U.S. Military: A Global View of Peace and Security in the 21st Century   [open pdf - 56KB]

One hundred years ago, those involved in the nation's national security business wrestled with many of the same, or certainly similar, issues that we face today, says General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "Then and now, regional powers can threaten the nation's interest in distant conflict. Then, as now, internal strife from religious hatreds, ethnic rivalry, tribal conflicts, can, and often does, lead to bloodletting. And then and now, U.S. troops often play a role in the crisis to restore peace." This article is based on remarks made by General Myers at a recent event at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "During the Cold War, we faced the threat of nuclear conflict with a superpower, but deterrence contained that threat because we placed at risk something the adversary held very dear. That was, in essence, their very existence. Today, if a weak power is a terrorist network with weapons of mass destruction, deterrence won't work most of the time. When they're willing to commit suicide to further their agenda, what do they value that we can place at risk? This dilemma reflects the unprecedented nature of today's security environment. And to meet these very daunting challenges, the president recently published a new National Security Strategy. In support of that, let me tell you about three broad considerations of the military's role in supporting our new national security strategy. The first consideration is that the United States military has got to accomplish a multitude of tasks. The second consideration is our military's role in this, the 21st century, and geography. The question you might ask is: Should the military be focused regionally or should we focus more globally? My unequivocal answer is yes. The third role is an issue that's been talked about a lot lately. It's in the national security strategy, and the military has a role. It's the issue of preemption. In my view, any discussion we have in the future almost has to include weapons of mass destruction and the dramatic change they've brought to our security environment. If terrorists or hostile regional powers have them, they can hold at risk our society and certainly the societies of our friends and allies. To help counter the threat, our Armed Forces are increasing our ability to operate in a coherent and in a global manner. We've got to have that global view and put this competency on a par with our regional capabilities. And we've got to talk about risk -- the risk of action and, of course, the risk of inaction, and when the U.S. should act in its own defense."

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U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda: An Electronic Journal of the U.S. Department of State, v.7, no.4, p. 14-18
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