June 12, 2012

Natural Security in the New CNAS June Conference Reports

Tomorrow is our annual June conference, affectionately referred to by one of my colleagues as Woodstock for wonks.

We have a terrific agenda lined up, with a special address from The Honorable Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and a co-founder of CNAS, and a conversation with The Honorable Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank.

The program will cover a variety of our research issues, from Afghanistan and defense in an era of austerity, to the Middle East after the Arab Spring and veterans reintegration.

Like every year, the conference will feature a variety of CNAS reports released in recent weeks. Some of them are directly or loosely related to the work we do on natural security; the ones that are not are nevertheless great contributions to the national security and defense policy debate.

Here is a breakdown of some of the natural security issues woven into this year’s conference papers, in no particular order:



Sustainable Pre-eminence: Reforming the U.S. Military at a Time of Strategic Change

In this report, Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Dr. Nora Bensahel, Matthew Irvine and Travis Sharp argue that the Department of Defense should organize and operate America’s armed forces in new ways. According to the authors, one of the ways to do this is for the Department of Defense to increase leap-ahead research and development investments in important areas, including energy conservation and alternative energy.



America’s Path: Grand Strategy for the Next Administration

This report, edited by CNAS President Richard Fontaine and Executive Vice President and Director of Studies Kristin Lord, brings together four strategists - Dr. Robert J. Art, Dr. Richard K. Betts, Dr. Peter Feaver and Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter - with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to advance a common mission of promoting informed debate about America’s role in the world and the best ways to fulfill it.

In his chapter on “Selective Engagement in the Era of Austerity,” Dr. Robert Art argues that averting severe climate change should be a U.S. foreign policy goal.

In his chapter on “American Grand Strategy at the Crossroads: Leading from the Front, Leading from Behind or Not Leading at All," Dr. Peter Feaver argues that any grand strategy must address America’s longstanding interest in a stable global energy market, including assured access to petroleum.



Strategic Adaptation: Toward a New U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

In this report, authors Dr. Bruce W. Jentleson, Dr. Andrew M. Exum, Melissa G. Dalton and J. Dana Stuster chart the fundamentals of a revised strategy for U.S. Middle East policy, starting with a reevaluation of U.S. interests and an assessment of the evolving strategic context. In particular, the authors describe America’s changing relationship with Middle East energy resources, noting that the United States is becoming less concerned about assured access to the region’s petroleum resources. Nevertheless, preserving global access to the Persian Gulf’s energy resources will remain a U.S. priority given that events in the region can affect the affordability of energy prices on the global market.



Risk and Rivalry: Iran, Israel and the Bomb

In this report, authors Dr. Colin H. Kahl, Melissa G. Dalton and Matthew Irvine argue that despite the abhorrent threats by some Iranian leaders to "wipe Israel off the map," the actual behavior of the Islamic Republic over the past three decades indicates that the regime is not suicidal and is sufficiently rational for nuclear deterrence. 

According to the authors, Western sanctions against Iranian petroleum exports appear to be affecting Tehran’s calculations regarding its nuclear program, “as evidenced by the regime’s increasing willingness to negotiate over its nuclear program.” Those sanctions will go into full force beginning in July.



Besides these reports that have a bit of natural security woven into them, don’t forget to check out Employing America’s Veterans: Perspectives from Business, where authors Dr. Margaret Harrell and Nancy Berglass discuss to what extent, and for what reasons, employers think it is good business to hire veterans.

These reports are all available for free download at www.cnas.org/publications. And for those of you looking to build up your actual library, a limited number of hard copies of these reports will be available at the conference tomorrow. We hope to see you there.