Foreign Policy: Strategy for a Post-Biden Era

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Foreign Policy: Strategy for a Post-Biden Era

July 11, 2022 30 min read Download Report

Authors: James Carafano, Nile Gardiner, Thomas Spoehr and Walter Lohman


The war in Ukraine and other recent events have shown the true colors of China, Iran, and Russia. These dangerous regimes want a world without America and have the capability and intent to unsettle the peace of America’s homeland. Their aggressive actions threaten America’s freedom and prosperity and put American lives at risk. It is that stark. The United States is in a new kind of war. It needs a national strategy that recognizes that reality and delivers a strong response. Contemporary events suggest that President Joe Biden’s approach is failing to keep America free, safe, and prosperous. His strategies are either missing or inadequate. The United States needs to take a different course.

Key Takeaways

As China, Russia, and Iran work toward a world without America, together they present a graver threat to America than the Soviet Union.

The West must wake up and realize the status quo will not protect its interests; its end must be to eliminate the credible, present threat these adversaries pose.

America needs a national strategy to build a strong military, strengthen its free society, and ignite an economy independent of its adversaries.

The war in Ukraine and other recent events have shown us the true colors of China, Iran, and Russia. These are dangerous regimes that want a world without America. There are other challenges in the world, such as the nuclear-armed regime in North Korea and transnational terrorism, but China, Iran, and Russia are of particular concern because they are revisionist powers with the capability and intent to unsettle the peace of America’s homeland. Their aggressive actions threaten not just American freedom and prosperity but also American lives. It is that stark. This is a new kind of war. Washington should have a national strategy that recognizes that reality and delivers a strong response. Contemporary events suggest that President Joe Biden’s approach is failing to keep America free, safe, and prosperous. His strategies are either missing or inadequate. A different course is needed. The Administration following Biden’s represents the next opportunity to implement these needed changes.

The communist regime in China is the greatest danger to the United States. The threats posed by Russia and Iran are significant where they exacerbate the danger posed by China. The United States should have a new strategy that vouchsafes America against the threat of China. This strategy should be global and should focus all the instruments of national power through a generational conflict against serious, capable, threatening regimes that could do irreparable harm.

U.S. strategy should jettison the concept that the natural state of affairs favors order. It is way past time to abandon the hope that somehow the West can ignore grave dangers or perhaps the free world can bribe, cajole, threaten, plead, negotiate, cooperate, or hypnotize these dangerous powers to accept the current norms of the “rules-based” world. In fact, in addition to some regimes conducting wars on innocent nations and sponsoring terrorism and proxy wars, others are engaged in genocide and actively infiltrating international organizations to try to rewrite the rules. Adversarial regimes are perverting the rules-based order to weaken America and its allies. By dealing with this reality, rather than the world as many would like it to be, the U.S. will be an even more relevant, engaged, and influential power in global affairs, which, in turn, will strengthen America and benefit the American people.

What do we need to do? The reality is we live in a world where force matters more than ever. The prudent and responsible use of force is essential to self-defense. The United States should have sufficient power to protect against China and block efforts to subvert America’s capacity to safeguard Americans.

How will that be done? By building a strong military, igniting a roaring economy not dependent on America’s enemies, and strengthening a free society. These bold actions will checkmate China’s ability to harm America. The aim here is to lay out a strategy that can serve Americans far better in the world. It is time to stop dreaming about the end of history. A real strategy is the wake-up call.

Can this be done? By unleashing the real strength of the American people and economy and working with critical friends and allies (strong bilateral relations will be the foundation of cooperation) who share America’s determination to see the free world remain free, then yes.

What Is Strategy?

America needs a serious strategy. The critical components for successful strategy-making are too important to neglect. There are standards against which serious strategies should be measured. Let us define them and illustrate with real-world examples against which America’s policymakers should be held.

Definition. Real strategy is intended to drive a level of performance or achievement that cannot be accomplished now. That is the aim of real strategy.

For instance, the U.S. strategy of containment during the Cold War, while implemented differently by Presidents over time, was the guide to action for addressing competition with the Soviet Union.REF

Need. If the problem can be solved without dramatic change, there is no need for a strategy. Therefore, a strategy, by definition, involves some extraordinary “hard” choices. Every problem has competing interests, requirements, goals, and trade-offs. Sorting them out, defining the crucially important ones, and committing resources to that end is the purpose of strategy. If the hard choice is not clear and decisive, it is not a real strategy.

Perhaps the best exemplar is the Allied strategy chosen for World War II that made the hard choice of committing to “defeat Germany first.”REF

Priorities. For national strategy, hard choices are about getting the hierarchy of interests right. For the United States, the most essential interests are “vital” interests that can directly affect the security and livelihood of the American people. Next are “important” interests that provide the United States significant advantages in global competition and safeguard the lives and livelihoods of Americans from foreign threats. Finally, there are “peripheral” interests that would offer some benefits to the United States and U.S. policies, but the amount of attention and action would be commensurate with the values obtained. A strategy should focus on the most critical vital interests. A strategy should be about “must do” actions.

In 1953, for example, President Dwight Eisenhower organized the Solarium Project, a strategic exercise focused on protecting key vital interests in prosecuting the Cold War, including national defense and ensuring a robust, growing economy.REF

Components. A strategy should be an all-encompassing and deliberate guide to action. That means it should address sufficiently and equally well the ends (the objectives of the strategy), ways (how the strategy will be accomplished), and means (the critical resources or capabilities that will be used to implement the strategy). A strategy does not need to describe every task that must be done (which could range from terrorism and disaster response to hybrid threats and proxy wars), but a complete strategy will effectively guide other activities that must be planned and adapt to changing conditions and requirements as plans are implemented. A complete strategy should describe the critical tasks that must be accomplished.

One criticism of U.S. strategy during the Vietnam War, for example, is that it did not properly formulate an effective course for fighting the war—a “theory of winning.” Instead, President Johnson adopted an incremental series of measures that ultimately proved inadequate.REF

Sufficiency. A complete and decisive strategy is not necessarily a good one. Napoleon, for instance, had a clear and decisive strategy for defeating Russia in 1812. He still suffered a crushing defeat. A sound strategy should offer good prospects for success, including being suitable (appropriate to solve the challenge addressed), feasible (can be accomplished with available—even if currently untapped—resources), and acceptable (supported by the stakeholders, chiefly the American people).

Napoleon’s 1812 campaign satisfied only two criteria. His strategy was feasible only if he could decisively defeat the Russian army before winter set in. When that failed, Napoleon was forced into a humiliating retreat that cost him his army and his crown.REF

Strategic Framework

The proposed strategy for the next President involves three phases: articulating the ends, implementing the ways, and amassing the means of winning the new kind of war America faces. In the context of a new President being elected, this first phase should begin during the election and culminate in clear declaration in the first inaugural address. Then the implementation of the strategy should be interwoven over the course of an Administration.

Phase 1: Stop Sleepwalking Through History. America is once again facing challenges on a global scale against a powerful nation-state. The President should articulate the hard choices America must make. More national resources should be dedicated to dealing with global challenges and that can be accomplished only by ending practices and funding that increasingly shift the bulk of U.S. national wealth to an unsustainable social welfare state. Together China, Iran, and Russia represent a graver threat than did the old Soviet Union.REF Indeed, China alone is a bigger danger to the United States, because Beijing has infiltrated American institutions—especially education and business—much more than the Soviets ever did, and America currently has a much weaker culture for resisting these attacks.

China, as the world’s second-largest economy, is the leading trading partner of more than 100 countries and is increasingly aggressive. Its irresponsible leadership and increasingly powerful military in some areas matches—even outmatches—the United States.REF

Moscow’s military forces have shown some serious shortfalls in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, the Russians have lost tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks. Still, they demonstrated that they can kill innocent people on a large scale and destroy their property and livelihood. So long as the Russian military remains and Putin or his ilk commands them—and that could be a long time—the Kremlin’s armed forces will continue to be a threat to the peace and prosperity of the West.

Moscow has another potent weapon as well—energy. So long as Russia is a critical global supplier and the West undermines its own efforts toward energy independence, energy will be a powerful weapon in Putin’s hands.

Meanwhile, Iran is the most disruptive power in the middle of one of the most volatile parts of the world and a constant enabler for some of Russia’s and China’s worst activities.

Collectively, these three regimes—through technology, the economy, threats to supply chains, psychological warfare, use of mercenaries, and state sponsorship of terrorism—arguably represent an extremely serious threat to peace and interests of all Americans.

Not since the Second World War has the West been so perplexed about the challenges to vital interests simultaneously in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought to Europe’s doorstep the most destructive fighting since World War II. At the same time, the conflict triggered fears that the regime in Beijing might take similar actions against Taiwan. These concerns have renewed the debate over how Western powers will protect their global interests in these two major areas of competition. Meanwhile, the threat of instability in the Middle East is not only a regional challenge but could spill over and impact Europe and Asia as well. Recent events could trigger a strategic alignment in which both Russia and China are seen as parts of the same problem, which could lead to more integrated and coordinated security policy responses in the North Atlantic, the Middle East, and the Indo–Pacific regions.

There seems near virtual consensus among Western governments that the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not represent constrained territorial expansion by Moscow.REF Putin would not have risked so much for such limited objectives. Rather, the invasion is seen as part of a deliberate effort to expand Russia’s sphere of hard power influence that would extend to other post-Soviet states and Central Europe, including members of the NATO alliance. European nations might be mixed in their willingness to support Ukraine or punish and deter Russia, but none has defended Putin’s actions as appropriate or legitimate.

This war also has implications for how the Atlantic community assesses the role of China in Europe. Again, few dispute that China did little to restrain the Russian invasion.REF Indeed, through China’s association in the “16 plus one” framework and other initiatives, Beijing strengthened its influence in Europe, undercutting a common European position on China. Most notably, the Chinese government lobbied other European nations to punish Lithuania for strengthening unofficial bonds with Taiwan. In this respect, a swift Russian victory in Ukraine would have arguably accelerated a divided and distracted Europe, strengthening China’s influence in the continent. Consequently, the war against Ukraine has accelerated mistrust against Beijing in some European quarters.

Further, China’s aggressive tone toward Taiwan has also raised additional concerns over Beijing’s long-term strategy. Interest over Taiwan’s future have been expressed in terms of protecting Taiwanese democracy or its critical role in providing microchips used in the production of many consumer and industrial products. Taiwan, however, represents a more significant concern from a geostrategic perspective. Taiwan is a critical objective in the “first island chain.”REF Dominance by Beijing would allow China to control the key maritime corridor in the Pacific. Among other outcomes, key allies Australia, Japan, and South Korea could be isolated.

Together these acts and actions provide pretty clear evidence of more aggressive policies for both powers, as well as increasing cooperation between China and Russia. These lead to one indisputable conclusion: The “rules-based” order trumpeted for years as a vital factor in ameliorating global competition is inadequate. In fact, it is failing.

There is vociferous debate over how to respond to this reality, which the Ukraine crisis reveals as virtually indisputable. Some argue for returning to seeking “cooperation and competition” with adversarial nations on joint concerns to build trust and confidence and competing only where it is unavoidable. Another proposal is to pressure China, Iran, and Russia to return to rules-based order and rely on this order to contain their ambitions. Yet another option is to treat these nations as adversaries, responding with strategies ranging from “strategic decoupling” to containment and regime change. None of these strategies is sufficient. They do not recognize the core of the challenge.

Without question, there is a consensus in the United States that, without friends and allies, America would lack both the hard and soft power to singlehandedly take on China, Iran, and Russia. Conversely, regional allies need American presence to deter malicious threats. There are persistent debates in the United States about whether to focus on China to the exclusion of Russia or the Middle East. Some argue for the United States to adopt more isolationist or hands-off policies, but that is not likely to happen. In each theater, there are allies who will rightly insist on U.S. engagement and commitment. In the Asia–Pacific, key nations—including Australia, India, Japan, and Taiwan—have built their response to China around an assumption of a present and engaged United States. At the same time, among the lessons of the war in Ukraine will be the central role the United States plays in NATO and that NATO remains vitally important to the collective security of the transatlantic community. In the Middle East, absent U.S. influence, nations are unable to counter the influence of China, Iran, and Russia. Given these realities, an America pivot to Asia alone seems less likely than ever.

China is the lynchpin. America’s three most strategically relevant parts of the world are Western Europe, the greater Middle East, and the Indo–Pacific—along with the sea, air, space, and cyber links that connect them. Even where Iran and Russia do not directly coordinate with one another, China’s challenge to the U.S. in these areas benefits from their destabilizing activities. Part of dealing with China is diminishing the value and ability of Iran and Russia to empower China’s global designs.

Along with defending the homeland, ensuring that China, Iran, and Russia cannot dominate these three critical regions and common space are the vital interests of the United States. U.S. interests would be irrevocably compromised if an adversarial force dominated any of these regions. All of America’s key regional partners and allies share many vital interests. Only a credible capacity to use force will compel these aggressive powers to back off and vouchsafe American vital interests. Without this, any diplomatic approach, whether bilateral or multilateral, will fail.

In addition, the United States has important interests in ensuring stability in the Atlantic region, which facilitates its capacity to link with partners and allies and buffer against threats to the U.S. homeland. Under the overarching umbrella of a national strategy, the United States will need a regional strategy to address this concern.REF

A national strategy should be credible, understandable, and actionable. Without question, recent adversarial actions by all three nations underscore that the danger they pose is credible, real, and present. There is a need to make the case for the threat and what to do in a plain, clear, and accessible manner, but it is also crucial to make the case that there are suitable, feasible, and acceptable actions that can protect Americans and its vital interests. This should be spelled out in a national strategy.

What to do? Regime change, nation-building, and proxy wars are risky business, costly adventures with uncertain prospects that always risk spiraling into bigger wars. On the other hand, excessive restraint encourages rather than placates aggressive powers.

Finding a balance requires prudence. The United States cannot and should not be the world’s policeman, babysitter, fireman, sheriff, or any other metaphor. Nation-building and regime change are unrealistic objectives. These terms do not reflect the reality of successful American efforts in the past.REF Even the term superpower is meaningless. Even at the height of its power after World War II, the United States could not have exercised that role. America does not have the resources and capacity to stage manage the world even if Americans wanted that—and they do not.

America should commit to freedom, prosperity, and security. There is no constructive credit for two out of three, either. It is all or nothing. That is the case to be made to Americans and U.S. partners and allies.

Phase 2: Build a Strong, Free, Self-Confident America. Three essential means are required to enable the United States to deal with China.

1. A Secure Homeland. The United States and its friends and allies will not survive without the capacity to defend its interests and deter its enemies.

One early lesson from the war against Ukraine is the value of conventional and strategic (nuclear and missile defense) deterrence. There is a clear recognition that traditional “hard power” is an important element in dealing with China, Iran, and Russia. Although the Chinese military has not been tested in major combat in recent decades and the Russian armed forces demonstrated shortfalls in their operations against Ukraine, nations are becoming less willing to discount future military threats by either actor.

The defense investments among U.S. allies will be crucial to future strategic cooperation. That means adequate strategic and conventional deterrence against China, Iran, and Russia—all three. With three enemies that can trigger a world war, Washington cannot ignore any of them. The global U.S. footprint will look very different in different parts of the world. The peoples, geography, and requirements are different. Different, however, does not mean absent. A global footprint that ignores any of these spaces conveys to U.S. competitors where competing will be easier for them and where they can make trouble.REF

The vital U.S. tasks in this endeavor will be working with partners and allies to do their part and also to field the trained and ready capability to safeguard its vital interests. The United States needs a 10-year plan to ensure adequate military capacity to deal with contemporary and future threats and a responsible means to pay for it.REF Prudent fiscal policies demand that defense investments be judicious and paired with reductions in national debt and non-national-security discretionary spending.REF

The United States should also be secure at home as well as abroad. Today, in a time of global crisis, the United States has the most open and unsecure border in the world, which leaves America more vulnerable than at any time in its history. The lack of border security, immigration enforcement, and patriotic assimilation are the Achilles heel of American security.REF Meanwhile, the current Administration seems intent on having the instruments of domestic security turned on their political enemies rather than America’s enemies.REF That has to stop.

The next President will be elected with not just a mandate but a demand from Americans to secure the border and stop the flow of illegal immigration. This will require a robust border security, scrupulous enforcement of immigration laws, deportations of illegal aliens, and active cooperation and coordination with state and local governments to end deleterious practices such as sanctuary cities.

Like any sovereign nation, America deserves a lawful and orderly immigration system. To be successful, America should accept a manageable number of immigrants each year. The effort does not end there, however. Civil society and schools have an obligation to assimilate immigrants to form a cohesive society. This includes loyalty to fellow Americans, English as the primary language, and a common understanding of U.S. history and institutions. The dangerous results of fragmented countries are available for all to see. To avoid that same fate, America should move toward an integrated society.

2. A Growing Economy. What the federal government is doing to the national economy is a bigger danger than is all of America’s enemies combined. Washington, and half the state governments, are undermining U.S. economic health like a diabetic binge in a candy store. America’s economic freedom is plummeting. If Washington does not get debt, inflation, over regulation, taxes, and other ludicrous government spending under control, countering China will be the least of its problems. Political agendas—such as environmental, social, and governance policies masquerading as responsible economic policy—should end.REF The United States cannot prevail without reversing the unsustainable social welfare state and dismantling the practices and spending that detract from national prosperity.

Crucially fundamental to economic growth and resilience is rebuilding American energy dominance through domestic production of reliable, affordable, and abundant energy. President Biden’s energy policies are demonstrably counterproductive.REF Decisions on how to address climate change will significantly impact investment today and production tomorrow. Dependence on renewable green energy directly conflicts with sustained economic growth and ending reliance on energy supplies from adversarial powers. China now and for the foreseeable future dominates mineral production and processing for so-called green energy, whereas the United States is the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas and has plentiful coal. How these competing goals are resolved will impact not just U.S. energy security but the level of cooperation among the nations wanting to achieve sustainable growth without relying on China and Russia.

Part of building secure, robust supply chains and fueling domestic growth, production, and manufacturing is shifting trade from adversarial regimes to dependable friends and partners. In addition to traditional trade relationships, the United States should offer credible alternatives to emerging markets and developing economies to combat malicious influence from adversarial powers and build responsible economic partners for U.S. workers and producers. Economic activity between nations that share a commitment to economic freedom and rule of law tends to flow peacefully. Indeed, strong trade ties between free-market nations tend to promote national security, as economic freedom helps nations generate the wealth that allows them to defend themselves and creates a community of nations with a shared interest: protecting their right to exchange goods, peoples, services, and ideas confidently and freely. This common bond promotes peace by creating strong, self-reliant, sovereign, and independent nations interested in preserving the mutual freedoms, which in turn allows them to engage commercially and prosper.

There are some commodities and technologies where the United States should act with more strategic purpose. China has secured rights to many key mineral sources in Africa and South America, such as cobalt and lithium, that will present national security challenges if the United States precipitously forces transition to renewable energy and technologies such as electric vehicles.

Economic policy should distinguish between like-minded nations and adversarial regimes. Economic freedom hinges on individuals exercising their liberties in the marketplace. In addition to accommodating free trade, that structure includes institutional commitments to fight corruption, protect property rights and the sanctity of contracts, and pursue responsible fiscal policies.REF

3. A Free and Virtuous Society. Free societies are competitive, resilient, and innovative. In the end, despite any weapons they have, China, Iran, and Russia are destined to long-term failure because their systems are built on not just suppressing freedom but crushing it in their path. They cannot be free. Freedom in America is at grave risk—just as much from the inside as from the outside. Big tech has been weaponized against those who hold majority cultural beliefs and oppose woke ideology. In many cases, government institutions have been co-opted to push partisan political agendas rather than impartially work in the interests of all Americans.REF Civil institutions and corporate America have begun to push political agendas over individual freedom.REF The U.S. education system, once the envy of the world, has become a battleground for indoctrinating children.REF If this does not stop, America will collapse from within as it is pressed from without. The national will to act in defense of American interests is vital.

Phase 3: Take the Fight to Them. How do Americans fight back? What are the ways of fighting this new kind of war?

  • China. It is time to put Beijing on the defensive. The free lunch is over. Start protecting the most sensitive parts of the U.S. economy—the parts most necessary in the event of war. Cut off easy access to exploit free economies and the threat of maliciously manipulating supply chains, stealing intellectual property, and importing sensitive technology to the benefit of their military. Start fighting back at their pernicious influence in American society and international organizations.REF Start holding them accountable for human rights abuses.REF Address the range of risks they represent to the American people.REF
  • Russia. Moscow has only two real weapons—its military and its energy. With a strong NATO and energy security for the United States and its allies in Europe (who are still heavily dependent on Russian energy), Putin is checkmated.REF Calling attention to those nations that do not spend adequately on defense should continue unabated.
  • Iran. Instead of trying to bribe Iran with a new nuclear deal, the United States should continue supporting the Abraham Accords, fostering Israeli–Arab cooperation, enabling Israel with the appropriate defense capabilities, and fostering collective action.REF

Threat and Response

While these key decisive actions would put each of these adversaries on the defensive, the United States should also make systematic changes in addressing global and domestic challenges.

Winning the war of ideas at home and abroad means defending what makes for constructive, productive societies. America and its allies share a vision for a better future for humanity. They, not climate action and a woke agenda, are the ideas for these times. Winning the culture war that is subverting the foundations of just societies is paramount.REF

America’s “woke agenda” alienates friends and allies around the world. From international institutions to public squares, conservatives should make the case for their policy ideas.REF Pressing for educational choice, for example, is important not only for fostering competition that will deliver better education outcomes, but also to break the iron grip of the teachers unions trying to transform American education into political indoctrination.REF

Inter-theater cooperation is important as well. The transatlantic community and the Indo–Pacific have very different security architectures. Further, both engage differently in the Middle East, another critical theater, where competition with China and Russia is also a factor. There have been nascent efforts to harmonize interests in the theaters or leverage actions in one theater to benefit another. For instance, several European countries are increasing engagements with Taiwan. Nations with long-standing interests in the Indo–Pacific, including the United Kingdom and France, are increasing their engagement in the region.REF One example is the British participation in AUKUS, a trilateral security pact with Australia and the United States to buttress nuclear submarine capabilities for Australia. Conversely, Japan and South Korea are both increasingly considering partnerships and investments in Europe. Asian nations, for instance, are looking at the possibility of investing in the Central European Three Seas Initiative to develop infrastructure projects in the region.REF India has added a “look West” policy that seeks expanded cooperation in the Middle East as well as with European nations.REF These partnerships are more likely to harmonize cross-theater cooperation than existing or new multilateral organizations or frameworks are. The Unites States should take the lead in nurturing them.

International organizations are another battleground. Chinese influence and manipulation of international organizations has become a subject of increasing concern. Among the most notable controversial cases are Chinese influence in the World Health Organization on COVID-19 response—which Australia has taken a lead in exposingREF—and Russian exploitation of Interpol.REF At present there is little consensus on how to deal with these concerns, though opinion of China, in particular, especially in Australia, has hardened.REF

There are difficult issues involving security cooperation. In the wake of the Ukraine invasion, many states, including Ukraine, that are currently involved in territorial disputes with China and Russia will be reconsidering their future security partnerships. There is opportunity here. Countries such as India or the United Arab Emirates, which have in the past procured much of their military hardware from Russia, may be more open to U.S. offers given what they see today in Ukraine. Security assistance should be wielded as an effective tool of U.S. national interests.REF In recent years, U.S. policy has favored deeper engagement with the United States, China, the European Union, and Russia—in various combinations or all at the same time—over formal security guarantees. This obviously failed to deter conflict in Ukraine. Central Asia, Georgia, Moldova, the South Caucuses, Taiwan, and Ukraine may look for new or alternate frameworks to achieve regional security.REF

Contemporary U.S. foreign policy instruments are woefully inadequate, and new tools are needed. Much of the dynamism for this effort will come from the private sector, often in partnerships at the state and local levels. An important dimension of this competition is America’s research universities, which often work in concert with industry to deliver cutting-edge innovation. They, rather than traditional guided federal foreign assistance aid programs, will deliver more impactful results. Here are three areas where the public and private sectors could join forces to deal with the challenges of trading with adversarial regimes:

  1. Push transparency. The more the free world exposes the Chinese Communist Party’s mendacious actions, the more businesses around the world will rethink how and when they do business with China.
  2. Make it easier to do business at home. Rather than ask, “How can we force people to stop doing business in China?” policymakers should ask, “What obstacles can we remove to make it easier for people to do business here?”REF
  3. Do business with America’s friends. China is not the only trade and supply-chain option. Americans should figure out how to do more business at home or with U.S. allies.

Take Action

Meanwhile, lawmakers should protect American enterprise and intellectual property from active, malicious threats.REF

Will this strategy protect America’s vital interests? There are good reasons to believe the answer is yes.

Suitable. Suitability is a measure whether a strategy—implemented as intended—will deliver the desired outcomes. China, Iran, and Russia have shown their true colors. Their current abilities and their visions for the future are clear. They cannot match America over the long term if the United States has sufficient conventional and strategic forces to deter them from using force.

Feasible. This strategy is feasible only if America commits to fiscal and personal responsibility, places its faith in the American people and their economy, and addresses the corrosive culture wars that undermine values and institutions to promote partisan political agendas.

Acceptable. Americans and its friends and allies clearly want an alternative to the policies that are failing. They do not want an overly muscular and imprudent foreign policy that creates rather than solves problems. They do not want to run away from challenges. They are ready for a clear, bold, and responsible course.

This is new kind of war, and if America is in it, and in it to win it, the United States will prevail. The strongest manifestation of that commitment is clear and bold strategy.

James Jay Carafano, PhD, is Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy and E. W. Richardson Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Nile Gardiner, PhD, is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Thomas W. Spoehr is Director of the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation. Walter Lohman is Director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.


James Carafano
James Carafano

Senior Counselor to the President and E.W. Richardson Fellow

Nile Gardiner
Nile Gardiner

Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow

Thomas Spoehr
Thomas Spoehr

Former Director, Center for National Defense

 Walter Lohman
Walter Lohman

Former Director, Asian Studies Center