The United States and other free nations face a range of
security challenges that many of the existing international
organizations and alliances are ill suited to meet. Too many of
these organizations were designed for an era that has long passed.
To counter 21st-century threats--from aggressive rogue states,
despots, terrorists, and international criminals--the United States
and its partners should fashion new arrangements that promote
security and protect liberty.
What is urgently needed is a new, more flexible association of
free nations around the world--a Global Freedom Coalition
(GFC)--whose members have both the will and the means to defeat
threats to their security and also the desire to promote the kind
of stability in which freedom can flourish. It should not be bound
by geography, as many small nations in every region of the world
have already demonstrated their commitment to fighting the war on
terrorism, interdicting the illicit proliferation of nuclear
weapons technology, and increasing law enforcement and intelligence
capabilities to stem human trafficking and international narcotics
and crime networks. To help develop such a coalition, the United
States should take the lead and create a new fund to provide
emerging democracies with the resources they need to build their
military and institutional capabilities.
Unlike some other ideas for bringing nations together, such as
the League of Democracies proposed by Senator John McCain (R-AZ),
the criteria for membership in the GFC should not be whether or not
a nation calls itself a democracy. Its members must have
demonstrated a commitment to expanding political and civil
liberties and deepening the rule of law, and they must have
contributed to regional and global security.
To help nations committed to liberty and security develop their
capabilities to contribute to and join such a coalition, the
Administration should establish a Security for Freedom Fund.
America has many friends in the developing world that share
American interests and values and that have helped the U.S. in Iraq
and Afghanistan, but that may lack the capabilities at this time to
meaningfully contribute to a new coalition. Current Foreign
Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programs
are insufficient, impeded by a tangle of restrictions and
bureaucratic delays that often render U.S. security assistance
tardy or ineffective. Creating a Security for Freedom Fund could be
a vehicle by which the Administration revamps the entire U.S.
foreign military assistance program so that America and its friends
and allies around the world can respond to unfolding threats to
their security in new, more flexible, and more creative ways than
the current international system allows.
New Threats, Old Institutions
The threats facing the United States may have changed
dramatically since the end of the Cold War, but the tools and
institutions we use to confront them have not. Over the past two
decades, issues such as nuclear proliferation, rogue states, and
international terrorism have dominated the global security
environment. At the same time, the rise of new regional powers such
as Venezuela, India, and Pakistan, and the resurgence of assertive
authoritarian regimes in Russia and China, have contributed to
greater global insecurity.
What makes these developments more challenging is that our
international alliances and partnerships created after World War II
have failed to keep pace. The relationships that have long shaped
U.S. security policy are no longer adequate to cover the full range
of challenges to global security and stability. The North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) is a Euro-centric alliance under
pressure to reshape itself in an increasingly global age. The
United Nations has become the means by which our competitors and
enemies collaborate to dilute U.S. influence and counter U.S.
interests. Recent more successful security creations like the
Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) have yet to be integrated
into a broader framework whose goal is to guarantee international
stability and the protection of free institutions worldwide.
This gap between threats and capabilities has not escaped public
attention. Both the Democratic and Republican presidential
candidates expressed their support during the election campaign for
some form of new institutionalized cooperation among the world's
While their proposals pointed out the need for the U.S. to forge
new partnerships among the world's free nations, neither was fully
satisfactory. Creating a League of Democracies that admits any
nation that calls itself a democracy simply because it holds
elections would suffer from the same cacophony of voices and
interests that stymie global responses by the United Nations. Yet
limiting membership to only fully mature democracies would be
unwise as well; it would exclude such important
states-in-transition as Singapore and the Philippines, which have
demonstrated their commitment to common security through their
participation in the PSI. Indeed, the difficulty for the Community
of Democracies has been arriving at a common definition of what
constitutes a democracy (witness its inclusion of indisputably
authoritarian governments like Egypt and Belarus).
The world has changed significantly in the 60 years since many
of our current security arrangements were established. We need new
institutions and mechanisms to deal more effectively with evolving
threats to international peace and security.
The Need for a New More Global
As Heritage Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy
Studies Kim R. Holmes explains, what America need is not
simply more influence in old institutions, but a new coalition that
is neither a traditional military alliance nor a new international
body with a new bureaucracy and a new budget. What America and the
world needs is a voluntary, less formal association of nations
dedicated to pursuing freedom and security on a global scale.Such a
group would complement the work of more formal alliances like NATO
and the Rio Pact. membership would be open to countries in every
region that can fulfill a few principal requirements.
First, the country must show a consistent commitment to
freedom--which means respect for such economic and political
freedoms as property rights and free speech, as well as holding
transparent elections. Emerging democracies that have demonstrated
their commitment to the defense of freedom on the international
level and are showing greater domestic liberalization should be
given observer status. The country must be
willing to work cooperatively with other member states to address
major threats to international security and freedom.
Second, the country must have something meaningful to contribute
(whether in the form of law enforcement cooperation,
intelligence-sharing, diplomatic support, or military assets) to
the activities and purposes of the Global Freedom Coalition. Such
cooperative activities include responding to and defeating the most
pressing threats to security through intelligence-sharing, economic
and diplomatic cooperation, and combined military measures.It
should include joint aid strategies and activities like election
The ultimate goal should be a concert of nations that, when
necessary, can act as an additional check on aggression against
free nations or emerging democracies, such as Russia's recent
invasion of Georgia. In that episode, the U.S. deferred leadership
on the crisis to the EU, specifically allowing Nicolas Sarkozy
(since France held the EU presidency at the time) to act as lead
negotiator in a ceasefire. Yet as Kim Holmes has pointed out, many
Europeans do not consider Georgia part of Europe, and the EU itself
often seems more interested in accommodating Russia, which
supplies much of its energy, than in defending the sovereignty of a
"faraway" country like Georgia.However, Holmes explains that,
If the GFC had existed with Georgia as a member, at the very
least it could have put another negotiator into the mix. This
negotiator might or might not have been the U.S., but if it were
not, it would at least have been a country more in tune with U.S.
and Georgian wishes and interests and not as fearful and beholden
to Russia as the EU is. As a multilateral and global institution,
it would have been a stronger voice for the geopolitically orphaned
Georgia than either the EU or NATO was. At some point, the GFC
could become strong enough to supplant the EU as surrogate
negotiator on behalf of U.S. interests.
NATO too has its constraints. A NATO-like Article V
commitment--which considers an attack on one member an attack on
all--would not be necessary or even advisable for the GFC since it
is not intended to be a military alliance, in the sense that NATO
represents a commitment to mutual defense, or to protect a
particular geographic region. Indeed, an Article V-type commitment
could create other problems, such as entangling the coalition in
territorial or border disputes or precluding the participation of
potentially valuable members like India and Pakistan. The GFC
should be seen as a way to form a broader, more flexible framework
for free nations to address global threats to security. To do this,
it would need members from around the world, including but not
limited to such longstanding partners of the United States as the
U.K., New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Korea,
and other established allies in Europe and East Asia.
Members from the developing world should also be included for
several reasons. Threats like terrorism and nuclear proliferation
cannot be fully addressed by regional alliances. Major developing
countries like Brazil and India are seeking to expand their sway in
world affairs. Developing democracies like the Philippines have
emerged as central fronts in the global war on terror and have been
valuable contributors to the fight through their participation in
the PSI and other initiatives.
Having a new forum that enables such nations to discuss security
and liberty with the world's free and developed nations--without
the baggage associated with other economic and political
institutions--would greatly facilitate effective solutions to
thorny international problems. Such a broad coalition would be well
suited for bringing pressure on North Korea should the Six-Party
Talks break down, and on Iran, which regularly invokes the
solidarity of non-aligned and developing nations to deflect U.S.
and European pressure. Finally, including developing nations will
give these countries a powerful new incentive to continue along the
path to political and economic freedom, much as the prospect of
NATO membership encouraged countries like Poland, the Czech
Republic, and Romania to lock in their post-Cold War democratic
Still,efforts to include prominent developing countries in the
new coalition should not be undertaken hastily. Admitting countries
before they can meaningfully contribute to its activities would
risk diluting its effectiveness and credibility.
The Need for a "Security for Freedom
What America needs to help prospective members meet these
requirements is a new funding mechanism for supporting programs
that would improve their military and security capacities. This
idea is hardly a new one; America's permanent alliances have long
rested on a foundation of U.S. military assistance. This approach
is no less important for shaping an effective Global Freedom
Coalition, especially with respect to including nations like
Georgia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others whose enthusiasm for
security exceeds their current military capabilities. A fully
effective GFC, in other words, cannot simply be assembled from
ready-made parts; it must grow and be strengthened using military
sales and assistance.
The United States' current Foreign Military Sales procedures are
simply inadequate for this purpose. The FMS system is convoluted
and its efforts often hindered by a maze of legislative and
bureaucratic restrictions. Congressionally mandated wait-times,
bureaucratic hurdles, excessive notification requirements, and
unnecessary segmentation of the process can result in a delay of up
to five years from the time a need is identified to when it is
These and other problems repeatedly compromise important U.S.
security interests. Between 1998 and 2002, congressional
legislation forbade the Colombian government from using the
hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment provided under the
aegis of Plan Colombia for counterinsurgency (as opposed to
counternarcotics) purposes. This rule made little sense when the
survival of Colombia's democracy was very much in doubt. It also
proved extremely cumbersome to implement, given that the nation's
insurgents were also the chief players in its illicit drug
A more recent example of this phenomenon could be seen in the
most critical FMS mission the United States currently faces:
equipping the Iraqi security forces, an effort that got bogged down
in a morass of legislative and bureaucratic requirements.
technology transfer requirements, congressional notification
requirements, and the fact that no one step of the nine-step FMS
procedure could go forward until the preceding step had been fully
completed caused considerable delays in the delivery of crucial
equipment to the coalition's Iraqi partners, and thereby impeded
the hand-over of greater responsibility to those forces.
To make the GFC work, Washington will need to devise
military-assistance policies that are better aligned with U.S.
national security needs and objectives. The proper mechanism for
this challenge is a new Security for Freedom Fund that constitutes
a major departure from existing FMS procedures. It should resemble
the innovative approach used in the already-successful U.S.
Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program initiated in 2002.
The MCA consists of a pool of funds to be used for economic and
development aid in developing countries. Access to that pool is
granted after a rigorous process in which country applications are
judged according to such criteria as adherence to basic standards
of human rights and good governance, fiscal responsibility, and a
commitment to the kinds of development projects that have a proven
record of promoting economic growth.
The MCA is revolutionizing U.S. economic-assistance policies. By
demanding that a country show its commitment to freedom and
economic development, the MCA has greatly improved the likelihood
that its aid is not squandered on wasteful and unproductive
projects. By placing emphasis on good governance and democratic
norms, the MCA has lessened the potential for U.S. foreign aid to
be used to prop up authoritarian regimes and increased the
likelihood it will go to programs that help people on the
The new Security for Freedom Fund should apply the basic MCA
model (though not all the particulars of that program) to
security-assistance grants. As is the case with the MCA, the
Security for Freedom Fund should dedicate its resources to
financing foreign military sales that fulfill specific criteria.
For example, countries that qualify could request a certain sum of
money to finance the purchase of specific U.S. military
Judging applications for the Security for Freedom Fund grants
should be done by an interagency committee that is composed of
representatives from the Departments of Defense, State, and
Homeland Security. Assistance should be awarded according to how
applicants have met four principal criteria:
· A demonstrated commitment to freedom and human
rights. Does the country hold regular and transparent
elections? Does it have a record of upholding basic political and
economic freedoms as measured by the Index of Economic
Freedom and Freedom House?
· A commitment to the rule of law and governance.
Does the government have a record of promoting fundamental freedoms
abroad? Does it observe its international agreements? Is there
civilian control of the armed forces?
· Mutual bilateral security interests with the U.S.
and its allies. Is the country concerned about the same threats
that menace the United States and the other members of the GFC?By
promoting the applicant nation's security, will the U.S. also
promote its own?
· A demonstrated need for U.S. military
assistance. Is the assistance requested appropriate to the
threats that country faces? Is capacity building in its military
forces and civilian security institutions necessary to make that
nation a productive member of the GFC? Does the country have any
arrangements with countries to which the U.S. restricts military
Countries meeting these criteria could be awarded Security for
Freedom Fund grants to purchase U.S. military equipment. In
recognition that security issues often cross the lines between law
enforcement and military activities, or between counterinsurgency
and counterterrorism, the country should be able to use the
equipment as it deems necessary to meet its specific security
The Security for Freedom Fund would supplement the Foreign
Military Financing, the U.S. program that provides military
assistance to foreign governments, in much the same way that the
MCA supplements longstanding U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) programs. The MCA did not replace USAID, but
supplemented its aid so that the process targeted aid more
precisely to core U.S. goals. The Security for Freedom Fund should
function much the same way. There are countries that will not meet
the Security for Freedom Fund requirements to which the U.S. will
still want to provide assistance, and the current structure should
still be available for those purposes.
Though there is always a risk that U.S. military assistance may
be put to a use contrary to U.S. interests, the Security for
Freedom Fund is not likely to increase that probability. For one
thing, any country accepted for grants will have gone through an
extremely rigorous vetting process. That process will involve close
scrutiny of its record on human rights, democracy, and security,
and provide greater assurance that U.S. military assistance reaches
only those countries whose values and interests are closely aligned
with those of the United States.
In the same vein, a Security for Freedom Fund should not entail
open-ended commitments to financing military sales to successful
applicants. A country's access to the fund should be reviewed on a
regular basis, in order to ensure that the United States has the
continuing ability to monitor the performance of recipient
All told, the Security for Freedom Fund offers the United States
several important benefits:
1. It would streamline and rationalize the FMS process
significantly. By condensing the current procedures into a single
application process, it would shorten delivery times and allow
recipients to use U.S. military assistance when they need it, not
2. By giving these countries the capability to use U.S. military
assistance for a range of security issues, the fund would eliminate
the kind of onerous and counterproductive restrictions that
Colombia and other countries have experienced. In short, the fund
would facilitate the efforts of U.S. allies to protect themselves
and their shared interests, which ultimately redounds to the
benefit of the United States.
3. By creating an interagency mechanism governing access to all
U.S. military assistance, the Security for Freedom Fund would
ensure that the full spectrum of national security
concerns--diplomatic, military, and homeland defense--are
integrated into the process. The need for this is especially
pressing with respect to the Department of Homeland Security, which
currently lacks an outreach capacity that would allow it to
coordinate with foreign militaries on issues crucial to U.S.
4. The fund would allow the Administration to target U.S.
military assistance so that it best promotes democracy and freedom
worldwide. This would ensure that U.S. funds are being used to
strengthen governments committed to these values, while at the same
time providing an incentive for other countries that want U.S. aid
to take steps toward greater domestic liberalization. The fund
would help build the security capacity of such friends and allies,
which would promote the broader aims of U.S. foreign policy and the
Global Freedom Coalition.
Changing times often require changing tools, and in today's
world, the United States must be able to adjust its national
security policies to respond to rapidly changing threats. A Global
Freedom Coalition would offer the prospect of broader, more
effective global cooperation on issues ranging from global
terrorism, aggressive autocracies, and international crime to the
protection of democratic institutions.
A GFC will not take shape overnight, nor will it be fully
effective without a U.S. commitment to help other nations build
their own military and security capacities to contribute to global
security. Creating a Security for Freedom Fund would help make U.S.
military assistance more effective and efficient so that those who
share America's values can better confront the range of security
issues they also face. A Security for Freedom Fund will ensure that
U.S. military aid goes hand in hand with America's abiding desire
to strengthen free institutions and promote liberty worldwide.
James Jay Carafano,
Ph.D., is Assistant Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom
Davis Institute for International Studies and Senior Research
Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Douglas
and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, and Henry
Brands is a graduate student fellow inThe Kathryn and Shelby Cullom
Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage