The fundamental problem facing U.S. national security — and indeed grand — strategy is clear: The United States seeks to extend deterrence to dozens of allies in parts of the world that are increasingly shadowed by Russia and China, each of which fields survivable nuclear arsenals and conventional forces that are more and more formidable in their respective regions. An increasingly powerful China seeks ascendancy in Asia and ultimately beyond, while Russia has recovered some of its military potency and aspires to upend or at least substantially revise the post-Cold War European settlement. Both China and Russia have developed strategies and forces designed to enable them to attack or suborn U.S. allies or partners and make such an effort potentially worth the risks and costs. Their aspirations place them at odds — or at least in tension — with U.S. interests in defending its alliance architecture, and their increased capability to pursue these aspirations makes them more dangerous and the possibility of war with them more likely.
In the face of these challenges, Washington wants to deter and, if necessary, defeat attacks on its allies by Russia or China. The problem is that these alliances are, while of course important, still fundamentally secondary interests for the United States. Yet Washington wisely seeks to defend them from states that have the assured ability to conduct nuclear strikes on the American homeland, which, naturally, represents the profoundest type of peril to the nation’s ultimate primary interest: its survival as a functioning society.
Read the full article in Texas National Security Review.
More from CNAS
PodcastWar Game in Taiwan: A “home game” for China, an “away game” for the U.S.
The year is 2027 and China has decided to attack Taiwan and bring the island nation under direct control. Now the U-S has to answer: do we fight for Taiwan’s freedom? How far ...
By Becca Wasser & Dr. ED McGrady
VideoCNAS Gaming Lab on Meet the Press
In a special collaboration with NBC’s Meet the Press, The Gaming Lab at CNAS executed a strategic-operational game to provide critical insight into how a potential war with Ch...
PodcastWill Tomorrow’s Wars Be Fought by Robots?
Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems are poised to change the battlefield, and with it, soldiers themselves. Today, the human cost of war is high. Will that be true ...
By Paul Scharre
ReportsRisk and Responsibility
Washington is reimagining its global role, leading the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to make difficult choices about priorities, resources, and risk to better address the l...
By Becca Wasser & Jennie Matuschak