The collapse of the Soviet Union continues to pay dividends in terms of the security of the Free World. The core of that world — North America, Western Europe and Japan — continues to be relatively secure from threats to their liberty and survival. Yes, proliferation of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons has created a certain danger, already for Japan and probably soon for portions of Europe. But absent a nuclear conflict with either Russia or China, the West remains relatively secure.
The same cannot be said for the nations on the periphery of the Free World. Whether it is the new members of NATO, friends and allies in the Middle East, South Korea or Taiwan, here U.S. interests and the security of friends and allies will be tested. A recent article by two analysts from the Center for European Policy Analysis points out that around the world there are a host of U.S. friends and allies that “live along strategic fault lines and in close proximity to potential regional hegemons.” The authors argue that the United States needs a new approach to managing the far-flung marches of the Free World, those areas that are most vulnerable and most difficult to defend.
“Washington must develop a grand strategy for managing the global Allied periphery. Our most vulnerable strategic appendages are sure to come under increased Great-Power scrutiny and probing in the years ahead. We must anticipate this opening act in the transition to a new geopolitical era and prepare for it. Whether that new era will be conflict-prone depends in part on how the U.S. responds to these early probes.”
What is needed, at least in part, is a new strategic architecture that helps the states of interest along this periphery to defend themselves and simultaneously firmly demonstrates American commitment to their security. Given the many demands on this country’s armed forces, evidence of American commitment will rarely come in the form of deployment of military units. Instead, the commitment will be demonstrated first by the capabilities provided to those forward positioned friends and allies. These capabilities include integrated air and missile defenses, littoral sea control forces, local ISR and precision fires. The second way the U.S. will demonstrate its commitment is through the support of strategic enablers such as long-range ISR and C2 networks that will enhance the operation of regional military forces. Ultimately the security of the “global Allied periphery” will have to be under girded by a U.S. commitment to deploy its forces.
According to the authors of the aforementioned article, the United States needs to “pursue a ‘peripherist’ strategy aimed at visibly and preemptively driving up the costs of revisionism and geopolitical predation. We must hold the line — not ham-fistedly, but with the steadiness of a self-assured status quo power whose alliances are sacrosanct, whose word is good, whose credibility is intact.” A new strategic architecture that enhances the military capabilities of our friends and allies along the periphery, and creates a C4ISR network that ties them together and also to the United States, must be a part of that strategy.
Find Archived Articles: