Essay: US Security the Evolving U.S. Security Theory

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US Security

The Evolving U.S. Security Theory: Cold War, War on Terror and Beyond

For the larger part of the 20th century following World War II, United States security policy revolved on Cold War theories of containment and nation-building. The United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in an indirect form of philosophical, military and economic contention that drove alternate strategies of regional occupation and government propping, as well as arms and space exploration races. America's security priorities and emphases were on the demand to meet communist and Soviet threats abroad and to construct a policy of internal monitoring intended to prevent its internal spread. As we further explore the current security outlook and safety policy vagaries for the United States, particularly those occurring during the period known as the War on Terror and today's aftermath, it is apparent that both the repercussions of Cod War policy and echoes of its strategic orientation remain a presence in American security policy.

This is made evident by a consideration of the impact which Cold War policy had on security orientation for past American presidents. The dominance of the Cold War and the policies relating thereto would occupy the focus, attention and policy priority of all the presidents to pass through office between World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Afghanistan and South America assured that the presidents during this time would in a certain regard all approach the same question of competing with the Soviet permeation of the globe and the primary driver of security theory. Thus, even if it is popular to consider in retrospect that Kennedy was an important ideological diversion from the model of presidency which came before him, it does not change the fact that his presidency dealt with many of the same security questions as would his predecessors and, to an even greater extent, his more publicly embattled successors. Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon would grapple destructively with the issue of the Vietnam War, but we may assume with reflection on the lead-up to this conflict, that Kennedy's survival would have most likely placed this conflict in the lap of his administration.

The security theory known as the domino theory which presumed that the fall of a nation such as Vietnam would cause an entire region to topple to communist influence would underscore Cold War foreign policy for generations, with presidents culturally required to affirm a commitment to the goals of protecting American interests and opposing Russian aims that appeared to be contrary to these interests. Regarding Kennedy, "from his Vienna interview with Khrushchev, through the Berlin crisis during 1961, to the Cuban missile crisis and therafter -- this commitment evidently deepened with experience as Kennedy responded to events." (Neustadt, 170) This is to note that regardless of the perspective which he took into office with him, his increased exposure to the insights and knowledge of the presidency would drive him to view Cold War policy refinement as the highest of security priorities.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it would be unclear at first what new security challenges would direct theory and policy in the years to follow. Many security policy experts would differ on the greatest area of focus, with concerns ranging from immigration policy to concerns over the War on Drugs. With the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, it would become increasingly clear that America's security policy would be driven by concerns over terrorism. The War on Terror is a daily reminder of the changed world theory, with counterterrorism functioning as the centerpiece to American security policy and that of many other nations throughout the globe.

Counterterrorism is essentially the array of strategies related to military objectives, intelligence gathering, policy objective, resource distribution, covert action and direct defense strengthening designed to preempt, prevent or respond to terrorism. According to the Department of Defense, its definition is more simply stated as "operations that include the offensive measures taken to prevent, deter, preempt, and respond to terrorism." (DoD, 1) This initiation of the idea of offensive maneuvering as being an initial point of reference in the definition for counterterrorism should serve as an indication to those entering the service of the nation's security that this may in some contexts mean operating overseas in concert with such efforts as those in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These operations denote a definition of counterterrorism which includes meeting threats abroad before they can materialize here. The nature of this objective is reinforced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who maintains an up-to-date listing of the world's most-wanted terrorists. Here, the Assistant Director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Michael Heimbach offers further articulation of counterterrorism responsibilities, denoting the obligation "to neutralize terrorist cells and operatives here in the U.S. And to help dismantle terrorist networks worldwide." (Heimbach, 1) This underscores the security theory which has driven the so-called War On Terror in its international form, with the Bush doctrine serving as its preeminent imperative. The Bush doctrine is a security theory which states that the United States possesses the right to act unilaterally and without approval of the global community to intervene preemptively where it views that regimes, nations or terrorist cells are conspiring in a manner which threatens American security and the security of its friends and allies. Though today Barrack Obama is in the White House, this doctrine remains at least temporarily irreversible for the two wars into which it has already immersed us. The Bush doctrine would have far-reaching implications, allowing for the justification of invasion in such nations as Afghanistan and Iraq with flimsy to nonexistent justification under traditional theories of just war.

This is an approach which would draw no small amount of criticism from all areas of the scholarly community. Indeed, a sentiment which marks Flynn's (2005) text, and which resonates with the ample evidence availed to us in the aftermath of the Bush Administration, is that the strategy of aggressive military offensive fronts demonstrates a fundamentally illogical misstep with respect to providing Americans with security. The aims of the Bush Administration's War On Terror, evaluated within in its own context by the Flynn account, were fundamentally misguided in their understanding of that which motivates terrorism, inclines American vulnerability and constitutes a legitimate threat to American stability. By simultaneously weakening domestic economy through an exporting of commercial and defense resources, and creating increased political and ideological incentive for terrorism by extending American aggression throughout the Arab world, the strategies applied by the last administration would have the distinct effect of diminishing rather than improving America's safety.

Indeed, the most important of concepts to draw from this assertion is the idea that America would categorically misapply its efforts in preventing future terrorism as a knee-jerk reaction to the events of September 11th. As Flynn denotes "our nation faces grave peril, but we seem unwilling to mobilize at home to confront the great before us. Managing the danger that al Qaeda poses cannot be achieved by relying primarily on military campaigns overseas. There are no fronts in the war on terrorism. The 9/11 attacks highlighted the fact that our borders offer no effective barrier to terrorists intent on bringing their war to our soil." (Flynn, x)

This points us to the myriad ways in which America remains unsafe for the poor definition of its immigration policy, inconsistencies in port security, limitations of airline screening measures, a total failure to account for maritime security threats, a failure to invest in emergency response capacity and a guiding misconception of the political structure and functionality of terrorist cells. Among the shortcomings in America's general strategy of combating terrorism discussed by Flynn, a failure at defining a proper security strategy for its ports and its overall unwillingness to properly understand its enemies will figure into damning opportunities for terrorist aggression. The points to the clear failures of the United States to properly adapt to the changes to which the Bush Administration had so vociferously pointed to in justifying its global War On Terror. In many substantial ways, the United States appears to have postured itself in such a way as to actually actively diminish the logistical and resource capacities of law enforcement and security groups even as the federal government has proposed to be primarily directed by the inclination to prevent infiltration of security vulnerability. Accordingly, "outside of Washington, pink slips for police officers and firefighters are more common than new public investments in security. With state and local budgets hemorrhaging red ink, mayors, county commissioners, and governors are simply in no position to fill the security void the federal government has been keen to thrust upon them." (Flynn, 2) Thus, as the United States' federal government increasingly diverts funding from domestic law enforcement agencies to lumbering groups like the Department of Homeland Security and, even more dubiously, those privateering organizations contracted to help rebuild such nations as Afghanistan and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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