Responding firmly to environmental threats remains a part of mainstream American foreign policy. America’s leadership was essential for agreement on the Kyoto Protocol — the first binding agreement among the world’s industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. America also brokered key international agreements on toxic chemicals — such as persistent organic pollutants, environmental aspects of biotechnology, the ozone layer, and endangered marine life. America’s insistence on high environmental standards in its own trade agreements, in international financial institutions, and in bilateral export credit and development assistance programs similarly demonstrates to the rest of the international community that growing economies and clean environments do go hand-in-hand. America also provided leadership in the Global Environment Facility and in bilateral programs for clean energy development, as well as conservation of biological diversity and endangered ecosystems such as tropical forests.
With globalization, the free flow of people and goods across national borders continues to increase rapidly with each passing year. This interdependence has caused diseases and health risks around the world to become matters of both U.S. national and international security. The United States promotes international cooperation on health issues because it reduces the threat of diseases to Americans, and because global international economic development, democratization, and political stability are predicated in part on the health of populations worldwide.
Beyond these general concerns, a number of specific international health issues are critical for our national security. Because a growing proportion of our national food supply is coming from international sources, assuring the safety of the food we consume must be a priority. The Administration has announced new and stronger programs to ensure the safety of imported as well as domestic foods, to be overseen by the President’s Council on Food Safety. New and emerging infections such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and the Ebola virus can move with the speed of jet travel. We are actively engaged with the international health community as well as the World Health Organization to stop the spread of these dangerous diseases.
Combating the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS has been a top international health priority in recent years. AIDS is now the number one cause of death on the continent of Africa. The United States led the United Nations Security Council in holding its first-ever session on AIDS in Africa and has committed to efforts to accelerate the development and delivery of vaccines for AIDS and other diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world. We also have promoted efforts by African national governments to provide AIDS awareness education to their military members who travel widely around the continent; and led the G-8’s decision to link debt relief to HIV/AIDS prevention and other such programs.
Population issues have also been a health priority garnering renewed focus internationally. The Administration has re-established U.S. leadership on international population issues by expanding quality reproductive health care. This includes voluntary family planning services for women and men around the world; improving the political, economic, and social status of women; and enhancing educational opportunities for women and girls.
Responding to Threats and Crises
Because our efforts to shape the international environment alone cannot guarantee the security we seek, the United States must be able to respond at home and abroad to the full spectrum of threats and crises that may arise. Since our resources are finite, we must be selective in our responses, focusing on challenges that most directly affect our interests and engaging when and where we can have the greatest positive impact. We must use the most appropriate tool or combination of tools — diplomacy, public diplomacy, economic measures, law enforcement, intelligence, military operations, and others. We act in alliance or partnership when others share our interests, but will act unilaterally when compelling national interests so demand.
Efforts to deter an adversary — be it an aggressor nation, terrorist group or criminal organization — can become the leading edge of crisis response. In this sense, deterrence straddles the line between shaping the international environment and responding to crises. Deterrence in crisis generally involves demonstrating the United States’ commitment to a particular country or interest by enhancing our warfighting capability in the theater. Our forward and rotationally deployed forces are the embodiment of our continuous commitment to our overseas partners and act as the first line of deterrence, providing the necessary inroads to access and influence to help defuse crisis situations.
Our ability to respond to the full spectrum of threats requires that we have the best-trained, best-equipped, most effective armed forces in the world. Our strategy requires that we have highly capable ground, air, naval, special operations, and space forces supported by a range of enabling capabilities including strategic mobility and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C41SR). Maintaining our superior forces requires developing superior technology, and exploiting it to the fullest extent.
Strategic mobility is critical to our ability to augment forces already present in the region with the projection of additional forces for both domestic and international crisis response. This agility in response is key to successful American leadership and engagement. Access to sufficient fleets of aircraft, ships, vehicles, and trains, as well as bases, ports, pre-positioned equipment, and other infrastructure will of course be an imperative if we are to deploy and sustain U.S. and multinational forces in regions of interest to us.
We are committed to maintaining U.S. preeminence in space. Unimpeded access to and use of space is a vital national interest — essential for protecting U.S. national security, promoting our prosperity, and ensuring our well-being. Consistent with our international obligations, we will deter threats to our interests in space, counter hostile efforts against U.S. access to and use of space, and maintain the ability to counter space systems and services that could be used for hostile purposes against our military forces, command and control systems, or other critical capabilities. We will maintain our technological superiority in space systems, and sustain a robust U.S. space industry and a strong, forward-looking research base. We also will continue efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction to space, and will continue to pursue global partnerships addressing space-related scientific, economic, environmental, and security issues.
We also are committed to maintaining information superiority — the capability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting and/or denying an adversary’s ability to do the same. Operational readiness, as well as the command and control of forces, relies increasingly on information systems and technology. We must keep pace with rapidly evolving information technology so that we can cultivate and harvest the promise of the knowledge that comes from this information superiority, sharing that knowledge among U.S. forces and coalition partners while exploiting the shortfalls in our adversaries’ information capabilities.