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A Preface to Strategy: The Foundations of American National Security

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[Technical Report, Study/Analysis]

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During World War II, international threats and national goals were clear. That clarity continued, albeit to a lesser degree, throughout the Cold War and into the new century, with the United States as the worlds preeminent superpower and leader in defense, technology, and economic might. Todays world is a different place, and the need for a clear picture of it is critical. This paper helps to crystallize that picture by first identifying premises that served processes, institutions, and strategies from World War II through the Cold War, seeking to comprehend our inherited predispositions as predicate for rethinking them. It then identifies changes that undermine these premises. To forge new premises, the authors specify foundational American strengths that must be protected and expanded amid and despite these changes. Finally, the authors suggest premises for a new age of strategic thought. This paper does not recommend a new national security strategy. Instead, it serves as a necessary preface to such a strategy by articulating how our national strengths and weaknesses must be understood as foundations for American security and by showing how the premises that have guided us from World War II to the present must be modified for the future.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]