The Realist Prism: A Lend-Lease Program for the 21st Century

The Realist Prism: A Lend-Lease Program for the 21st Century

With all of the comparisons being drawn between the presidencies of Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt, it is surprising that one of FDR's most famous programs has not emerged as a possible model for U.S. policy today: Lend-Lease.

That's not to suggest that the United States should plunge the rest of the planet into world war as a strategy for domestic economic recovery. But consider the following:

First, global security challenges are on the rise. The dark side of globalization means that technologies and capabilities that previously were the prerogatives of states have increasingly filtered down to non-state actors such as rebels, insurgencies, organized crime and terrorist groups. Disgruntled, poor Somali fishermen have been transformed into the scourge of the western Indian Ocean, continuing to seize vessels and menace shipping despite the presence of a multinational naval flotilla. By fusing with narco-traffickers in Colombia, the FARC can continue purchasing lethal capabilities that allow them to both fuel their continued insurgency against the government in Bogota and defend drug-trafficking routes through other countries in the region. As an example, when Severino Mejia, a security expert with the University of Panama, was asked to assess the Panamanian government's ability to prevent the FARC from using Panama's territory as a narcotics trans-shipment point, he bluntly concluded, "We don't have the firepower to maintain a confrontation."

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