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U.S. foreign and security policy

Superpartner: A US Strategy for a Complex World

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Abstract in English: 
The Trump administration should not take up its work under the assumption that the United States, with only 5 percent of the world’s population and around a quarter of the world’s economy, can continue to be an indispensable presence on the world stage. America’s relative decline since 1945 seems to be a byproduct of the post-World War II system it created along with its allies and partners, in which the United States worked to bring millions out of poverty, give other nations incentives to strengthen their governance structures and institutions, and establish global norms of behavior. That effort sought to ensure no worldwide conflicts recurred. However, fostering an environment where states, groups, and individuals could be further empowered naturally eroded America’s once-monopolistic strength; the United States has brought humanity to a new era where many are powerful and many can potentially lead.
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9
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Reforming and Reorganizing U.S. Foreign Assistance: Increased Efficiency and Effectiveness

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, July 24, 2017
Abstract in English: 
CSIS convened a bipartisan Task Force on Reforming and Reorganizing U.S. Foreign Assistance in response to the March 1, 2017, executive order asking all federal departments and agencies to submit reorganization plans that will “improve efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability” and to the president’s FY2018 budget request.1 The Trump administration is right to question whether the current foreign assistance system is optimized to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Although many Americans believe that foreign assistance makes up 25 percent or more the federal budget, it is no more than 1 percent. However small a percentage, it is important to note that these funds do not represent pure altruism; they are smart investments that contribute to the national security and prosperity of the United States.

Though it intends to align priorities, strategy, budget, and work force, the Trump administration’s first budget proposal includes significant cuts to foreign assistance funding and runs the risk of having budgeted amounts—rather than U.S. national interests—drive creation of strategy and organization. This would produce suboptimal outcomes, particularly if the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) were to be subsumed into the Department of State as some have suggested. It is not in the national interest to remove the development leg from the U.S. national security stool.
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54
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Toward global water security

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Abstract in English: 
This report assesses the conditions under which a global Water Grand Strategy (WGS) might be created and implemented by stakeholders in the United States within the next one to two years. While numerous American organizations are addressing water challenges the world over, no explicit policy or vision coordinates their multiple endeavors. As a result, the United States does not maximize its influence in finding solutions to the world’s most pressing water challenges.
This report evaluates the need for a WGS and explores the possible ends of such a strategy. It summarizes what the United States is already doing in the water space,1 and identifies the current model’s strengths and weaknesses. It outlines a process for forging a “Whole of America” water strategy—a stakeholder-driven process—and addresses key implementation challenges.
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22
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Defense Modernization Plans through the 2020s

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Abstract in English: 
Since the enactment of the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, much attention has been paid to the near-term effects of budgetary constraints on national defense. What has received less attention are the looming budgetary challenges defense faces beyond the BCA budget caps and the Defense Department’s five-year budget planning horizon. Many weapons programs will be at or near their peak years of funding requirements at roughly the same time in the 2020s, creating a modernization bow wave. Just as a large bow wave slows a ship by diverting its energy, carrying a large modernization bow wave is a drag on defense because it leads to program instability and inefficient procurement practices that weaken the buying power of defense dollars.

This report details the plans for major acquisition programs over the next fifteen years and explores the complicating factors that may make the situation more problematic for policymakers. It analyzes a range of options to mitigate the bow wave, including increasing the budget, cutting additional force structure, and making trades among major acquisition programs. The report finds that while none of the choices available are easy, it provides an opportunity for the new administration taking office in 2017 to better align modernization plans with defense strategy.
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42
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Asia-Pacific Rebalance 2025

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Abstract in English: 
In 2015, Congress tasked the Department of Defense to commission an independent assessment of U.S. military strategy and force posture in the Asia-Pacific, as well as that of U.S. allies and partners, over the next decade. This CSIS study fulfills that congressional requirement. The authors assess U.S. progress to date and recommend initiatives necessary to protect U.S. interests in the Pacific Command area of responsibility through 2025. Four lines of effort are highlighted: (1) Washington needs to continue aligning Asia strategy within the U.S. government and with allies and partners; (2) U.S. leaders should accelerate efforts to strengthen ally and partner capability, capacity, resilience, and interoperability; (3) the United States should sustain and expand U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region; and (4) the United States should accelerate development of innovative capabilities and concepts for U.S. forces.
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290
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Friends, Foes, and Future Directions: U.S. Partnerships in a Turbulent World

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Publication date: 
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Abstract in English: 
This report is the third in RAND's ongoing Strategic Rethink series, in which RAND experts explore the elements of a national strategy for the conduct of U.S. foreign and security policy in this administration and the next. The report evaluates three broad strategies for dealing with U.S. partners and adversaries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in a time of diminishing defense budgets and an American public preference for a domestic focus. The three strategies are to be more assertive, to be more collaborative, or to retrench from international commitments. All three of these alternative approaches are constrained and a balance will need to be struck among them — that balance may differ from region to region. In general, however, the United States may need to follow a more collaborative approach in which it seeks greater collaboration and burden sharing from strong partners who have until now not been pulling their weight. To further reduce risk, the United States should seek to prevent deeper security ties from developing between China and Russia. It should work closely with its most vulnerable partners not only to reassure them, but to coordinate crisis management with them to limit the risk of unwanted escalation of incidents. And it should sponsor new trilateral efforts to draw together partners in both Europe and Asia that face similar security, political, economic, societal, and environmental problems. Only by working together across regions can many of these challenges be effectively managed. Trilateralism might serve as a useful follow-on strategy to the pivot to Asia.
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184
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