Letter from the Honorable Gary Hart

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Dear Friends:

The American Security Project has been created to develop a national security vision and strategy for the 21st century, building on America’s strengths, restoring its international leadership, and seeking solutions to the new realities before they become crises.

American national security policy is adrift. In the five years since the attacks of 9/11, the United States has toppled autocratic regimes, cast-aside collective security alliances, put its military into the field, expanded its covert battle against terrorists, and simultaneously lost its moral standing in much of the world.

While American activism has not always met with approval in the international community, there once was a time when American action made us stronger. Today, however, anti-Americanism is fueled by actions that are seen as diversions from America’s historic path, accepted standards of international behavior, and common sense.

The issue at hand is the appropriate purpose and use of American power. Where the United States has needed strategy, we have been offered tactics. There has been little development of grand strategic thought since the end of the Cold War.

The so-called “war on terror” has dominated every discussion of national security since September 11, 2001. But the war-paradigm—while convenient for political mobilization—is dangerously imprecise and counterproductive in the fight against extremists.

The American Security Project seeks to clarify the nature of the struggle the United States faces against violent extremists in order to produce more effective policies and strategies to meet the threat.

Jihadist terrorism is not the only threat facing the United States, nor the only threat for which American security forces must be prepared. Over the last six years, the United States Army and, to a lesser extent, the Marine Corps have been stretched to the breaking point as readiness levels have fallen dangerously low for non-deployed units. Readiness has declined most acutely in National Guard units that deployed to Iraq and returned home without their equipment and vehicles—making it extremely difficult for units to train.  Shortages of equipment have occurred while the Army makes-do with a force structure that is tens-of-thousands of troops too small for the missions it faces today and in the future.

While our nation has been fixated on Iraq, several other developments in recent years have received much less attention than they deserve:

  • the unchecked spread of nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea;
  • the near-complete collapse of public support for the United States around the world; and
  • the rise of worrisome trends beyond the normal realm of security—proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nation-state failures, mass migration, pandemic threats, climate change—that have very real implications for both American and global security.

The American Security Project is dedicated to examining these issues from a strategic perspective, clarifying the challenges, understanding the threats, and crafting sustainable military and non-military responses. In doing so, we are guided by an appreciation of the value of internationalism to America’s security; a common understanding of the challenges we face as a county; a healthy respect for the potential and limits of all the tools of American power; and a desire for the United States to reestablish its moral leadership within the global commons.

The purpose and appropriate use of American power in the world are among the most important issues facing the United States today. The American Security Project will lead this debate in an effort to produce a stronger America.

We welcome you to join our effort.