House Armed Services Committee
Ike Skelton, Chairman
For Immediate Release: July 9, 2008
Skelton: U.S. Needs Comprehensive Strategy to Advance National Interests
Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) today delivered the first in a series of speeches in the U.S. House of Representatives concerning the need for a comprehensive strategy to advance U.S. interests:
“I rise today to talk about a fundamental problem affecting the national security of the United States which has not received the notice and consideration it deserves. The United States suffers from the complete absence of a comprehensive strategy for advancing U.S. interests. This strategic void detracts from almost every policy effort advanced by the United States Government. As a result, major policies are inconsistent and contradictory in different areas of the world and across different policy realms. We find ourselves unable to agree upon and set national priorities for addressing the major challenges of our time. We suffer from a splintering of national power, and an inability to coherently address threats and reassure and cooperate with allies.
“What do I mean by a comprehensive national strategy? The word strategy has military roots, coming from the Greek word for “generalship,” but the concept of a strategy extends well beyond just the military context. In the context of this speech, and others that I intend to deliver on this topic, it means a commonly agreed upon description of critical U.S. interests and how to advance them using all elements of national power – economic, diplomatic, and military.
“The next President will have a unique opportunity to develop a successful strategy for the nation. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, he commissioned the Solarium Project to review strategies for dealing with the Soviet Union. After a competitive process in which three teams of advisers promoted the merits of three strategies, President Eisenhower decided to continue the policy of containment developed by President Truman, and did so with a largely unified Administration.
“Over the course of our history, the U.S. has had numerous successful strategies. During the Cold War, both major political parties supported a strategy of containment for confronting the Soviet Union. During World War II, the United States had a widely-supported strategy of focusing first on the War in Europe, and deferring some effort from the War in the Pacific until the Nazi threat was contained. At other times in our nation’s history, we have pursued less successful strategies, such as a strategy of isolationism during the period between World Wars I and II.
“The next President would be well advised to engage in and personally lead a Solarium-type approach to determining a strategy for today’s rapidly changing world. To ensure that a new strategy for America can truly develop support across the political spectrum, Congress should be involved in the process, and to ensure that a new strategy is one that the American people can support, the general outline of the debate should be shared with and involve the American people.
“This speech is the first in a series. In the future I will discuss the objectives and challenges that a new U.S. strategy will need to contend with; some of the means by which the U.S. will likely need to pursue its objectives and their ramifications for the national security apparatus of the United States Government; and some of the options that a Solarium-type review of strategy by the next President would need to consider.
“I hope that my colleagues will join me in urging the next President to address this problem and join with me in a conversation, both in Congress and with the American people, about what today’s strategy should be.”