In an opinion article published on Monday in Foreign Affairs, former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis joined three other foreign policy and national security experts in calling on President-elect Joe Biden to dump President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and build alliances with the rest of the world.
The authors said “America first” has meant “America alone”, and this has “damaged the country’s ability to address problems before they reach U.S. territory and has thus compounded the danger emergent threats pose.”
The opinion piece was written by former Defense Secretary and a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Jim Mattis, the Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Kori Schake, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution who served as Commander of the United States Strategic Command, Jim Ellis, and a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Joe Felter.
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According to them, the 2017 National Defense Strategy was built on the assumption that “three to five percent real annual increases in defense spending” will strengthen U.S. foreign policy.
However, the authors wrote that “This assumption has not been borne out by political realities, but a renewed focus on partnerships—on approaching security as a team sport—can reduce what is demanded of U.S. forces,” they said, adding that “To achieve defense in depth, simply strengthening the U.S. military is not enough; nor the even more urgent task of strengthening U.S. diplomacy and other civilian elements of national power.”
“Enhancing national security must start with the fundamental truth that the United States cannot protect itself or its interests without the help of others.
“International engagement allows the United States to see and act at a distance, as threats are gathering, rather than waiting for them to assume proportions that ultimately make them much costlier and more dangerous to defeat.
“Defeating emerging threats in particular puts a premium on having visibility far from the homeland to allow for early warning and rapid adaptation to unanticipated developments.”
The authors said “Defense resources cannot substitute for the many nonmilitary elements that go into national security: diplomats at the State Department, economists at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, trade negotiators at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control, lawyers at the International Court of Arbitration, development finance experts at the Export-Import Bank and the United States Agency for International Development, and technologists at the Federal Communications Commission.”