A Strategy of Engagement
Our strategy is founded on continued U.S. engagement and leadership abroad. The United States must lead abroad if we are to be secure at home. We cannot lead abroad unless we devote the necessary resources to military, diplomatic, intelligence and other efforts. We must be prepared and willing to use all appropriate instruments of national power to influence the actions of other states and non-state actors, to provide global leadership, and to remain a reliable security partner for the community of nations that share our interests. The international community is at times reluctant to act without American leadership. In some instances, the United States is the only nation capable of providing the necessary leadership and capabilities for an international response to shared challenges. By exerting our leadership abroad we have deterred aggression, fostered the resolution of conflicts, enhanced regional cooperation, strengthened democracies, stopped human rights abuses, opened foreign markets and tackled global problems such as preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, protected the environment, and combated international corruption.
Our strategy has three core objectives: enhancing American security; bolstering our economic prosperity; and promoting democracy and human rights abroad, which we strongly believe will, in turn, advance the first two goals. Achieving these objectives requires sustained, long-term effort. Many of the threats to our national interests are persistent or recurring – they cannot be resolved or eliminated once and for all. American engagement must be tempered by recognition that there are limits to America’s involvement in the world, and that decisions to commit resources must be weighed against the need to sustain our engagement over the long term. Our engagement therefore must be selective, focusing on the threats and opportunities most relevant to our interests and applying our resources where we can make the greatest difference. Additionally, sustaining our engagement abroad over the long term will require the support of the American people and the Congress to bear the costs of defending U.S. interests – in dollars, effort and, when necessary, with military force.
Implementing the Strategy
International cooperation will be vital for building security in the next century because many of the challenges we face cannot be addressed by a single nation. Many of our security objectives are best achieved – or can only be achieved – by leveraging our influence and capabilities through international organizations, our alliances, or as a leader of an ad hoc coalition formed around a specific objective. Leadership in the United Nations and other international organizations, and durable relationships with allies and friendly nations, are critical to our security. A central thrust of our strategy is to strengthen and adapt the formal relationships we have with key nations around the world, create new relationships and structures when necessary, and enhance the capability of friendly nations to exercise regional leadership in support of shared goals. At other times, we seek to shape a favorable international environment outside of formal structures by building coalitions of like-minded nations. But we must always be prepared to act alone when that is our most advantageous course, or when we have no alternative.
Success requires an integrated approach that brings to bear all the capabilities needed to achieve our security objectives – particularly in this era when domestic and foreign policies increasingly overlap. To effectively shape the international environment and respond to the full spectrum of potential threats, our diplomacy, military force, other foreign policy tools, and domestic preparedness efforts must be closely coordinated. We will continue to strengthen and integrate all of these capabilities.
At home, we must have effective capabilities for thwarting and responding to terrorist acts, countering international crime and foreign intelligence collection, and protecting critical national infrastructures. Our efforts to counter these threats require close cooperation among Federal agencies, state and local governments, the industries that own and operate critical national infrastructures, non-governmental organizations, and others in the private sector.
The Power of Our Values
Underpinning our international leadership is the power of our democratic ideals and values. In crafting our strategy, we recognize that the spread of democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law not only reflects American values, it also advances both our security and prosperity. Democratic governments are more likely to cooperate with each other against common threats, encourage free trade, promote sustainable economic development, uphold the rule of law, and protect the rights of their people. Hence, the trend toward democracy and free markets throughout the world advances American interests. The United States will support this trend by remaining actively engaged in the world, bolstering democratic institutions and building the community of like-minded states. This strategy will take us into the next century.
II. Advancing U.S. National Interests
In our vision of the world, the United States has close cooperative relations with the world’s most influential countries, and has the ability to shape the policies and actions of those who can affect our national wellbeing. We seek to create a stable, peaceful international security environment – one in which our nation, citizens and interests are not threatened; the health and well-being of our citizens are enhanced by a cleaner global environment and effective strategies to combat infectious disease; America continues to prosper through increasingly open international markets and sustainable growth in the global economy; and democratic values and respect for human rights and the rule of law are increasingly accepted.
Enhancing Security at Home and Abroad
Our strategy for enhancing U.S. security has three components: shaping the international security environment, responding to threats and crises, and preparing for an uncertain future.
Shaping the International Environment
The United States seeks to shape the international environment through a variety of means, including diplomacy, economic cooperation, international assistance, arms control and nonproliferation, and health initiatives. These activities enhance U.S. security by promoting regional security; enhancing economic progress; supporting military activities, international law enforcement cooperation, and environmental efforts; and preventing, reducing or deterring the diverse threats we face today. These measures adapt and strengthen alliances and friendships, maintain U.S. influence in key regions, and encourage adherence to international norms.