During the last election there was significant focus on President Bush’s National Security Strategy. Americans became frustrated with a damaged economy and a long war. More of the same policy was a bridge too far for the average voter. This frustration led to the election of Barack Obama. A shift in policy from strong unilateralism with some coalition building to a political philosophy believing “no nation can meet the world’s challenges alone” resulted. A new US National Security Strategy became necessary.
The 1967 Goldwater-Nichols Act requires a new Administration to have its National Security Strategy developed and submitted to Congress not later than 15 June of its first year in office. This has not happened. The Administration currently relies on policy speeches by the President, as well as policy edicts from the White House to determine the direction of the nation’s security strategy.
President Obama tried to take a different view on Bush’s strategy primarily in taking on a multilateral approach to National Security. University of Michigan Professor Raymond Tanter, former advisor to President Ronald Reagan, warns against the pitfalls of this idea in several books and articles.
The key problem to a multilateral approach is the complexity and inability to reach accord on issues, ultimately leading to stalemate and inaction. Our partners have no reason to believe the Administration will use its National Power to encourage them to follow our lead. The Administration states “the same forces that compound our problems – economic interdependence, open borders. . . are also part of the solution. And with more states facing common challenges, we have the chance, and a profound responsibility, to exercise American leadership to solve problems in concert with others.” But in my estimation this philosophy is critically flawed and the facts of today’s security situation back my premise.
A prime example is the complete failure of slowing down Iran’s nuclear ambitions by the Obama Administration. This is epitomized by Iran’s ability to rope-a-dope the President using meetings and making promises while continuing to develop its nuclear capability. Tanter writes: “On balance, it is unlikely that the [Iranian] clerical elite will accept the offer of the international community for a temporary cessation of uranium enrichment so that substantive negotiations can commence.” In the mean time, Israel is being forced to plan potential pre-emptive strikes against Iran to ensure it never achieves nuclear capability resulting in inherent Middle East instability.
America’s allies and enemies alike now know they can outlast any Obama Administration stance by applying simple delay tactics. The President is delivering on his promise of multilateralism where the US is no longer dominant. Now our adversaries are willing to take hits from the Administration knowing they can ultimately win by sapping US strength, resources, and resolve with the promise of launching a successful counterattack. This political philosophy, grounded in the idea of working well with others, sends out a strong message that the US is no longer a serious player on the world stage, but just another character actor.