background, gender, age, and experience of the progressive electorate, or even of progressive officeholders. The strategies they have put forward fail uniformly to engage with the prejudice, discrimination, and violence that are core security concerns for large numbers of progressives — and likely driving motivators for the next generation of progressive leaders. Finding a synthesis between the best of what the tradition of grand strategy has to offer and the reality of the goals and members of contemporary American progressivism is the essential task for any progressive national security strategy.   Heather Hurlburt runs the New Models of Policy Change Initiative at New America. Her career at the intersection of politics and foreign policy includes stints in the White House, State Department, and Capitol Hill, as well as extensive experience in advocacy organizations.  

3. Principles for a Progressive Defense Policy

By Adam Mount Like other foreign policy doctrines, progressive internationalism is grounded in a set of moral principles. Progressive internationalists believe that the United States must represent a force for good in the world — not just good as Americans see it, but a kind of good that any reasonable society could accept for itself. Progressives grasp intuitively that global perceptions of U.S. actions are important to both their success and their moral acceptability. In practice, these principles oblige American foreign policy not only to support the capabilities of American citizens to lead lives that are healthy, fulfilling, and free, but to also do the same for foreign citizens. The best recent progressive foreign policy proposals are directly motivated by these principles: a global democratic movement to confront the ascendant nexus of transnational neofascism, authoritarianism, kleptocracy, and corruption;[51] a major investment in international development, global health, and diplomatic efforts;[52] trade policies intended to reduce global inequality;[53] and global environmental sustainability. It is not only a moral imperative but also the most effective means of securing America’s interests: Just as democracy, health, controlling inequality, and sustainability are important to a healthy polity, they are similarly important to creating a stable and peaceful world in which that polity can exist. The same principles can also underwrite a progressive defense strategy, though applying them to defense is less common. National defense needs the moral guidance and skepticism that progressive internationalism can offer. Progressives begin from the recognition that the threats America faces are generally neither existential in nature nor susceptible to resolution by military force.[54] In Washington, threat inflation is commonplace and there is an overwhelming tendency to defer to the advice or recommendations of military officials, even where there is little evidence that military force can resolve a given problem. Though the Department of Defense has abandoned its plan to concurrently fight two wars in two different theaters, other unrealistic maximalist standards have taken its place. Strategists commonly seek to expunge threats rather than to prevent their emergence or manage their consequences. The unrealistic requirement to operate freely any time, anywhere has replaced defense of the homeland and allied territory with defense of the forward deployed joint force. Waste is rampant and persistently immune to oversight. War is apparently endless. Force planning is disconnected from threat assessment. Preventive and diplomatic policies have given way to an overwhelming tendency to see military force as the primary means of addressing strategic challenges. In short, Washington has fallen to militarism.[55] The standard slogans of the left remain valuable: Progressives support diplomatic and preventive solutions over military mitigation, multilateralism over unilateralism, cooperative threat reduction, and arms control over arms racing. However, slogans are not enough. As they seek power in Congress and the White House, progressive internationalists must present a vision not just for national security but for the structure and function of the military in a world where U.S. hegemony is in relative decline. This vision must recognize not only the dangerous tendency of uncontrolled American militarism to crowd out domestic obligations, provoke arms races and instability, and erode American moral authority around the world; it must also plan and posture to meet America’s moral obligation to defend free peoples from war and to intervene in humanitarian disasters, including through the use of force when necessary and effective. A Military Without Militarism Progressives remain intensely concerned about the corrosive effects the national security state has had on the country’s ability to sustain a healthy domestic polity. In recent years, reflexive militarism has impeded the fiscal and democratic foundations needed to sustain a just society. Defense spending now approaches $700 billion, accounting for about 55 percent of all discretionary spending. Financing that spending with debt has exacerbated economic inequality by borrowing from the wealthy,[56] been used to justify an endless string of tax and domestic spending cuts, and deferred the costs to future generations. The sheer magnitude of the sum crowds out domestic efforts on education, federal health care and poverty alleviation, scientific research, environmental protection, non-defense foreign policy, and a wide range of other essential functions. In recent decades, Congress has deliberately cut these accounts to the bone — and then started to slice away bone. As a result, the United States is no longer able to meet its essential obligations to provide for the health and welfare of its citizens. Even these levels of spending are apparently not enough. Defense officials warn that the country’s “competitive military advantage has been eroding” and that America faces “a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory.”[57] The interminable wars in the Middle East are no closer to victory. Defense officials commonly warn that the United States is losing its technological edge. “The last decade,” Chairman Dunford said last year, has “threatened our ability to project power and we have lost our advantage in key warfighting areas.”[58] The Air Force says its needs to add more than 70 new squadrons, from 312 to 386; the Navy is requesting funding to grow from 286 to 355 ships; and the Army is seeking 80,000 new recruits for an increase of 11,500 more soldiers than in 2017.[59] The Department of Defense is purchasing new fleets of aircraft carriers, submarines, fighter aircraft, tankers, and trying to replace nearly the entire nuclear arsenal. No appropriation will ever be enough. The military has an obligation to attempt to maximize security to the greatest extent possible within the limits set by civilian leadership. However, successive administrations have avoided making hard choices about military strategy, and Congress has an abiding tendency to defer to the Defense Department on questions of force structure. As a result, the United States lacks a rational process to size its military. At the same time, the escalating cost of military hardware and appalling waste means that U.S. forces are spread increasingly thinly across the globe, exacerbating the perception that the United States is losing its competitive edge. A dysfunctional congressional process that reflexively privileges defense over other discretionary spending needs is only one of the alarming effects that militarism has had on American democracy. A progressive administration should endeavor to reverse the deleterious consequences of the militarization of American foreign policy, democracy, and civic life. Improving transparency of military missions and capabilities,[60] ending unitary nuclear launch authority,[61] restricting the transfer of military technology to civilian law enforcement, resisting the trend of appointing current and former officers to cabinet positions, sharply limiting electronic surveillance of U.S. and allied citizens, ending the treatment of immigrants as a military threat to be addressed with military methods, and reclaiming Congress’ responsibility to declare and authorize war are all steps that would help to restore democratic oversight of military policy. Rescinding the blank check 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force is a necessary first step.[62] A progressive internationalist administration should not only slow the growth of, combat waste in, and more carefully evaluate defense spending, it must also reduce defense spending — both as a proportion of the federal budget and in absolute terms. Consistent with their efforts to transform national healthcare, progressives should have no reluctance to ensuring that every American veteran can access mental and physical care, job services, housing, and a competent Veterans Administration.[63] Supporting American veterans is not only a solemn obligation but should be understood as an eliminable cost of war. A Moral Military The United States is fond of saying that its alliances are predicated on shared values and interests, but this was only ever selectively true. Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and Saudi Arabia are all in various stages of descent into authoritarianism, autocracy, or fascism. Unconditional support for these states corrodes America’s moral standing and devalues the word “ally.” A global effort to support democracies will require a revision of certain alliance commitments to ensure they do not contradict this or other American objectives. Serving as a force for good in the world means allying with those countries that similarly serve as a force for good, and resisting those that do not. A progressive administration should also examine not only the democratic values of alliance partners but also the strategic and humanitarian consequences of arms sales agreements that often accompany alliance commitments. Decades of wars in which U.S. soldiers and civilians were killed with American-made weapons led the Obama administration to issue new guidance to “take into account” the human rights and broader records of recipients when evaluating arms transfers. Yet the outrage of American-made munitions killing Yemeni civilians and causing an appalling famine demonstrates that these restrictions were not enough.[64] To decisively end U.S. complicity in such atrocities and persistent conflict, a progressive administration should establish binding — not just rhetorical or aspirational — restrictions on transfers to countries engaged in human rights abuses or other actions that run contrary to U.S. objectives. Serving as a force for good in the world means, at a minimum, ensuring that U.S. weapons are not used to perpetrate atrocities or assist repression. To serve as a moral military, U.S. procurement and operations must be subject to additional scrutiny. Continued technological superiority affords the United States a unique opportunity to set an example with respect to morally problematic weapons systems. The United States need not offer authoritarian or irresponsible regimes an excuse to brandish cluster munitions, landmines, remote piloted aircraft, or chemical and nuclear weapons, which should be subject to strict civilian oversight to ensure they are consistent with international standards of just conduct in war. Similarly, U.S. counterterror operations should also be subject to tighter standards to minimize civilian casualties to the absolute lowest level possible. Despite some significant efforts during the Obama administration and within the military, unintended casualties remain far too high.[65] The United States should be willing to accept additional vulnerability in order to further reduce civilian casualties. Any incidents that do take place should be disclosed and those responsible held to account. Declining relative power and defense budgets will oblige a progressive administration to prioritize U.S. military objectives and to revise or rescind those that can no longer be realistically met. The U.S. Armed Forces can best defend the rights of foreign citizens through humanitarian operations and deterrence of high-end threats to the high-end threats to free peoples. The military should be structured and resourced to accomplish both rapid mass atrocity response and deterrence operations and should be tasked and employed only when it can effectively accomplish defined objectives with the participation of the local population and using means consistent with the interests of those peoples as they themselves understand them. These missions entail a moral obligation to maintain a capable and ready foreign presence in South Korea, Japan, Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and elsewhere to deter war and, if necessary, to act to defend these allies from aggression. Yet too often U.S. deployments do not reflect these core moral obligations and strategic interests. In an increasingly competitive world, in which America’s relative power is in decline, U.S. strategists cannot afford to expend credibility or raise tensions for actions that are purely symbolic or expressive. There are serious and persistent questions about America’s ability to have a positive effect in the Middle East and whether the benefits of counter-terror operations have outweighed their tendency to exacerbate the problem. Too many exercises are postured in ways that raise tensions or the risk of misperception. China’s encroachment into South China Sea and its coercion of its neighbors should be resisted, but where U.S. efforts stand little chance of success, or neighbors are reluctant to participate, they are ultimately futile. A Force for Stability Progressive internationalists are acutely aware that U.S. force structure and posture has too often indirectly undermined the security of the continental United States and its allies by posing an unnecessary threat to potential adversaries and fueling arms races. The principles that underwrite progressivism also require a commitment to military stability. A progressive administration should act to ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces serve as a force for stability in the world, rather than instability. When the United States forward deploys or stations hi-technology conventional military assets, it generates rational concerns in the capitals of potential adversaries about America’s intentions and its capabilities. Russia, China, and North Korea have difficulty detecting and discriminating between America’s conventional strike and intelligence forces, on the one hand, and logistical and civilian operations on the other. Furthermore, U.S. theater and global missile defense systems do possess a capability to limit retaliatory damage after a counterstrike attempt, even if U.S. leadership would never contemplate such a strike. U.S. capabilities often exceed what is necessary to defend U.S. allies and have contributed to Russian, Chinese, and North Korean efforts to enhance the number, survivability, and sophistication of their forces. To limit these risks, progressives should support a comprehensive research and policy program to identify ways to limit the stability risks of U.S. forward presence. If strategic stability is to have any meaning, the United States must seek to limit not only the threats adversaries pose to it, but also the threat that it poses to potential adversaries. At the same time, progressive internationalists must not fall prey to the fallacy that unilateral disarmament will necessarily lead adversaries to follow suit. Too many Americans believe the military exists to eliminate rather than manage sources of vulnerability, a view that has a tendency to cause the problems it aspires to solve. In fact, mutual vulnerability with Russia and China, and soon also with North Korea, is a strategic reality that cannot be solved with a new weapons system. The debate over the “third offset” illustrates these tendencies.[66] Conceived as a cost effective means of maintaining U.S. superiority over rising competitors by capitalizing on new technologies that “offset” adversary anti-access and area-denial capabilities, the effort was incapacitated by two fatal strategic flaws. First, the two previous offsets were conceived as means to fortify defensive capabilities against a numerically superior and potentially aggressive adversary. The “third offset” was intended to enable the United States to overcome static and defensive capabilities and project power into contested areas. Second, these defensive capabilities — cheap area-denial ballistic missiles, submarine, anti-space, and cyber capabilities — are, in fact, the “third offset” because they exploit cost-efficient technological advances to offset a qualitatively superior force. In short, “third offset” thinking places the United States in the highly undesirable position of attempting to overcome and overwhelm a highly effective offset strategy. You can’t offset an offset. As relative decline makes U.S. military superiority fiscally and operationally impractical, the United States will need a new standard for shaping its military requirements and conducting deterrence. Rather than minimize risk and maximize capability, military spending and future acquisition planning must be rigorously tied and tailored to threat assessments. As Van Jackson’s essay in this roundtable suggests, military sufficiency is a more achievable and, in many cases, more effective standard than military superiority. A defensive force posture is the most effective and sustainable means of defending both the United States and democratic societies around the world. As the United States loses the ability to operate unchallenged on the Chinese littorals and in the Russian periphery, it should, together with its allies, invest in systems capable of defending allied territory against aggression: cost-effective coastal defense missiles, denial of intrusions by special-operation forces, flexible and agile concentrations of high-end forces that can deploy rapidly to prepositioned equipment in theater, and other area-denial capabilities. Though the Armed Forces will have to retain expeditionary capabilities to prevail over attempts to isolate and deny access to allies or humanitarian catastrophes, the United States should put its money where money is currently most effective: These requirements are not nearly so high as those for maintaining military superiority.[67] Too much deterrence planning has emphasized escalation control and retaliation and forgotten that the most important determinant of deterrence success is the ability to defend and deny with conventional forces. In particular, progressives are intensely concerned about the risks, costs, and ethical implications of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. A commitment to pursue nuclear disarmament, and making sustained progress toward reducing the number and role of nuclear weapons, is imperative to retaining moral authority, to serving as an exemplar for allies and smaller powers contemplating their own nuclear programs, and to leading the way in the construction of a safer world. Progressive internationalists should push to structure and posture the U.S. nuclear arsenal for deterrence operations and abandon requirements for escalation control and nuclear warfighting.[68] The U.S. military must, in this view, eliminate peripheral systems in the arsenal that go beyond what’s needed for existential deterrence — specifically, the “supplementary” sea-launched cruise missile and a lower yield warhead for the Trident sea-launched ballistic missile proposed in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, but also perhaps the air-launched cruise missile. The case for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles is also increasingly tenuous.[69] Progressive internationalists should vigorously pursue creative new concepts for arms control to address the risks of a range of new nuclear and nonnuclear technologies with Russia, China, and North Korea. Conclusion Each of the steps outlined above are likely to be controversial because they entail accepting an additional margin of vulnerability. In fact, the United States is vulnerable to adversary strategic forces, terrorism, climate change, instability due to migration, and the actions of other potential adversaries. The quest for perfect security is the product of anxiety and is bound to fail. A greater strength is required to admit America’s vulnerability than to deny it, to manage vulnerability than to act as though it can be eliminated. This task now falls to progressive internationalists. In short, a progressive internationalist administration would ensure that the United States military serves as a force for good in the world by protecting the security, welfare, and democratic rights of not only U.S. and allied citizens, but also other foreigners. The objective may seem familiar and intuitive when stated plainly, but the implications for policy are wide reaching and potentially transformative.   Adam Mount, Ph.D. (@ajmount) is Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists.  

4. Progressives Should Embrace the Politics of Defense

By Loren DeJonge Schulman In his essay on what a progressive national security agenda should look like, Van Jackson proposes to stretch the common progressive position of anti-militarism to a more realist platform of military “sufficiency.” In doing so, he brings attention to a serious gap in current defense politics. The stilted and superficial dialogue that passes for national security debate in American politics includes an active constituency for a “military first” (or military friendly) foreign policy, reflexively applying military tools to problems abroad and inflating defense spending. There is also a weaker constituency, most present outside government, for a “military last” or “anti-militarist” policy, which would cut defense spending and end wars with similar reflexivity. Outside the apolitical “blob” of Washington, there is little interest in publicly debating the prudence or effectiveness of these agendas. The left, regardless of its broader “theory of security,” could fill some of this vacuum — and it is better situated to do so than conventional wisdom might suggest.[70] Democrats Drowning at the Water’s Edge For the last two decades, there has been little political opportunity to question America’s role in the world. With some exception, relevant defense and security policies have been open to even less scrutiny. Questions about the ethical or effective application of force, the size of the defense budget, the success of a given military strategy, the utility of specific weapons platforms, and the return on investment from security cooperation are, at best, diversions. Anyone who attempts to challenge the status quo risks being greeted with political attacks about lacking patriotism or not supporting American troops.[71] But at a time of frequent missteps abroad on the part of the Trump administration, the space to question America’s foreign policy traditions may be widening. The inability to pose legitimate questions about security policy is a particular flavor of political correctness, and because of it, the Democratic Party has all but disappeared in defense policy and politics.[72] The last two years have seen more than a dozen pieces on the left’s lack of branded national security ideas.[73] Michael Walzer has attributed this gap to an intentional abstention: The default position of the left is that “the best foreign policy is a good domestic policy.”[74] Jackson highlights modest resourcing and under-representation as justifications for the left’s notable lack of a “theory of security” and the general subsuming of the debate under a big-tent “third way” liberalism. Traditional Democrats in the national security community (including me) have bristled at these criticisms, but would be hard-pressed to offer a distinctive and coherent political viewpoint. Some see the Democratic Party’s lack of a defined national security policy as something to celebrate. Declaring that politics “stops at the water’s edge” of national security is a winning Bingo option at any think tank event. But this dictum stifles debate about the national interest and the proper application of national resources. Consequently, there are moral and political questions on defense and interventions abroad that have no meaningful forum. This gap is particularly felt on Capitol Hill, where in the past security-minded Democrats have found political safe-harbor in a Republican-lite national security agenda — essentially blank-check support for Republicans on defense with, at most, a raised eyebrow from time to time. These policy positions require little analytical effort or political capital, and let Democrats occasionally posture as morally superior by emphasizing “non-military tools” of foreign policy. The opposite alternative of a more rigid pacifism and anti-militarism, though common in the grassroots progressive community, has no consistently organized political presence on the Hill and thus also escapes thorough interrogation.[75] For those outside the Beltway, opposition to all things military offers the refuge of principle without critical justification or analysis. For many Democrats, the Obama model was a strangely tolerable middle ground: a bipartisan budget mess made while a “responsible” president ramped up security interventions in enough secrecy to avoid nagging scrutiny or self-examination. Re-Politicizing Defense Despite the valiant efforts of some individuals, there is no political home for responsible defense debate, oversight, and accountability.[76] Yet, with determination, the left might find a real foothold in defense policy — without compromising progressive values. To be clear: There is substantial work to be done on figuring out what cohesive view of America’s role in the world the left can tolerate and advance. There is even greater work to be done on determining how to renew, reuse, and reform international institutions.[77] But any such agendas would be well served by embracing a set of principles that make clear-eyed debate and evaluation of defense policy and execution an asset, not an unforgiveable sin. Critical analysis of defense affairs is too often left to the technocratic and comparatively powerless “blob,” which can write a mean op-ed or tweet, but has limited ability to engage the American people on its will and interests. And although Congress has willfully declawed itself so that it cannot maintain meaningful oversight of national security,[78] its ability to stage and amplify policy debate for the American people is without parallel, and it has tremendous latent potential to restore greater balance in civil-military relations. Congress’s absence and the associated de-politicization of national security affairs is costly. For instance, the American public is deeply ambivalent about the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan and generally ignorant of the widespread activities of the war on terror.[79] This is unsurprising: Congress, too, is disaffected, often ignorant of where the U.S. military is even engaged,[80] and has made little headway into questioning or shaping this intervention. The most substantive and serious debate about executive war authorities and the effectiveness of U.S. counterterrorism strategy has resulted in little more than a reauthorization proposal that still failed to move forward.[81] Too many examples of political leaders’ stand-off or superficial approach to defense policy and execution abound. ilitary superiority is generally viewed as sacrosanct, placed on “so high a pedestal as to render real debate meaningless.”[82] That reverence infantilizes defense budget debates. Thanking troops for their service is a politicized ritual that divorces politicians and their constituents from the intent and costs of that service. With decisions on the needs of the U.S. military and sustaining legacy systems openly linked to the economies of congressional districts, it’s understandable that skeptics of utilizing military tools have been unwilling to evaluate their merits. These must all change. While, at its worst, the political right treats the use of force abroad as a metric of patriotism and the size of the force as the measure of one’s love of America, the political left ought to draw from its skepticism toward intervention and its faith in institutions to advance a more rational and accountable approach to national security. For years, Robert Farley has highlighted that “progressives consistently underestimate the importance of discussions about military doctrine and technology,”[83] taking what Michael Walzer calls “shortcuts”[84] in their critiques of defense policy that relieve them from contributing to key debates. Instead of excusing themselves, the left should instead propose legitimate questions about major shifts in force employment and development: Will it work? What are its goals? What is the U.S. national security apparatus learning? Why didn’t it work? Were U.S. objectives wrong? What did America change when it didn’t work? Will America do it again? What could be improved? What should America do now? Joining the Conversation Jackson’s notion of what a progressive “wager” on national security might look like in practice is useful, filling the gap between the “Republican-lite” default and the stubbornness of anti-militarism. But the left’s diversity of thought can accommodate a wider playing field of potential alternative approaches to security than even he proposes. A true pacifist movement on the Hill and on the campaign trail, dedicated to the advancement of non-military approaches but premised on analysis and logical arguments, would be a serious advancement in national security and should be welcomed by the most ardent military advocates. Likewise, a more prudent middle ground approach — one that is skeptical of, but open to, military might and intervention and demands a better return on investment of national security tools — should play a more prominent political role. The full range of the left’s national security spectrum should forcefully engage in oversight of the rationale for and quality of American forces and interventions abroad. The left should therefore consider adopting a series of principles on defense matters — including criteria for the use of force — that apply to the military-friendly and anti-militarist left alike. In practice, this means acknowledging that there are valid political positions on matters of defense that lie somewhere in between “yes, and” and “no never” and that trivializing them is harmful to America’s national security. There are alternatives to today’s counterterror strategy and it would not be an insult to the military to debate them. It’s entirely legitimate to study whether the military is equipped to face today’s threats without being accused of retreating from the world or starting with an artificial budget cut. It’s sensible to consider whether the planned growth of ground forces, a 350-ship Navy, or a 386-squadron Air Force are the right investments or political benchmarks.[85] These questions involve choices and values and should not be avoided under the umbrella of a supposed technocratic bipartisan agreement. Just as important, it’s essential that the left avoid becoming a caricature of itself that promotes simplistic and superficial positions that set rigid, unserious standards. The left may not agree on the size or purpose of the military, but it can agree America should strive for informed oversight and accountability. The bumper sticker of such principles is simple: Ask informed questions,[86] illuminate and demand accountability for failures, encourage fresh thinking, and bring the American people into the discussion without fear. That this is so simple is an embarrassment to the present state of the “debate.” In detail, these principles should include: The left — in all its forms — should embrace the necessity of active participation and serious debate beyond the water’s edge. That’s how to make national security more democratic, transparent, and therefore accountable. What could be more progressive than that?   Loren DeJonge Schulman is the Deputy Director of Studies and Leon E. Panetta Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. She is the co-host of the national security podcast Bombshell and has held senior staff positions at the National Security Council and Department of Defense. The views expressed hers alone and not representative of her organization.  

5. The Free-World Strategy Progressives Need

By Thomas Wright Attempts to craft a foreign policy for the next progressive president must begin with a consideration of the international situation, not with general principles or domestic politics. To do otherwise runs a grave risk of formulating a policy that is wildly out of sync with the world as it is. Depending on the threat environment, a progressive foreign policy could emphasize many of the elements discussed in Van Jackson’s essay in this roundtable — universal institutions, multilateral cooperation, arms control — or rearmament, deterrence, and alliances. But it depends on the circumstances. Just consider the case of Britain’s postwar Labour government, which pursued left wing policies at home but built a nuclear weapon, helped to create NATO, and took a hardline anti-Soviet position. In assessing the international situation, the United States must ask whether and how world events impinge on vital American interests. Those interests are laid down in the preamble to the constitution, which states that the purpose of the United States is
to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.[89]
Foreign policy and national security are fundamentally about ensuring a healthy international system in which this free society can thrive and prosper. With every passing month, it is clear that the international situation is deteriorating rapidly. From Latin America, to Europe, to Asia, the world is seeing the rise of a neo-authoritarianism that seeks to roll back freedom where it currently resides and advance its own global reach. It is not monolithic and contains internal contradictions, but this authoritarian trend packs enough of a punch to qualify as a coherent alternative to a free and open society. It is able to take advantage of disruptive technological change and dislocations in the economies of democracies as well as severe political dysfunctions and polarization in U.S. domestic politics. This is much more than a geopolitical clash along the frontier of the South China Sea or Ukraine. It is a clash of societies that directly affects America’s domestic affairs, whether it is the health of democracy, the level of strife between various groups and cultures, the freedom of the media, the nature of capitalism, or the integrity of U.S. critical infrastructure. The rise of neo-authoritarianism is not the only thing going on of course. There are at least two other existential challenges facing America, as well as a myriad of significant problems. The first is a global economic model that remains prone to financial crisis and has major flaws — including allowing China’s unfair practices and facilitating massive corporate tax avoidance — that disadvantage modern democratic market economies. The second is climate change, which we now have reason to believe will result in catastrophic effects by 2040, well within the lifetime of most Americans.[90] In addition to these challenges, the United States faces a continuing threat from terrorist networks, North Korea, and Iran, among others. But the neo-authoritarian challenge is the greatest strategic problem America faces because it involves opponents of great capability and global reach with the intention of undermining the United States and with the ability to adapt and counter U.S. actions to remedy the situation. These facts distinguish this challenge from the problems of globalization and climate change. Dealing with it will require a level of public support and national action that necessitates it being at the center of American foreign policy. If it remains just one issue among many, the United States will fail in whatever objectives it sets out. The Rise of Neo-Authoritarian Great Powers After the Cold War, Western leaders, including almost everyone on the left, believed that Russia and China would converge on a single model of liberal order as they traded and engaged with the West. In this vision, all states would share the same challenges — like climate change, terrorism, economic volatility, and nuclear proliferation — that would eclipse old geopolitical differences. The expectations of convergence came to an end because Russian and Chinese leaders concluded that if the liberal order succeeded globally, it would pose an existential threat to their regimes. These leaders believed that the West was orchestrating color revolutions in their own societies. They worried that Western leaders would break any promise of support, as President Barack Obama did with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.[91] They feared the autonomy and power of the free press — as evidenced by the role the New York Times played in uncovering mass corruption among the Chinese political leadership in 2012 — and they worried about the role that social media and search engines might play in shaping the views of the youth in their countries.[92] To put this in the parlance of foreign policy, they felt more threatened by America’s soft power, or the power of its society, than by traditional military strength. They were not wrong — at least not from their perspective. Indeed, most progressives believed and hoped that soft power would sow the seeds of change overseas. This is a point worth remembering when U.S. officials or pundits talk about the importance of a whole of government approach and the power of example — it is precisely this characteristic of the Western system that worries Moscow and Beijing the most. With this diagnosis, China and Russia began to push back and sought to create a world safe for authoritarianism. That meant weakening the free press[93] and social media;[94] repressing non-governmental organizations;[95] establishing the means of influencing Western societies, including by interfering in their domestic politics and promoting division and discord;[96] coercing private companies into abiding by China’s wishes;[97] using corruption to gain leverage internationally;[98] and weakening the concept and means of operationalizing universal values.[99] There is a significant geopolitical dimension to the competition: China and Russia really do seek a sphere of influence in their respective regions and such ambitions are dangerous and destabilizing. But the competition is rooted in a clash of social models — a free world and a neo-authoritarian world — that directly affects how people live. This clash has spilled over into western societies and directly challenges the democratic way of life. None of the major protagonists in this competition seek a major conflict. And although one could occur inadvertently, the most likely scenario is one of a prolonged peacetime competition with measures short of war. The clash of free societies and neo-authoritarianism shapes almost everything else. It makes multilateral cooperation much more difficult. It makes military interventions much more costly. It makes the global economy more volatile. It damages democracy and tolerance while empowering kleptocrats and xenophobia. And if it continues unchecked, the result will be a world, and an America, that is much less free and prosperous than it is today. Possible Strategic Responses There are three possible responses to this neo-authoritarian challenge. The first is to hunker down and play defense. The second is to accommodate it, in the hope of cooperation. And, the third is to push back and compete with neo-authoritarian states diplomatically, politically, economically, and militarily. I. Playing defense The United States could focus exclusively on blunting the authoritarian challenge at home by securing voting machines, reforming election law, placing restrictions on investment in critical infrastructure, and working with social media companies to call out fake news and propaganda. The United States could go even further and help other countries to do the same. This would help, but it is not enough. New technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) may well be offense dominant. It is impossible to muster an effective defense that will stop all cyber attacks, prevent penetration of critical infrastructure, and render fake news worthless. Moreover, what needs to be defended is vast and diverse, encompassing the private and public sectors. Defense is not enough. America needs to think about deterrence — how to threaten sufficient costs that will change the calculus of its adversaries. Moreover, a purely defensive approach does not address how to think about the geopolitical dimension of the competition — should Russia and China be allowed a sphere of influence in their respective regions and is the United States competing with them to shape global rules and norms? This approach is also silent regarding countries that have become more authoritarian in recent years. II. Accommodate rivals In an important article, Peter Beinart recently wrote that progressives should not try to out-hawk the GOP on Russia, North Korea, or China. Instead, they should abandon U.S. primacy in favor of a system of spheres of influence in which China has much more of a say in East Asia, including Taiwan, and Russia in Eastern Europe.[100] Beinart’s argument is that the United States is overstretched and close to insolvent in its national power. Other versions of this argument have been made by academic realists, such as Barry Posen.[101] Beinart correctly understands that if Russia and China are to be bought off it will have to be with something more substantial than extra votes in Western institutions. But his strategy is badly mistaken. There would be no greater act of imperialism than sitting down with a hostile power to give away independent democracies against their will. What is progressive about that? A spheres-of-influence system will also run up against the same problem it always has — the lines of demarcation are never clear and it will be inherently unstable. Hardliners in Beijing and Moscow will see an opportunity and demand more. Also, why stop with Russia and China? Others will soon get the message that if they throw their weight around they too can have a claim on their own sphere. A spheres-of-influence system would make war much more likely than other approaches and it would gravely damage America’s vital interests. III. Responsible competition for the Free World The third option is that the United States should compete with authoritarian states to preserve and strengthen an international system that protects freedom and liberty at home.[102] This would entail moving away from universal concepts of international order and toward a free world model whereby America seeks to bolster democratic societies, to inoculate them against illiberal forces at home and abroad, and to deter revisionist powers. The primary drawback of this strategy is that it risks starting a new Cold War with China and Russia. However, it is only by pushing back and standing up for free and open societies that America can achieve some level of deterrence and establish a new equilibrium. Preemptive concessions to great power rivals would only beget more demands and would leave the United States in a vastly weaker position. Competing with neo-authoritarian states is the best way to ensure that free and open societies can survive and prosper and it also holds out the best prospect of peaceful relations with other great powers. A Free World Strategy in More Detail A free world strategy is not a re-run of the Cold War. Rather, America should seek to adopt a strategy of responsible competition that is cognizant of the differences between Russia and China, recognizes the need for continued cooperation on matters of mutual interest, like climate change, and avoids escalating to levels that would risk a major-power war. Space constraints prevent full elaboration of the strategy here but the key elements include the following: The Middle East is a particularly thorny problem that largely exists outside of this conceptual framework. Withdrawing from the region is tempting but carries with it an extremely high risk of contagion whereby problems in the region would worsen and threaten vital interests elsewhere. The collapse of Saudi Arabia or Jordan, or civil conflict in Turkey, would have a devastating impact — refugee flows could destroy the European Union, the Islamic State could return, and conflict could spread throughout the region and beyond. On the other hand, military engagement runs the risk of a forever war with high human costs that distracts from the primary strategic challenge facing America. There is no obvious answer. The least bad option is to continue to engage while being much tougher on America’s Gulf allies, including being willing to deploy leverage, such as ending arms sales. But, regardless of the side one comes down on, it is vital that decision-makers are honest about the horrible trade-off America faces and outline ways of mitigating the cost of their chosen strategy. If the United States decides to leave, it must deal with the contagion problem — how to prevent instability in one part of the region from spilling over. If it decides to stay, it has to deal with maintaining problematic allies. The Defense Budget Progressives need to familiarize themselves with the substantive debate surrounding the defense budget and move past misleading generalities that compare the overall size of the budget with that of other countries. Such comparisons are commonplace (e.g., the United States spends more on defense than the next seven major powers combined) and lead to a complacency about American power.[103] But, they are mistaken for three reasons: 1) Russia and China lie about their defense spending and conceal its true levels, 2) it is not the overall level of power that matters but the balance in particular contested theaters — the United States has to project power globally whereas Russia and China can concentrate on their regions — and 3) rapid technological change has the potential to enable China to leapfrog over the United States. Moreover, America should try to avoid allowing rival powers to believe they can engage in a fair fight with U.S forces — something that could weaken deterrence by giving a risk-tolerant rival reason to think that aggression may pay, especially in regions where they have disproportionately larger interests than they think the United States does. Moreover, most of defense spending is not flexible — the costs are committed too far into the future, whether it is procurement of new weapons systems or personnel. Immediate cuts would have to come out of current operations or research and development. Cutting operations to save money, rather than for strategic reasons, damages readiness and increases the risk of conflict. Cutting research and development means the United States would be at a serious disadvantage in competing with China. Experts on both sides of the aisle believe that the cuts to defense spending under the Budget Control Act (commonly known as the Sequester), included at the insistence of the Republican Party, did significant damage to the national defense.[104] One can certainly argue that the defense budget allocates resources inefficiently to deal with the challenges America faces. Should the United States really be building new aircraft carriers in an era when AI, precision missiles, or advanced submarines may render them almost useless? Surely it should be making the necessary investments in science and technology and human capital to compete. But the conversation on the budget must recognize that the United States faces a monumental task in reforming and improving its military for this new era. Adjustments need to be made over the long term and for strategic reasons. The focus must be on modernization, improving competitiveness and increasing capabilities so that the United States has the right kind of military for the coming challenges. How to do that is the needed debate. Dealing with the Global Economy and Climate Nothing in a free world strategy precludes taking action on other issues. In fact, it necessitates reforming the global economy since protecting against volatility and crisis and ensuring that the system works for all citizens are vital components of ensuring the free world succeeds and prospers. This could be accomplished by initiating a conversation with America’s allies that moves beyond market access and regulatory alignment to talk about shared concerns about globalization — inequality, the decoupling of labor and productivity, a financial system that is too big to fail, corporate tax avoidance, and China’s mercantilist model. Climate change is a global phenomenon by definition but the solutions to it must be implemented at the domestic level. To effectively address it, the United States and other major powers need a massive overhaul of their national economies. Thus far, Americans have shown insufficient will for an overhaul of the scale and scope required. And so, Democratic leaders have gravitated toward more modest approaches to get things started while Republicans have almost entirely ignored the problem. There is, of course, an international component, but much of this approach depends on American, Chinese, and Indian action — only if these societies transform their economies to dramatically cut emissions, can a solution be found. This raises one important question for U.S. national security strategy: Should the United States go easy on China to secure its cooperation on climate change? The answer is no. To do so would actually provide Beijing with leverage that it would be tempted to use. It would be wiser to ring-fence climate change and agree that, given that it is a matter of vital interest to all parties, cooperation should continue even if the major powers are competing on other fronts. The Politics of Foreign Policy Progressives were slow to realize the challenge posed by authoritarianism, particularly from Russia and China. During his presidency, Obama repeatedly dismissed Russia as a regional power and underestimated the threat it posed to the democratic process in 2016. Several Obama administration officials now acknowledge that they also failed to fully comprehend and respond to the competitive nature of the challenge from China.[105] It was commonplace for senior officials to talk about the arc of history and 21st-century politics as if the dangers of the 20th century had aged out, never to return. Progressives must reflect seriously upon these mistakes and remedy them ahead of a possible progressive administration in 2021. A free world strategy does this. It is consistent with progressive and democratic values but also represents an appropriate departure from Obama’s foreign policy. When pundits talk about the past — protecting the liberal international order created in the late 1940s — or obscure far away places, people can tune out. Progressives must talk about the future and relate it directly to people’s lived experience. They must tap into ongoing debates in free societies about technological change. The strategy proposed above allows for precisely that. It is a sad reality that Americans have been more frequently moved to action in foreign policy by perceived threats than by hopes of creating a better world. America should never exaggerate the problems it faces but neither should it ignore them where they exist. One of the advantages of a free world strategy is that it is an American strategy, not a partisan one. There is enough flexibility within the concept to allow progressives and conservatives to tailor it for their own goals. A progressive strategy may seek to build a free world that reduces inequality and put some limits on market forces, whereas a conservative strategy may seek to reduce regulation. Reasonable people can differ about the type of free world they want to build. In the immediate future, a free world strategy also allows Democrats to draw a stark contrast with Trump’s policies. The vast majority of Republicans believe in the free world but Trump does not. He prefers authoritarian strong men. He would erode key freedoms — such as freedom of the press — if he were politically stronger. In many ways, he sympathizes with the Russian and Chinese vision of international order. Trump is a reminder that this competition is not just between states; it is also within them. Many progressives may well prefer to do less in the world and retrench. That is not what this era requires of them. The United States will need to do more in some areas and less in others. Supporters of a free society — whether progressives, centrists, or conservatives — face an existential challenge that can only be met with an active and competitive foreign policy.   Thomas Wright is Director of the Center for the U.S. and Europe and a Senior Fellow in the Project in International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution. He is author of All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power.   Image: CGP Grey [post_title] => Policy Roundtable: The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => policy-roundtable-the-future-of-progressive-foreign-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-05 16:11:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-05 21:11:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=802 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In this roundtable, we asked our chair, Van Jackson, to write a prompt essay on the future of progressive foreign policy, and had each of our contributors respond. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Policy [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 238 [1] => 131 [2] => 239 [3] => 240 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Van Jackson, “Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security?” Politico Magazine, Sept. 11, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/11/left-national-security-foreign-policy-donald-trump-219744; Aziz Rana, “The Left’s Missing Foreign Policy,” n+1, March 8, 2018, https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/the-lefts-missing-foreign-policy/. [2] For an overview, see Anthony Giddens, The Third Way and Its Critics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). [3] Daniel Drezner, The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats Are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). [4] Zack Beauchamp, “Why Democrats Have No Foreign Policy Ideas,” Vox.com, Sept. 7, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/5/16220054/democrats-foreign-policy-think-tanks. [5] Beauchamp, “Why Democrats Have No Foreign Policy Ideas.” [6] Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Liberal Order Is More than a Myth” Foreign Affairs, July 31, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-07-31/liberal-order-more-myth. [7] Lissner and Rapp-Hooper, “The Liberal Order is More Than a Myth”; G. John Ikenberry, “End of the Liberal International Order?” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (2018), 7–23, https://academic.oup.com/ia/article/94/1/7/4762691. [8] The most thorough statement on progressive foreign policy comes from Michael Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018). [9] Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, 48. [10] Daniel Bessner, “What Does Ocasio-Cortez Think about the South China Sea?” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/democratic-party-cortez-foreign-policy.html. [11] Van Jackson, “American Military Superiority and the Pacific Primacy Myth,” Survival 60, no. 2 (2018): 123, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2018.1448578. [12] Jackson, “American Military Superiority and the Pacific Primacy Myth.” [13] Bessner, “What Does Ocasio-Cortez Think about the South China Sea?” [14] Michael Beckley, “The Myth of Entangling Alliances: Reassessing the Security Risks of U.S. Defense Pacts,” International Security 39, no. 4 (Spring 2015): 7–48, https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/myth-entangling-alliances-reassessing-security-risks-us-defense-pacts; Victor Cha, Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016). [15] Bernie Sanders, “A New Authoritarian Axis Demands a Progressive Front,” Guardian, Sept. 13, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/bernie-sanders-international-progressive-front?CMP=twt_b-usopinion_c-us%3FCMP%3Dshare_btn_fb; Daniel Nexon, “Toward a Neo-Progressive Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 4, 201,1 https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-09-04/toward-neo-progressive-foreign-policy; Peter Beinart, “Shield of the Republic: America Needs an Entirely New Foreign Policy for the Trump Age,” Atlantic, Sept. 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/shield-of-the-republic-a-democratic-foreign-policy-for-the-trump-age/570010/; Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left. [16] Daniel Nexon, “The Opposite of Neoconservatism is Not Isolationism,” Lawyers, Guns, & Money, Sept. 25, 2018, http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/09/opposite-neoconservativism-not-isolationism. [17] Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, 34. [18] Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, 45. [19] Sanders, “A New Authoritarian Axis Demands a Progressive Front.” [20] Jeremy Suri, “Globalism Made America Great,” New Republic, Sept. 27, 2018, https://newrepublic.com/article/151404/globalism-helped-make-america-great. [21] Erik Gartzke, “The Capitalist Peace,” American Journal of Political Science 51, no. 1 (January 2007): 166–91, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4122913. [22] Alex Ward, “Read: Bernie Sanders’ Big Foreign Policy Speech,” Vox, Sept. 21, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/21/16345600/bernie-sanders-full-text-transcript-foreign-policy-speech-westminster. [23] Alex Cooley and John Heathershaw, Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017). [24] Guy Standing, “The ILO: An Agency for Globalization?” Development and Change 39, no. 3 (May 2008): 355–84, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7660.2008.00484.x. [25] Van Jackson, “Stop Confusing Deterrence with Strategy,” Diplomat, July 6, 2015, https://thediplomat.com/2015/07/stop-confusing-deterrence-with-strategy/. [26] Report on Mutual Assured Stability: Essential Components and Near Term Actions, International Security Advisory Board, (Washington DC: U.S. Department of State, 2012), https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/196789.pdf. [27] This essay is conceived as a response to a group of essays including, but not limited to: Peter Beinart, “Shield of the Republic,” Atlantic, Sept. 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/shield-of-the-republic-a-democratic-foreign-policy-for-the-trump-age/570010/; Daniel Bessner, “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea,” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/democratic-party-cortez-foreign-policy.html; Van Jackson, “Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security Policy?” POLITICO Magazine, Sept. 11, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/11/left-national-security-foreign-policy-donald-trump-219744; Dan Nexon, “Toward a Neo-Progressive Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 4, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-09-04/toward-neo-progressive-foreign-policy. [28] “Alexander Hamilton on the French Revolution,” Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, accessed Oct. 15, 2018, http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/593. [29] Among the prominent apologists for fascism was the president of the American Political Science Association. Seva Gunitsky, “These Are Three Reasons that Fascism Spread in 1930s America and Might Spread Again Today,” Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/12/these-are-the-three-reasons-that-fascism-spread-in-1930s-america-and-might-spread-again-today/?utm_term=.e0767e987559. [30] Thomas J. Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the Twenty-first Century and the Future of American Power (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017). [31] While voters across the political spectrum displayed similar levels of concern about trade, and more than half of Democratic and Republican voters expressed concern about immigration and terrorism as issues for the 2018 midterms, only immigration landed in the top 10 concerns for Democrats, while all three did for Republicans — reflecting the intensity of Democrats’ concern around the environment and treatment of racial and sexual minorities, much lower priorities for Republicans. “Voter Enthusiasm at Record High in Nationalized Midterm Environment,” Pew Research Center, Sept. 26, 2018, http://www.people-press.org/2018/09/26/voter-enthusiasm-at-record-high-in-nationalized-midterm-environment/. [32] It is hard to overstate the divide between the progressive political space and the progressive security policy space. Essays specifically marketed as “progressive,” such as those by Beinart, Bessner, Jackson, and Nexon, mentioned above, miss the international dimensions of issues that progressives say are of most concern to them — jobs, justice and discrimination, and climate. For alternate perspectives that attract significant progressive attention and intellectual effort, but scant attention in grand strategy conversation, see, inter alia, the work of Bonnie Jenkins, at the panel, “Redefining National Security: Why and How,” Brookings, May 11, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/events/redefining-national-security-why-and-how/. Or consider how a mass mobilization organization such as Indivisible combines traditional and non-traditional security concerns in its advocacy: https://www.indivisible.org/resource/donald-trump-national-security-risk-here’s-current-trumpthreatlevel. [33] Alex Ward, “Read Trump’s Speech to the UN General Assembly,” Sept. 24, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/9/25/17901082/trump-un-2018-speech-full-text. [34] Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman, “Weaponized Interdependence,” DRAFT prepared for International Studies Association Conference, April 4, 2018: 46, http://henryfarrell.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Weaponized-Interdependence-April-2018.pdf. [35] See, for example, Beinart, "Shield of the Republic”; Bessner, “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea"; Jackson, "Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security?"; and Wright, "The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable." [36] See Burke’s Phase Zero project, https://www.newamerica.org/resource-security/phase-zero-project/about/; and recent articles including: Sharon Burke, “A Climate for Conflict: Stories from Somalia,” New America, June 1, 2017, https://www.newamerica.org/resource-security/phase-zero-blog/climate-conflict-stories-somalia/. Her program also published the report, Ken Sofer, “The Slow Motion Crisis: The Destabilizing Effects of Climate Change in Turkey and Iraq Through 2050,” New America, May 16, 2017, https://www.newamerica.org/resource-security/policy-papers/relationship-between-climate-change-and-security/. [37] Terry Lynn Karl, “Economic Inequality and Democratic Instability,” Journal of Democracy 11, no. 1, (January 2000): 149–56,  https://muse.jhu.edu/article/17011/summary.; Kathy Cramer, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). [38] For the trends, see: The World Inequality Report 2018, World Inequality Lab, (2018), https://wir2018.wid.world/. A wide-ranging analysis is offered by Kemal Derviş and Zia Qureshi, “Brief: Income Distribution Within Countries: Rising Inequality,” Global Economy and Development at Brookings, (August 2016), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/income-inequality-within-countries_august-2016.pdf. [39] For the interconnections among automation and trade effects, see, inter alia, David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson, “The China Shock: Learning From Labor Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade,” Annual Review of Economics, no. 8, (2016): 205–240, https://www.ddorn.net/papers/Autor-Dorn-Hanson-ChinaShock.pdf. For the finance side, see Gillian Tett, “Fixing Finance,” Foreign Affairs, (July/August 2012), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/fixing-finance?cid=soc-tw. [40] Jennifer Harris, “Making Trade Address Inequality,” Democracy Journal, no. 48 (Spring 2018), https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/48/making-trade-address-inequality/. [41] See, for example, Adrian Henry Macey, “How Trade Policies Can Support Global Efforts to Curb Climate Change, The Conversation, July 27, 2017, http://theconversation.com/how-trade-policies-can-support-global-efforts-to-curb-climate-change-81029. [42] Thomas Wright, “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable,” Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/liberal-international-order-free-world-trump-authoritarianism/569881/. [43] Bernie Sanders, “Building a Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism,” Speech at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Oct. 9, 2018, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-speech-at-sais-building-a-global-democratic-movement-to-counter-authoritarianism. [44] Pew, “Key Opinion Findings on Trump, Putin and the Countries They Lead,” Pew Research Center, July 13, 2018, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/07/13/key-public-opinion-findings-on-trump-putin-and-the-countries-they-lead/. [45] Sanders, “Building a Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism.” [46] Wright, “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable.” [47] Wright, “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable.” [48] “The ASD Policy Blueprint for Countering Authoritarian Interference in Democracies” from the German Marshall Fund, is perhaps the most comprehensive but not the only such policy document, co-authored by a key Hillary Clinton adviser, Laura Rosenberger, http://www.gmfus.org/publications/asd-policy-blueprint-countering-authoritarian-interference-democracies. [49] Observers tend to use “identity politics” to refer to the organizing efforts of different subgroups. Many use the term to refer primarily or exclusively to organizing among underprivileged groups. Francis Fukuyama offers a global critique in “Against Identity Politics,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 14, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/americas/2018-08-14/against-identity-politics-tribalism-francis-fukuyama. On white identity politics, see Ashley Jardina, “White Identity Politics Isn’t Just About White Supremacy,” Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2017,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/16/white-identity-politics-isnt-just-about-white-supremacy-its-much-bigger/?utm_term=.64cd2f5a524e. [50] Domestically, the last two years have seen the creation of the “We Are Still In” climate coalition (https://www.wearestillin.com/) and increased focus on international affairs from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Internationally, forums have emerged, such as the European Union’s International Urban Cooperation, the World Bank’s Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, and the Global Covenant of Mayors. Sub-national entities are playing an expanded role in the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. [51] Bernie Sanders, “Building A Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism,” Oct. 9, 2018, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-speech-at-sais-building-a-global-democratic-movement-to-counter-authoritarianism; Thomas Wright, “The Liberal International Order Must Be Replaced,” Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/liberal-international-order-free-world-trump-authoritarianism/569881/; Dan Nexon, “Toward a Neo-Progressive Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 4, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-09-04/toward-neo-progressive-foreign-policy; Kelly Magsamen, Max Bergmann, Michael Fuchs, and Trevor Sutton, “Securing a Democratic World,” Center for American Progress, Sept. 5, 2018, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2018/09/05/457451/securing-democratic-world/. [52] Chris Murphy, “Rethinking the Battlefield,” Christ Murphy United States Senator for Conneticut, accessed Nov. 8, 2018, https://www.murphy.senate.gov/rethinking-the-battlefield. [53] Jennifer Harris, “Making Trade Address Inequality,” Democracy, March 12, 2018, https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/48/making-trade-address-inequality/. [54] Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen, “Clear and Present Safety,” Foreign Affairs, Feb. 21, 2012, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-america/2012-02-21/clear-and-present-safety. [55] Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, 2nd updated edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). [56] Rosella Capella Zielinski, “How U.S. Wars Abroad Increase Inequality At Home,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 5, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-10-05/us-wars-abroad-increase-inequality-home. [57] Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense (January 2018):14, https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf. [58] Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., “Posture Statement,” House Appropriations Committee Defense, June 15, 2017, https://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP02/20170615/106086/HHRG-115-AP02-Wstate-DunfordJ-20170615.pdf. [59] “Status of the Navy,” United States Navy, https://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=146; Gina Harkins, “355-Ship Navy Will Mean Extending Vessels Past Planned Lifespans: Admiral,” Military.com, Sept. 5, 2018, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/05/355-ship-navy-will-mean-extending-vessels-past-planned-lifespans-admiral.html; Oriana Pawlyk, “Air Force Wants to Surge Growth by More Than 70 New Squadrons,” Military.com, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/17/air-force-wants-surge-growth-more-70-new-squadrons.html; Nafeesa Syeed and Chloe Whiteaker, “Army Buildup Confronts Headwinds of Tight Labor Market,” Stars and Stripes, March 13, 2018, https://www.stripes.com/news/army/army-buildup-confronts-headwinds-of-tight-labor-market-1.516499. [60] Loren DeJonge Schulman and Alice Friend, “The Pentagon’s Transparency Problem,” Foreign Affairs, May 2, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-05-02/pentagons-transparency-problem. [61] Bruce Blair, “Presidents Have Too Much Power over U.S. Nukes. Especially President Trump,” Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/presidents-have-too-much-power-over-us-nukes-especially-president-trump/2017/08/18/abd0041e-8363-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html. [62] Brian McKeon and Caroline Tess, “How Congress Can Take Back Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Nov. 7, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-11-07/how-congress-can-take-back-foreign-policy. [63] Phillip Carter, “What America Owes Its Veterans,” Foreign Affairs (September/October 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2017-08-15/what-america-owes-its-veterans. [64] Chris Murphy, “We Must Demand Accountability for Saudi Arabia’s Behavior,” Washington Post, Oct. 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-must-demand-accountability-for-saudi-arabias-behavior/2018/10/15/b4b5ecc8-d0ac-11e8-b2d2-f397227b43f0_story.html. Former senior Obama administration officials have been instrumental in highlighting the failures of the previous policy and pushing for an end to support for the war. “Former Senior Obama Administration Officials Call For Halt to All U.S. Support for the War in Yemen,” National Security Action, Nov. 11, 2018, https://nationalsecurityaction.org/newsroom-blog/yemen-open-statement. [65] Margaret Sullivan, “Middle East Civilian Deaths Have Soared Under Trump. And the Media Mostly Shrug,” Washington Post, March 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/middle-east-civilian-deaths-have-soared-under-trump-and-the-media-mostly-shrug/2018/03/16/fc344968-2932-11e8-874b-d517e912f125_story.html. [66] Robert Work, “National Defense University Convocation,” Aug. 5, 2014, https://dod.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/605598/national-defense-university-convocation/; Robert Work, “The Third U.S. Offset Strategy and Its Implications for Partners and Allies,” Jan. 28, 2015, http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/606641/the-third-us-offset-strategy-and-its-implications-for-partners-and-allies. [67] Andrew F. Krepinevich, “How to Deter China,” Foreign Affairs, Feb. 16, 2015, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2015-02-16/how-deter-china. [68] Bruce G Blair, with Jessica Sleight and Emma Claire Foley, The End of Nuclear Warfighting: Moving to a Deterrence-Only Posture (Princeton, NJ: Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University, September 2018), https://www.globalzero.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/anpr-180915-1736-1.pdf; Adam Mount, “The Case Against New Nuclear Weapons,” Center for American Progress, May 4, 2017, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2017/05/04/431833/case-new-nuclear-weapons/. [69] Jon Wolfsthal, “The Political and Military Vulnerability of America’s Land-Based Nuclear Missiles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 73, no. 3 (May 4, 2017): 150–53, https://doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2017.1314996. [70] This essay was written at the close of the 2018 election cycle. While House Democrats, such as Congressman Adam Smith, have indicated a desire for a more robust national security oversight agenda, more time is needed to assess their success. Leo Shane III and Joe Gould, “The Military Could See Big Changes if Democrats Win Control of Congress,” Military Times, Oct. 23, 2018, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2018/10/23/the-military-could-see-big-changes-if-democrats-win-control-of-congress/. [71] “The Rhetorical Power of ‘Support Our Troops,’” Economist, Oct. 4, 2017, https://www.economist.com/democracy-in-america/2017/10/04/the-rhetorical-power-of-support-our-troops; Paul Blumenthal, “Veterans Super PAC Funded by Jeff Bezos Pulls Ad that Attacked Democrat as Traitor Post-9/11,” Huffington Post, Oct. 25, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brian-mast-lauren-baer-super-pac_us_5bd228b5e4b0a8f17ef5ca49. [72] For example, the “Better Deal” agenda put forward by then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gives little attention to national security matters: “A Better Deal,” Senate Democrats, https://www.democrats.senate.gov/abetterdeal [73] Zach Beauchamp, “Why Democrats Have No Foreign Policy Ideas,” Vox, Sept. 5, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/5/16220054/democrats-foreign-policy-think-tanks. [74] Michael Walzer, “A Foreign Policy for the Left,” Dissent Magazine (Spring 2014), https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/a-foreign-policy-for-the-left. [75] The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “People’s Budget,” for example, offers some details in its Sustainable Defense proposal regarding modernizing forces for future threats, but is largely focused on non-defense activities: “The People’s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward FY 2019,” Congressional Progressive Caucus, https://cpc-grijalva.house.gov/uploads/Binder21.pdf. [76] For example, in his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain was both a forceful check on the Department of Defense and an energetic reformer, but few on either side of the aisle matched his enthusiasm and intolerance for BS: Joe Gould, “With McCain Gone, Who Will Watch the Pentagon,” Defense News, Aug. 31, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/08/31/with-mccain-gone-who-will-watch-the-pentagon/. Sens. Tim Kaine and Bob Corker have, after seventeen years, made minor headway in developing a revised Authorization for Use of Military Force — but even this watered down legislation has stalled: Scott R. Anderson and Molly E. Reynolds, “A Fast Track to Nowhere: ‘Expedited Procedures’ and the New AUMF Proposal,” Lawfare, April 19, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/fast-track-nowhere-expedited-procedures-and-new-aumf-proposal; Sens. Jeff Merkley, Mike Lee, Bernie Sanders, and Chris Murphy, among others, have likewise pushed their own replacements or restrictions on the current war authorization, to include restricting support for military operations in Yemen: “Sanders, Lee, Murphy Introduce War Powers Resolution to End Unauthorized U.S. Military Involvement in Yemen,” Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator for Vermont, Feb 28, 2018, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-lee-murphy-introduce-war-powers-resolution-to-end-unauthorized-us-military-involvement-in-yemen. [77] Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Day After Trump: American Grand Strategy and the New International Order,” Washington Quarterly 41, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 7–25, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2018.1445353. [78] Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk, “Congress Should Oversee America’s Wars, Not Just Authorize Them,” Lawfare, June 7, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/congress-should-oversee-americas-wars-not-just-authorize-them. [79] Tanisha M. Fazal and Sarah Kreps, “The United States’ Perpetual War in Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 20, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-america/2018-08-20/united-states-perpetual-war-afghanistan?cid=soc-tw-rdr. [80] Daniella Diaz, “Key Senators Say They Didn’t Know the US Had Troops in Niger,” CNN, Oct. 23, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/23/politics/niger-troops-lawmakers/index.html [81] Anderson and Reynolds, “A Fast Track to Nowhere.” [82] Mara Karlin, “Policy Roundtable: The Pursuit of Military Superiority,” Texas National Security Review, June 26, 2018, https://tnsr.org/roundtable/policy-roundtable-the-pursuit-of-military-superiority/. [83] Robert Farley, “The LCS, Apple Pie, and Whatnot,” Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Jan. 4, 2011, http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/2011/01/the-lcs-apple-pie-and-what-not - comments. [84] Walzer, “A Foreign Policy for the Left.” [85] Susanna Blume, “Numbers Game: How the Air Force Is Following the Army and Navy’s Bad Example,” Defense News, Sept. 20, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/2018/09/20/numbers-game-how-the-air-force-is-following-the-army-and-navys-bad-example/. [86] Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk, “Congress Should Oversee America’s Wars, Not Just Authorize Them.” [87] Farley, “The LCS, Apple Pie, and Whatnot.” [88] Loren DeJonge Schulman and Alice Friend, “The Pentagon’s Transparency Problem,” Foreign Affairs, May 2, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-05-02/pentagons-transparency-problem. [89] U.S. Constitution, Preamble, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript. [90] “Global Warming of 1.5 ° C,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, October 2018, http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf. [91] On Russia’s fear of an America inspired color revolution, see Julia Ioffe, “What Putin Really Wants,” Atlantic, (January/February 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/putins-game/546548/. On China’s, see Gideon Rachman, “China’s Strange Fear of a Color Revolution,” Financial Times, Feb. 9, 2015, https://www.ft.com/content/9b5a2ed2-af96-11e4-b42e-00144feab7de. [92] David Barboza, “Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader,” New York Times, Oct. 25, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/business/global/family-of-wen-jiabao-holds-a-hidden-fortune-in-china.html?module=inline. [93] Darkened Screen: Constraints on Foreign Journalists in China, Pen America, Sept. 22, 2016, https://pen.org/sites/default/files/PEN_foreign_journalists_report_FINAL_online%5B1%5D.pdf; [94] Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China, Pen America, March 13, 2018, https://pen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PEN-America_Forbidden-Feeds-report-6.6.18.pdf. [95] “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime’: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016), Chinese Human Rights Defenders, February 2017, https://www.nchrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/annual-report.pdf. [96] Peter Mattis, “Contrasting Russia and China’s Influence Operations,” War on The Rocks, Jan. 16, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/01/contrasting-chinas-russias-influence-operations/. [97] Peter Harrell, Elizabeth Rosenberg, and Edoardo Saravalle, China’s Use of Coercive Economic Measures, The Center for a New America Security, (June 2018), https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/chinas-use-of-coercive-economic-measures. [98] Christopher Balding, “Why Democracies Are Turning Against One Belt One Road,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 24, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-10-24/why-democracies-are-turning-against-belt-and-road. [99] Theodore Piccone, China’s Long Game on Human Rights at the United Nations, Brookings Institution, (September 2018), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/FP_20181009_china_human_rights.pdf. [100] Peter Beinart, “Shield of the Republic: A New Democratic Foreign Policy,” Atlantic, Sept. 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/shield-of-the-republic-a-democratic-foreign-policy-for-the-trump-age/570010/. [101] See for instance, Barry Posen, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015). [102] What is proposed here is a particular variant of a strategy of competing with China and Russia. This draws on Thomas Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and Future of American Power, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017); and Wright, “The Return to Great Power Competition Was Inevitable,” Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/liberal-international-order-free-world-trump-authoritarianism/569881/. For examples of competitive strategies with a different emphasis see Wess Mitchell and Jakub Grygiel, The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Power, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016); and Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, “The China Reckoning,” Foreign Affairs, (February/ March 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-02-13/china-reckoning. [103] See for example, Daniel Bessner, “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea?” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/democratic-party-cortez-foreign-policy.html. [104] Jonathan Weissman and Ashley Parker, “Acceptance of Defense Cuts Signals Shift in GOP Focus,” New York Times, Feb. 24, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/us/politics/democrats-and-republicans-miscalculate-on-automatic-cuts.html. [105] Campbell and Ratner, “The China Reckoning.” See also Michael McFaul, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Table of Contents [contents] => 1. Prompt Essay: Wagering on a Progressive versus Liberal Theory of National Security, by Van Jackson 2. Back to Basics: The Core Goals a “Progressive” Foreign Policy Must Address, by Heather Hurlburt 3. Principles for a Progressive Defense Policy, by Adam Mount 4. Progressives Should Embrace the Politics of Defense, by Loren DeJonge Schulman 5. The Free-World Strategy Progressives Need, by Thomas Wright ) ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 450 [post_author] => 133 [post_date] => 2018-02-07 04:00:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-02-07 09:00:31 [post_content] =>

1. Introduction: North Korea is Still the Land of Lousy Options

By Van Jackson North Korea has become the most pressing security threat facing the Trump administration. It can now strike U.S. territory in the Pacific — and perhaps even the continental United States — with nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. North Korea has long been known as the “land of lousy options,” and a bipartisan failure of U.S. foreign policy spanning every presidential administration since the end of the Cold War would seem to demonstrate as much. But what should be done? Charting a near-term and long-term path forward requires answering some basic questions that have mostly eluded the public debate on North Korea policy. This roundtable aims to rectify that. Each of the contributors to this discussion the problem North Korea poses in broadly similar terms, they reveal some divergences on what U.S. goals should be and how to achieve them. The End-State Should the United States be pursuing denuclearization of North Korea? Kyle Haynes of Purdue University argues that it is a dangerous “pipe dream.” John Warden of SAIC and Vincent Manzo of CNA assume Haynes is right, jumping directly to the problem of damage limitation and deterrence. Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists agrees that denuclearization is unachievable, but maintains that the United States cannot entirely abandon that goal because of the potentially damage to U.S. alliances and the global nuclear nonproliferation regime. Kelly Magsamen of the Center for American Progress avers the question of denuclearization, but advocates prioritizing deterrence and containment. Striking a tone that is neither optimistic or pessimistic on denuclearization, Stephan Haggard of the University of California-San Diego urges focusing on the near term. By focusing primarily on current events, Haggard’s analysis takes a different tack than Mount but ends up in a similar place: The United States should avoid chasing denuclearization with any kind of urgency, but neither does it have to abandon it as a long-term goal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security writes in favor of the Trump administration’s end-state of denuclearization, a goal that every president since the end of the Cold War as sought. But if denuclearization is unachievable, what should be the aim of U.S. policy toward North Korea? All the authors agree that the United States cannot afford to be single-minded, and must instead manage multiple priorities that occasionally compete with each other. There is also a consensus that slowing or halting North Korea’s progress in developing nuclear weapons is not only advisable but essential. Deterrence of major conflict and regional stability are also high on everyone’s list, though those goals immediately raise the question of how they are best achieved. The Approach   The contributors diverge most on the means of U.S. strategy. Cronin broadly supports the Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” toward North Korea, but believes there must be a point at which the United States pivots to diplomatic engagement for the policy to payoff. Denuclearization, he argues, will not happen except through diplomacy. Haggard, Magsamen, and Mount, despite harboring objections to “maximum pressure,” find common cause with Cronin in supporting pressure that takes the form of economic sanctions, if not the administration’s talk of war. Magsamen and Mount in particular both advocate shifting to a strategy the deters North Korea while making the regime’s life as difficult as possible — by using coalitional diplomacy to deny the regime any financial, technical, or political benefits as long as it retains a hostile nuclear posture. The other contributors also find fault with “maximum pressure” and support dialogue with North Korea in their own ways, but emphasize military capabilities to a greater degree than Haggard. Warden and Manzo in particular provide an elaborate analysis that concludes the United States ought to be pursuing damage limitation capabilities, including long-range precision-strike weapons and ballistic missile defenses. They believe the combination of superior offensive and defensive conventional military capabilities will better strengthen deterrence and mute any rash overconfidence that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal might otherwise endow it with. Attacking North Korea Two questions have dominated news coverage about the Trump administration’s North Korea policy. Is denuclearization worth starting a war over? And should the United States give North Korea a “bloody nose?” Sen. Lindsey Graham has argued that a war in Korea would be preferable to allowing North Korea to retain nuclear weapons.[1] Magsamen gives the most elaborate attack on the fallacious reasoning that leads to such a conclusion, but each contributor to this roundtable shares her view, at least implicitly. A preventive war against North Korea would be a war of choice, and the ultimate failure of national security policy. Similarly, none advocate for limited strikes of any kind unless North Korea attacks first. The proactive use of military force is here incongruent with the priority of deterrence. Lingering Doubts Three lingering questions give reason for enduring pessimism about the ability to achieve much more than deterrence of major conflict. First, on what basis can Washington expect to establish credible commitments with Pyongyang? Cronin, Magsamen, Mount, Haggard, and Haynes all urge strategies that require negotiations with North Korea to freeze or rollback its nuclear program, but none provide either evidence or a rationale that would allow us to believe in negotiations. Indeed, North Korea’s long history of violating its own commitments raises valid concerns about the ability to build any future on a negotiated settlement. This does not mean that negotiations are impossible, but advocating for them requires a significant burden of proof rather than faith. Second, how can coercion produce a sustainable outcome? Haggard, Magsamen, and Mount stress diplomacy to a greater degree than the other contributors, yet even they support an extensive campaign of pressure on North Korea. Given Pyongyang’s history of responding to pressure with pressure,[2] it is unclear why we should believe that any strategy requiring a squeeze of North Korea will yield a desirable long-term change in either Pyongyang’s behavior or its strategic calculations. As one of the seminal works on deterrence long ago observed, deterrence is a means of buying time, not an end in itself.[3] We should all be troubled by the consensus among contributors here that deterrence is America’s most important priority in Korea. At best, deterrence enables a strategy that ameliorates the conditions that give rise to the need for deterrence in the first place. But no such strategy has been proposed. The deterrence imperative itself leads to a final reason for pessimism. What must the United States do, and avoid doing, in order to deter major conflict? Haggard avers this question entirely. Cronin and Mount also stay relatively silent on it, though they believe deterrence is a foremost priority. Magsamen offers plausible ingredients for a deterrence strategy — containment, pressure, diplomacy, and alliance management — but the relative importance of each factor is unclear. Haynes suggests that proportionality between threats and goals matters, but does not specify how threats should be levied or bounded. Warden and Manzo provide the greatest detail in justifying their theory of deterrence — a mix of precision-strike capabilities will mitigate any advantage North Korea seeks in resorting to nuclear conflict and therefore deter it from doing so. But this theory rests on a questionable assumption, that North Korea will perceive the balance of forces accurately and draw the conclusions from U.S. capabilities that we wish them to draw. If Warden and Manzo’s assumption is incorrect, their prescription will actually undermine crisis stability and prime deterrence to fail. Takeaways If there is anything that Trump administration officials can take away from this expert discussion, it should be that diplomacy has popular backing, even if it goes nowhere. Deterrence is achievable, and preferable to a war of choice. And just because North Korea remains the “land of lousy options” does not make it any more reasonable for policy to drift toward “bloody noses” and preventive wars.  Mere talk of it is ill-advised. To the extent it reflects the administration’s true intentions, it represents an egregious mismatch between ends and means. If, by contrast, war talk is nothing more than coercive bluffing, it is doomed to fail and risks eroding U.S. credibility in the process.   Van Jackson, PhD, is an associate editor at the Texas National Security Review and a senior editor at War on the Rocks. He is also a senior lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, as well as the Defence & Strategy Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies.

2. Maximum Pressure: A Clarifying Signal in the Noise of North Korea Policy 

By Patrick M. Cronin At the height of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, the Stoic philosopher Seneca counseled that any quest for a fulfilling life should begin with a clear objective: “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind.”[4] Seneca may as well have been advising policymakers on dealing with North Korea. The objectives of Washington’s North Korea policy run the gamut from the plausible to the unthinkable. In the main, the Trump administration’s national security team supports the goal of deterring the outbreak of major war, a bedrock of bipartisan national security policy for 65 years.[5] Both the Obama and Trump administrations have engaged in various shows of force and enhanced military exercises to underscore deterrence and an ironclad alliance commitment. As America’s top officer in Korea has explained, the purpose of joint U.S.-South Korean exercises is to serve the overriding goal of maintaining “a credible deterrent.”[6] As North Korea approaches its declared goal of possessing long-range, nuclear-armed missiles, analysts have stressed two different approaches to diplomacy. Some advocate avoiding tension by emphasizing diplomatic engagement. Although the engagement element of U.S. North Korea policy remains muted, even President Trump has urged North Korea to “come to the table and make a deal.”[7] Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has hinted at diplomatic flexibility, provided the ultimate destination remains the denuclearization of the peninsula.[8] An alternative approach uses diplomacy as a means of compelling Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons through diplomatic pressure and economic isolation.[9] This has been a central feature of the Trump administration’s strategy of maximum pressure. Finally, administration officials have occasionally suggested that deterring war may not be sufficient, and that instead the United States may consider an objective of denying Kim Jong-un nuclear weapons through military action, including the possibility of a preventive decapitation strike.[10] President Trump has instructed the Armed Forces to prepare military options should they be necessary. Secretary of Defense James Mattis emphasizes diplomacy, but he has also made clear that the military must prepare for all contingencies: “What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is you’ve got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ, if needed.”[11] Yet, policymakers have not reached a consensus on any one of these various approaches (deterrence, diplomatic engagement, diplomatic pressure, and military action). While the fear of nuclear war drives the North Korea issue to the top of many debates, the absence of any broad agreement on the feasible and desirable aims of U.S. and allied North Korea policy contributes to some of the worst-case analyses that often fill our inboxes and social media feeds. Lacking a desirable aim (but leaving plenty of opportunity for error), our North Korea policy seems dangerously adrift. Aiming for Peace, Order, and Influence To reach a consensus, we need to begin with a shared understanding of the threat North Korea poses to preserving peace, prosperity, and freedom. From that baseline, we should be doing whatever necessary to prevent Pyongyang from undermining the achievements for which our forebears sacrificed so much. North Korea’s nuclear buildup is a barometer by which to gauge the decline of both the rules-based postwar order and America’s influence. Its imminent acquisition of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the American homeland presently challenges regional and international security.[12] Emboldened by a variety of new military means, the 34-year-old Kim may rely even more on brinkmanship and coercion to disrupt development on and around the peninsula. Such recklessness could trigger war through miscalculation. Even short of war, Pyongyang’s success in building an arsenal of nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional, and cyber weapons could accelerate an arms race in Northeast Asia and lead to the proliferation of deadly new weapons around the globe. With peace, order, and influence at risk, the United States has several realistic options for dealing with North Korea. This begins with deterring North Korean aggression. We know how to do this. By remaining strong and actively engaged, and working in close concert with our allies, we can continue to preserve the peace. However, because North Korea’s threat to regional order transcends the challenge of deterrence, the United States should also seek to use a combination of pressure and diplomacy to contain and eventually eliminate the most pernicious threats to our homeland, our allies, and innocent civilians on the peninsula and elsewhere. The Logic of Maximum Pressure and Engagement The Trump administration’s North Korea policy is based on a thorough interagency review conducted early in 2017 and managed by a group of seasoned professionals, including the National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, and the Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, who also happens to be Commander of the United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command in Korea. The policy of maximum pressure and engagement on which they settled is also anchored in strong alliances with South Korea as well as Japan. President Trump’s successful visits to both Tokyo and Seoul in November punctuated the high degree of continuity in America’s regional security policy, notwithstanding widespread concerns about U.S. reliability and power. Because North Korea threatens the world and not simply the United States and its allies, a successful policy requires greater international effort, particularly from China. The multi-pronged U.S. strategy designed to thwart North Korea's nuclear ambitions centers on the application of ever-greater economic pressure, which in turn requires compelling China to curb trade with Pyongyang. Although China is North Korea’s main trading partner, the Trump administration’s approach has compelled it to support various sanctions, which include cutting back coal imports from North Korea to agreeing to reduce energy exports to the Kim regime. China prefers to hedge its bets, calibrating the diplomatic support it offers the United States while ensuring that it does not suddenly and dangerously destabilizes the Kim regime.[13]  This latter proclivity may explain, at least in part, December 2017 reports that Chinese ships were seen trading with North Korea on the high seas in contravention of United Nations Security Council resolutions.[14] Trading in a way that appears designed to evade inspection, on the high seas, fuels speculation that China is merely claiming to crack down on North Korea while continuing to support the regime. It is the latest in a history of Chinese transgressions undermining U.S. efforts on North Korea. This leaves the United States with little alternative to imposing penalties on any entities engaging in illicit trade with North Korea, even China. In other words, more secondary sanctions are required.[15] Without diplomacy to contain North Korea’s threat and preempt an ever-tightening turning of the screw on North Korea’s economy, this dysfunctional pattern will continue as the administration’s pressure strategy moves forward. This is likely to beget a tired pattern of U.S.-China jostling over North Korean sanctions: U.S. officials expose instances of China's (and Russia’s) illicit trade with North Korea; China denies that it is doing anything illegal; the United States imposes limited secondary sanctions on Chinese entities; and China expresses outrage, combined with a pledge to penalize the offending businesses and curtail trade with North Korea. Time is Running Out for Whom? Many contend that time is running out to avert potential conflict on the Korean peninsula.[16] If there is a clock ticking, however, it is ticking most loudly for China.  While the United States and South Korea can live with long-term deterrence and defense, China stands to lose the most from a military buildup in Northeast Asia. Over time, the policy consequences of having to deter and contain a nuclear-armed North Korea will harm China. Can some combination of pressure, especially economic sanctions, and diplomacy avert a future that threatens vital U.S. interests? We will never know unless we try. If North Korea continues deploying nuclear weapons despite a maximum pressure and engagement strategy, the logical next step is deterrence and containment, not a preventive war. A preemptive attack on North Korean missiles about to strike the United States or its allies would contain the North Korea threat, and possibly even deter future missile strikes. But that is a world away from a preventive attack that targets cold missiles in the ground, which would be more likely to escalate to general war. The resulting catastrophe would be much worse than living for a while longer with a nuclear North Korea. Survival appears to be the lowest common denominator that unites all regional actors. This irreducible point brings the discussion back to Seneca. Above all else, we must first know what aim we seek to achieve. While there is no more immediate threat to regional peace and security than that posed by North Korea, we should avoid rushing headlong into a war of choice. How successfully Washington manages the North Korea problem – mostly through deterrence and containment, but also through timely diplomacy when the opportunity arises – could well determine the legacy of the Trump administration’s policy in Asia. If we head toward the right port, we should be able to discover favorable winds.   Dr. Patrick M. Cronin is the Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C.  He can be reached at pcronin@cnas.org and followed on Twitter at @PMCroninCNAS.

3. The Trump Administration and North Korea: A Happier New Year?

By Stephan Haggard Despite important developments in North-South relations in the first week of 2018, any analysis of North Korea must begin with the intractable nature of the problem. Kim Jong Un has doubled down on North Korea’s nuclear program, dramatically accelerating the pace of missile testing to extend their range and reliability. In his 2018 New Year’s address, Kim suggested that the country has “completed” its nuclear program. Although most Western analysts believe there is a fundamental contradiction between pursuit of the country’s nuclear program and economic development, Kim Jong Un does not seem to think so. Indeed, in 2013, he rolled out a strategic concept – the so-called byungjin line--which outlined simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic reconstruction. To date, the regime has shown little interest in returning to multilateral talks on denuclearization. And even if such talks were to resume – currently a long shot – it would take a substantial amount of time before North Korean capabilities were significantly reduced. The military options are also frustrating. Secretary of Defense Mattis has no doubt outlined them to President Trump, but preventive action or pre-emption faces a fundamental dilemma. Limited precision strikes would signal the seriousness of U.S. intent, and might be crafted to minimize the risks of all-out retaliation. But such limited strikes would not fundamentally degrade North Korea’s program and would certainly not eliminate it entirely. However, a more comprehensive military approach runs risks that would fall largely on our South Korean allies, who have insisted that they be consulted on any such action. It is wrong to say that the United States has no military options. Nonetheless, the curse of geography – the proximity of North Korean artillery to Seoul – creates limits that are well-understood on both sides. The optimal approach is therefore one that allows existing initiatives to play out. As implausible as a resolution of the North Korea challenge seems, the broad approach pioneered by the Obama administration and continued in important respects under President Trump might still yield fruit. Maximum Pressure and Engagement: A Reversion to the Mean? Given the diplomatic and military constraints, it is not surprising that the Trump administration is pursuing more mainstream approaches to the Korean peninsula for the time being. After a presidential campaign in which Seoul and Tokyo were treated in casual fashion, the administration has undertaken a succession of assurance tours through the two capitals; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, Vice President Mike Pence, and eventually the President himself all made such visits. Yet, not all is well in the two relationships, particularly on the economic front. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is still smarting from his failure to keep the United States in the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement faces substantial uncertainty. But the president’s team has undone at least some of the damage of the campaign, and thanks to North Korea the two Northeast Asian alliances have even strengthened. The reversion to the diplomatic mean is also evident with respect to core features of strategy toward the North Korea nuclear issue. The Trump administration denounced “strategic patience,” the Obama-era approach that combined diplomatic and economic pressure with a willingness to resume the Six Party Talks. In fact, the Trump administration’s re-christened “maximum pressure and engagement” has, in practice, differed little from strategic patience. In particular, despite the president’s tough talk, Secretary Tillerson has repeatedly restated a willingness not only to talk to North Korea, but to address North Korean – and Chinese – concerns. For example, the secretary has committed to the so-called “Four Nos”: that the United States does not seek regime change, collapse, or accelerated unification, and that it has no ambitions to station troops above the 38th parallel were North Korea to suddenly collapse. Yet the Trump administration’s strategy does depart from Obama’s in two significant ways. The first is the disquieting tendency on the part of the president to issue challenges and even threats, including personal taunts. Such plain talk could introduce uncertainty and ultimately facilitate talks. Yet many of the president’s tweets simply cut against more considered policy pronouncements emanating from elsewhere in the administration, sewing confusion about U.S. objectives and strategy. To the extent they have been threatening, they have probably motivated Kim Jong Un to accelerate his nuclear program rather than to slow it down. The second change in policy is much more consequential, and must be credited with significantly increasing economic pressure on North Korea. In early 2016, Congress granted the Obama administration wide authority to deploy secondary sanctions, using access to the U.S. financial markets as leverage to punish third parties doing business with North Korea. President Obama was reluctant to fully exploit this authority, but the Trump administration ramped up these efforts over the course of 2017, culminating in a wide-ranging executive order that granted the administration the authority to target virtually any entity doing business with North Korea. Although probably not enough to constrain North Korea on their own, the secondary sanctions have taken place in the context of shifts in Chinese thinking that are fundamentally changing North Korea’s economic prospects. The China Card North Korea played a surprisingly important role in efforts to get U.S.-China relations back on track after Trump’s early unforced errors on the Taiwan issue. President Trump not only took a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen but appeared to back away from the One China policy, a bedrock of US-China relations. The implicit deal coming out of the Mar-a-Lago summit in April was that the administration would put its protectionist economic agenda vis-à-vis China on hold in return for help on North Korea. Evidence that China was taking the issue seriously came in the form of two wide-ranging United Nations Security Council resolutions in 2017 that put an unprecedented squeeze on North Korea. Building on two resolutions passed in 2016, Chinese policy shifted in an important way: For the first time, Beijing agreed to sanction commercial trade, as opposed to goods that could be tied directly to the missile and nuclear programs. Securing Chinese cooperation at the U.N. Security Council has to be viewed as a significant diplomatic win for the Trump administration. China has always demanded its own quid-pro-quo on North Korea, however. It sees military options as unacceptable and holds that denuclearization must take place through a negotiated settlement that would address the interests of all parties. The Chinese (and Russian) proposal involves a simple trade: North Korea would place a moratorium on its nuclear and missile testing and the United States US would suspend its annual military exercises with South Korea. The Trump administration has been rightly reluctant to buy into this idea, but the reason is not just its resemblance to outright extortion. It is unclear how the parties will transition from a short-run confidence building measure—the suspension for suspension--to talks that would actually address the nuclear question. If North Korea wants to hold talks-about-talks only to reveal that they have no intention of discussing their weapons programs, what is the point? Unfortunately, neither the United States nor China has put adequate effort into outlining the parameters of talks, a necessary step for moving them forward. Until recently, the question was indeed one of strategic patience: How long would it take for sanctions to bring North Korea back to the table? Many analysts believed that China would never let North Korea collapse, that sanctions would never work because of the capacity of the regime to impose costs on its population, or both. To be sure, China has been cautious both in crafting U.N. Security Council resolutions and with respect to enforcement. But the North Korean economy is much more open than it was at the onset of the nuclear crisis in the George W. Bush administration, and much more vulnerable to the gradual squeeze that is currently underway. With Japan and South Korea moving toward embargo, and the patience of other countries drying up, North Korea has become almost entirely dependent on its commercial relationship with China. Even with smuggling and lax enforcement, it is hard to imagine North Korea will not be forced to evaluate its strategy in the face of a sanctions regime that threatens to cut off as much as one half of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Hidden reserves have allowed North Korea to maintain an appearance of normalcy. But the sanctions pressure on North Korea is clearly starting to have effect. If sustained by China, North Korea could possibly experience an old-fashioned balance of payments crisis as it ran out of the ability to finance its imports. Such a development would have wide-ranging effects across the entire economy. Developments in the New Year Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s address touted the country’s nuclear program and was defiant in the face of economic challenges. However, with other diplomatic avenues shut off and the effects of sanctions looming, it was only a matter of time before the regime sought to exploit South Korean President Moon Jae In’s deep commitment to engagement. Predictably, proposals to improve relations carried poison pills. Noting that both the seventieth anniversary of North Korea and the Winter Olympics fall in 2018, for example, Kim issued a more-or-less open threat to the games in his New Year’s address: that the physical security of the games could not be guaranteed. The speech went on about solving problems “by ourselves,” transparently seeking to diminish the US role and weaken the alliance. The price tag for North Korea’s participation in the Olympics was that the United States and South Korea postpone their upcoming military exercises. Perhaps to the surprise of all involved, the Trump and Moon administrations had the confidence to reach an understanding to delay – although not cancel – upcoming exercises, setting in motion an unanticipated set of events. North and South reopened a hotline and Kim promised a ministerial-level delegation. Initial negotiations sought to focus modestly on the logistics of getting North Korean athletes to Pyeongchang. But given that only a handful of athletes were qualified for the Games, it was clear that the ambitions of all parties were much wider. Although the United States convened a conference in Canada to coordinate on sanctions, President Trump subsequently endorsed wider North-South talks after some in his administration openly voiced caution. Where might this go? It has been an open secret since mid-December that the Moon administration was seeking an agreement on the exercises, and that he had discussed the issue during his summit with Xi Jinping after the initial proposal had been made to the United States. The agreement is significant since the guts of the joint Chinese-Russian proposal centers on suspending exercises in return for a suspension of missile and nuclear tests. Chinese authorities have already jumped to the wrong conclusion: that recent developments demonstrate Washington’s willingness to endorse China’s dual-suspension proposal. That is almost certainly a bridge too far, and South Korea and the United States will almost certainly maintain the pressure on North Korea to come to the table or face continuing isolation. But we should listen to Deng Xiaoping: You cross the water by feeling for the stones. The decision on suspending exercises around the Olympics could well be a stone.   Stephan Haggard is the Sallye and Lawerence Krause Distinguished Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California San Diego. With Marcus Noland, he is the author of three books on North Korea: Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid and Reform (2007); Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea (2011) and Hard Target: Sanctions, Inducements and the Case of North Korea (2017).

4. Risk and Reward in the Korean Nuclear Crisis

By Kyle Haynes The ongoing crisis on the Korean peninsula has increased the risk of nuclear war to the highest level in decades, perhaps since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The risk of catastrophic conflict was bound to increase as North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities developed to the point of being able to strike U.S. territory. But many of the Trump administration’s critics have highlighted the ways in which the President’s bellicose rhetoric has further increased the chances of war in Korea.[17] These critics are correct – Trump’s threats do make war more likely. But the substance of these criticisms is misplaced, or at least incomplete. The Trump administration has badly erred, but not because it has made threats that risk inadvertent escalation. Risk is an unavoidable, indeed an essential component of coercive diplomacy. Rather, American threats have foolishly focused on the pipe dream of denuclearization instead of more attainable goals like deterring North Korean aggression and limiting the growth of its nuclear and ICBM capabilities. In coercive diplomacy, risk is essential to any reward. But by focusing on unattainable objectives, the administration is mismatching ends and means, disproportionately raising the risk of war while promising very little payoff in return. In short, many of the Trump administration’s tactics can be found in the standard coercive diplomacy playbook. But these tactics are being badly misapplied in pursuit of objectives that are either trivial or completely unattainable. A better strategy requires a more measured, disciplined use of threats designed to accomplish important, but achievable policy goals. Below, I lay out a set of core American objectives in the North Korean crisis, and highlight those that are realistic enough to warrant the substantial risk of catastrophic war. American Objectives The United States should have four principal security objectives on the Korean peninsula. The first is denuclearization, which would entail the removal of nuclear weapons from North Korea’s military arsenal. The second is a more limited variant of the first: to slow, stop, or otherwise limit the development of North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile capabilities. The third is to deter any aggression that North Korea might seek to commit under the cover of its new nuclear capabilities. The final U.S. objective is to avoid an unacceptably costly war. To date, the administration has only been unequivocal about its pursuit of the first while variously conflating, ignoring, or eliding the other three. There are fundamental tradeoffs between some of these objectives. In particular, forcefully pursuing the first three necessarily risks sacrificing the fourth. In extremis, the United States is clearly capable of denuclearizing North Korea by force. But doing so would require a massive preventive attack that would kill millions of North Koreans and likely result in retaliatory nuclear strikes on U.S. allies, if not the U.S. homeland. The United States could also radically reduce the short-term risk of conflict by ceasing its efforts to roll back or limit North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, but this would entail abandoning some of Washington’s most important regional security objectives. On the other hand, there are important synergies among these objectives as well. Limiting the development of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal makes it easier to deter aggression, and deterring aggression of course reduces the risk of war. In evaluating which of these objectives warrants incurring a heightened risk of potentially cataclysmic war, we must understand these tradeoffs and complementarities, and soberly evaluate the costs, risks, and likelihood of success that each one entails. Denuclearization Achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would yield greater security benefits for the United States than any of the other objectives listed above. It is also the least realistic of these objectives. Nuclear weapons represent the ultimate deterrent and security guarantor for any state. It would be foolhardy for Kim Jong Un to abandon his nuclear deterrent in exchange for security guarantees, as there would be little stopping the United States from reneging on these guarantees the moment Pyongyang scraps its last nuclear warhead.[18] The North Korean leadership clearly recognizes this, regularly remarking on the irrationality of Muammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Ukrainian leaders who voluntarily abandoned their nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs, only to be subsequently attacked by foreign adversaries.[19] Limitation Limiting the growth of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities is a realistic objective, but accomplishing it will require the U.S. to make significant concessions, potentially including a peace treaty that formally recognizes the regime in Pyongyang and the cessation of joint military exercises with South Korea.[20] Furthermore, Kim Jong Un is unlikely to agree to any limitation that seriously undercuts his ability to deter an unprovoked attack. But North Korea already possesses upwards of 60 operational nuclear warheads, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) likely capable of striking the entire United States.[21] And while its targeting capabilities and reentry vehicles are as yet unproven, North Korea has already reached the point where any would-be attacker runs a substantial risk of suffering nuclear retaliation. As such, Kim Jong Un could soon view his own nuclear deterrent as sufficiently advanced that he would trade away further development for some offsetting concession. Deterrence North Korea’s nuclear arsenal may embolden it to attempt acts of provocation aimed at “decoupling” the United States from South Korea or other regional allies. North Korea could even launch a conventional attack aimed at unifying the peninsula, holding its nuclear weapons in reserve and threatening to strike the American homeland if U.S. forces becomes involved. And while Pyongyang may attempt limited escalations to probe American resolve, deterring more significant aggression is essential to upholding America’s regional interests. Fortunately, history indicates that prudently firm deterrent strategies can effectively prevent such actions. Some would argue that Kim is “irrational” or otherwise “undeterrable.” These arguments often cite Pyongyang’s habit of making bombastic threats, or Kim’s apparent penchant for executing high-level officials in bizarre and grotesque ways, as evidence that he fundamentally does not value human life.[22] But effective deterrence does not require a leader to value their citizens’ lives. It requires them to value their own, which Kim Jong Un certainly appears to do. And there is no surer way for Kim to bring an end to his own regime, and his own life, than starting a full-scale war with the United States. Averting War Finally, and most intuitively, it is clearly in American interests to prevent a costly war on the Korean peninsula. Even before Pyongyang successfully tested an ICBM capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, Defense Secretary James Mattis suggested that a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” and entail “the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”[23] Reasonable people might differ regarding the precise level of costs and casualties they find tolerable. But all would agree that the United States should pursue its other objectives while minimizing expected casualties, physical destruction, and economic disruption. Calibrating Risks and Rewards The Trump administration’s core dilemma on the Korean peninsula is a familiar one, harking back to debates between the “deterrence” and “spiral” models of international conflict.[24] The deterrence model argues that states need to project strength and resolve in order to deter aggressive states from acting on their hostile intentions. The spiral model, conversely, suggests that such projections of strength risk unduly threatening states that have no aggressive intentions, and seek only self-protection. Facing such benign actors, bellicose policies seeking to deter aggression might only succeed in provoking spirals of unnecessary hostility that ultimately lead to a war neither side wants.[25] Deterrence, denuclearization, and limitation of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities all will require the United States to project strength and threaten painful consequences if Pyongyang does not accede to American demands. But by their very nature, these threats increase the risk of inadvertent escalation and even full-scale war. Indeed, as Thomas Schelling argued, coercive threats between nuclear powers generate leverage precisely because they entail a heightened risk of mutual disaster.[26] This is the core logic of “brinkmanship” as a tactic in coercive diplomacy. The question is whether these threats also increase probability of Pyongyang making some significant policy concession that would enhance American security and offset the risks inherent in this escalatory rhetoric. If not, then the risk simply promises no compensating reward. But to date, the Trump administration has focused its coercive demands on denuclearization, with comparatively little attention focused on deterrence and even less on limiting the further development of Pyongyang’s nuclear and ICBM capabilities.[27] This emphasis is doubly problematic. It aims at an objective that, as argued above, is entirely unattainable through diplomatic means. It is also disproportionately likely to result in war, as Pyongyang knows that it will never accede to the Trump administration’s key demand. And knowing that American policymakers will find diplomacy to be futile, Pyongyang’s estimate of the likelihood of war will increase without offering any corresponding policy concessions. This may be yet another example of Trump’s favored “anchoring” negotiation strategy – making an outlandishly aggressive opening offer in order to shift the perceived range of feasible negotiating outcomes in your favor. Experimental evidence demonstrating this tactic’s effectiveness is impressively robust.[28] But the primary drawback of anchoring is that an adversary may interpret the aggressive opening offer as an indication of irreconcilability, and simply walk away from negotiations. Best case, this simply gives North Korea time to further expand its nuclear and ICBM capabilities. Worst case, Pyongyang interprets the Trump administration’s unreasonable opening offer as a sign that it has given up on diplomacy and is bent on military action. Given the risks, if the Trump administration’s denuclearization demands are simply an attempt at anchoring, they are an extremely dangerous and misguided form of it. But ultimately, any attempt at coercive diplomacy with North Korea is going to entail some heightened risk of war. Making these risks worthwhile requires the United States to apply the leverage generated by its escalatory tactics toward significant but achievable policy objectives. A Realistic Negotiating Strategy The Trump administration needs a clearer and more focused coercive strategy. Escalatory threats can be useful, but they must convey a clear set of realistic demands. The administration should focus its demands on halting North Korean missile and nuclear tests (limitation) and warning against acts of aggression toward American allies in the region (deterrence). These objectives are attainable and promise meaningful security benefits. Furthermore, they can be pursued simultaneously, and there are significant complementarities between them. The foremost U.S. security objective should be to deter North Korean aggression by reaffirming America’s commitment to its regional allies and developing or reinforcing the military capabilities necessary to maintain escalation dominance across all potential stages of a military conflict.[29] Irrespective of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, America’s regional interests will remain largely intact if North Korea does not attempt any serious acts of aggression, intimidation, or subversion under the cover of its nuclear deterrent. Based on decades of Cold War standoffs across the globe, the U.S. foreign policy community is steeped in experience when it comes to deterring insecure and ideologically hostile regimes. Furthermore, America’s regional alliances date back decades, its economic ties to East Asia are enormous, and tens of thousands of American troops remain deployed across the region. The Trump administration is taking up the task of deterring Pyongyang with a massive reserve of credibility already in the bank. And while Trump may have already squandered much of his own credibility, these pre-existing structural factors should make deterring North Korean aggression a perfectly manageable task. Next, limiting the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM capabilities may be feasible depending on how much nuclear capability the United States is willing to tolerate. Given the Trump administration’s rhetoric, leaders in Pyongyang might reasonably believe they need to significantly increase the size and sophistication of their strategic arsenal to deter an American attack.[30] The Kim regime’s intense insecurity likely means that it would require enormous concessions and guarantees in order to limit its nuclear arsenal around its current levels. This is theoretically and technically possible, though the political obstacles would be significant. And importantly, time is not on America’s side if it wishes to limit Pyongyang’s capabilities. Negotiations would need to begin quickly, given the pace of North Korea’s nuclear development under Kim Jong Un. Generating Risk, Using it Rationally The Trump administration’s strategy has significantly increased the risk of conflict on the Korean peninsula. In itself, this is not necessarily ill-advised. The question is whether this risk is being carefully calibrated, and whether the potential leverage derived from it is being utilized effectively in order to extract meaningful concessions. In this regard, the Trump administration’s strategy has been a mess. Vague, bellicose threats are often made via Twitter, with little consultation among allies and advisers. More importantly, the ostensible objectives of these threats are often either unrealistic or trivial. No coercive threat will ever persuade Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear arsenal. And deterrence aimed at preventing North Korea from “threatening” the United States simply does nothing to further core American security interests. The Trump administration is thus ratcheting up the risk of war on the Korean peninsula without a corresponding diplomatic strategy that promises meaningful concessions as a result. The White House should promptly initiate talks aimed at halting, and potentially rolling back, the development of North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM programs, beginning with a moratorium on testing these capabilities. It should also redouble the U.S. commitment to deterring North Korean aggression. Judging by Pyongyang’s historical penchant for escalatory behavior and its desire to break up the U.S.-South Korea alliance, there is good reason to believe the North Koreans will attempt limited probes and isolated acts of aggression in an attempt to assess American and South Korean resolve in this altered strategic setting. Early crises will establish precedents and expectations that may have implications for decades. Reinforcing clear red lines and establishing tolerable bounds for North Korean provocations early on will be enormously important. Trump’s belligerent rhetoric has raised the risk of war-by-miscalculation to the point that it may yield significant diplomatic leverage with Pyongyang going forward. Policymakers must apply this leverage in ways that maximize the security payoff while minimizing the risk of actual war. This requires emphasizing deterrence and limitation, not denuclearization. Risks are inevitable in the Korean crisis. Using them effectively to gain the greatest security payoff possible is the Trump administration’s big test – one that it failed during its first year.   Kyle Haynes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Purdue University. His research focuses on interstate signaling in both crisis bargaining and reassurance situations. Follow him on Twitter @kyle_e_haynes

5. North Korea Requires Deterrence and Containment, Not Bombing

By Kelly Magsamen *A prior version of this article appeared as written testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 30, 2018. North Korea poses a serious threat to the United States and our allies. North Korea is the country violating multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. And Kim Jong Un is a ruthless tyrant building nuclear weapons on the backs of his oppressed people. I worked the North Korea challenge every day in my years at the Department of Defense, so I am deeply familiar with the adage that North Korea is the land of lousy options. There are no easy solutions or silver bullets. But I do believe there are some basic ingredients to a sound strategy: To its credit, the Trump administration has had some important achievements on increasing pressure on North Korea, including strong United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions and pushing China further along. In some ways, these are extensions of the Obama administration’s strategy and I believe more can be done to increase pressure. However, the Trump administration’s strategy has also been plagued by incoherence and neglect on many of these other fronts — and as a result, the sum has not been greater than its parts. With tensions high and increasing talk of preventive U.S. military action, I am deeply concerned about the prospect of war with North Korea — whether by miscalculation or by design. The question we should be asking ourselves is whether initiating armed conflict with North Korea is necessary or advisable to advancing long-term U.S. national security interests. I believe that after a thorough analysis of the likely costs of preventive war, and a careful examination of the alternatives, it is nearly impossible to conclude that the preventive use of force is advisable or even the least bad option in terms of advancing our interests and minimizing risk. There is a role for the military instrument to play — it is essential for deterrence credibility, the defense of our allies, and to back up diplomacy. But use of force should always be of last resort. If there is an imminent threat to U.S. forces in Korea or Japan or elsewhere in the region, or against the U.S. homeland, our right to self-defense is clear and absolute. However, there are sound reasons why multiple administrations have refrained from using force preventively — it would likely be catastrophic in human, economic, and strategic terms, not to mention illegal. The Human Costs Estimating the human costs of war is always an imperfect exercise. Much depends on assumptions and scenarios. However, even a limited military strike would likely escalate quickly into a regional conflagration. South Korea would likely face an artillery barrage on Seoul, if not a nuclear or chemical attack from the North. According to the Congressional Research Service, between 30,000 and 300,000 people could die within days of the conflict.[31] In addition to 28,500 U.S. military personnel and thousands of their dependents, there are approximately 100,000-500,000 American citizens living in South Korea. North Korea’s ballistic missiles can also range Tokyo, the world’s largest city, putting millions at risk. Hawaii and Guam — where millions of American citizens reside — are at the top of the North Korean target list. Inside North Korea, a major humanitarian crisis would likely unfold in the aftermath of the use of force. Food supplies and basic health care would be scarce, exacerbated by massive refugee flows numbering in the millions. Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners and detainees would also need critical attention. Post-conflict security demands would be similarly daunting. North Korea has the fourth largest military in the world: over a million strong with more than seven million reservists. Including troops and reservists, that is nearly 25 times the size of the Iraqi army in 2003.[32] Even as foreign forces worked to seize nuclear sites and materials, stocks of chemical weapons would be scattered around the country, along with caches of conventional weapons in underground tunnels and facilities. Surviving factions could ignite civil war and insurgency. As a result, according to some estimates, stabilization and peacekeeping tasks could require more than 400,000 troops.[33] This does not even begin to address the complex governance issues that would instantly emerge. We have encountered questions on unification, demobilization, and transitional justice in prior conflicts — a few of the many lessons from our experiences in Iraq — and have not acquitted ourselves well in dealing with them. The Economic Costs On the potential economic costs of war, let us start with a few simple facts: If nuclear conflict were to occur, the RAND Corporation estimates that such an attack would cost at least 10 percent of the ROK’s GDP in the first year alone and that those losses would likely be extended for at least ten years. And these estimates do not even include a strike on Hawaii or Japan.[34] Further, direct costs to U.S. taxpayers of a war with North Korea would be significant. According to another 2010 RAND report, estimates for long-term reconstruction of the Korean Peninsula top $1 trillion.[35] The Strategic Costs The strategic costs of preventive war with North Korea would be quite consequential for long-term U.S. interests, even assuming military success. Three questions factor most in my mind:
  1. What will be the long-term impact on our alliances? If a military strike is conducted without the concurrence of the ROK and Japan, you can expect an end to the alliance relationships as we know them in Asia and probably around the world. A preventive war without the full support of our Asian allies would likely do lasting damage to trust in America — not just in Asia, but globally. Without our alliances and partnerships, the United States’ role as a Pacific power would be fundamentally diminished for the long term.
  2. What will China and Russia do? China will almost certainly intervene into a destabilized North Korea, creating both military and political obstacles for the United States. It is likely that China will seek to occupy North Korea, at a minimum to prevent a complete state collapse and to secure nuclear sites. A long-term Chinese presence in North Korea — and it would almost certainly be long-term — has implications for our alliance with the ROK and our interests in Northeast Asia. And in a worse-case scenario, absent substantial strategic and tactical deconfliction in advance, a potential U.S.-China conflict could easily materialize. Russia, which shares a small land border with North Korea, will most certainly oppose U.S. intervention and continue to play spoiler alongside China.
  3. What would be the opportunity costs for the United States? This question never gets enough attention. War with North Korea would become the central preoccupation of the president and his national security team for the duration of his term — crowding out all other issues and limiting strategic bandwidth for the United States to deal with challenges like Russia, China, and Iran. If great power competition with China and Russia are indeed central to U.S. national security strategy, then war with North Korea would almost certainly distract U.S. resources and focus and increase China’s opportunities in the region. From a basic force management perspective, hard trade-offs would need to be made with respect to forces and capabilities in other theaters.
Examining the Argument for Preventive Use of Force There are some who argue that preventive use of force is the least bad option. They predicate this view in part on an assumption that Kim Jong Un is not a rational actor and therefore deterrence is not a reliable option for preventing a nuclear first strike against the United States. They also suggest that once North Korea achieves a full intercontinental ballistic missile capability, Kim Jong Un will use that capability to hold the U.S. homeland at risk while forcibly unifying the Korean Peninsula. While no one can credibly predict North Korean intentions, and while the possibility of nuclear coercion is real, there are some empirical weaknesses in this line of argument. Let me break it down. First, history shows otherwise. While reunification remains the stated objective of both North and South Korea, the credible threat of American and ROK firepower has prevented North Korea from pursuing that reunification by force since 1953. More than 28,000 U.S. troops remain on the Peninsula today, backed up by our extended deterrence commitment that would bring to bear the full spectrum of American power. Strengthening our deterrence credibility starts not with an overt demonstration of U.S. power in defense of our own citizens and interests, but with the credibility of our commitment to defend the citizens and interests of our allies. A preventive attack would undermine America’s deterrence strategy by showing that we are willing to sacrifice our allies, essentially decoupling them ourselves. Second, there are the basic military realities. Some have suggested that “war over there is better than war over here.” But let us be honest: North Korea already has the capability to hold U.S. interests at risk in the Pacific — with nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach Hawaii and Guam where millions of American citizens live, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of American civilians living in both Korea and Japan. So, war over there would also potentially cost millions of American lives. Third, the arguments for preventive use of force are predicated on ultimately unknowable determinations on Kim Jong Un’s rationality. What would be the objective and how would we effectuate the desired outcome, especially if he is irrational? Much will depend on Kim Jong Un’s perceptions of our intentions. So if we assume Kim Jong Un is indeed an irrational actor, why would we think that he would exercise restraint when presented with a limited U.S. military strike? This is the central flaw in the argument for the “bloody nose” approach. Escalation is extremely likely and deterrence cuts both ways. Finally, there are real questions about the effectiveness of preventive use of force. What would a limited strike ultimately seek to achieve? If it is to show we are serious and to force Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table, it is unlikely that he will oblige. If the objective of a strike is to take out his nuclear and ballistic missile programs, then that is not a limited military option. In my judgment, that would be a full-scale war, and in that case, we would need to have high confidence that we were able to hit all out targets and that the nuclear, chemical, and ballistic programs could not be reconstituted. In fact, in a letter to Congress last year, the Pentagon itself estimates that eliminating all of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities would require an actual ground invasion.[36] What are the other options? National security decision-making often forces us to choose the least bad option.  Make no mistake that with North Korea there are no good options and that all of them carry risk. But by far the worst is war. In my view, the least bad option is to contain, deter, pressure, and vigorously try to open a genuine diplomatic process. So where does that leave us? To begin with, we need to refresh our approach to diplomacy and make clear to North Korea that the door is open. We all know that diplomacy with North Korea has a checkered past, but it must be the leading line of the U.S. effort if for no other reason than that diplomacy is the necessary predicate to all other options. And while North Korea has demonstrated little interest in meaningful diplomacy over denuclearization, we need to be clear, persistent, and creative about how we approach any negotiations. There has been significant confusion over U.S. intentions in this regard. We also need to consider that at the heart of the North Korea crisis is a security dilemma, not just an arms control and proliferation problem. We need to think creatively about how to address that dilemma in concert with our allies — including what assurances we would be prepared to offer in exchange for meaningful and verifiable limits on their nuclear program. Diplomacy is only likely to be successful if it begins without preconditions and moves in stages of confidence-building. We should also be positioning ourselves to shape any negotiations to our advantage and not allow the North Koreans to seize the initiative. For this to be possible, I would encourage the Trump administration to appoint an experienced high-level envoy that has the unambiguous backing of the White House to coordinate diplomacy and messaging with our allies and who would be dedicated full time to the pursuit of negotiations. Second, we should consider a shift in our strategy vis-à-vis China. While the Chinese do not share our long-term interests on the Korean Peninsula, they do worry about two things: secondary sanctions and American encirclement. On the sanction front, the administration has only just begun to get serious with China, and the United States should pull every non-military pressure lever it has over North Korea before putting American lives on the line. Critically, China can cut off North Korea’s oil supplies, but it has not yet done so. The Trump administration should substantially ratchet up the costs to Beijing if it continues to supply fuel not only to the North Korean economy but to its military as well. Further, the Chinese need to look out around the region and see the negative effect that a nuclear-armed North Korea will have on their long-term objective to impose a sphere of influence in their near periphery. We should consider what additional force posture is necessary to contain and deter a nuclear-armed North Korea and we should not hesitate to move forward with it, whether that takes the form of an additional THAAD battery on the Peninsula, support for Japanese acquisition of key capabilities, or additional U.S. air, naval, and ground forces around the region. As the United States bolsters deterrence and containment against North Korea, U.S. policy must send the unmistakable signal to China that, if the threat from North Korea remains, the United States will strengthen its military posture in Northeast Asia. We also need to work harder to improve Japan-ROK relations and further operationalize trilateral cooperation — not just to prevent North Korea from driving wedges, but China as well. Third, we are likely to find ourselves in a containment and deterrence scenario and we should begin conceptualizing what would be necessary, in that scenario, to limit risk. This is obviously no one’s preferred outcome and it has potential downsides. But given the challenges of diplomacy with North Korea and given the overwhelming risks of war, I think we also need to be realistic. What would an active containment and upgraded deterrence strategy look like that would minimize risk, protect our long-term strategic interests, and could be executed in concert with our allies? We need to be thinking hard about how to upgrade our extended deterrence commitments to our allies, how to improve conventional deterrence, and how to craft a much more integrated and enhanced counter-proliferation framework. A war of choice with North Korea would be the option of highest risk. It would be unlikely to advance U.S. long-term strategic interests, and in my view, could potentially mortally wound them. Given the stakes involved with the use of force, the Trump administration owes our military and the American public the planning and preparation that, frankly, was absent with Iraq in 2003. *Portions of this article previously appeared in The Hill on December 1, 2017, with Ely Ratner. Kelly Magsamen is Vice President for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. She previously served as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs

6. The Least Bad Option: Damage Limitation and U.S. Deterrence Strategy toward North Korea

By Vince A. Manzo and John K. Warden The Trump administration is right to be alarmed by the breakneck advancement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But by treating North Korea’s push toward an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as a crisis rather than a component of a long-term challenge, the Trump team is stumbling toward an unnecessary war. Senior officials appear to be coalescing around the wrongheaded conclusion that the United States cannot deter a nuclear-armed North Korea and are reportedly contemplating limited military action that would carry significant risk of escalation to a catastrophic war.[37] Fortunately, the United States has acceptable options between the insupportable extremes of preventive war or capitulation to Pyongyang’s most far-reaching demands. Rather than trying to “solve the problem,” the Trump administration needs a long-term strategy for managing the threat. The administration’s goals should be to deter war, mitigate the risk of nuclear escalation, and assuage South Korean and Japanese concerns. To achieve these goals, the United States must demonstrate that it will oppose armed aggression in the face of increasing nuclear risk. Maintaining robust “damage-limitation capabilities” that can significantly limit North Korea’s ability to conduct successful nuclear strikes against the United States and its allies should be the Trump administration’s long-term priority. The Extended Deterrence and Assurance Challenge The risk associated with North Korea’s advancing nuclear weapons program is not that Pyongyang will conduct a bolt-from-the-blue strike against the United States. Rather, the concern is that North Korea will launch conventional attacks against Japan and South Korea backed by nuclear threats. To continue to uphold its extended deterrence commitments, the United States must be willing to step into the crosshairs of an increasing number of North Korean ICBMs on behalf on an ally. This is an extraordinary commitment, and one that Pyongyang, and possibly Seoul and Tokyo, may come to question. As North Korea’s nuclear capabilities improve, Pyongyang is likely to become more ambitious. Pyongyang likely has – or will develop – a strategy for using its nuclear weapons capability to reshape the political arrangement on the peninsula.[38] If Pyongyang is confident that it can threaten nuclear escalation to deter the United States and South Korea from pursuing regime change, then it is likely to be more willing to initiate provocations, escalate crises, and risk war.[39] In the worst case scenario, North Korea may come to think that it can invade and conquer South Korea while using nuclear threats to deter U.S. intervention.[40] Short of that, the Kim regime has intermediate objectives: weakening the U.S.-South Korea alliance, reducing U.S. military presence on the Korean peninsula, dividing South Korea and Japan, and extracting economic concessions.[41] A related concern is that Seoul and Tokyo may come to doubt U.S. security guarantees. They may fear that the United States would fail to honor its security commitment and conclude that they need their own nuclear weapons to deter North Korea. Perhaps more likely, Seoul might conclude that it needs to take matters into its own hands in a crisis by conducting a unilateral, conventional strike targeting Kim Jong Un or key leadership around him. Alternatively, Seoul might agree to a North-South confederation or a substantially reduced U.S. military presence; Tokyo might deny the use of its territory for U.S. military operations on the Korean peninsula. The United States, therefore, must convince Pyongyang, Seoul, and Tokyo that it will oppose North Korean aggression. The United States can deter North Korea from starting a war or using nuclear weapons.[42] But doing so will require a determined effort to shape Pyongyang’s calculus. The U.S. and allied goal should be to convince the Kim regime that its nuclear weapons are an insurance policy against an unprovoked invasion rather than a license for conquest. The Case for Damage Limitation A central element of U.S. long-term strategy for deterring a nuclear-armed North Korea and assuring South Korea and Japan should be to maintain robust “damage-limitation capabilities” to keep pace with North Korea’s advancing nuclear forces. By damage-limitation capabilities, we mean military capabilities that would allow the United States – in a conflict – to use offensive and defensive means to significantly reduce North Korea’s ability to conduct successful nuclear strikes against it and its allies. Broadly, these capabilities would include three key elements: intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to locate and track North Korean nuclear forces, strike capabilities to disable nuclear-armed delivery vehicles or disrupt their command and control, and defenses to intercept nuclear-armed missiles once North Korea has launched them. Of course, the United States has significant ISR, strike, and missile defense capabilities today. But as North Korea’s nuclear weapons force becomes larger and more sophisticated, the United States will need to keep pace, which will require examining North Korean nuclear forces as a network and ensuring that the United States has the appropriate tools to exploit weak points. One key shortcoming of the current U.S. posture is an overreliance on nuclear weapons to conduct strikes against North Korea’s nuclear forces.[43] Massive nuclear strikes may not be credible in Pyongyang’s eyes, making it critical that the United States improve its conventional options, particularly against high-value targets like ICBMs. This might involve the deployment of additional strike platforms to the Korean peninsula or the fielding of intercontinental-range conventional strike capabilities.[44] Robust damage-limitation capabilities will help the United States disabuse Kim Jong Un of the idea that he can use or threaten to use nuclear weapons to terminate a conventional conflict. Pyongyang knows it cannot match the full military potential of the United States. As a result, Kim has incentives to use nuclear weapons against U.S. forces and bases in the region, while relying on the threat of significant nuclear attacks against U.S. and allied cities to convince the United States to stop fighting.[45] But if Kim and his advisers fear that the United States will execute strikes to destroy their nuclear forces – either to preempt its nuclear use during a conventional conflict or to retaliate against a limited nuclear strike –then they will have dramatically less confidence in their ability to coerce or intimidate through the threat or use of force. Recognizing this military disadvantage, Pyongyang will be less likely to go on the offensive, in peacetime or in crisis, or to attempt to end a conflict by conducting limited nuclear strikes. Washington, on the other hand, would have greater confidence in its ability to deter – and if necessary mitigate – nuclear escalation, which should increase U.S. willingness to stand with allies in the face of aggression. For allies, U.S. damage-limitation capabilities would help to assure them of the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence despite advancing North Korean nuclear capabilities.[46] Lastly, damage-limitation capabilities provide Washington with an option to reduce harm to the United States and its allies. A conflict on the Korean peninsula could spiral out of control despite U.S. efforts to de-escalate. Imagine North Korea launching several nuclear strikes and preparing more, regardless of the consequences. In this scenario, the United States and its allies may determine that deterring the next wave of nuclear attacks is not viable and instead seek to disarm North Korea’s nuclear forces. The right mix of offensive and defensive capabilities would save thousands if not millions of American, Korean, and Japanese lives. There are, of course, risks associated with the pursuit of damage-limitation capabilities against a nuclear-armed adversary. The disadvantages have persuaded the U.S. government to accept a relationship of mutual vulnerability with Russia, and some scholars argue that pursuit of improved damage-limitation capabilities against China would be counterproductive.[47] For North Korea, however, the likely benefits outweigh the risks. Objection One: Not Required to Deter One objection is that the United States does not need damage-limitation capabilities to deter North Korea. This argument posits that a reliable forward military presence combined with the threat of an “effective and overwhelming” response to North Korean nuclear use is both necessary and sufficient to deny North Korea the ability to conquer territory and deter it from conducting nuclear strikes. This argument is half-right. The United States should pursue an improved conventional posture on the Korean peninsula and robust damage-limitation capabilities. But one is not a substitute for the other. A forward military posture would cause Pyongyang to think twice before undertaking conventional military aggression, but would not eliminate the possibility of war. Moreover, threats of an overwhelming response may not be sufficient to deter North Korean nuclear use absent significant damage-limitation capabilities. In an escalating conventional conflict, the Kim regime might be tempted to try to coerce Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo to accommodate its demands through limited nuclear strikes. If Pyongyang believes that it can reliably threaten several major U.S. cities, it may doubt that Washington will follow through on its threat of overwhelming retaliation, instead expecting accommodation. With robust damage-limitation capabilities, the United States can credibly threaten to preempt North Korea’s nuclear missiles and intercept most of those that survive, thus reducing the vulnerability of the United States. As a result, North Korea would be less confident that it can coerce capitulation. Objection Two: Triggers an Unwinnable Arms Race A second objection is that pursuit of damage-limitation capabilities would trigger an unwinnable arms race. This objection involves two claims. First, an arms race with North Korea would leave the United States and its allies worse off because striking North Korean nuclear forces is too difficult and U.S. missile defenses are too limited, particularly compared to the lower cost of fielding additional missiles. Second, U.S. damage-limitation capabilities would only be meaningful if the United States were supremely confident that a comprehensive strike against North Korean nuclear forces would be at or near one-hundred percent effective. Improving U.S. long-range strike and missile-defense capabilities would, indeed, incentivize Pyongyang to quantitatively and qualitatively improve its nuclear forces. But with North Korea – unlike Russia and China – this is not a competition the United States should avoid. Pyongyang is already trying to increase the survivability, reliability, and yield of its nuclear forces and is not going to reverse course. But the United States and its allies have a massive advantage over North Korea in financial and technical resources that they can use to make it harder for the North to maintain a survivable reserve of nuclear forces in war. North Korea is following the path of previous nuclear powers to keep its nuclear forces survivable: It is hiding key capabilities in dispersed, hardened facilities that are difficult to strike and is taking advantage of ground-based, mobile launchers that are difficult to find. In time, North Korea is likely to deploy nuclear-armed ballistic missiles on submarines that are also difficult to locate. Holding these forces at risk is hard but not impossible. Against a far superior competitor in the Soviet Union, the United States was able to use intelligence capabilities to track and target mobile missiles and submarines.[48] Today, improvements in technology are making it easier to find and strike mobile and hardened targets even against sophisticated, determined competitors.[49] North Korea is a far smaller country than either Russia or China, with far less transportation infrastructure, less experience operating mobile missiles and submarines, and a significantly reduced ability to deny the United States overhead and airborne ISR. If the United States and its allies dedicate significant resources to the effort, they can substantially improve their ability to find, track, target, and strike North Korea’s mobile missiles and submarines. Regarding missile defense, critics are correct to note that deploying additional missiles and countermeasures is cheaper than fielding reliable defenses and to warn of the limitations of current U.S. missile defense systems. But if Washington prioritizes realistic improvements in its homeland defense system, it can mitigate North Korea’s ability to reliably threaten the continental United States.[50] In addition, the United States, South Korea, and Japan can improve their combined regional missile defense posture by investing in proven systems and exploring new capabilities. To be clear, the United States will never be one-hundred-percent confident that it can comprehensively disarm North Korea’s nuclear forces. Fortunately, the purpose of pursuing additional damage-limitation capabilities is not to justify preventive war but rather to reduce the level of nuclear risk that the United States and its allies must take on in an escalating conflict with North Korea. There is an immense difference between an adversary that might be able to destroy a handful of U.S. cities and an adversary that could reliably threaten scores. Absolute security from North Korea’s nuclear weapons is unobtainable, but reducing U.S. and allied vulnerability is a realistic goal. Objection Three: Incentivizes North Korean Nuclear Use A third objection is that a damage-limitation posture would increase the likelihood of North Korea using a nuclear weapon in a conflict. It posits that if Kim Jong Un fears that the United States will destroy his nuclear forces, then he might feel pressure to use his nuclear weapons before he loses them. This conflates North Korea’s fear of regime change with its fear of strikes against its nuclear forces and, as a result, gets the relationship between U.S. damage-limitation capabilities and North Korea’s incentive to use nuclear weapons backward. Kim’s primary goal in a conflict with the United States would be regime survival. North Korea, therefore, requires a war strategy that coerces the United States and its allies to limit their ambitions, not because they are incapable of pursuing regime change in North Korea, but because they calculate that the risk is not worth the benefit. If the Kim regime fears that South Korea and the United States are going full bore toward regime change, nuclear escalation is a logical strategy. By raising the specter of an escalating nuclear war, Pyongyang would force Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo to reconsider whether the benefits of dislodging the regime are worth the likely catastrophic costs. But Pyongyang would also understand that nuclear escalation is an extremely risky strategy. In crossing the nuclear threshold, North Korea would contravene a long-held international norm against the use of nuclear weapons and cross a U.S. red line, ensuring that Washington has a stronger interest in pursuing regime change than at the outset of the conflict. Robust U.S. ISR, strike, and missile defense capabilities would make coercive nuclear escalation significantly riskier for Pyongyang. This damage-limitation posture would undermine Kim’s confidence that, by escalating a conflict to the nuclear level, he can convince the United States to stand down out of fear. As a result, in both crisis and conflict, a Kim regime interested in survival would have a reason to find less risky ways out of crisis. On the other hand, U.S. damage-limitation capabilities would increase Pyongyang’s concerns about America’s pursuit of regime change. Therefore, the requisite mix of offensive and defensive capabilities must be supplemented by a deliberate effort to assure the Kim regime that it has an off-ramp during conflict. Effective deterrence hinges on the promise of reciprocal restraint. As long as their wartime objectives remain limited, the United States and its allies must clearly signal to the Kim regime – in word and deed – that they are not interested in pursuing regime change unless North Korea conducts nuclear attacks first.[51] Engaging in peacetime diplomacy with North Korea to guard against misperception and miscalculation and reduce the likelihood of localized, escalation-prone conflicts would also help establish an understanding of reciprocal restraint based on clear deterrence thresholds. The Land of Bad Options Every approach to countering a nuclear-armed North Korea entails risk. But in the land of bad options, deterrence reigns. A U.S.-led deterrence strategy is our best hope for preventing North Korea from achieving its revisionist objectives at an acceptable cost to the United States and its allies. But it will only be effective if we prioritize maintaining robust damage-limitation capabilities to keep pace with North Korea’s advancing nuclear forces.   Vince A. Manzo (manzov@cna.org) is a Research Analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis. John K. Warden (jkwarden@gmail.com) is a Senior Policy Analyst on the Strategic Analysis & Assessments team at Science Applications International Corporation. The views expressed are their own.

7. Managing a Nuclear-Armed North Korea: Deter, Contain, Constrain, Transform

By Adam Mount U.S. policy on North Korea has failed. For more than 25 years, the United States and its allies have worked to prevent North Korea from achieving a deliverable nuclear capability. Over the first year of the Trump administration, rapid advancements in missile technology have brought North Korea to this threshold. The program is too advanced, too dispersed, and too valuable to the regime for us to quickly eliminate it through diplomatic or military means on acceptable terms. As a result, the United States and its allies are now forced to manage a nuclear-armed North Korea that deters aggression and other destabilizing behavior, contains illicit activity from spreading beyond its borders, and encourages the transformation of the regime over time. Each month that passes that has the United States clinging to an outdated, invalid policy is one that runs a severe risk of war and allows North Korean activities to go unaddressed. The regrettable fact is that a nuclear-armed North Korea exists and is not being managed. U.S. policy During its first year in office, the Trump administration has finally prioritized North Korea on the U.S. agenda. Yet, an inflated assessment of U.S. leverage, coupled with a poor policy process, has prevented additional resources and attention from transforming the standoff. The Trump team has manufactured a military and economic crisis they hope could force North Korea to capitulate. In its formal public statements and in a series of highly inflammatory statements on twitter, the administration has claimed that Pyongyang cannot be deterred, and that the United States will not tolerate vulnerability to North Korean missiles. In so doing, the administration is attempting to convince North Korea that failure to denuclearize will lead to war. If this effort were coordinated effectively and launched a decade ago, it may have stood a decent chance of success. However, both the execution of the policy and the state of North Korea’s capabilities are proving to be fatal complications. In their more lucid moments, administration officials claim that, once heightened economic sanctions have an opportunity to take hold, they intend to convene denuclearization negotiations. Yet, these moments of clarity are almost immediately obscured by contradictions, reversals, and vague threats of war that lack credibility or clear terms.[52] There remains a very real and entirely unacceptable possibility that influential groups in the administration prefer war or could talk themselves into one.[53] The mixed messages allow Pyongyang to temporize and select the interpretation of U.S. policy they consider most advantageous. Washington has not forced Pyongyang to respond to a credible negotiations proposal that stands a realistic chance of halting North Korea’s rapid development of a nuclear arsenal that the Kim regime sees as critical to domestic legitimacy and international survival.[54] North Korea will continue to develop, test, and operationally deploy these systems in the coming months and years.[55] Instead of forcing North Korea to capitulate to U.S. demands, the Trump administration’s belligerent posturing has deliberately eroded stability on the peninsula, significantly raising the risk of an accidental or deliberate conflict. At the same time, the exclusive and hopeless fixation on immediate denuclearization has prevented the United States and its allies from confronting the evolving North Korean threat. Despite a great deal of rhetoric, the Trump administration has done very little to actually address North Korea’s development of intermediate and intercontinental missiles and its demonstration of a more destructive nuclear device. Despite the regime’s dramatic nuclear and missile advancements over Trump’s first year in office, and despite ongoing improvements in its submarine, special operations, cyber, and artillery capabilities, U.S. force posture has not adapted. North Korea’s technical developments are invalidating the basic assumptions of U.S. policy toward the regime. Strategies predicated on coercing Pyongyang into negotiations to eliminate its nuclear arsenal now appear untenable, at least for the medium term. On the other hand, a military strike – whether to degrade North Korean forces or to coerce the regime – is unlikely to eliminate its programs and would in all likelihood incur unbearable humanitarian, economic, and strategic costs.[56] For the foreseeable future, the world will face a regime that possesses the capability to strike U.S. and regional targets with a nuclear weapon. Policy planning in Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo has not kept pace with Pyongyang’s rapid evolution, leaving the conversation marked by inertia. Because denuclearization has been the overriding objective, the United States and its allies have made little progress on developing a coordinated and sustainable North Korea strategy. Though a remarkably broad, bipartisan array of experts have proposed components of that strategy, very little is known about the constellation of concepts, principles, and policy options necessary for managing a nuclear-armed North Korea. The priorities of deterring, containing, constraining, and transforming a nuclear-armed North Korea should animate that effort. Deter The overwhelming imperative for the foreseeable future is to continuously deter a highly capable, rapidly evolving military adversary from aggression against U.S., South Korean, and Japanese targets, as well as other extremely destabilizing actions.[57] The United States and its allies will have to accept the necessity of sustainably deterring a novel adversary – one that is armed with nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional standoff retaliatory capabilities, highly capable in cyber, but also conventionally inferior.[58] North Korea is rapidly expanding its capacity for provocation and aggression on land, at sea, in space, and in cyberspace. The United States and its allies must retain the capabilities necessary to credibly retaliate in response to any such aggression. However, the high potential for escalation means that defeating and defending against these attacks will be critical to protecting allied civilians and servicemen. Nuclear deterrence will remain a part of allied posture for the foreseeable future, but is not sufficient to defend against North Korean aggression at lower levels of conflict, which will require that joint conventional forces remain capable and ready. As the North Korean threat evolves, so must the allied defensive posture. The alliance should consider new deployments of unambiguously defensive forces, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-special operations forces, cyber-defense, as well as measures to ensure that U.S. forces from anywhere in the world can reach South Korea to reinforce allied positions despite North Korean attacks. Deterrence of coercive or limited chemical and biological attacks also demands considerably more attention. It is not enough to deter aggression. Beginning immediately, the allies must work to deter North Korea from other extremely destabilizing and dangerous activities, including an atmospheric nuclear test, continued ballistic missile overflights of Japan, and proliferation of fissile material or nuclear weapons technology. Contain                                                                                    Despite its diplomatic isolation, the regime in Pyongyang has never confined its activities to its own borders. North Korean operatives are growing increasingly adept at acting across the globe, spreading financial crimes, smuggling illicit goods, procuring and exporting military equipment, placing North Korean workers in foreign countries to gain currency, stealing funds from banks through cyber intrusion, and a myriad other illicit activities.[59] North Korea has already sold nuclear technology abroad and may well continue to do so. A sustainable strategy must work ceaselessly to contain North Korea’s destabilizing criminal behavior abroad. In addition to the ongoing activities immediately above, the allies will have to contain types of potential instability, including assassination of North Korean defectors or foreign citizens abroad, attacks against shipping or other economic activities in Asia, cyberattacks against regional infrastructure, and disruption of civilian or military space operations. Sanctions will be an important tool in this effort, as U.S. laws and U.N. members work to encourage countries to restrict these activities. While the Trump administration has stepped up sanctions enforcement efforts, most existing sanctions are still calibrated to apply political and financial pressure to coerce North Korean denuclearization. Adjustments will be necessary to calibrate sanctions to deny and contain North Korean illicit behavior. Negotiations will also be an important component of containing North Korea and so must cover more than a single-minded insistence on denuclearization. The immediate priorities should be to open military-to-military communication channels to prevent North Korean missiles from overflying Japan and avert the first atmospheric nuclear test since 1980.[60] Constrain Deterrence and containment will be ongoing challenges requiring consistent attention to prevent a catastrophe. The United States and its allies should buttress its deterrence and containment posture with efforts to constrain the regime’s ability to challenge it. Sanctions impose severe constraints on scarce petroleum supplies that the North Korean military relies on to train and operate; the allies should preserve this advantageous position if possible. Maintaining these restrictions could facilitate deterrence over the long run. Negotiating conventional arms control measures can also help to constrain North Korea’s ability to threaten and aggress against allied forces, without forcing us to recognize their nuclear capabilities. Preventive restrictions can also be sustained and expanded on North Korea’s ability to spread cyber, financial, and illicit transfers. For example, all countries should retain limits on North Korean diplomatic staff stationed around the world who arrange illicit transactions. If at some point there is evidence that Pyongyang is rolling back these illegal activities, it may be possible to lift certain constraint restrictions without requiring that we abandon containment measures, or nuclear, missile, or human rights sanctions. In this way, preventive restrictions afford leverage. Transform Even if North Korea is rendered incapable of exerting destructive influence in its region and the world, the existence of a highly militarized, totalitarian state that commits crimes against humanity will remain morally, practically, and legally unacceptable. Any transformation of North Korea will have to occur as the result of an internal process, but South Korea and the United States should seek effective ways of assisting this process. At the very least, allied policies should not inhibit transformation. In South Korea, ongoing research into unification issues has yielded an understanding of North Korean economic and diplomatic issues that is generally absent in the United States. Concerted attempts to penetrate the regime with information about the outside world is an important first step, but not a complete strategy.[61] Is there a virtue to permitting trade from allies or nonaligned countries over the long run, or would continued restrictions constitute leverage to force nuclear weapons back onto the negotiating agenda? Can diplomatic initiatives stabilize the security relationship or advantage moderate voices among ruling elites? The questions will be critical to achieving U.S. and allied objectives over the long run. Lastly, management of a nuclear-armed North Korea requires strong alliances. Each policy decision discussed above will have to be coordinated with Seoul and also with Tokyo. It will require difficult conversations about economic and diplomatic initiatives, deterrence, and counter-provocation planning (including counterforce, damage limitation, and assassination). Divisions within these alliances or between Seoul and Tokyo will afford North Korea unacceptable opportunities to aggress or escape containment.[62] Twenty years ago, it was already cliché to say North Korea was at a crossroads. While Pyongyang has chosen its path and moved rapidly ahead, the United States and its allies still stand at the crossroads wishing that nothing had changed. U.S. strategists in particular are poorly equipped to cope with a failure of a critical policy. As a nation, we want to hear that there is a solution, a way to rectify a setback and make a decisive adjustment to our policy. Yet when the basic assumptions and objectives of a strategy are no longer valid, a failure to replace it will cause irreparable damage to American interests. Managing a nuclear-armed North Korea will be an arduous task. As Washington comes to recognize that North Korea’s nuclear capability cannot be eliminated on acceptable terms, there will be an impulse to withdraw from the issue and move on to soluble problems. Neglect would allow Pyongyang to improve its military position, illicit networks, and coercive leverage, seriously worsening the greatest external threat to American national security. A sustainable and tolerable management strategy will be difficult to devise, and even more difficult to implement. It will require consistent attention, considerable resources, and constant vigilance to a thankless and unpopular task. Yet, having failed, we are left with no choice but to manage an unacceptable situation as best we can. Adam Mount, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. [post_title] => Policy Roundtable: Are There any Good Choices When it Comes to North Korea? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => policy-roundtable-good-choices-comes-north-korea [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-09-19 13:07:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-19 17:07:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=450 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => We asked a group of experts to weigh in on the North Korea crisis. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Policy [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 133 [1] => 134 [2] => 132 [3] => 48 [4] => 129 [5] => 131 [6] => 130 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Uri Friedman, “Lindsey Graham: There’s a 30% Chance Trump Attacks North Korea,” The Atlantic (December 14, 2017), https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/lindsey-graham-war-north-korea-trump/548381/. [2] Van Jackson, Rival Reputations: Coercion and Credibility in US-North Korea Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). [3] Alexander George and Richard Smoke, Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), 5. [4] Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Volume II, translated by Richard Mott Gummere (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2016; first published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1918), 182. [5] For example, speaking to U.S. and ROK troops at Yongsan in Seoul, Secretary of Defense James Mattis explained the purpose of maintaining deterrence: “Ultimately our diplomats have to be backed up by strong soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines…. So they speak from a position of strength, of combined strength, of alliance strength. Shoulder to shoulder, (South Korea) and the US together.”  Quoted in Euan McKirdy, “US Defense Secretary James Mattis at Korean DMZ: ‘Our goal is not war,’” CNN, October 27, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/26/politics/mattis-south-korea-dmz/index.html. [6] General Vincent K. Brooks, quoted in Jim Garamone, “Dunford: U.S.-South Korean Alliance Ready to Defend Against North Korean Threat,” DoD News, August 14, 2017, https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1277384/dunford-us-south-korean-alliance-ready-to-defend-against-north-korean-threat/. [7] Demetri Sevastopulo and Bryan Harris, “Trump Calls on North Korea to ‘Come to the Table and Make a Deal,” Financial Times, November 7, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/8a8eb006-c36a-11e7-b2bb-322b2cb39656. [8] Jesse Johnson, “In a Move That Could Alienate Japan, Tillerson Says Willing to Talk to North Korea ‘Without Preconditions,’” The Japan Times, December 13, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/12/13/asia-pacific/apparent-shift-tillerson-says-u-s-willing-talk-north-korea-without-preconditions/#.WkwI2yOZN-U. [9] The Trump administration often declares that the goal of a maximum pressure strategy is the denuclearization of North Korea.  For instance, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cites this objective when explaining the imposition of new sanctions.  See “U.S. Announces Sanctions on North Korea Missile Makers,” The Guardian, December 26, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/27/us-announces-sanctions-on-north-korea-missile-makers. [10] Responding to a reporter’s question about preparing for preventive war, National Security Advisor Lt. General H. R. McMaster replied, “The president’s been very clear about it. He said he’s not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States.”  See David E. Sanger, “Talk of ‘Preventive War’ Rises in White House over North Korea,” The New York Times, August 20, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/20/world/asia/north-korea-war-trump.html?_r=0. [11] Robbie Gramer and Paul McLeary, “Trump Touts Military Option for North Korea That Generals Warn Would be ‘Horrific,’” Foreign Policy, October 9, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/09/trump-touts-military-option-for-north-korea-that-generals-warn-would-be-horrific-war-with-north-korea-nuclear-pentagon-defense-asia-security/. [12] While most analysts believe nuclear deterrence could be maintained even if North Korea fielded intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Senator Lindsay Graham has made clear the concern about letting Kim Jong-un have the ability to strike U.S. territory with nuclear weapons.  “Even if it means thousands, hundreds of thousands of people over there get hurt to protect America. Now that's the choice that the president has to make. I stand with him. The best outcome is not to have a war. I don't want a war, he doesn't want a war, but we're not going to let this crazy man in North Korea have the capability to hit the homeland. We're not going to live this way,” Senator Graham has said. See Jamie McIntyre and Travis Tritten, “North Korea says new ICBM with ‘super-large heavy warhead’ completes its nuclear force,” Washington Examiner, November 29, 2017, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/north-korea-says-new-icbm-with-super-large-heavy-warhead-completes-its-nuclear-force/article/2177020. [13]  Kambiz Foroohar and David Tweed, “China to Back Fresh UN Sanctions on North Korea Fuel,” Bloomberg Businessweek, December 21, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-22/china-is-said-to-back-fresh-un-sanctions-on-north-korea-fuel. [14] Emily Rauhala, “Trump said China was caught ‘red handed’ selling oil to North.  Beijing denies it did anything wrong,” The Washington Post, December 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/trump-said-china-was-caught-red-handed-selling-oil-to-north-korea-beijing-denies-it-did-anything-wrong/2017/12/29/89bc3a22-ec73-11e7-891f-e7a3c60a93de_story.html?utm_term=.9db949deaaea. [15] For an informed way to pursue secondary sanctions as part of a comprehensive pressure strategy, see Bruce Klingner, “How to Stop North Korea: Use the ‘Python Strategy,” The Heritage Foundation, December 5, 2017, http://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/how-stop-north-korea-use-the-python-strategy. [16] See, for example, Carlo Munoz, “H.R. McMaster: Time Running Out for China on North Korea,” Washington Times, December 12, 2017, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/dec/12/hr-mcmaster-time-running-out-for-china-on-n-korea/. [17] Delury, John. “Take Preventive War with North Korea Off the Table.”  Foreign Affairs. (August 22, 2017). Available at: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-korea/2017-08-22/take-preventive-war-north-korea-table [18] Fearon, James. “Rationalist Explanations of War.” International Organization. 49, no. 3 (1995) 379-414; Powell, Robert. “War as a Commitment Problem.” International Organization. 60, no. 1 (2006): 169-203. [19] Aspen Security Forum. “At the Helm of the Intelligence Community.” (July 21, 2017.) http://aspensecurityforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/At-the-Helm-of-the-Intelligence-Community.pdf. Ellick, Adam and Jonah Kessel. “From North Korea, With Dread.” The New York Times, November 28, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/28/opinion/columnists/missile-test-north-korea.html?_r=0. [20] Hass, Ryan and Michael O’Hanlon. “Despite H-Bomb Test, Negotiate with North Korea – But from a Position of Strength.” Brookings Institution. (September 6, 2017). https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/09/06/despite-h-bomb-test-negotiate-with-north-korea-but-from-a-position-of-strength/. [21] Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima, and Anna Fifield. “North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say.” The Washington Post. August 8, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.7ffa46e97fdb [22] ABC News. “This Week Transcript, 8/13/17: Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Anthony Scaramucci.” August 13, 2017. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/week-transcript-13-17-lt-gen-mcmaster-anthony/story?id=49177024 [23] Face the Nation. “Transcript: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.” May 28, 2017. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-defense-secretary-james-mattis-on-face-the-nation-may-28-2017/ [24] Jervis, Robert. Perception and Misperception in International Politics. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976). [25] Jervis, Robert. “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma.” World Politics. 30, no. 2 (1978) 167-214; Glaser, Charles. “The Security Dilemma Revisited.” World Politics. 50, no. 1 (1997) 171-201. [26] Schelling, Thomas. Arms and Influence. (New Haven. Yale University Press: 1966) [27] United States, and Donald Trump. National Security Strategy of the United States: The White House. (2017); Mattis, Jim and Rex Tillerson. “We’re Holding Pyongyang to Account.” The Wall Street Journal. August 13, 2017.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/were-holding-pyongyang-to-account-1502660253 [28] Beggs, Alan and Kathryn Graddy. “Anchoring Effects: Evidence from Art Auctions.” American Economic Review. 99, no. 3 (2009) 1027-1039. [29] Kahn, Herman. On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios. (New York, Routledge: 1965). [30] DeYoung, Karen. “Mattis and Tillerson Move to Clarify Administration Policy on North Korea.” The Washington Post. August 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mattis-and-tillerson-move-to-clarify-administration-policy-on-north-korea/2017/08/17/f363d888-836c-11e7-b359-15a3617c767b_story.html?utm_term=.1da7c454c468 [31] Kathleen J. McInniss et al, The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Military Options and Issues for Congress (Washington, DC; Congressional Research Service, November 6, 2017). [32] Sharon Otterman, “Iraq: Iraq’s Pre-War Military Capabilities,” CFR Backgrounder (February 3, 2005), https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/iraq-iraqs-prewar-military-capabilities. [33] Jennifer Lind, “The Perils of Korean Unification,” The Diplomat (February 23, 2015), https://thediplomat.com/2015/02/the-perils-of-korean-unification/. [34] Kathleen J. McInniss et al, The North Korean Nuclear Challenge: Military Options and Issues for Congress (Washington, DC; Congressional Research Service, November 6, 2017). [35] Bruce W. Bennett, Uncertainties in the North Korean Nuclear Threat (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010). [36] Dan Lamothe and Carol Morello, “Securing North Korean Nuclear Sites Would Require a Ground Invasion, Pentagon Says,” Washington Post (November 4, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/securing-north-korean-nuclear-sites-would-require-a-ground-invasion-pentagon-says/2017/11/04/32d5f6-c0cf-11e7-97d9-bdab5-0ab381_story.html?utm_term=.8a54d9233d25. [37] Zachary Fryer-Biggs, “Time Running Out to Avoid War with North Korea, U.S. Official Says,” Newsweek, December 12, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/time-running-out-avoid-war-north-korea-us-official-says-745914; Ben Riley-Smith, “US making plans for a ‘bloody nose’ military attack on North Korea,” The Telegraph, December 20, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/20/exclusive-us-making-plans-bloody-nose-military-attack-north/. [38] B.R. Myers, “North Korea’s Unification Drive,” Royal Asiatic Society-Korea Branch, December 19, 2017, Somerset Palace, Seoul, South Korea. Lecture. Available at: http://sthelepress.com/index.php/2017/12/21/north-koreas-unification-drive/. [39] Scott M. Bray, “Speech at the Institute for Corean-American Studies: North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Missile Capabilities,” June 26, 2017, https://www.dni.gov/files/ODNI/documents/20170726-NIM-East-Asia-Speech-to-ICAS-on-North-Koreas-Nulcear-and-Ballistic-Missile-Programs.pdf. [40] Victor Cha, “North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: Badges, Shields, or Swords?” Political Science Quarterly 117, Iss. 2 (2002), p. 224, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2307/798181/full. [41] Max Fisher, “North Korea’s Nuclear Arms Sustain Drive for ‘Final Victory’,” The New York Times, July 29, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-missile.html?_r=0. [42] Ken E. Gause, North Korea’s Provocation and Escalation Calculus: Dealing with the Kim Jong-un Regime (Arlington VA: CNA August 2015), https://www.cna.org/cna_files/pdf/COP-2015-U-011060.pdf. [43] David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “The Growing Danger of a U.S. Nuclear First Strike on North Korea,” War on the Rocks, October 10, 2017, https://warontherocks.com/2017/10/the-growing-danger-of-a-u-s-nuclear-first-strike-on-north-korea/. [44] John R. Harvey, “Negating North Korea’s Nukes,” Defense News, February 15, 2016, https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2016/02/15/commentary-negating-north-koreas-nukes/; M. Elaine Bunn and Vincent A. Manzo, Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Strategic Asset or Unusable Liability? (Washington DC: National Defense University Press, February 2011), http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/stratforum/SF-263.pdf. [45] John K. Warden, “North Korea’s Nuclear Posture: An Evolving Challenge for U.S. Deterrence,” Proliferation Papers, Ifri, March 2017, https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/warden_north_korea_nuclear_posture_2017.pdf; Brad Roberts, The Case for U.S. Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016), pp. 62-80. [46] Sugio Takahashi, “Thinking about the Unthinkable: The Case of the Korean Peninsula,” in North Korea and Asia’s Evolving Nuclear Landscape, NBR Special Report #67 (Washington DC: National Bureau of Asian Research, August 2017), http://nbr.org/publications/element.aspx?id=954. [47] Department of Defense, Report on the Nuclear Employment Strategy of the United States (Arlington, VA: Department of Defense, June 12, 2013), p. 3, https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/ReporttoCongressonUSNuclearEmploymentStrategy_Section491.pdf. Charles L. Glaser and Steven Fetter, “Should the United States Reject MAD: Damage Limitation and U.S. Nuclear Strategy Toward China,” International Security 41, Iss. 1 (Summer 2016), https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/ISEC_a_00248. [48] Austin Long and Brendan Ritterhouse Green, “Stalking the Secure Second Strike: Intelligence, Counterforce, and Nuclear Strategy,” The Journal of Strategic Studies 38, Iss. 1-2 (2015), http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402390.2014.958150. [49] Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, “The New Era of Counterforce: Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence,” International Security 41, Iss. 4 (Spring 2017), https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/ISEC_a_00273; Brendan Ritterhouse Green, Austin Long, Matthew Kroenig, Charles L. Glaser, and Steve Fetter, “The Limits of Damage Limitation,” International Security 42, Iss. 1 (Summer 2017), https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/full/10.1162/ISEC_c_00279. [50] Thomas Karako, Ian Williams, and Wes Rumbaugh, Missile Defense 2020: Next Steps for Defending the Homeland (Washington DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies April 2017), pp. 52-122, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/170406_Karako_MissileDefense2020_Web.pdf?rgfZJOoY5AJY5ScsfZQW8z7Bn7dtSlrr. [51] Vincent A. Manzo, “After the First Shots: Managing Escalation in Northeast Asia,” Joint Forces Quarterly 77 (April 2015), http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/Article/581877/after-the-first-shots-managing-escalation-in-northeast-asia/. [52] Laura Rosenberger, “How President Trump could tweet his way into nuclear war with North Korea,” Washington Post, July 5, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/05/how-president-trump-could-tweet-his-way-into-nuclear-war-with-north-korea/; Kori Schake, “What Total Destruction of North Korea Means,” The Atlantic, September 19, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/09/north-korea-trump-united-nations-kim-jong-un-nuclear-missile/540345/. [53] Kori Schake, “The North Korea Debate Sounds Eerily Familiar,” The Atlantic, December 8, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/north-korea-iraq-war-george-w-bush-trump/547796/. [54] Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris, “North Korean nuclear capabilities, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74(1), 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2017.1413062. [55] Jon Wolfsthal, “Give Up on Denuclearizing North Korea,” The Atlantic, July 28, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/give-up-on-denuclearizing-north-korea/535347/; Mira Rapp-Hooper, “America Is Not Going to Denuclearize North Korea,” The Atlantic, November 29, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/north-korea-icbm-kim-trump-nuclear/547040/. [56] Abraham M. Denmark, “The Myth of the Limited Strike on North Korea,” Foreign Affairs,” January 9, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-korea/2018-01-09/myth-limited-strike-north-korea; Van Jackson, “Want to Strike North Korea? It’s Not Going to Go the Way You Think,” Politico, January 12, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/12/north-korea-strike-nuclear-strategist-216306. [57] Abraham Denmark, “The U.S. Can’t Get Rid of North Korea’s Nukes Without Paying a Catastrophic Price,” Foreign Policy, September 15, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/15/the-u-s-cant-get-rid-of-north-koreas-nukes-without-paying-a-catastrophic-price/. [58] Rebecca K.C. Hersman, “North Korea, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Instability: Strategic Issues for Managing Crisis and Reducing Risks,” US-Korea Institute, June 2017, http://www.38north.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/NKIP-Hersman-062117.pdf. [59] Andrea Berger, “A House Without Foundations: The North Korea Sanctions Regime and Its Implementation,” Royal United Services Institute, June 2017, https://rusi.org/publication/whitehall-reports/house-without-foundations-north-korea-sanctions-regime-and-its. [60] James Acton, “Some Nuclear Ground Rules for Kim Jong Un,” Foreign Policy, August 16, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/16/some-nuclear-ground-rules-for-kim-jong-un/; Joshua Pollack, “US should start talking with North Korea to prevent nuclear war,” New York Daily News, August 8, 2017, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/u-s-start-talking-north-korea-prevent-nuclear-war-article-1.3394949. [61] Tom Malinowski, “How to Take Down Kim Jong Un,” Politico, July 24, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/07/24/how-to-take-down-kim-jong-un-215411. [62] Adam Mount, “How to Put the US-South Korean Alliance Back on Track,” Foreign Affairs, June 28, 2017, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-06-28/how-put-us-south-korean-alliance-back-track. ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Table of Contents [contents] => 1. Introduction, by Van Jackson 2. Maximum Pressure: A Clarifying Signal in the Noise of North Korea Policy, by Patrick M. Cronin 3. The Trump Administration and North Korea: A Happier New Year? by Stephan Haggard 4. Risk and Reward in the Korean Nuclear Crisis, by Kyle Haynes 5. North Korea Requires Deterrence and Containment, Not Bombing, by Kelly Magsamen 6. The Least Bad Option: Damage Limitation and U.S. Deterrence Strategy toward North Korea, by Vince A. Manzo and John K. Warden 7. Managing a Nuclear-Armed North Korea: Deter, Contain, Constrain, Transform, by Adam Mount ) ) ) [post_count] => 2 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 802 [post_author] => 238 [post_date] => 2018-12-04 14:14:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-12-04 19:14:59 [post_content] => *Editor's Note: We have also published a roundtable on the future of conservative foreign policy that you can find here.

1. Prompt Essay: Wagering on a Progressive versus Liberal Theory of National Security

By Van Jackson Progressives are in search of a collective voice on foreign policy and national security.[1] As one senior Democratic Senate staffer confided to me over the summer, “I keep asking, ‘What is a progressive national security policy? Are we a bunch of progressives on education, healthcare, etc. who happen to do foreign policy and it should look the same no matter who’s in charge? Or do we have a distinctly progressive outlook on the world that we’re trying to implement as practitioners?’” Until recently, the left has been unable to reliably answer these questions and it’s understandable why. For one thing, the progressive movement is intellectually diverse. Self-identified progressives range from committed socialists to left-leaning neoliberals and — at the extreme edges of the movement — both hardcore pacifists and anti-fascist militants. Progressives have considerable differences of opinion about capitalism, using force to achieve political ends, and America’s role in the world. In general, the progressive voice has also historically been muted when it comes to foreign policy, which has partly to do with its modest resourcing and representation. Since the Cold War, the Democratic Party has been captured by the politics of “third way” liberalism.[2] At home, it vacillated between Roosevelt-era, New Deal-style social welfare politics and an alliance with unfettered capitalism, increasingly favoring the latter over time. Abroad, the “third way” amounted to sustaining the once taken-for-granted and now much-contested “liberal international order” — essentially a foreign policy premised on U.S. military superiority underwriting a series of global institutional, economic, and human rights commitments. At most, these “third way” positions only ever partly reflected the priorities of political progressives. The left’s chronic under-representation within the Democratic Party extends to its presence in the “ideas industry” as well.[3] Authentically progressive ideas are scarce in the Washington think tank landscape, and progressive mega-donors tend to finance domestic policies and projects, not foreign policy.[4] Constrained in all these ways, progressives have failed to articulate their own “theory of security” — a term of art referring to how their preferred pattern of foreign policy decisions defines and realizes U.S. interests. The lack of one, as Vox reporter Zach Beauchamp concluded, has meant that “foreign policy debate tends to be conducted between the center and the right.”[5] Indeed, the inadequacies of U.S. foreign policy traditions may exist because progressives have a history of rarely showing up analytically to foreign policy fights. But while these limitations have prevented the left from cohering around a clear theory of progressive national security, it’s possible to tease one out of the progressive worldview all the same, and that progressive vision partially accommodates America’s default position of liberal internationalism: Regional balances of power and alliances still matter, and there is a role for both the U.S. military and international institutions. But the progressive theory of security also makes its own analytical wagers, requiring alterations in key areas of the national security agenda — namely re-scoping the size and shape of the U.S. military, emphasizing political and democratic alliances, rebalancing how international institutions work, and pursuing mutual threat reduction where circumstances allow. Saving Liberal Internationalism from Itself America’s traditional theory of security consists in a mix of realist and neoliberal beliefs: military superiority, alliances, economic interdependence through global capitalism, and international institutions to legitimate and sustain the entire enterprise.[6] By pursuing all of the above — it’s typically conceived of as a package deal — the United States is able to keep open a stable international trading system, maintain balances of power in key regions of the world, and minimize the prospect of arms races and interstate wars.[7] Democrats and Republicans have assigned greater or lesser weight to different elements within this formula, but both parties have upheld the basic meta strategy over time. Progressive principles are not entirely hostile to this theory of security. Despite its intellectual diversity, the progressive movement has a common core emphasizing the pursuit of a more just world through democracy, greater economic equality, and human rights protections, as well as opposition to imperialism and authoritarianism.[8] Progressives are also conditional advocates for the rule of law and international institutions. As leftist author Michael Walzer has argued, “We still need global regulation by social-democratic versions of the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization…”[9] More controversially, there are strongly ingrained biases against the military in some quarters of the left.[10] “Anti-militarism” is an emotionally loaded and imprecise term, but it translates into inherent skepticism about the value of both military spending and the use of force abroad. Taken together, these principled positions and attitudes logically require alterations to America’s longstanding theory of security, but not a wholesale rejection of it. From Military Superiority to Military Sufficiency The traditional realist foundation of U.S. national security has been military superiority — ensuring the U.S. military can “deter or defeat all potential future adversaries.”[11] This theory presumes that the capability to prevail in any plausible conflict is necessary for the United States to make credible threats against adversaries and credible reassurances to allies.[12] Military superiority also sustains regional balances of power, ensuring that no other state in Asia, Europe, or the Middle East can exercise hegemony or control of their region. Even in a progressive government disinclined to call on the Pentagon to solve problems, the U.S. military will need to be capable of projecting power into key regions, making credible threats, and achieving political objectives with force and minimal casualties if called on to do so. But a force structure sufficient to meet these purposes might be achieved without the endlessly increasing requirements of military superiority. A standard of military sufficiency — as opposed to superiority — is both analytically plausible and more morally congruent with progressive principles for several reasons. First, the U.S. military is traditionally sized to win in temporally overlapping wars in different regions, but the Pentagon’s force planners have assumed very little help from local allies in those fights — this fact is obvious from the massive size of the U.S. military. Yet, looking across the globe today, there is no plausible conflict that would ensnare only (or even primarily) the United States. And in any case, progressives have a consistent track record of opposing unilateral wars of choice. Second, the idea that it takes military superiority to prevent other states from dominating their regions involves some dubious assumptions about the ability of military power to prevent other countries from exercising international political influence. Stopping others from controlling a region does not mean the United States must be able to exercise regional control itself. As such, there is a case for making America’s security more entwined — not less — with the security of regions of interest by making U.S. force structure more networked with trusted allies and partners. This could meaningfully reduce the defense budget, and the only real risk it would entail is in the assumption that friends will provide significant contributions to a fight involving U.S. forces. It also potentially makes the dirty business of war a more democratic and less imperious endeavor by wagering that “multilateralizing” force structure to a degree tamps down on the tendency to opt into ill-advised conflicts. Military sufficiency potentially ties the hands of future presidents, making them less able to launch unilateral wars, and simultaneously increases the likelihood that any conflict involving large numbers of U.S. troops will be multilateral and cooperative. It would also befit the analytical claim — which some on the left already make[13] — that the world is less dangerous than the Pentagon supposes, implying that a posture of military sufficiency would not hazard any great geopolitical risks. Preserving Democratic Alliances In liberal internationalism, alliances are a means by which the United States deters aggression against its allies. They also make it possible for the United States to reliably project military power into key regions, and serve as a unique means of exerting influence in world politics. Not only do alliances act as mechanisms of risk management by controlling the aggression of allies under threat, they have also been a means of preventing nuclear proliferation.[14] The default theory of security bets that these advantages of alliances far outweigh the calculable downsides. Progressive principles are not necessarily at odds with the traditional reasons for the United States upholding military alliances. In fact, a wide range of progressive thinkers writing on foreign policy have also endorsed sustaining U.S. alliances,[15] though with some qualifications. Progressives are quick to emphasize political — not just military — commitments at the state and sub-state level, and take a very circumspect view of allying with illiberal actors.[16] The idea that “[w]e should act abroad only with those who share our commitments and then, only in ways consistent with those commitments”[17] implies solidarity with democratic countries who see their alliance with the United States as a source of security. But it is likewise a rejection of “[p]olitical and military support for tyrannical, predatory, and corrupt regimes.”[18] Because one of the principal threats to U.S. security in the progressive view is the spread of authoritarianism and fascism,[19] the United States must keep faith with democratically elected governments that rely on an alliance with the United States for their security. That includes NATO as an institution, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. But where allies turn autocratic or become incubators for fascism — such as Turkey or Hungary (both NATO members) — a commitment to the individual country will have to be tenuous, as a matter of principle. An illiberal state’s membership in an alliance institution will not prevent U.S. policy from promoting solidarity with anti-authoritarian forces within that country. NATO will not be a shield that implicitly permits the growth of illiberal, reactionary politics in Europe. Alliances are also crucial to a progressive theory of security to the extent the United States seeks to divest itself of the military superiority imperative. As argued above, moving to a concept of military sufficiency without simply becoming isolationist (which itself would be anti-progressive) requires maintaining allies. It would be logically untenable to seek international solidarity with likeminded countries and peoples abroad while destroying alliance architectures around the world — one action would undermine the other. And where the abdication of an alliance is likely to lead to nuclear proliferation, conflict, or the spread of fascism, the alliance may have to stay in place as a short-term exception to the rule. But even then, the principle of supporting only democratic actors remains. In sum, then, the progressive theory of security requires fidelity only to democratic alliances, and any expansion of the U.S. alliance network is likely to emphasize political support first and military support last, if at all. Reforming International Institutions U.S. foreign policy debates routinely center on the merits of sustaining the mélange of international institutions that constitute the “post-war” or “liberal international” order: the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization, among many others. These institutions play an essential role in how U.S. liberal internationalism conceives of keeping America secure.[20] Collectively, they preserve a stable international trading system that facilitates conflict-deterring economic interdependence. The existence of international institutions also allows many (not all) nations around the world to escape the predations of international anarchy. The belief in reliable institutions lets many liberal-democratic states be liberal and democratic in their foreign policies — by focusing on trading relations and taking for granted the appearance of international stability. In the liberal internationalist theory of security, this partly explains why neither Europe nor Asia has experienced interstate wars in more than a generation — an architecture that combines U.S. military superiority and alliances with international institutions. It’s a package deal. The institutions part of that deal preserves a “capitalist peace”[21] through economic interdependence, and at the same time encourages many states to opt out of militaristic foreign policies. The left embraces international institutions in principle because they promote multilateralism, the rule of law, and can help attenuate conflict — all of which favor justice and egalitarianism. But some international institutions must be repurposed or reformed to serve a more democratic, and less corrupting, imperative. This is not just about justice for its own sake, but rather that justice, in the form of equality, lessens the likelihood of war. Progressives believe that yawning gaps in economic inequality are a structural cause of conflict. As Bernie Sanders remarked in 2017: “Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own country. This planet will not be secure or peaceful when so few have so much, and so many have so little…”[22] A progressive security policy would therefore bet significantly on international institutions, but in qualified ways that differ from default liberal internationalism. It would seek to essentially save capitalism from itself by regulating it. At the international level, this might translate into a more democratic distribution of voting rights or agenda setting powers in international financial bodies — especially the World Bank and IMF — and a more relaxed attitude toward economic protectionism in instances where fairness or just labor practices are called into question. Although anathema to the traditional liberal bargain, these steps would serve as a means of attenuating giant wealth transfers across borders, as well as the political corruption that often accompanies those transfers, as dictators around the world have learned to “play” globalization processes to enrich themselves.[23] Such regulations of capitalism might also dramatically elevate the importance of the International Labor Organization, a moribund body that for decades has promoted not labor but rather pro-market deregulation trends.[24] But the larger point is best summarized by Bernie Sanders: “[W]e have got to help lead the struggle to defend and expand a rules-based international order in which law, not might, makes right.” The progressive theory of security wagers on the same institutional arrangements that make up liberal internationalism, but argues for their reform, in order to address the inequality gap, transnational corruption, and authoritarianism, thus prioritizing long-term systemic causes of conflict, even if it might risk the “capitalist peace” in the near term. Mutual Threat Reduction The final, and most distinct, element in the progressive theory of national security — one that’s absent from America’s default posture toward the world — is what might be called mutual threat reduction. If the progressive sensibility leads to the military being treated as a policy tool of last resort, progressives would have to prioritize the use of diplomacy to attenuate the threat landscape as a compensatory move. There is a defensible logic in this wager, because deterrence — managing threats by making threats — is not an end in itself but rather a means of buying time.[25] The ultimate success of deterrence derives from whether the time bought was used to ameliorate the conditions that gave rise to the need for deterrence in the first place. In the progressive view, diplomacy in the name of mutual threat reduction takes on concrete meaning: arms control, Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programs, and international regimes that regulate technology development, transfers, and use. These kinds of initiatives are not new to U.S. foreign policy, but the progressive theory elevates their importance, and justifies taking a certain amount of risk in pursuing them with greater gusto. Progressive principles commit the United States to doing the spade work necessary to discover whether real and potential adversaries are willing to restrain arms competitions or increase transparency into their military thinking, and to reciprocate when they do. Such a probe may require limited unilateral gestures from the United States. Advocates of realpolitik may see no reason to ever trust the intentions of an enemy or shrink U.S. advantages in military matters. But progressives should be willing to accept some amount of geopolitical risk — while stopping short of naiveté — in the name of, not only probing, but nudging the intentions of a threatening adversary toward the goal of mutual accommodation. In 2012, the Obama administration made a fleeting attempt at getting beyond mutually assured destruction with key competitors like Russia and China to reach a place of “mutually assured stability.”[26] The premise of that forgotten project — that recognized that probing and stimulating opportunities for threat reduction is an essential part of avoiding unnecessary future wars — would be renewed in a progressive security vision. More importantly, it would become a preferred starting point for evaluating all strategic issues, from North Korea to arms races in emerging technologies. Playing the Long Game There are significant continuities between the liberal internationalist theory of security and that of progressive internationalism. Nevertheless, the divergences are not trivial. The table below summarizes these distinctions. Table 1. Comparing Progressive and Liberal Internationalist Theories of Security [table id=10 /]   The progressive wager is not without risks. The process of changing American foreign policy in this way may jeopardize certain sources of stability that the progressive worldview takes for granted. But it also addresses long-term sources of recurring conflict that liberal internationalism ignores. Every theory of security amounts to a bet with distinct tradeoffs and risks. The progressive bet is that the American interest is best served by having a more peaceful world, and that’s only possible by pursuing greater justice and equity, and opposing tyranny wherever it arises.   Van Jackson is an associate editor at the Texas National Security Review, a senior lecturer in international relations at Victoria University of Wellington, and a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. He is the author of On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War (Cambridge University Press, 2018). The views expressed are solely those of the author.  

2. Back to Basics: The Core Goals a “Progressive” Foreign Policy Must Address

By Heather Hurlburt Both supporters and opponents of what gets marketed as “progressive foreign policy” base their definitions of it on a series of tactical litmus tests. Progressive foreign policy, one typically hears, must oppose militarism, interventionism, and alliances with dictators. However, by using this narrow definition, progressive thinkers fall prey to an error that has swept across American foreign policy thinking more broadly. Successful national strategies typically flow not from tactical choices — the how — but rather from fundamental goals — the what for. Progressive foreign policy should be aimed at achieving core progressive goals for society: improving economic justice and social cohesion, defending democratic institutions and norms, and fostering a patriotism in which diverse identities belong and flourish. Rethinking U.S. Interests American foreign policy thinkers, overall, need to take a step back and consider what goals for society they seek to promote — and what dangers to society they seek to avert. Much of what has been published on the topic in recent months seems to assume that the interests protected and promoted through U.S. foreign policy are set and unchanging, as is the way in which they interact — or don’t — with what happens outside America’s borders. Essay after essay has failed to engage with the profound challenges facing institutions, norms, economic equality, community security, and social cohesion, not just in the United States but in many other societies as well.[27] Those assumptions are wrong. Two hundred and thirty-five years of America’s history have seen repeated shifts in the national consensus around what foreign policy was protecting Americans from, and how it was achieved, as well as pitched battles among ideological, financial, and other interests when a prior consensus fell apart. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton famously disputed which great European power posed the core threat to the new American experiment. Would the radicalism of the French Revolution (which Hamilton called the “caricature of human depravity”) prove a “debauching influence” on the United States? Or would the status quo of Britain’s political and economic dominance snuff out the unique character of American institutions, if not liberty itself?[28] Elites of the 1920s and 1930s were slow to focus on fascism as an existential threat, assuming that existing institutions and allies could handle revanchist new powers, whose goals might very well be exaggerated.[29] That elite indifference to foreign threats was replaced, after World War II, by a bipartisan consensus that the threat posed by global communism required not just a security response, but political, economic, and cultural ones as well. The decades that followed the Cold War have failed to produce a national consensus about the policies and messaging that connect security, economics, norms, and institutions. The Trump era has laid bare many weaknesses of U.S. foreign policy, and created some new ones. At the same time, elite American politics are scrambled, and definitions of foreign policy orthodoxies are up for grabs. Some progressives align with a bipartisan camp that sees great power competition as the paramount challenge.[30] Others give allegiance to a movement that conceives itself as anti-war or anti-militarist, and which sometimes crosses partisan lines to encompass notable conservative and libertarian thinkers, such as Andrew Bacevich. Curiously, neither camp engages deeply with the issues that are motivating younger progressive voters, as well as the civil society and activist groups that have seen the most growth and energy since 2016.[31] When those activists — and future office-holders from the left and center-left — engage with international issues, their focus is most likely to be climate change and a knot of interrelated issues surrounding poverty, insecurity, human rights, discrimination, and migration.[32] Opposing those competing strands of progressive thought are President Donald Trump and his “sovereigntist” allies. This group sees “globalism,” and a range of efforts aimed at “global governance, control, and domination,” as the main threats to “American sovereignty and our cherished independence.”[33] This sovereigntist, or nativist, approach posits a straight line between socio-economic dislocations at home and malevolent actors overseas. Progressives don’t have as clear a story of how developments they favor abroad impact communities at home. Nor have they built the intellectual or personnel connections between progressive approaches to domestic and foreign affairs. Those gaps undercut any ability to achieve policy ends. Writing about “weaponized interdependence,” Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman point out that, under conditions of contemporary globalization, “economic institutions, which were created to promote efficient market interactions, have become powerful sites of political control.”[34] This dynamic poses a threat to core domestic institutions and progressive priorities and inserts international affairs into what was once the domain of domestic policy experts alone. U.S. national security strategists ought to recognize as much, regardless of their ideological position. Progressives in particular ought to focus on three areas where those connections are vital: The prosperity and sustainability of American communities depend on choices the United States makes in the global economy, as well as at home; U.S. democratic institutions and norms are subject to a withering stress test driven, in part, by a rival autocratic model with global reach; and the project of constructing a cohesive American identity that thrives on diversity is under profound pressure from that rival autocratic model, aligned with profoundly regressive forces inside the U.S. A national security strategy that fails to evaluate policies on how they further these goals is not “progressive” — nor is it a particularly good strategy. Economic and Social Cohesion In the past, it was obvious to U.S. foreign policy thinkers when foreign powers posed a threat to American prosperity and way of life. Take, for example, Britain’s imperial system, with its chokehold on certain products and trade routes following American independence, or Soviet communism from the 1950s to the 1980s. But the belief in the unipolar moment in the 1990s — that no alternatives to American-style capitalism remained to challenge the United States following the end of the Cold War — got the foreign policy establishment out of the habit of connecting the construction of global economic arrangements to the realities of how Americans lived their lives at home. At the same time, economic globalization shifted control of Americans’ daily economic lives from the realm of domestic affairs to international affairs, as corporations consolidated away from regional headquarters, supply chains globalized, and the influence of financial markets dwarfed that of managers.  As long as the U.S. economy continues to perform well, it is tempting for foreign policy strategists to decide that the United States can keep its nose out of international economic affairs. But that view is ahistorical — successful foreign policies have always incorporated economic fundamentals, while foreign policy failures have often occurred because planners neglected to account for the resources needed to support their plans. Moreover, if the aim is to develop an expressly progressive foreign and security strategy, then there is no excuse for many recent strategic proposals that ignore the economic and social considerations that are fundamental concerns of progressivism.[35] A progressive American foreign policy should have three economic pillars: ensuring the basic health and sustainability of the U.S. economy, addressing inequality, and attacking absolute poverty both at home and abroad. (Progressives can debate the relative importance of the three.)  Grand strategists, then, need to have a clear understanding of the foundations of the U.S. economy that they are promoting. They must also be judged on whether their view of grand strategy has expanded to include climate, energy, and other challenges too — as my colleague Sharon Burke has argued.[36] Increasingly, too, as Van Jackson’s leading essay in this roundtable rightly emphasizes, progressive security strategists need to care about inequality. Strong social science evidence warns that inequality — and public perceptions of inequality — undermine faith in democratic institutions.[37] Over the last three decades, inequality has surged in the United States, in other industrialized economies, and in many emerging economies.[38] Economists cite multiple factors as possible contributors to this stubborn trend, including shifts in how capital moves and is accumulated, trade-driven downward pressure on wages, replacement of skilled and semi-skilled workers by automation, and the failure of national governments to implement redistributive and retraining policies to match the scale of changes in patterns of capital and trade movement.[39]  This dynamic of rising inequality affects the cohesion of the European Union and NATO, as well as the rise of populist authoritarianism, spanning from Brazil to Sweden to the Philippines. And it interacts with preexisting racial and gender prejudices to heighten volatility around policy areas that have a transnational component, from migration and refugees to international organizations to trade. America’s international economic policy choices have contributed to the rise of inequality through several of those factors, not just trade. This means, however, that the United States also has multiple levers to shift them in the future — if it is willing to use them, and if it is able to leave behind the current administration’s unilateral blustering in favor of strategic coordination with other countries that face the same societal pressures. Future administrations will face a weakened global economic architecture, giving them the freedom to integrate creative strategies into overall thinking, from the future of U.S.-E.U. trade to rejoining a World Trade Organization (WTO) reform process. The creative thinking is out there: Jennifer Harris has written thoughtfully on a renegotiated bargain with U.S. global business.[40] Climate thinkers have made a range of proposals for how existing international economic structures can speed progress toward a low-carbon economy.[41] Washington has now isolated itself from talks over WTO reforms, which seems to have had the regrettable effect that progressive policy thinkers are not engaging with the possibilities there as much as they might. Institutions and Norms Post-Cold War foreign policy has seen American institutions and norms as givens, neither challenged from abroad nor even affected by strategic choices. But in the history of the American experiment, that attitude is an anomaly. Thomas Jefferson saw an alliance with French republicanism as the preferable path to defend, and perhaps even spread, the American form of government; Alexander Hamilton saw the stability and spread of British structures as a better bet; George Washington preferred studied neutrality between London and Paris. (Jefferson thus inaugurated the grand American tradition of excessive optimism about regime change.) As has been typical ever since, actual U.S. foreign policy wound up being a little of each. Certainly, the early Cold Warriors saw the Soviet threat to U.S. institutions and norms, as well as those of U.S. allies, as a profound one. Anti-communism was the major driver for much of American foreign policy. It was used to justify initiatives from the moon shot to the Civil Rights Act. But it also led to McCarthyism. Joseph McCarthy’s legacy may make it uncomfortable for progressives to assert that American democracy is under threat from without as well as within. Yet more progressives agree on the profound contemporary threat to U.S. democracy than one might expect. Consider two recent statements:
The return to rivalry was inevitable, if tragically so. It is rooted in a clash of social models — a free world and a neo-authoritarian world — that directly affects how people live. China and Russia are very different powers with different strategies, but they share the objective of targeting free and open societies to make the world a safer place for authoritarianism.[42] … [W]hat we are seeing now in the world is the rise of a new authoritarian axis. While the leaders who make up this axis may differ in some respects, they share key attributes: intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, constant paranoia about foreign plots, and a belief that the leaders of government should be able use their positions of power to serve their own selfish financial interests.[43]
The first is from the center-left Brookings scholar (and contributor to this symposium) Thomas Wright; the second, from Sen. Bernie Sanders. But if a broad range of foreign policy thinkers — and 63 percent of Americans who identify as Democrat or Democratic-leaning[44] — agree on the threat that contemporary authoritarian states pose to U.S. institutions and the American way of life, they have not coalesced around a plan for what to do about it. Sanders calls for a variety of measures to fight economic and political corruption at home, including “reconceptualiz[ing] the global order,” participating in “an international movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people,” and standing for “unity and inclusion” in the face of “division and hatred.”[45] But Sanders’ October 2018 speech offered no specific policies aimed at shoring up NATO, building coalitions of pro-democracy forces, or combatting the challenges of cybersecurity, election meddling, and propaganda meant to heighten societal divisions. Wright, by contrast, calls for a “free world” strategy that seeks to deter Russia and other authoritarian meddlers by “focusing as much on measures short of general war — such as economic weapons and political interference — as on large-scale military buildups.”[46] But he skips over the possibility of strengthening and reforming American institutions so that they can better resist outside pressures, writing, “[T]he American system is too open to protect fully.”[47] The reality is that the United States will have to do a little of both: shoring up its institutions — and Americans’ trust in them — as well as developing more effective methods to push back against authoritarian regimes, including deploying the tools of an open society against authoritarian regimes. The peculiarities of the Trump administration’s Russia policy have delayed a number of commonsense bipartisan measures related to election security and broader cyber concerns, while think tanks that include leading Democrats have developed proposals for comprehensive public-private response strategies.[48] It is surprising to see how many so-called progressive national security strategies pass over the challenges to America’s democracy, Identity and Belonging Finally, as many commentators on the future of democracy have noted, one of the key battles at the moment is over identity and belonging.[49] The United States and other democratic societies are becoming internally divided in ways that spill into foreign affairs, repudiating notions of the state as a unified, monolithic entity. Cities are conducting foreign policy and are taking the lead in responding to progressive priorities like climate change.[50] But right-wing populists, authoritarians, and even white nationalists have built effective international cooperation — with profound consequences. In response, Wright wants to invigorate democratic alliances, ratcheting up pressure on non-democratic allies as need be. Sanders wants to build global popular movements.  But for either approach to succeed, the U.S. national security community itself is going to have to wrestle with issues of identity and belonging. Too many specialists avoid engaging on issues that connect international affairs with nasty domestic politics — from the prejudice and restrictions against Muslims with U.S. citizenship and those counted as key allies in the fight against terrorism, to U.S. foreign policy toward Central America and the crisis of family separation at U.S. borders, to the racialized resentments that simmer just beneath the surface of trade policy. But national security and foreign policy, as fields, can’t flourish apart from domestic policy. And the Trump administration’s rhetoric has shown that, where internationalists are reluctant to wade in and draw connections to Americans’ daily life, nativists will take their place. Finally, for avowedly progressive thinkers to fail to engage identity and diversity is unacceptable. The field of writers recognized as qualified to opine on national security strategy lacks the diversity of background, gender, age, and experience of the progressive electorate, or even of progressive officeholders. The strategies they have put forward fail uniformly to engage with the prejudice, discrimination, and violence that are core security concerns for large numbers of progressives — and likely driving motivators for the next generation of progressive leaders. Finding a synthesis between the best of what the tradition of grand strategy has to offer and the reality of the goals and members of contemporary American progressivism is the essential task for any progressive national security strategy.   Heather Hurlburt runs the New Models of Policy Change Initiative at New America. Her career at the intersection of politics and foreign policy includes stints in the White House, State Department, and Capitol Hill, as well as extensive experience in advocacy organizations.  

3. Principles for a Progressive Defense Policy

By Adam Mount Like other foreign policy doctrines, progressive internationalism is grounded in a set of moral principles. Progressive internationalists believe that the United States must represent a force for good in the world — not just good as Americans see it, but a kind of good that any reasonable society could accept for itself. Progressives grasp intuitively that global perceptions of U.S. actions are important to both their success and their moral acceptability. In practice, these principles oblige American foreign policy not only to support the capabilities of American citizens to lead lives that are healthy, fulfilling, and free, but to also do the same for foreign citizens. The best recent progressive foreign policy proposals are directly motivated by these principles: a global democratic movement to confront the ascendant nexus of transnational neofascism, authoritarianism, kleptocracy, and corruption;[51] a major investment in international development, global health, and diplomatic efforts;[52] trade policies intended to reduce global inequality;[53] and global environmental sustainability. It is not only a moral imperative but also the most effective means of securing America’s interests: Just as democracy, health, controlling inequality, and sustainability are important to a healthy polity, they are similarly important to creating a stable and peaceful world in which that polity can exist. The same principles can also underwrite a progressive defense strategy, though applying them to defense is less common. National defense needs the moral guidance and skepticism that progressive internationalism can offer. Progressives begin from the recognition that the threats America faces are generally neither existential in nature nor susceptible to resolution by military force.[54] In Washington, threat inflation is commonplace and there is an overwhelming tendency to defer to the advice or recommendations of military officials, even where there is little evidence that military force can resolve a given problem. Though the Department of Defense has abandoned its plan to concurrently fight two wars in two different theaters, other unrealistic maximalist standards have taken its place. Strategists commonly seek to expunge threats rather than to prevent their emergence or manage their consequences. The unrealistic requirement to operate freely any time, anywhere has replaced defense of the homeland and allied territory with defense of the forward deployed joint force. Waste is rampant and persistently immune to oversight. War is apparently endless. Force planning is disconnected from threat assessment. Preventive and diplomatic policies have given way to an overwhelming tendency to see military force as the primary means of addressing strategic challenges. In short, Washington has fallen to militarism.[55] The standard slogans of the left remain valuable: Progressives support diplomatic and preventive solutions over military mitigation, multilateralism over unilateralism, cooperative threat reduction, and arms control over arms racing. However, slogans are not enough. As they seek power in Congress and the White House, progressive internationalists must present a vision not just for national security but for the structure and function of the military in a world where U.S. hegemony is in relative decline. This vision must recognize not only the dangerous tendency of uncontrolled American militarism to crowd out domestic obligations, provoke arms races and instability, and erode American moral authority around the world; it must also plan and posture to meet America’s moral obligation to defend free peoples from war and to intervene in humanitarian disasters, including through the use of force when necessary and effective. A Military Without Militarism Progressives remain intensely concerned about the corrosive effects the national security state has had on the country’s ability to sustain a healthy domestic polity. In recent years, reflexive militarism has impeded the fiscal and democratic foundations needed to sustain a just society. Defense spending now approaches $700 billion, accounting for about 55 percent of all discretionary spending. Financing that spending with debt has exacerbated economic inequality by borrowing from the wealthy,[56] been used to justify an endless string of tax and domestic spending cuts, and deferred the costs to future generations. The sheer magnitude of the sum crowds out domestic efforts on education, federal health care and poverty alleviation, scientific research, environmental protection, non-defense foreign policy, and a wide range of other essential functions. In recent decades, Congress has deliberately cut these accounts to the bone — and then started to slice away bone. As a result, the United States is no longer able to meet its essential obligations to provide for the health and welfare of its citizens. Even these levels of spending are apparently not enough. Defense officials warn that the country’s “competitive military advantage has been eroding” and that America faces “a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory.”[57] The interminable wars in the Middle East are no closer to victory. Defense officials commonly warn that the United States is losing its technological edge. “The last decade,” Chairman Dunford said last year, has “threatened our ability to project power and we have lost our advantage in key warfighting areas.”[58] The Air Force says its needs to add more than 70 new squadrons, from 312 to 386; the Navy is requesting funding to grow from 286 to 355 ships; and the Army is seeking 80,000 new recruits for an increase of 11,500 more soldiers than in 2017.[59] The Department of Defense is purchasing new fleets of aircraft carriers, submarines, fighter aircraft, tankers, and trying to replace nearly the entire nuclear arsenal. No appropriation will ever be enough. The military has an obligation to attempt to maximize security to the greatest extent possible within the limits set by civilian leadership. However, successive administrations have avoided making hard choices about military strategy, and Congress has an abiding tendency to defer to the Defense Department on questions of force structure. As a result, the United States lacks a rational process to size its military. At the same time, the escalating cost of military hardware and appalling waste means that U.S. forces are spread increasingly thinly across the globe, exacerbating the perception that the United States is losing its competitive edge. A dysfunctional congressional process that reflexively privileges defense over other discretionary spending needs is only one of the alarming effects that militarism has had on American democracy. A progressive administration should endeavor to reverse the deleterious consequences of the militarization of American foreign policy, democracy, and civic life. Improving transparency of military missions and capabilities,[60] ending unitary nuclear launch authority,[61] restricting the transfer of military technology to civilian law enforcement, resisting the trend of appointing current and former officers to cabinet positions, sharply limiting electronic surveillance of U.S. and allied citizens, ending the treatment of immigrants as a military threat to be addressed with military methods, and reclaiming Congress’ responsibility to declare and authorize war are all steps that would help to restore democratic oversight of military policy. Rescinding the blank check 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force is a necessary first step.[62] A progressive internationalist administration should not only slow the growth of, combat waste in, and more carefully evaluate defense spending, it must also reduce defense spending — both as a proportion of the federal budget and in absolute terms. Consistent with their efforts to transform national healthcare, progressives should have no reluctance to ensuring that every American veteran can access mental and physical care, job services, housing, and a competent Veterans Administration.[63] Supporting American veterans is not only a solemn obligation but should be understood as an eliminable cost of war. A Moral Military The United States is fond of saying that its alliances are predicated on shared values and interests, but this was only ever selectively true. Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and Saudi Arabia are all in various stages of descent into authoritarianism, autocracy, or fascism. Unconditional support for these states corrodes America’s moral standing and devalues the word “ally.” A global effort to support democracies will require a revision of certain alliance commitments to ensure they do not contradict this or other American objectives. Serving as a force for good in the world means allying with those countries that similarly serve as a force for good, and resisting those that do not. A progressive administration should also examine not only the democratic values of alliance partners but also the strategic and humanitarian consequences of arms sales agreements that often accompany alliance commitments. Decades of wars in which U.S. soldiers and civilians were killed with American-made weapons led the Obama administration to issue new guidance to “take into account” the human rights and broader records of recipients when evaluating arms transfers. Yet the outrage of American-made munitions killing Yemeni civilians and causing an appalling famine demonstrates that these restrictions were not enough.[64] To decisively end U.S. complicity in such atrocities and persistent conflict, a progressive administration should establish binding — not just rhetorical or aspirational — restrictions on transfers to countries engaged in human rights abuses or other actions that run contrary to U.S. objectives. Serving as a force for good in the world means, at a minimum, ensuring that U.S. weapons are not used to perpetrate atrocities or assist repression. To serve as a moral military, U.S. procurement and operations must be subject to additional scrutiny. Continued technological superiority affords the United States a unique opportunity to set an example with respect to morally problematic weapons systems. The United States need not offer authoritarian or irresponsible regimes an excuse to brandish cluster munitions, landmines, remote piloted aircraft, or chemical and nuclear weapons, which should be subject to strict civilian oversight to ensure they are consistent with international standards of just conduct in war. Similarly, U.S. counterterror operations should also be subject to tighter standards to minimize civilian casualties to the absolute lowest level possible. Despite some significant efforts during the Obama administration and within the military, unintended casualties remain far too high.[65] The United States should be willing to accept additional vulnerability in order to further reduce civilian casualties. Any incidents that do take place should be disclosed and those responsible held to account. Declining relative power and defense budgets will oblige a progressive administration to prioritize U.S. military objectives and to revise or rescind those that can no longer be realistically met. The U.S. Armed Forces can best defend the rights of foreign citizens through humanitarian operations and deterrence of high-end threats to the high-end threats to free peoples. The military should be structured and resourced to accomplish both rapid mass atrocity response and deterrence operations and should be tasked and employed only when it can effectively accomplish defined objectives with the participation of the local population and using means consistent with the interests of those peoples as they themselves understand them. These missions entail a moral obligation to maintain a capable and ready foreign presence in South Korea, Japan, Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and elsewhere to deter war and, if necessary, to act to defend these allies from aggression. Yet too often U.S. deployments do not reflect these core moral obligations and strategic interests. In an increasingly competitive world, in which America’s relative power is in decline, U.S. strategists cannot afford to expend credibility or raise tensions for actions that are purely symbolic or expressive. There are serious and persistent questions about America’s ability to have a positive effect in the Middle East and whether the benefits of counter-terror operations have outweighed their tendency to exacerbate the problem. Too many exercises are postured in ways that raise tensions or the risk of misperception. China’s encroachment into South China Sea and its coercion of its neighbors should be resisted, but where U.S. efforts stand little chance of success, or neighbors are reluctant to participate, they are ultimately futile. A Force for Stability Progressive internationalists are acutely aware that U.S. force structure and posture has too often indirectly undermined the security of the continental United States and its allies by posing an unnecessary threat to potential adversaries and fueling arms races. The principles that underwrite progressivism also require a commitment to military stability. A progressive administration should act to ensure that the U.S. Armed Forces serve as a force for stability in the world, rather than instability. When the United States forward deploys or stations hi-technology conventional military assets, it generates rational concerns in the capitals of potential adversaries about America’s intentions and its capabilities. Russia, China, and North Korea have difficulty detecting and discriminating between America’s conventional strike and intelligence forces, on the one hand, and logistical and civilian operations on the other. Furthermore, U.S. theater and global missile defense systems do possess a capability to limit retaliatory damage after a counterstrike attempt, even if U.S. leadership would never contemplate such a strike. U.S. capabilities often exceed what is necessary to defend U.S. allies and have contributed to Russian, Chinese, and North Korean efforts to enhance the number, survivability, and sophistication of their forces. To limit these risks, progressives should support a comprehensive research and policy program to identify ways to limit the stability risks of U.S. forward presence. If strategic stability is to have any meaning, the United States must seek to limit not only the threats adversaries pose to it, but also the threat that it poses to potential adversaries. At the same time, progressive internationalists must not fall prey to the fallacy that unilateral disarmament will necessarily lead adversaries to follow suit. Too many Americans believe the military exists to eliminate rather than manage sources of vulnerability, a view that has a tendency to cause the problems it aspires to solve. In fact, mutual vulnerability with Russia and China, and soon also with North Korea, is a strategic reality that cannot be solved with a new weapons system. The debate over the “third offset” illustrates these tendencies.[66] Conceived as a cost effective means of maintaining U.S. superiority over rising competitors by capitalizing on new technologies that “offset” adversary anti-access and area-denial capabilities, the effort was incapacitated by two fatal strategic flaws. First, the two previous offsets were conceived as means to fortify defensive capabilities against a numerically superior and potentially aggressive adversary. The “third offset” was intended to enable the United States to overcome static and defensive capabilities and project power into contested areas. Second, these defensive capabilities — cheap area-denial ballistic missiles, submarine, anti-space, and cyber capabilities — are, in fact, the “third offset” because they exploit cost-efficient technological advances to offset a qualitatively superior force. In short, “third offset” thinking places the United States in the highly undesirable position of attempting to overcome and overwhelm a highly effective offset strategy. You can’t offset an offset. As relative decline makes U.S. military superiority fiscally and operationally impractical, the United States will need a new standard for shaping its military requirements and conducting deterrence. Rather than minimize risk and maximize capability, military spending and future acquisition planning must be rigorously tied and tailored to threat assessments. As Van Jackson’s essay in this roundtable suggests, military sufficiency is a more achievable and, in many cases, more effective standard than military superiority. A defensive force posture is the most effective and sustainable means of defending both the United States and democratic societies around the world. As the United States loses the ability to operate unchallenged on the Chinese littorals and in the Russian periphery, it should, together with its allies, invest in systems capable of defending allied territory against aggression: cost-effective coastal defense missiles, denial of intrusions by special-operation forces, flexible and agile concentrations of high-end forces that can deploy rapidly to prepositioned equipment in theater, and other area-denial capabilities. Though the Armed Forces will have to retain expeditionary capabilities to prevail over attempts to isolate and deny access to allies or humanitarian catastrophes, the United States should put its money where money is currently most effective: These requirements are not nearly so high as those for maintaining military superiority.[67] Too much deterrence planning has emphasized escalation control and retaliation and forgotten that the most important determinant of deterrence success is the ability to defend and deny with conventional forces. In particular, progressives are intensely concerned about the risks, costs, and ethical implications of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. A commitment to pursue nuclear disarmament, and making sustained progress toward reducing the number and role of nuclear weapons, is imperative to retaining moral authority, to serving as an exemplar for allies and smaller powers contemplating their own nuclear programs, and to leading the way in the construction of a safer world. Progressive internationalists should push to structure and posture the U.S. nuclear arsenal for deterrence operations and abandon requirements for escalation control and nuclear warfighting.[68] The U.S. military must, in this view, eliminate peripheral systems in the arsenal that go beyond what’s needed for existential deterrence — specifically, the “supplementary” sea-launched cruise missile and a lower yield warhead for the Trident sea-launched ballistic missile proposed in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, but also perhaps the air-launched cruise missile. The case for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles is also increasingly tenuous.[69] Progressive internationalists should vigorously pursue creative new concepts for arms control to address the risks of a range of new nuclear and nonnuclear technologies with Russia, China, and North Korea. Conclusion Each of the steps outlined above are likely to be controversial because they entail accepting an additional margin of vulnerability. In fact, the United States is vulnerable to adversary strategic forces, terrorism, climate change, instability due to migration, and the actions of other potential adversaries. The quest for perfect security is the product of anxiety and is bound to fail. A greater strength is required to admit America’s vulnerability than to deny it, to manage vulnerability than to act as though it can be eliminated. This task now falls to progressive internationalists. In short, a progressive internationalist administration would ensure that the United States military serves as a force for good in the world by protecting the security, welfare, and democratic rights of not only U.S. and allied citizens, but also other foreigners. The objective may seem familiar and intuitive when stated plainly, but the implications for policy are wide reaching and potentially transformative.   Adam Mount, Ph.D. (@ajmount) is Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists.  

4. Progressives Should Embrace the Politics of Defense

By Loren DeJonge Schulman In his essay on what a progressive national security agenda should look like, Van Jackson proposes to stretch the common progressive position of anti-militarism to a more realist platform of military “sufficiency.” In doing so, he brings attention to a serious gap in current defense politics. The stilted and superficial dialogue that passes for national security debate in American politics includes an active constituency for a “military first” (or military friendly) foreign policy, reflexively applying military tools to problems abroad and inflating defense spending. There is also a weaker constituency, most present outside government, for a “military last” or “anti-militarist” policy, which would cut defense spending and end wars with similar reflexivity. Outside the apolitical “blob” of Washington, there is little interest in publicly debating the prudence or effectiveness of these agendas. The left, regardless of its broader “theory of security,” could fill some of this vacuum — and it is better situated to do so than conventional wisdom might suggest.[70] Democrats Drowning at the Water’s Edge For the last two decades, there has been little political opportunity to question America’s role in the world. With some exception, relevant defense and security policies have been open to even less scrutiny. Questions about the ethical or effective application of force, the size of the defense budget, the success of a given military strategy, the utility of specific weapons platforms, and the return on investment from security cooperation are, at best, diversions. Anyone who attempts to challenge the status quo risks being greeted with political attacks about lacking patriotism or not supporting American troops.[71] But at a time of frequent missteps abroad on the part of the Trump administration, the space to question America’s foreign policy traditions may be widening. The inability to pose legitimate questions about security policy is a particular flavor of political correctness, and because of it, the Democratic Party has all but disappeared in defense policy and politics.[72] The last two years have seen more than a dozen pieces on the left’s lack of branded national security ideas.[73] Michael Walzer has attributed this gap to an intentional abstention: The default position of the left is that “the best foreign policy is a good domestic policy.”[74] Jackson highlights modest resourcing and under-representation as justifications for the left’s notable lack of a “theory of security” and the general subsuming of the debate under a big-tent “third way” liberalism. Traditional Democrats in the national security community (including me) have bristled at these criticisms, but would be hard-pressed to offer a distinctive and coherent political viewpoint. Some see the Democratic Party’s lack of a defined national security policy as something to celebrate. Declaring that politics “stops at the water’s edge” of national security is a winning Bingo option at any think tank event. But this dictum stifles debate about the national interest and the proper application of national resources. Consequently, there are moral and political questions on defense and interventions abroad that have no meaningful forum. This gap is particularly felt on Capitol Hill, where in the past security-minded Democrats have found political safe-harbor in a Republican-lite national security agenda — essentially blank-check support for Republicans on defense with, at most, a raised eyebrow from time to time. These policy positions require little analytical effort or political capital, and let Democrats occasionally posture as morally superior by emphasizing “non-military tools” of foreign policy. The opposite alternative of a more rigid pacifism and anti-militarism, though common in the grassroots progressive community, has no consistently organized political presence on the Hill and thus also escapes thorough interrogation.[75] For those outside the Beltway, opposition to all things military offers the refuge of principle without critical justification or analysis. For many Democrats, the Obama model was a strangely tolerable middle ground: a bipartisan budget mess made while a “responsible” president ramped up security interventions in enough secrecy to avoid nagging scrutiny or self-examination. Re-Politicizing Defense Despite the valiant efforts of some individuals, there is no political home for responsible defense debate, oversight, and accountability.[76] Yet, with determination, the left might find a real foothold in defense policy — without compromising progressive values. To be clear: There is substantial work to be done on figuring out what cohesive view of America’s role in the world the left can tolerate and advance. There is even greater work to be done on determining how to renew, reuse, and reform international institutions.[77] But any such agendas would be well served by embracing a set of principles that make clear-eyed debate and evaluation of defense policy and execution an asset, not an unforgiveable sin. Critical analysis of defense affairs is too often left to the technocratic and comparatively powerless “blob,” which can write a mean op-ed or tweet, but has limited ability to engage the American people on its will and interests. And although Congress has willfully declawed itself so that it cannot maintain meaningful oversight of national security,[78] its ability to stage and amplify policy debate for the American people is without parallel, and it has tremendous latent potential to restore greater balance in civil-military relations. Congress’s absence and the associated de-politicization of national security affairs is costly. For instance, the American public is deeply ambivalent about the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan and generally ignorant of the widespread activities of the war on terror.[79] This is unsurprising: Congress, too, is disaffected, often ignorant of where the U.S. military is even engaged,[80] and has made little headway into questioning or shaping this intervention. The most substantive and serious debate about executive war authorities and the effectiveness of U.S. counterterrorism strategy has resulted in little more than a reauthorization proposal that still failed to move forward.[81] Too many examples of political leaders’ stand-off or superficial approach to defense policy and execution abound. ilitary superiority is generally viewed as sacrosanct, placed on “so high a pedestal as to render real debate meaningless.”[82] That reverence infantilizes defense budget debates. Thanking troops for their service is a politicized ritual that divorces politicians and their constituents from the intent and costs of that service. With decisions on the needs of the U.S. military and sustaining legacy systems openly linked to the economies of congressional districts, it’s understandable that skeptics of utilizing military tools have been unwilling to evaluate their merits. These must all change. While, at its worst, the political right treats the use of force abroad as a metric of patriotism and the size of the force as the measure of one’s love of America, the political left ought to draw from its skepticism toward intervention and its faith in institutions to advance a more rational and accountable approach to national security. For years, Robert Farley has highlighted that “progressives consistently underestimate the importance of discussions about military doctrine and technology,”[83] taking what Michael Walzer calls “shortcuts”[84] in their critiques of defense policy that relieve them from contributing to key debates. Instead of excusing themselves, the left should instead propose legitimate questions about major shifts in force employment and development: Will it work? What are its goals? What is the U.S. national security apparatus learning? Why didn’t it work? Were U.S. objectives wrong? What did America change when it didn’t work? Will America do it again? What could be improved? What should America do now? Joining the Conversation Jackson’s notion of what a progressive “wager” on national security might look like in practice is useful, filling the gap between the “Republican-lite” default and the stubbornness of anti-militarism. But the left’s diversity of thought can accommodate a wider playing field of potential alternative approaches to security than even he proposes. A true pacifist movement on the Hill and on the campaign trail, dedicated to the advancement of non-military approaches but premised on analysis and logical arguments, would be a serious advancement in national security and should be welcomed by the most ardent military advocates. Likewise, a more prudent middle ground approach — one that is skeptical of, but open to, military might and intervention and demands a better return on investment of national security tools — should play a more prominent political role. The full range of the left’s national security spectrum should forcefully engage in oversight of the rationale for and quality of American forces and interventions abroad. The left should therefore consider adopting a series of principles on defense matters — including criteria for the use of force — that apply to the military-friendly and anti-militarist left alike. In practice, this means acknowledging that there are valid political positions on matters of defense that lie somewhere in between “yes, and” and “no never” and that trivializing them is harmful to America’s national security. There are alternatives to today’s counterterror strategy and it would not be an insult to the military to debate them. It’s entirely legitimate to study whether the military is equipped to face today’s threats without being accused of retreating from the world or starting with an artificial budget cut. It’s sensible to consider whether the planned growth of ground forces, a 350-ship Navy, or a 386-squadron Air Force are the right investments or political benchmarks.[85] These questions involve choices and values and should not be avoided under the umbrella of a supposed technocratic bipartisan agreement. Just as important, it’s essential that the left avoid becoming a caricature of itself that promotes simplistic and superficial positions that set rigid, unserious standards. The left may not agree on the size or purpose of the military, but it can agree America should strive for informed oversight and accountability. The bumper sticker of such principles is simple: Ask informed questions,[86] illuminate and demand accountability for failures, encourage fresh thinking, and bring the American people into the discussion without fear. That this is so simple is an embarrassment to the present state of the “debate.” In detail, these principles should include: The left — in all its forms — should embrace the necessity of active participation and serious debate beyond the water’s edge. That’s how to make national security more democratic, transparent, and therefore accountable. What could be more progressive than that?   Loren DeJonge Schulman is the Deputy Director of Studies and Leon E. Panetta Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. She is the co-host of the national security podcast Bombshell and has held senior staff positions at the National Security Council and Department of Defense. The views expressed hers alone and not representative of her organization.  

5. The Free-World Strategy Progressives Need

By Thomas Wright Attempts to craft a foreign policy for the next progressive president must begin with a consideration of the international situation, not with general principles or domestic politics. To do otherwise runs a grave risk of formulating a policy that is wildly out of sync with the world as it is. Depending on the threat environment, a progressive foreign policy could emphasize many of the elements discussed in Van Jackson’s essay in this roundtable — universal institutions, multilateral cooperation, arms control — or rearmament, deterrence, and alliances. But it depends on the circumstances. Just consider the case of Britain’s postwar Labour government, which pursued left wing policies at home but built a nuclear weapon, helped to create NATO, and took a hardline anti-Soviet position. In assessing the international situation, the United States must ask whether and how world events impinge on vital American interests. Those interests are laid down in the preamble to the constitution, which states that the purpose of the United States is
to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.[89]
Foreign policy and national security are fundamentally about ensuring a healthy international system in which this free society can thrive and prosper. With every passing month, it is clear that the international situation is deteriorating rapidly. From Latin America, to Europe, to Asia, the world is seeing the rise of a neo-authoritarianism that seeks to roll back freedom where it currently resides and advance its own global reach. It is not monolithic and contains internal contradictions, but this authoritarian trend packs enough of a punch to qualify as a coherent alternative to a free and open society. It is able to take advantage of disruptive technological change and dislocations in the economies of democracies as well as severe political dysfunctions and polarization in U.S. domestic politics. This is much more than a geopolitical clash along the frontier of the South China Sea or Ukraine. It is a clash of societies that directly affects America’s domestic affairs, whether it is the health of democracy, the level of strife between various groups and cultures, the freedom of the media, the nature of capitalism, or the integrity of U.S. critical infrastructure. The rise of neo-authoritarianism is not the only thing going on of course. There are at least two other existential challenges facing America, as well as a myriad of significant problems. The first is a global economic model that remains prone to financial crisis and has major flaws — including allowing China’s unfair practices and facilitating massive corporate tax avoidance — that disadvantage modern democratic market economies. The second is climate change, which we now have reason to believe will result in catastrophic effects by 2040, well within the lifetime of most Americans.[90] In addition to these challenges, the United States faces a continuing threat from terrorist networks, North Korea, and Iran, among others. But the neo-authoritarian challenge is the greatest strategic problem America faces because it involves opponents of great capability and global reach with the intention of undermining the United States and with the ability to adapt and counter U.S. actions to remedy the situation. These facts distinguish this challenge from the problems of globalization and climate change. Dealing with it will require a level of public support and national action that necessitates it being at the center of American foreign policy. If it remains just one issue among many, the United States will fail in whatever objectives it sets out. The Rise of Neo-Authoritarian Great Powers After the Cold War, Western leaders, including almost everyone on the left, believed that Russia and China would converge on a single model of liberal order as they traded and engaged with the West. In this vision, all states would share the same challenges — like climate change, terrorism, economic volatility, and nuclear proliferation — that would eclipse old geopolitical differences. The expectations of convergence came to an end because Russian and Chinese leaders concluded that if the liberal order succeeded globally, it would pose an existential threat to their regimes. These leaders believed that the West was orchestrating color revolutions in their own societies. They worried that Western leaders would break any promise of support, as President Barack Obama did with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.[91] They feared the autonomy and power of the free press — as evidenced by the role the New York Times played in uncovering mass corruption among the Chinese political leadership in 2012 — and they worried about the role that social media and search engines might play in shaping the views of the youth in their countries.[92] To put this in the parlance of foreign policy, they felt more threatened by America’s soft power, or the power of its society, than by traditional military strength. They were not wrong — at least not from their perspective. Indeed, most progressives believed and hoped that soft power would sow the seeds of change overseas. This is a point worth remembering when U.S. officials or pundits talk about the importance of a whole of government approach and the power of example — it is precisely this characteristic of the Western system that worries Moscow and Beijing the most. With this diagnosis, China and Russia began to push back and sought to create a world safe for authoritarianism. That meant weakening the free press[93] and social media;[94] repressing non-governmental organizations;[95] establishing the means of influencing Western societies, including by interfering in their domestic politics and promoting division and discord;[96] coercing private companies into abiding by China’s wishes;[97] using corruption to gain leverage internationally;[98] and weakening the concept and means of operationalizing universal values.[99] There is a significant geopolitical dimension to the competition: China and Russia really do seek a sphere of influence in their respective regions and such ambitions are dangerous and destabilizing. But the competition is rooted in a clash of social models — a free world and a neo-authoritarian world — that directly affects how people live. This clash has spilled over into western societies and directly challenges the democratic way of life. None of the major protagonists in this competition seek a major conflict. And although one could occur inadvertently, the most likely scenario is one of a prolonged peacetime competition with measures short of war. The clash of free societies and neo-authoritarianism shapes almost everything else. It makes multilateral cooperation much more difficult. It makes military interventions much more costly. It makes the global economy more volatile. It damages democracy and tolerance while empowering kleptocrats and xenophobia. And if it continues unchecked, the result will be a world, and an America, that is much less free and prosperous than it is today. Possible Strategic Responses There are three possible responses to this neo-authoritarian challenge. The first is to hunker down and play defense. The second is to accommodate it, in the hope of cooperation. And, the third is to push back and compete with neo-authoritarian states diplomatically, politically, economically, and militarily. I. Playing defense The United States could focus exclusively on blunting the authoritarian challenge at home by securing voting machines, reforming election law, placing restrictions on investment in critical infrastructure, and working with social media companies to call out fake news and propaganda. The United States could go even further and help other countries to do the same. This would help, but it is not enough. New technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) may well be offense dominant. It is impossible to muster an effective defense that will stop all cyber attacks, prevent penetration of critical infrastructure, and render fake news worthless. Moreover, what needs to be defended is vast and diverse, encompassing the private and public sectors. Defense is not enough. America needs to think about deterrence — how to threaten sufficient costs that will change the calculus of its adversaries. Moreover, a purely defensive approach does not address how to think about the geopolitical dimension of the competition — should Russia and China be allowed a sphere of influence in their respective regions and is the United States competing with them to shape global rules and norms? This approach is also silent regarding countries that have become more authoritarian in recent years. II. Accommodate rivals In an important article, Peter Beinart recently wrote that progressives should not try to out-hawk the GOP on Russia, North Korea, or China. Instead, they should abandon U.S. primacy in favor of a system of spheres of influence in which China has much more of a say in East Asia, including Taiwan, and Russia in Eastern Europe.[100] Beinart’s argument is that the United States is overstretched and close to insolvent in its national power. Other versions of this argument have been made by academic realists, such as Barry Posen.[101] Beinart correctly understands that if Russia and China are to be bought off it will have to be with something more substantial than extra votes in Western institutions. But his strategy is badly mistaken. There would be no greater act of imperialism than sitting down with a hostile power to give away independent democracies against their will. What is progressive about that? A spheres-of-influence system will also run up against the same problem it always has — the lines of demarcation are never clear and it will be inherently unstable. Hardliners in Beijing and Moscow will see an opportunity and demand more. Also, why stop with Russia and China? Others will soon get the message that if they throw their weight around they too can have a claim on their own sphere. A spheres-of-influence system would make war much more likely than other approaches and it would gravely damage America’s vital interests. III. Responsible competition for the Free World The third option is that the United States should compete with authoritarian states to preserve and strengthen an international system that protects freedom and liberty at home.[102] This would entail moving away from universal concepts of international order and toward a free world model whereby America seeks to bolster democratic societies, to inoculate them against illiberal forces at home and abroad, and to deter revisionist powers. The primary drawback of this strategy is that it risks starting a new Cold War with China and Russia. However, it is only by pushing back and standing up for free and open societies that America can achieve some level of deterrence and establish a new equilibrium. Preemptive concessions to great power rivals would only beget more demands and would leave the United States in a vastly weaker position. Competing with neo-authoritarian states is the best way to ensure that free and open societies can survive and prosper and it also holds out the best prospect of peaceful relations with other great powers. A Free World Strategy in More Detail A free world strategy is not a re-run of the Cold War. Rather, America should seek to adopt a strategy of responsible competition that is cognizant of the differences between Russia and China, recognizes the need for continued cooperation on matters of mutual interest, like climate change, and avoids escalating to levels that would risk a major-power war. Space constraints prevent full elaboration of the strategy here but the key elements include the following: The Middle East is a particularly thorny problem that largely exists outside of this conceptual framework. Withdrawing from the region is tempting but carries with it an extremely high risk of contagion whereby problems in the region would worsen and threaten vital interests elsewhere. The collapse of Saudi Arabia or Jordan, or civil conflict in Turkey, would have a devastating impact — refugee flows could destroy the European Union, the Islamic State could return, and conflict could spread throughout the region and beyond. On the other hand, military engagement runs the risk of a forever war with high human costs that distracts from the primary strategic challenge facing America. There is no obvious answer. The least bad option is to continue to engage while being much tougher on America’s Gulf allies, including being willing to deploy leverage, such as ending arms sales. But, regardless of the side one comes down on, it is vital that decision-makers are honest about the horrible trade-off America faces and outline ways of mitigating the cost of their chosen strategy. If the United States decides to leave, it must deal with the contagion problem — how to prevent instability in one part of the region from spilling over. If it decides to stay, it has to deal with maintaining problematic allies. The Defense Budget Progressives need to familiarize themselves with the substantive debate surrounding the defense budget and move past misleading generalities that compare the overall size of the budget with that of other countries. Such comparisons are commonplace (e.g., the United States spends more on defense than the next seven major powers combined) and lead to a complacency about American power.[103] But, they are mistaken for three reasons: 1) Russia and China lie about their defense spending and conceal its true levels, 2) it is not the overall level of power that matters but the balance in particular contested theaters — the United States has to project power globally whereas Russia and China can concentrate on their regions — and 3) rapid technological change has the potential to enable China to leapfrog over the United States. Moreover, America should try to avoid allowing rival powers to believe they can engage in a fair fight with U.S forces — something that could weaken deterrence by giving a risk-tolerant rival reason to think that aggression may pay, especially in regions where they have disproportionately larger interests than they think the United States does. Moreover, most of defense spending is not flexible — the costs are committed too far into the future, whether it is procurement of new weapons systems or personnel. Immediate cuts would have to come out of current operations or research and development. Cutting operations to save money, rather than for strategic reasons, damages readiness and increases the risk of conflict. Cutting research and development means the United States would be at a serious disadvantage in competing with China. Experts on both sides of the aisle believe that the cuts to defense spending under the Budget Control Act (commonly known as the Sequester), included at the insistence of the Republican Party, did significant damage to the national defense.[104] One can certainly argue that the defense budget allocates resources inefficiently to deal with the challenges America faces. Should the United States really be building new aircraft carriers in an era when AI, precision missiles, or advanced submarines may render them almost useless? Surely it should be making the necessary investments in science and technology and human capital to compete. But the conversation on the budget must recognize that the United States faces a monumental task in reforming and improving its military for this new era. Adjustments need to be made over the long term and for strategic reasons. The focus must be on modernization, improving competitiveness and increasing capabilities so that the United States has the right kind of military for the coming challenges. How to do that is the needed debate. Dealing with the Global Economy and Climate Nothing in a free world strategy precludes taking action on other issues. In fact, it necessitates reforming the global economy since protecting against volatility and crisis and ensuring that the system works for all citizens are vital components of ensuring the free world succeeds and prospers. This could be accomplished by initiating a conversation with America’s allies that moves beyond market access and regulatory alignment to talk about shared concerns about globalization — inequality, the decoupling of labor and productivity, a financial system that is too big to fail, corporate tax avoidance, and China’s mercantilist model. Climate change is a global phenomenon by definition but the solutions to it must be implemented at the domestic level. To effectively address it, the United States and other major powers need a massive overhaul of their national economies. Thus far, Americans have shown insufficient will for an overhaul of the scale and scope required. And so, Democratic leaders have gravitated toward more modest approaches to get things started while Republicans have almost entirely ignored the problem. There is, of course, an international component, but much of this approach depends on American, Chinese, and Indian action — only if these societies transform their economies to dramatically cut emissions, can a solution be found. This raises one important question for U.S. national security strategy: Should the United States go easy on China to secure its cooperation on climate change? The answer is no. To do so would actually provide Beijing with leverage that it would be tempted to use. It would be wiser to ring-fence climate change and agree that, given that it is a matter of vital interest to all parties, cooperation should continue even if the major powers are competing on other fronts. The Politics of Foreign Policy Progressives were slow to realize the challenge posed by authoritarianism, particularly from Russia and China. During his presidency, Obama repeatedly dismissed Russia as a regional power and underestimated the threat it posed to the democratic process in 2016. Several Obama administration officials now acknowledge that they also failed to fully comprehend and respond to the competitive nature of the challenge from China.[105] It was commonplace for senior officials to talk about the arc of history and 21st-century politics as if the dangers of the 20th century had aged out, never to return. Progressives must reflect seriously upon these mistakes and remedy them ahead of a possible progressive administration in 2021. A free world strategy does this. It is consistent with progressive and democratic values but also represents an appropriate departure from Obama’s foreign policy. When pundits talk about the past — protecting the liberal international order created in the late 1940s — or obscure far away places, people can tune out. Progressives must talk about the future and relate it directly to people’s lived experience. They must tap into ongoing debates in free societies about technological change. The strategy proposed above allows for precisely that. It is a sad reality that Americans have been more frequently moved to action in foreign policy by perceived threats than by hopes of creating a better world. America should never exaggerate the problems it faces but neither should it ignore them where they exist. One of the advantages of a free world strategy is that it is an American strategy, not a partisan one. There is enough flexibility within the concept to allow progressives and conservatives to tailor it for their own goals. A progressive strategy may seek to build a free world that reduces inequality and put some limits on market forces, whereas a conservative strategy may seek to reduce regulation. Reasonable people can differ about the type of free world they want to build. In the immediate future, a free world strategy also allows Democrats to draw a stark contrast with Trump’s policies. The vast majority of Republicans believe in the free world but Trump does not. He prefers authoritarian strong men. He would erode key freedoms — such as freedom of the press — if he were politically stronger. In many ways, he sympathizes with the Russian and Chinese vision of international order. Trump is a reminder that this competition is not just between states; it is also within them. Many progressives may well prefer to do less in the world and retrench. That is not what this era requires of them. The United States will need to do more in some areas and less in others. Supporters of a free society — whether progressives, centrists, or conservatives — face an existential challenge that can only be met with an active and competitive foreign policy.   Thomas Wright is Director of the Center for the U.S. and Europe and a Senior Fellow in the Project in International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution. He is author of All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power.   Image: CGP Grey [post_title] => Policy Roundtable: The Future of Progressive Foreign Policy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => policy-roundtable-the-future-of-progressive-foreign-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-05 16:11:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-05 21:11:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://tnsr.org/?post_type=roundtable&p=802 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => roundtable [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => In this roundtable, we asked our chair, Van Jackson, to write a prompt essay on the future of progressive foreign policy, and had each of our contributors respond. [pubinfo] => [issue] => [quotes] => [style] => roundtable [type] => Policy [style_label] => Roundtable [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 238 [1] => 131 [2] => 239 [3] => 240 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => [1] Van Jackson, “Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security?” Politico Magazine, Sept. 11, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/11/left-national-security-foreign-policy-donald-trump-219744; Aziz Rana, “The Left’s Missing Foreign Policy,” n+1, March 8, 2018, https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/the-lefts-missing-foreign-policy/. [2] For an overview, see Anthony Giddens, The Third Way and Its Critics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). [3] Daniel Drezner, The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats Are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). [4] Zack Beauchamp, “Why Democrats Have No Foreign Policy Ideas,” Vox.com, Sept. 7, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/5/16220054/democrats-foreign-policy-think-tanks. [5] Beauchamp, “Why Democrats Have No Foreign Policy Ideas.” [6] Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Liberal Order Is More than a Myth” Foreign Affairs, July 31, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2018-07-31/liberal-order-more-myth. [7] Lissner and Rapp-Hooper, “The Liberal Order is More Than a Myth”; G. John Ikenberry, “End of the Liberal International Order?” International Affairs 94, no. 1 (2018), 7–23, https://academic.oup.com/ia/article/94/1/7/4762691. [8] The most thorough statement on progressive foreign policy comes from Michael Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018). [9] Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, 48. [10] Daniel Bessner, “What Does Ocasio-Cortez Think about the South China Sea?” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/democratic-party-cortez-foreign-policy.html. [11] Van Jackson, “American Military Superiority and the Pacific Primacy Myth,” Survival 60, no. 2 (2018): 123, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2018.1448578. [12] Jackson, “American Military Superiority and the Pacific Primacy Myth.” [13] Bessner, “What Does Ocasio-Cortez Think about the South China Sea?” [14] Michael Beckley, “The Myth of Entangling Alliances: Reassessing the Security Risks of U.S. Defense Pacts,” International Security 39, no. 4 (Spring 2015): 7–48, https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/myth-entangling-alliances-reassessing-security-risks-us-defense-pacts; Victor Cha, Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016). [15] Bernie Sanders, “A New Authoritarian Axis Demands a Progressive Front,” Guardian, Sept. 13, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ng-interactive/2018/sep/13/bernie-sanders-international-progressive-front?CMP=twt_b-usopinion_c-us%3FCMP%3Dshare_btn_fb; Daniel Nexon, “Toward a Neo-Progressive Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 4, 201,1 https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-09-04/toward-neo-progressive-foreign-policy; Peter Beinart, “Shield of the Republic: America Needs an Entirely New Foreign Policy for the Trump Age,” Atlantic, Sept. 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/shield-of-the-republic-a-democratic-foreign-policy-for-the-trump-age/570010/; Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left. [16] Daniel Nexon, “The Opposite of Neoconservatism is Not Isolationism,” Lawyers, Guns, & Money, Sept. 25, 2018, http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2018/09/opposite-neoconservativism-not-isolationism. [17] Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, 34. [18] Walzer, A Foreign Policy for the Left, 45. [19] Sanders, “A New Authoritarian Axis Demands a Progressive Front.” [20] Jeremy Suri, “Globalism Made America Great,” New Republic, Sept. 27, 2018, https://newrepublic.com/article/151404/globalism-helped-make-america-great. [21] Erik Gartzke, “The Capitalist Peace,” American Journal of Political Science 51, no. 1 (January 2007): 166–91, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4122913. [22] Alex Ward, “Read: Bernie Sanders’ Big Foreign Policy Speech,” Vox, Sept. 21, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/21/16345600/bernie-sanders-full-text-transcript-foreign-policy-speech-westminster. [23] Alex Cooley and John Heathershaw, Dictators without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017). [24] Guy Standing, “The ILO: An Agency for Globalization?” Development and Change 39, no. 3 (May 2008): 355–84, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7660.2008.00484.x. [25] Van Jackson, “Stop Confusing Deterrence with Strategy,” Diplomat, July 6, 2015, https://thediplomat.com/2015/07/stop-confusing-deterrence-with-strategy/. [26] Report on Mutual Assured Stability: Essential Components and Near Term Actions, International Security Advisory Board, (Washington DC: U.S. Department of State, 2012), https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/196789.pdf. [27] This essay is conceived as a response to a group of essays including, but not limited to: Peter Beinart, “Shield of the Republic,” Atlantic, Sept. 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/shield-of-the-republic-a-democratic-foreign-policy-for-the-trump-age/570010/; Daniel Bessner, “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea,” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/democratic-party-cortez-foreign-policy.html; Van Jackson, “Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security Policy?” POLITICO Magazine, Sept. 11, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/09/11/left-national-security-foreign-policy-donald-trump-219744; Dan Nexon, “Toward a Neo-Progressive Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 4, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-09-04/toward-neo-progressive-foreign-policy. [28] “Alexander Hamilton on the French Revolution,” Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, accessed Oct. 15, 2018, http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/593. [29] Among the prominent apologists for fascism was the president of the American Political Science Association. Seva Gunitsky, “These Are Three Reasons that Fascism Spread in 1930s America and Might Spread Again Today,” Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/12/these-are-the-three-reasons-that-fascism-spread-in-1930s-america-and-might-spread-again-today/?utm_term=.e0767e987559. [30] Thomas J. Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the Twenty-first Century and the Future of American Power (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017). [31] While voters across the political spectrum displayed similar levels of concern about trade, and more than half of Democratic and Republican voters expressed concern about immigration and terrorism as issues for the 2018 midterms, only immigration landed in the top 10 concerns for Democrats, while all three did for Republicans — reflecting the intensity of Democrats’ concern around the environment and treatment of racial and sexual minorities, much lower priorities for Republicans. “Voter Enthusiasm at Record High in Nationalized Midterm Environment,” Pew Research Center, Sept. 26, 2018, http://www.people-press.org/2018/09/26/voter-enthusiasm-at-record-high-in-nationalized-midterm-environment/. [32] It is hard to overstate the divide between the progressive political space and the progressive security policy space. Essays specifically marketed as “progressive,” such as those by Beinart, Bessner, Jackson, and Nexon, mentioned above, miss the international dimensions of issues that progressives say are of most concern to them — jobs, justice and discrimination, and climate. For alternate perspectives that attract significant progressive attention and intellectual effort, but scant attention in grand strategy conversation, see, inter alia, the work of Bonnie Jenkins, at the panel, “Redefining National Security: Why and How,” Brookings, May 11, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/events/redefining-national-security-why-and-how/. Or consider how a mass mobilization organization such as Indivisible combines traditional and non-traditional security concerns in its advocacy: https://www.indivisible.org/resource/donald-trump-national-security-risk-here’s-current-trumpthreatlevel. [33] Alex Ward, “Read Trump’s Speech to the UN General Assembly,” Sept. 24, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/9/25/17901082/trump-un-2018-speech-full-text. [34] Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman, “Weaponized Interdependence,” DRAFT prepared for International Studies Association Conference, April 4, 2018: 46, http://henryfarrell.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Weaponized-Interdependence-April-2018.pdf. [35] See, for example, Beinart, "Shield of the Republic”; Bessner, “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea"; Jackson, "Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security?"; and Wright, "The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable." [36] See Burke’s Phase Zero project, https://www.newamerica.org/resource-security/phase-zero-project/about/; and recent articles including: Sharon Burke, “A Climate for Conflict: Stories from Somalia,” New America, June 1, 2017, https://www.newamerica.org/resource-security/phase-zero-blog/climate-conflict-stories-somalia/. Her program also published the report, Ken Sofer, “The Slow Motion Crisis: The Destabilizing Effects of Climate Change in Turkey and Iraq Through 2050,” New America, May 16, 2017, https://www.newamerica.org/resource-security/policy-papers/relationship-between-climate-change-and-security/. [37] Terry Lynn Karl, “Economic Inequality and Democratic Instability,” Journal of Democracy 11, no. 1, (January 2000): 149–56,  https://muse.jhu.edu/article/17011/summary.; Kathy Cramer, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). [38] For the trends, see: The World Inequality Report 2018, World Inequality Lab, (2018), https://wir2018.wid.world/. A wide-ranging analysis is offered by Kemal Derviş and Zia Qureshi, “Brief: Income Distribution Within Countries: Rising Inequality,” Global Economy and Development at Brookings, (August 2016), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/income-inequality-within-countries_august-2016.pdf. [39] For the interconnections among automation and trade effects, see, inter alia, David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson, “The China Shock: Learning From Labor Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade,” Annual Review of Economics, no. 8, (2016): 205–240, https://www.ddorn.net/papers/Autor-Dorn-Hanson-ChinaShock.pdf. For the finance side, see Gillian Tett, “Fixing Finance,” Foreign Affairs, (July/August 2012), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/fixing-finance?cid=soc-tw. [40] Jennifer Harris, “Making Trade Address Inequality,” Democracy Journal, no. 48 (Spring 2018), https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/48/making-trade-address-inequality/. [41] See, for example, Adrian Henry Macey, “How Trade Policies Can Support Global Efforts to Curb Climate Change, The Conversation, July 27, 2017, http://theconversation.com/how-trade-policies-can-support-global-efforts-to-curb-climate-change-81029. [42] Thomas Wright, “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable,” Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/liberal-international-order-free-world-trump-authoritarianism/569881/. [43] Bernie Sanders, “Building a Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism,” Speech at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Oct. 9, 2018, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-speech-at-sais-building-a-global-democratic-movement-to-counter-authoritarianism. [44] Pew, “Key Opinion Findings on Trump, Putin and the Countries They Lead,” Pew Research Center, July 13, 2018, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/07/13/key-public-opinion-findings-on-trump-putin-and-the-countries-they-lead/. [45] Sanders, “Building a Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism.” [46] Wright, “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable.” [47] Wright, “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable.” [48] “The ASD Policy Blueprint for Countering Authoritarian Interference in Democracies” from the German Marshall Fund, is perhaps the most comprehensive but not the only such policy document, co-authored by a key Hillary Clinton adviser, Laura Rosenberger, http://www.gmfus.org/publications/asd-policy-blueprint-countering-authoritarian-interference-democracies. [49] Observers tend to use “identity politics” to refer to the organizing efforts of different subgroups. Many use the term to refer primarily or exclusively to organizing among underprivileged groups. Francis Fukuyama offers a global critique in “Against Identity Politics,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 14, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/americas/2018-08-14/against-identity-politics-tribalism-francis-fukuyama. On white identity politics, see Ashley Jardina, “White Identity Politics Isn’t Just About White Supremacy,” Monkey Cage Blog, Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2017,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/16/white-identity-politics-isnt-just-about-white-supremacy-its-much-bigger/?utm_term=.64cd2f5a524e. [50] Domestically, the last two years have seen the creation of the “We Are Still In” climate coalition (https://www.wearestillin.com/) and increased focus on international affairs from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Internationally, forums have emerged, such as the European Union’s International Urban Cooperation, the World Bank’s Global Platform for Sustainable Cities, and the Global Covenant of Mayors. Sub-national entities are playing an expanded role in the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. [51] Bernie Sanders, “Building A Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism,” Oct. 9, 2018, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-speech-at-sais-building-a-global-democratic-movement-to-counter-authoritarianism; Thomas Wright, “The Liberal International Order Must Be Replaced,” Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/liberal-international-order-free-world-trump-authoritarianism/569881/; Dan Nexon, “Toward a Neo-Progressive Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Sept. 4, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-09-04/toward-neo-progressive-foreign-policy; Kelly Magsamen, Max Bergmann, Michael Fuchs, and Trevor Sutton, “Securing a Democratic World,” Center for American Progress, Sept. 5, 2018, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2018/09/05/457451/securing-democratic-world/. [52] Chris Murphy, “Rethinking the Battlefield,” Christ Murphy United States Senator for Conneticut, accessed Nov. 8, 2018, https://www.murphy.senate.gov/rethinking-the-battlefield. [53] Jennifer Harris, “Making Trade Address Inequality,” Democracy, March 12, 2018, https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/48/making-trade-address-inequality/. [54] Micah Zenko and Michael A. Cohen, “Clear and Present Safety,” Foreign Affairs, Feb. 21, 2012, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-america/2012-02-21/clear-and-present-safety. [55] Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, 2nd updated edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). [56] Rosella Capella Zielinski, “How U.S. Wars Abroad Increase Inequality At Home,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 5, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-10-05/us-wars-abroad-increase-inequality-home. [57] Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense (January 2018):14, https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf. [58] Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., “Posture Statement,” House Appropriations Committee Defense, June 15, 2017, https://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP02/20170615/106086/HHRG-115-AP02-Wstate-DunfordJ-20170615.pdf. [59] “Status of the Navy,” United States Navy, https://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=146; Gina Harkins, “355-Ship Navy Will Mean Extending Vessels Past Planned Lifespans: Admiral,” Military.com, Sept. 5, 2018, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/05/355-ship-navy-will-mean-extending-vessels-past-planned-lifespans-admiral.html; Oriana Pawlyk, “Air Force Wants to Surge Growth by More Than 70 New Squadrons,” Military.com, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/17/air-force-wants-surge-growth-more-70-new-squadrons.html; Nafeesa Syeed and Chloe Whiteaker, “Army Buildup Confronts Headwinds of Tight Labor Market,” Stars and Stripes, March 13, 2018, https://www.stripes.com/news/army/army-buildup-confronts-headwinds-of-tight-labor-market-1.516499. [60] Loren DeJonge Schulman and Alice Friend, “The Pentagon’s Transparency Problem,” Foreign Affairs, May 2, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-05-02/pentagons-transparency-problem. [61] Bruce Blair, “Presidents Have Too Much Power over U.S. Nukes. Especially President Trump,” Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/presidents-have-too-much-power-over-us-nukes-especially-president-trump/2017/08/18/abd0041e-8363-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html. [62] Brian McKeon and Caroline Tess, “How Congress Can Take Back Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Nov. 7, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-11-07/how-congress-can-take-back-foreign-policy. [63] Phillip Carter, “What America Owes Its Veterans,” Foreign Affairs (September/October 2017), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2017-08-15/what-america-owes-its-veterans. [64] Chris Murphy, “We Must Demand Accountability for Saudi Arabia’s Behavior,” Washington Post, Oct. 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-must-demand-accountability-for-saudi-arabias-behavior/2018/10/15/b4b5ecc8-d0ac-11e8-b2d2-f397227b43f0_story.html. Former senior Obama administration officials have been instrumental in highlighting the failures of the previous policy and pushing for an end to support for the war. “Former Senior Obama Administration Officials Call For Halt to All U.S. Support for the War in Yemen,” National Security Action, Nov. 11, 2018, https://nationalsecurityaction.org/newsroom-blog/yemen-open-statement. [65] Margaret Sullivan, “Middle East Civilian Deaths Have Soared Under Trump. And the Media Mostly Shrug,” Washington Post, March 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/middle-east-civilian-deaths-have-soared-under-trump-and-the-media-mostly-shrug/2018/03/16/fc344968-2932-11e8-874b-d517e912f125_story.html. [66] Robert Work, “National Defense University Convocation,” Aug. 5, 2014, https://dod.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/605598/national-defense-university-convocation/; Robert Work, “The Third U.S. Offset Strategy and Its Implications for Partners and Allies,” Jan. 28, 2015, http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/606641/the-third-us-offset-strategy-and-its-implications-for-partners-and-allies. [67] Andrew F. Krepinevich, “How to Deter China,” Foreign Affairs, Feb. 16, 2015, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2015-02-16/how-deter-china. [68] Bruce G Blair, with Jessica Sleight and Emma Claire Foley, The End of Nuclear Warfighting: Moving to a Deterrence-Only Posture (Princeton, NJ: Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University, September 2018), https://www.globalzero.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/anpr-180915-1736-1.pdf; Adam Mount, “The Case Against New Nuclear Weapons,” Center for American Progress, May 4, 2017, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/reports/2017/05/04/431833/case-new-nuclear-weapons/. [69] Jon Wolfsthal, “The Political and Military Vulnerability of America’s Land-Based Nuclear Missiles,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 73, no. 3 (May 4, 2017): 150–53, https://doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2017.1314996. [70] This essay was written at the close of the 2018 election cycle. While House Democrats, such as Congressman Adam Smith, have indicated a desire for a more robust national security oversight agenda, more time is needed to assess their success. Leo Shane III and Joe Gould, “The Military Could See Big Changes if Democrats Win Control of Congress,” Military Times, Oct. 23, 2018, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2018/10/23/the-military-could-see-big-changes-if-democrats-win-control-of-congress/. [71] “The Rhetorical Power of ‘Support Our Troops,’” Economist, Oct. 4, 2017, https://www.economist.com/democracy-in-america/2017/10/04/the-rhetorical-power-of-support-our-troops; Paul Blumenthal, “Veterans Super PAC Funded by Jeff Bezos Pulls Ad that Attacked Democrat as Traitor Post-9/11,” Huffington Post, Oct. 25, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brian-mast-lauren-baer-super-pac_us_5bd228b5e4b0a8f17ef5ca49. [72] For example, the “Better Deal” agenda put forward by then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gives little attention to national security matters: “A Better Deal,” Senate Democrats, https://www.democrats.senate.gov/abetterdeal [73] Zach Beauchamp, “Why Democrats Have No Foreign Policy Ideas,” Vox, Sept. 5, 2017, https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/5/16220054/democrats-foreign-policy-think-tanks. [74] Michael Walzer, “A Foreign Policy for the Left,” Dissent Magazine (Spring 2014), https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/a-foreign-policy-for-the-left. [75] The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “People’s Budget,” for example, offers some details in its Sustainable Defense proposal regarding modernizing forces for future threats, but is largely focused on non-defense activities: “The People’s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward FY 2019,” Congressional Progressive Caucus, https://cpc-grijalva.house.gov/uploads/Binder21.pdf. [76] For example, in his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain was both a forceful check on the Department of Defense and an energetic reformer, but few on either side of the aisle matched his enthusiasm and intolerance for BS: Joe Gould, “With McCain Gone, Who Will Watch the Pentagon,” Defense News, Aug. 31, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/08/31/with-mccain-gone-who-will-watch-the-pentagon/. Sens. Tim Kaine and Bob Corker have, after seventeen years, made minor headway in developing a revised Authorization for Use of Military Force — but even this watered down legislation has stalled: Scott R. Anderson and Molly E. Reynolds, “A Fast Track to Nowhere: ‘Expedited Procedures’ and the New AUMF Proposal,” Lawfare, April 19, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/fast-track-nowhere-expedited-procedures-and-new-aumf-proposal; Sens. Jeff Merkley, Mike Lee, Bernie Sanders, and Chris Murphy, among others, have likewise pushed their own replacements or restrictions on the current war authorization, to include restricting support for military operations in Yemen: “Sanders, Lee, Murphy Introduce War Powers Resolution to End Unauthorized U.S. Military Involvement in Yemen,” Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senator for Vermont, Feb 28, 2018, https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-lee-murphy-introduce-war-powers-resolution-to-end-unauthorized-us-military-involvement-in-yemen. [77] Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper, “The Day After Trump: American Grand Strategy and the New International Order,” Washington Quarterly 41, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 7–25, https://doi.org/10.1080/0163660X.2018.1445353. [78] Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk, “Congress Should Oversee America’s Wars, Not Just Authorize Them,” Lawfare, June 7, 2018, https://www.lawfareblog.com/congress-should-oversee-americas-wars-not-just-authorize-them. [79] Tanisha M. Fazal and Sarah Kreps, “The United States’ Perpetual War in Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, Aug. 20, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/north-america/2018-08-20/united-states-perpetual-war-afghanistan?cid=soc-tw-rdr. [80] Daniella Diaz, “Key Senators Say They Didn’t Know the US Had Troops in Niger,” CNN, Oct. 23, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/23/politics/niger-troops-lawmakers/index.html [81] Anderson and Reynolds, “A Fast Track to Nowhere.” [82] Mara Karlin, “Policy Roundtable: The Pursuit of Military Superiority,” Texas National Security Review, June 26, 2018, https://tnsr.org/roundtable/policy-roundtable-the-pursuit-of-military-superiority/. [83] Robert Farley, “The LCS, Apple Pie, and Whatnot,” Lawyers, Guns, and Money, Jan. 4, 2011, http://lawyersgunsmon.wpengine.com/2011/01/the-lcs-apple-pie-and-what-not - comments. [84] Walzer, “A Foreign Policy for the Left.” [85] Susanna Blume, “Numbers Game: How the Air Force Is Following the Army and Navy’s Bad Example,” Defense News, Sept. 20, 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/2018/09/20/numbers-game-how-the-air-force-is-following-the-army-and-navys-bad-example/. [86] Richard Fontaine and Vance Serchuk, “Congress Should Oversee America’s Wars, Not Just Authorize Them.” [87] Farley, “The LCS, Apple Pie, and Whatnot.” [88] Loren DeJonge Schulman and Alice Friend, “The Pentagon’s Transparency Problem,” Foreign Affairs, May 2, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-05-02/pentagons-transparency-problem. [89] U.S. Constitution, Preamble, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript. [90] “Global Warming of 1.5 ° C,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, October 2018, http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf. [91] On Russia’s fear of an America inspired color revolution, see Julia Ioffe, “What Putin Really Wants,” Atlantic, (January/February 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/putins-game/546548/. On China’s, see Gideon Rachman, “China’s Strange Fear of a Color Revolution,” Financial Times, Feb. 9, 2015, https://www.ft.com/content/9b5a2ed2-af96-11e4-b42e-00144feab7de. [92] David Barboza, “Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader,” New York Times, Oct. 25, 2012, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/business/global/family-of-wen-jiabao-holds-a-hidden-fortune-in-china.html?module=inline. [93] Darkened Screen: Constraints on Foreign Journalists in China, Pen America, Sept. 22, 2016, https://pen.org/sites/default/files/PEN_foreign_journalists_report_FINAL_online%5B1%5D.pdf; [94] Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China, Pen America, March 13, 2018, https://pen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PEN-America_Forbidden-Feeds-report-6.6.18.pdf. [95] “They Target My Human Rights Work as a Crime’: Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in China (2016), Chinese Human Rights Defenders, February 2017, https://www.nchrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/annual-report.pdf. [96] Peter Mattis, “Contrasting Russia and China’s Influence Operations,” War on The Rocks, Jan. 16, 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/01/contrasting-chinas-russias-influence-operations/. [97] Peter Harrell, Elizabeth Rosenberg, and Edoardo Saravalle, China’s Use of Coercive Economic Measures, The Center for a New America Security, (June 2018), https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/chinas-use-of-coercive-economic-measures. [98] Christopher Balding, “Why Democracies Are Turning Against One Belt One Road,” Foreign Affairs, Oct. 24, 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-10-24/why-democracies-are-turning-against-belt-and-road. [99] Theodore Piccone, China’s Long Game on Human Rights at the United Nations, Brookings Institution, (September 2018), https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/FP_20181009_china_human_rights.pdf. [100] Peter Beinart, “Shield of the Republic: A New Democratic Foreign Policy,” Atlantic, Sept. 16, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/shield-of-the-republic-a-democratic-foreign-policy-for-the-trump-age/570010/. [101] See for instance, Barry Posen, Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015). [102] What is proposed here is a particular variant of a strategy of competing with China and Russia. This draws on Thomas Wright, All Measures Short of War: The Contest for the 21st Century and Future of American Power, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017); and Wright, “The Return to Great Power Competition Was Inevitable,” Atlantic, Sept. 12, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/09/liberal-international-order-free-world-trump-authoritarianism/569881/. For examples of competitive strategies with a different emphasis see Wess Mitchell and Jakub Grygiel, The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Power, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016); and Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner, “The China Reckoning,” Foreign Affairs, (February/ March 2018), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2018-02-13/china-reckoning. [103] See for example, Daniel Bessner, “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea?” New York Times, Sept. 17, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/democratic-party-cortez-foreign-policy.html. [104] Jonathan Weissman and Ashley Parker, “Acceptance of Defense Cuts Signals Shift in GOP Focus,” New York Times, Feb. 24, 2013, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/us/politics/democrats-and-republicans-miscalculate-on-automatic-cuts.html. [105] Campbell and Ratner, “The China Reckoning.” See also Michael McFaul, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => Table of Contents [contents] => 1. Prompt Essay: Wagering on a Progressive versus Liberal Theory of National Security, by Van Jackson 2. Back to Basics: The Core Goals a “Progressive” Foreign Policy Must Address, by Heather Hurlburt 3. Principles for a Progressive Defense Policy, by Adam Mount 4. Progressives Should Embrace the Politics of Defense, by Loren DeJonge Schulman 5. 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