The Four Huge Challenges Facing American Strategists

The Four Huge Challenges Facing American Strategists
President Barack Obama hosts a meeting of his National Security Council (NSC) at the State Department, Washington, Feb. 25, 2016 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

America’s role in the global security system, first forged in World War II and solidified during the Cold War, is changing. After decades in which the United States was relied upon to manage regional security, other nations are now concluding that they can get by without deferring to Washington. At the same time, America’s adversaries, whether Russia and China or nonstate enemies like al-Qaida and the self-declared Islamic State, have found ways to avoid American strengths and capitalize on American weaknesses.

Internally, Americans are less willing to defend far away places at the expense of domestic needs. They increasingly ask themselves whether U.S. global activism, clearly a temporary expedient while the world recovered from World War II and during the Cold War, should be accepted as a permanent burden. In other words, they wonder if the benefits of global leadership are worth the costs. Meanwhile, hyperpartisanship engulfs and paralyzes American security policy. In 1947, Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican, famously said that partisan politics must stop at the water’s edge. Now they seem to intensify at the shoreline.

This combination of external and internal pressure creates four huge challenges that American strategists face as they attempt to navigate changes in the global security system. These challenges affect every major security decision and hinder the chances of success across a range of crises and conflicts. Soon they will drive the efforts of the next president to define the direction that the United States takes in the world.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review