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A New Security Strategy For The United States

The U.S. Whitehouse.
by Martin Walker
UPI Editor Emeritus
Washington (UPI) Sep 27, 2006
A new national security strategy for the United States in the 21st century that would cut back sharply on the U.S. veto at the United Nations, or even replace the U.N. altogether with a new Concert of Democracies, was launched in Washington Wednesday by a high-powered bipartisan group.

The new strategy seeks to absorb the rising powers like China, India, Brazil and others into a law-based global economic and diplomatic structure that avoids open conflict by making them stakeholders within the system, and thus encouraged in their own interests to play by the rules.

Known as the Princeton Project, the venture lasted over two years and brought in over 400 participants, and was chaired jointly by the Reagan administration's former Secretary of State George Shultz and by former President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Tony Lake.

The strategy they have devised, titled 'Liberty Under Law," seeks to chart of long-term course in the way that George F. Kennan in 1946 drafted the concept of "containment" that broadly defined U.S. policy in the Cold War for the next 45 years.

"The difference is that we soon came to realize that there is now no single threat as there was in 1946, so there can be no single theme like "containment," Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson school of public and international affairs and one of the directors of the project, and a former president of the American Society for International Law.

"There are now a series of threats, including global terrorism, nuclear proliferation, pandemics, the rise of Asia, the energy crisis and threats emanating from the Middle East becoming too numerous to count," Slaughter added.

The Princeton Project sees many of these threats as distinct and with separate causes and actors, while being inter-connected as part of the constellation of threats that will shape the future U.S. security agenda. For example, it places the energy threat within a wider regional and environmental context.

"When the U.S. purchases large amounts of petroleum from the Middle East, two things happen," the report says. "First, an enormous amount of wealth is transferred from Americans to autocratic regimes, stifling reform in those countries and possibly strengthening the military capabilities of some of our potential adversaries. Second, the oil we consumer -- at over $150 per barrel, when U.S. defense spending dedicated to keep oil flowing is factored into the price -- contributes to climate change and the degradation of our environment. Breaking up this axis of vice must be a key priority for America."

The Project begins from the perception that the network of international institutions that was established after 1945 is broken, and in consequence the global political and economic system they helped produce needs to be rethought. Institutions like the U.N., the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, NATO need fundamental reform, and should bring in important new players like India, Brazil, South Africa and Egypt and possibly Iran into leadership roles.

"The goal is a community of democracies living in liberty and under the law," Slaughter said. "But we are not simplistic about democracy. We recognize, for example, that you need a basic income level for a democracy to be stable. We do not see elections as necessarily the best or only definition of democracy. Indeed, in some countries simple good governance and accountability and the encouragement of civil society might precede elections. The priority should be what the U.S. founding fathers called 'the blessings of ordered liberty.'"

The Princeton Project advocates a fundamental re-ordering of the U.N. Security Council to include riding new powers, and to modify the veto. Currently, any one of the five permanent members (the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain) may cast a veto on any resolution. The Project suggests that vetoes should be abolished on matters of instant action, like sending peace-keepers to Sudan or Kosovo. But the veto should be retained on declaratory resolutions, like those resolutions condemning Israel that the U.S. routinely vetoes.

Slaughter and her co-director, Princeton professor John Ikenberry, recognize that this kind of reform will not be easy, and that great powers will jealously seek to guard their right of veto, and that Russia and China are unlikely to forego their current power to block any U.N. action. But if the U.N. thus becomes increasingly irrelevant, the Princeton project suggests that the U.N. could be replaced by a new Concert of Democracies as a source of legitimacy for international action.

Any nation could join the Concert, if it agrees to abide by the rules of the founding Treaty. These rule out the use of military force against another member of the Concert, require regular free and fair multi-party elections, with civil and human rights enforced by an independent judiciary. The Concert declares that states have a responsibility to protect their citizens from avoidable catastrophe, including genocide, ethnic cleansing and deliberate starvation, and when states fail to do so the international community has a duty to intervene.

"The Concert of Democracies could be a pressure group to reform the U.N., or if that fails, possibly to replace it," Slaughter suggested.

"It is clear that in an age nuclear proliferation and of failed or failing states and global terror networks one cannot rule out the preventive use of force. But if used unilaterally, this is very dangerous," she added. "One needs some form of international mandate, and if the U.N. is structurally incapable of proving one, then we have to think of other ways to establish a multi-lateral legitimacy."

The participants in the national security project included former cabinet officials and senior White House staff, academics, diplomats, economists, retired military staff and Pentagon officials, international lawyers and a small group of journalists, including this UPI columnist.

Although the Princeton Project does not spell out any specific goal to maintain U.S. primacy (unlike the Bush administration's two most recent National Security papers) in a U.S.-led and U.S.- devised global system, it has been drafted with U.S. vulnerabilities foremost in mind. And it stresses that "the basic U.S. strategy must be to protect the American people and the American way of life."

"The U.S. must build a stronger protective infrastructure -- throughout or society, our government, and the wider world -- that helps prevent threats and limits them once they materialize," it says. "We must work through networks of security officials to contain immediate threats before they reach our shores and should consider defining our border protections beyond our actual physical borders.

Source: United Press International

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Washington (UPI) Sep 27, 2006
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