This strategy encompasses a wide range of initiatives: expanded military alliances like NATO, its Partnership for Peace, and its partnerships with Russia and Ukraine; promoting free trade through the World Trade Organization and the move toward free trade areas by nations in the Americas and elsewhere around the world; strong arms control regimes like the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; multinational coalitions combating terrorism, corruption, crime and drug trafficking; and binding international commitments to protect the environment and safeguard human rights.
The United States must have the tools necessary to carry out this strategy. We have worked diligently within the parameters of the Balanced Budget Agreement to preserve and provide for the readiness of our armed forces while meeting priority military challenges identified in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The QDR struck a careful balance between near-term readiness, long-term modernization and quality of life improvements for our men and women in uniform. It ensured that the high readiness levels of our forward-deployed and “first-to-fight” forces would be maintained. The priority we attach to maintaining a high-quality force is reflected in our budget actions. This fiscal year, with Congress’ support for the Bosnia and Southwest Asia non-offset emergency supplemental funds, we were able to protect our high payoff readiness accounts. Next year’s Defense Budget increases funding for readiness and preserves quality of life for military personnel.
Although we have accomplished much on the readiness front, much more needs to be done. Our military leadership and I are constantly reevaluating the readiness of our forces and addressing problems in individual readiness areas as they arise. I have instructed the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council to work with the Department of Defense to formulate a multi-year plan with the necessary resources to preserve military readiness, support our troops, and modernize the equipment needed for the next century. I am confident that our military is—and will continue to be—capable of carrying out our national strategy and meeting America’s defense commitments around the world.
We must also renew our commitment to America’s diplomacy—to ensure that we have the superb diplomatic representation that our people deserve and our interests demand. Every dollar we devote to preventing conflicts, promoting democracy, and stopping the spread of disease and starvation brings a sure return in security and savings. Yet international affairs spending today totals just one percent of the federal budget—a small fraction of what America invested at the start of the Cold War when we chose engagement over isolation. If America is to continue to lead the world by its own example, we must demonstrate our own commitment to these priority tasks. This is also why we must pay our dues to the United Nations.
Protecting our citizens and critical infrastructures at home is an essential element of our strategy. Potential adversaries—whether nations, terrorist groups or criminal organizations—will be tempted to disrupt our critical infrastructures, impede government operations, use weapons of mass destruction against civilians, and prey on our citizens overseas. These challenges demand close cooperation across all levels of government—federal, state and local—and across a wide range of agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State, the Intelligence Community, law enforcement, emergency services, medical care providers and others. Protecting our critical infrastructure requires new partnerships between government and industry. Forging these new structures will be challenging, but must be done if we are to ensure our safety at home and avoid vulnerabilities that those wishing us ill might try to exploit in order to erode our resolve to protect our interests abroad.
The United States has profound interests at stake in the health of the global economy. Our future prosperity depends upon a stable international financial system and robust global growth. Economic stability and growth are essential for the spread of free markets and their integration into the global economy. The forces necessary for a healthy global economy are also those that deepen democratic liberties: the free flow of ideas and information, open borders and easy travel, the rule of law, fair and even-handed enforcement, protection for consumers, a skilled and educated work force. If citizens tire of waiting for democracy and free markets to deliver a better life for them, there is a real risk that they will lose confidence in democracy and free markets. This would pose great risks not only for our economic interests but for our national security.
We are taking a number of steps to help contain the current financial turmoil in Asia and other parts of the world. We are working with other industrialized nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to spur growth, stop the financial crisis from spreading, and help the victims of financial turmoil. We have also intensified our efforts to reform international trade and financial institutions: building a stronger and more accountable global trading system, pressing forward with market-opening initiatives, advancing the protection of labor and the environment and doing more to ensure that trade helps the lives of ordinary citizens across the globe.
At this moment in history, the United States is called upon to lead—to organize the forces of freedom and progress; to channel the unruly energies of the global economy into positive avenues; and to advance our prosperity, reinforce our democratic ideals and values, and enhance our security.
We must judge our national security strategy by its success in meeting the fundamental purposes set out in the preamble to the Constitution:
…provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,…
Since the founding of the nation, certain requirements have remained constant. We must protect the lives and personal safety of Americans, both at home and abroad. We must maintain the sovereignty, political freedom and independence of the United States, with its values, institutions and territory intact. And, we must promote for the well being and prosperity of the nation and its people.
Challenges and Opportunities
The security environment in which we live is dynamic and uncertain, replete with a host of threats and challenges that have the potential to grow more deadly, but also offering unprecedented opportunities to avert those threats and advance our interests.
Globalization—the process of accelerating economic, technological, cultural and political integration— means that more and more we as a nation are affected by events beyond our borders. Outlaw states and ethnic conflicts threaten regional stability and economic progress in many important areas of the world. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime are global concerns that transcend national borders. Other problems that once seemed quite distant— such as resource depletion, rapid population growth, environmental damage, new infectious diseases and uncontrolled refugee migration—have important implications for American security. Our workers and businesses will suffer if foreign markets collapse or lock us out, and the highest domestic environmental standards will not protect us if we cannot get others to achieve similar standards. In short, our citizens have a direct stake in the prosperity and stability of other nations, in their support for international norms and human rights, in their ability to combat international crime, in their open markets, and in their efforts to protect the environment.