Third Way Paper Offers Critique of Bush Security Policy, New Strategy for Defending US
Washington, DC – In a scathing rebuke of the Bush national security policy, Third Way today issued a study by leading scholars that calls for a new path forward for presidential candidates and other political leaders seeking to “restore America’s confidence as world leader.” The essay calls for a new strategy that rejects the “illusions” of the Bush years and makes American security paramount.
Entitled Security First: A Strategy for Defending America, the paper is authored by Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution and Elaine Kamarck of Harvard University, with Sharon Burke, who directs the Third Way National Security Project. Galston and Kamarck are the co-authors of the seminal 2005 paper, The Politics of Polarization. That study (also issued by Third Way) noted that national defense policy must, in addition to changing course away from the Bush years, “reflect patriotism, strength and resolve.” In this paper, they flesh out the contours of such a policy.
Co-author Galston said in a statement: “Our current troubles illustrate the folly of President Bush’s 2nd Inaugural address, which rested on a series of illusions – about human motivations, US capacities, and about the world in which we live. We need a realistic strategy for taking on the dangers of the 21st century world in a coherent and comprehensive way.”
Kamarck agreed: “2008 will be one of the most important elections in recent history, and the next president will face a monumental set of security challenges, nearly all of them created or exacerbated by the failures of the present administration. It will take some time, effort and real leadership to right the course for our ship of state, but we believe that it can – and must – be done.”
Security First opens with a review of the current threats that America faces, tracing the path that the Bush Administration took after 9-11 to arrive at our current predicament in Iraq and elsewhere. The authors argue that “our next leaders must fundamentally alter the Bush Doctrine, based on an understanding of the four concentric layers of threats and responsibilities facing America in this new century.” They view the innermost ring as the most urgent threat, al Qaeda and its allies. The next is the gravest threat, nuclear proliferation. The third ring is the direct and indirect threats posed by US dependence on foreign energy. And the last ring consists of threats to the “global commons”—pandemics, global warming, genocide, etc. – that the US must address “not only for reasons of altruism but also of significant self interest.
This reordering of security priorities points, the authors argue, to “organizational changes needed to reform our governing institutions to meet the challenges we face now and in the decades to come.” They go on to provide detailed policy options to make such changes, including:
- Creating a 21st century military
- Reforming the intelligence community
- Overhauling homeland security
- Taking on state building
- Promoting democracy
- Building new alliance structures
“The American people have been profoundly shaken by the devastating mistakes and missed opportunities of the past six years,” said Third Way’s Sharon Burke. “We are proud to partner again with Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck in offering a new path forward.”
Contact: Matt Bennett (202) 775-3768 x212