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Annual Report to the President and the Congress

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Historians looking back at the latter half of the 20th century will conclude that in the years since World War II, nothing has had as big an impact on our national security requirements as the disappearance of the Soviet threat not the Korean war, not Vietnam, nothing. The collapse of the Soviet Union ended more than four decades of Cold War struggle. The foreign policy that the United States had consistently followed for more than four decades--the policy of containment--had succeeded. We are now constructing a replacement for containment as an overarching foreign policy that protects our national interests. Broadly speaking, were in a position today that is similar to the one in which we found ourselves after World War II. We knew we had a new world. With the Axis powers vanquished, we tried to analyze the new dangers to Americas national security in order to formulate a broad policy that would protect our interests. It was some years before a consensus developed behind containment. This post-World War II period holds an important lesson for us. When we experience as profound a change in the world order as we did after World War II, or as we are experiencing after the Cold War, it can take years for a clear picture of the new world to emerge. There is a special problem with defense. Ordinarily defense policy is a derivative of larger foreign and national security policies. But President Clinton is charged with protecting and defending the national security of the United States now, not several years from now when the pieces of the post-Cold War order may have settled into place. We no longer have the Soviet threat against which to measure our defense. It is hard today to overestimate how completely the Soviet threat dominated our force structure, our strategy and doctrine, even the design of our weapons. Now, it is gone. What do we need a defense for

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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