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Tue Oct 13, 2020, 01:53 AM

A National Security Reckoning How Washington Should Think About Power

A National Security Reckoning
How Washington Should Think About Power


By Hillary Clinton November/December 2020


In a year marked by plague and protest, Americans are reckoning with long-overdue questions about racial justice, economic inequality, and disparities in health care. The current crisis should also prompt a reckoning about the United States’ national security priorities. The country is dangerously unprepared for a range of threats, not just future pandemics but also an escalating climate crisis and multidimensional challenges from China and Russia. Its industrial and technological strength has atrophied, its vital supply chains are vulnerable, its alliances are frayed, and its government is hollowed out. In the past, it sometimes has taken a dramatic shock—Pearl Harbor, Sputnik, 9/11—to wake up the United States to a new threat and prompt a major pivot. The COVID-19 crisis should be a big enough jolt to rouse the country from its sleep, so that it can summon its strength and meet the challenges ahead.

Among the highest priorities must be to modernize the United States’ defense capabilities—in particular, moving away from costly legacy weapons systems built for a world that no longer exists. Another is to renew the domestic foundations of its national power—supporting American innovation and bolstering strategically important industries and supply chains. These twin projects are mutually reinforcing. Modernizing the military would free up billions of dollars that could be invested at home in advanced manufacturing and R & D. That would not only help the United States compete with its rivals and prepare for nontraditional threats such as climate change and future pandemics; it would also blunt some of the economic pain caused by budget cuts at the Pentagon. Integrating foreign and domestic policy in this way would make both more effective. And it would help the United States regain its footing in an uncertain world.

SHORTSIGHTED

For decades, policymakers have thought too narrowly about national security and failed to internalize—or fund—a broader approach that encompasses threats not just from intercontinental ballistic missiles and insurgencies but also from cyberattacks, viruses, carbon emissions, online propaganda, and shifting supply chains. There is no more poignant example than the current administration’s failure to grasp that a tourist carrying home a virus can be as dangerous as a terrorist planting a pathogen. President Barack Obama’s national security staff left a 69-page playbook for responding to pandemics, but President Donald Trump’s team ignored it, focusing instead on the threat of bioterrorism. They dismantled the National Security Council’s pandemic directorate, folding it into the office responsible for weapons of mass destruction, and filled a national medical stockpile with drugs for anthrax and smallpox while neglecting the personal protective equipment needed for a pandemic. The Trump administration also shut down the U.S. Agency for International Development program created during my time as secretary of state to detect viral threats around the world, and it has repeatedly tried to slash funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs of this misjudgment have been astronomical.

Long article from Foreign Affairs magazine: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-10-09/hillary-clinton-national-security-reckoning

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