FPI Bulletin: Renewing American Leadership

May 23, 2016

Growing threats to U.S. national security demand a renewal of American leadership. To that end, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) recently convened a bipartisan group of senior scholars and practitioners to develop a framework for the reinvigoration of U.S. foreign policy. The group convened by CNAS included two FPI Board Members, Dr. Robert Kagan and Amb. Eric Edelman. Last week, the group released a public strategy paper whose insights and recommendations are of considerable value to all those concerned with the future of American global leadership.

FPI believes that the following quotations from the CNAS paper will be of particular value to lawmakers and their staff.


“The overall accomplishments of American foreign policy these past seven decades have been remarkable. That is why the United States must now again summon the will to lead, to extend American power with ambition tempered by the wisdom of experience and the limits of our resources.”

“For the next president then, the question is not whether America has the wherewithal to provide more active international leadership, but whether America’s government has the will.”


“Despite all the predictions of decline in the West and the rise of the rest, America’s economy has proven to be the most dynamic and the most resilient in the face of financial and other recent shocks. As a result, a substantial increase in spending on military, international economic, and diplomatic capabilities is well within our means.”

“Slimming headquarters and overhead, reforming acquisition processes, and adopting cutting-edge business practices will allow for more effective support to the warfighter.”

“Even if we were able to implement the most far-reaching defense reforms that have been proposed, we are not likely to free up sufficient resources within current budget proposals to meet the challenges we face.”

“An urgent first step is to significantly increase U.S. national security and defense spending and eliminate the budgetary straitjacket of the Budget Control Act.”

Middle East

“We strongly believe that there is no alternative but to deny ISIS a safe sanctuary from which to operate. It is imperative, therefore, that the international effort against ISIS is scaled up substantially.”

“Assad’s brutal repression of Syria’s majority Sunni population that has created both the massive exodus [of refugees] and the increase in support for jihadist groups like ISIS. In our view, there can be no political solution to the Syrian civil war so long as the military balance continues to convince Assad he can remain in power.”

“The inadequate efforts hitherto to arm, train, and protect a substantial Syrian opposition force must be completely overhauled and made a much higher priority.”

“The United States, together with France and other allies, must employ the necessary military power, including an appropriately designed no-fly zone, to create a safe space in which Syrians can relocate without fear of being killed by Assad’s forces and where moderate opposition militias can arm, train, and organize.”


“The United States must adopt as a matter of policy the goal of defeating Iran’s determined effort to dominate the Greater Middle East.”

“Iran’s continued effort to modernize its ballistic missile capabilities should not proceed without consequences. Existing law calls for sanctioning those responsible for modernization activities specifically prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions. The administration should demonstrate its resolve by continuing to impose such sanctions as necessary regardless of Iranian threats to unravel the nuclear accord.”

“Whether Republican or Democrat, the next president of the United States will not hesitate to respond with military power should Iran attempt to obtain a nuclear weapon.”


“The United States must provide Ukrainian armed forces with the training and equipment necessary to resist Russian-backed forces and Russian forces operating on Ukrainian territory.”

“Firmness and resolve on Ukraine will have the added benefit of deterring Russia from aggressive actions against other European nations, including those with which the United States has Article 5 commitments.”


“Failure to pass the TPP will send a message to Asia and the world that the United States is simply too internally divided and inward looking to appreciate the value of such a vast regional trade arrangement. In the case of failure, China would also have a much freer hand in writing economic rules of the road in Asia.”

“Both China’s breakneck island construction in the South China Sea and its declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea undermine long-standing principles of freedom of navigation.”

“Conflict between the two powers can be avoided if Washington strengthens its military deterrent and deepens and broadens its growing array of regional alliances and security partnerships.”

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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