As the Department of Defense (DoD) continues to shift its focus from Europe to the Asia-Pacific while also attempting to meet budgetary challenges, academics and analysts are examining the nation’s difficult financial outlook and contemplating not only the kind of military the United States needs, but the kind it can afford. Such considerations are, however, putting the cart before the horse. A much more basic challenge faces the country. Simply stated, the United States has no clearly defined and broadly accepted set of national interests. Instead, as one report noted, “Many find it difficult to distinguish between America’s national interests and whatever interests them personally.” The call for clearly defined national interests has been a refrain of military and civilian leaders for many years and yet the lack of clearly articulated national interests has proven the bane of Republican and Democratic administrations. In 1947, George Kennan advised President Truman to distinguish between vital and peripheral interests. Kennan insisted that interests be used as the standard by which to evaluate threats, not the other way around. He argued that threats had no meaning unless in reference to interests.
Lowther, Adam and Lucius, Casey
"Identifying America’s Vital Interests,"
Space and Defense: Vol. 7:
0, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/spaceanddefense/vol7/iss0/6
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