Chapter Summary

This chapter begins by reviewing national security and defense policy. While the concept of national security encapsulates military, economic, political, societal, and environmental security, the focus here is on defense policy. No other domain attracts more media attention, budgetary resources, and time commitments by political actors than the development and implementation of policies on national security and defense. At the same time, no other policy domain is as controversial to the public, both at home and abroad. The grand strategies and tactics of U.S. national security policies have implications for the lives of U.S. soldiers, the U.S. public, and the international community. Thus, the importance attached to this foreign policy domain cannot be understated. The concept of national security policy refers to how, when, and where the United States engages in the defense of territory, population, and natural resources. Grand strategy, which generally changes to some degree with each president, focuses on long-term statements and planning regarding the role the United States plays in global politics, its national interests, and the means or tactics for achieving those interests. Geopolitical assets, strategic culture, state–society relations, and structural factors all affect U.S. grand strategy. In addition, the chapter also discusses how the face of warfare has changed due to the advances in technology, which includes a discussion on the use of drones and cyberwar.

Actors making U.S. security policy have a variety of planning options. Military intervention is often not the first choice; instead policy actors try coercive diplomacy, or threats against offensive actors in an attempt to influence behavior. With the exception of the Cuban missile crisis, coercive diplomacy often fails due to the domestic and international constraints facing U.S. policy makers. The difficulties of making U.S. security policy have shifted from a focus on nuclear issues, such as mutual assured destruction (MAD) and the development of nuclear capabilities by additional countries, to a focus on a more destructive form of suicide terrorism. Terrorism continues to present new challenges to U.S. primacy in security policy. This chapter discusses the tumultuous history of the United States’ efforts to combat terrorism at home and abroad and explores the nature of terrorism. The chapter concludes by discussing the best countermeasures for combating terrorism.