Academics and policymakers alike appreciate the complexity of new threats to national security like non-state actors and global terror networks. But a report released in September 2006 by the Princeton Project on National Security
(PPNS) warns that ignoring unfashionable, but long-established geopolitical threats can endanger U.S. foreign policy. Billed as a bipartisan initiative, PPNS is ultimately an academic affair, with members of its group including such luminaries as Francis Fukuyama, G. John Ikenberry, Laurie Garrett, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Tod Lindberg, and Walter Russell Mead, among many others. The initiative engaged these experts to develop a basic framework of principle threats to U.S. national security and potential responses.
The old and new geopolitical dynamics are worth elucidating, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, gives us something to consider:
“Old geopolitics has not gone away. China and Asia are rising rapidly, industrially, and economically. However, we are now just as threatened by the inability of governments to address terrorists within their country, prevent spread of disease and take care of the environment.”The report cites energy independence and increased consumption as the dominant new challenges, particularly as U.S. consumption of oil increases, and in turn increases our dependence on foreign nations (featuring a who’s-who along the continuum of unpredictability). Rightly, the report supports incentives for energy alternatives. It also supports a gasoline tax and stricter fuel efficiency standards as ways to promote smarter approaches to increasing climatic changes.
Promoting these changes is a good start, but convincing policymakers to adopt them may be a greater challenge.