ON-Lion Letter

"America's strategic challenges today are in some respects as dangerous as they have ever been, and certainly they are more complex," begins Eliot Cohen in his chapter of the John Hay Initiative's new book, Choosing to Lead:  American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World.

"On the eve of World War II we faced two major opponents; during the Cold War one rival and its clients," Cohen continues in the chapter, "Strategy for the Common Defense."  "Today, the United States must deal with multiple challengers of different types and motivation.  As in the 1980s, a substantial increase in defense spending is required.  Unlike the 1980s, however, higher levels of spending coupled with renewed resolve will be necessary but not sufficient conditions to provide for the common defense.  Of necessity, a new era of American strategy is upon us."

Cohen is the Robert E. Osgood Professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

"The coming era will pose large and in some respects unprecedented challenges," he concludes.  "As has been the case for the past 15 years, the new Secretary of Defense will have to be a Secretary of War as well as a deft and hard-nosed administrator.  At the same time, the Pentagon's leadership must attend to the reconstruction of our armed forces for an era that will be as different from the post-9/11 decade as that period was from the Cold War that preceded it.  This includes rebuilding the intellectual infrastructure of defense -- the array of internal analytic organizations, military educational institutions, and allied academic organizations outside DoD.

"Whereas in the past defense leaders could either wage the current war or, in a breathing period, overhaul institutions to prepare for the next, the next President and Secretary of Defense will have to do both.  A new Administration should undertake its duties not simply, however, in the spirit of remedying its predecessors' omissions and failures, but with a mind to reshaping the military for a complicated and, in many respects, perilous age.  Alas, many types of military force will have to be made ready, and some will certainly have to be used."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports the Choosing to Lead project.

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