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Aug 20, 2008
Think tank reports are usually something of a yawn, and when they come out with the recommendation of the Brookings Institution I approach them with a large round cardboard container of Morton’s salt in my hand.

However, I just came across one touted on the Brookings site but coming from the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Their “About Us” page shows a nicely multiracial bunch of guys in ties and gals in what I take to be pant suits (I can’t see their pants), looking very well-paid and healthy on a floral veranda outside their no doubt plush D.C. offices.

Their report, titled “Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy,” is actually a joint effort among a number of entities whose identities are not made entirely clear. Affiliations among the authors include the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (staff director), the Brookings Institution (twice), CNAS, Duke University, Hoover Institution/Stanford University, Albright Capital Management, Princeton University, Center for American Progress, and the University of Texas at Austin. Something called FoxKiser apparently provided the conference room and the bagels.

A favorable review of the report in Atlantic.com1 reveals that an unnamed early participant was Susan Rice, who dropped out because she is “so closely involved with the Obama campaign.” I am glad I ran across this little morsel, because if the report is at all a reflection of the foreign policy thinking of the Obama camp, it moves me a bit further along on the Obama route to the polling booth in November. Some outtakes from the Executive Summary, with not-so-subtle subtexts emphasized:

  • Our core goals today are the same ones envisaged by our founding fathers: the resolute pursuit of security, liberty, and prosperity both for our own people and as the basis for a just and stable international order.
  • While America remains the single most powerful country in the world today, it cannot take global leadership for granted, nor can it revert to what worked in previous eras.
  • [E]ffective leadership is not always centered in Washington.
  • A doctrine of strategic leadership seeks effective action rather than American leadership for its own sake. It exercises judgment as much as resolve.
  • The United States must ... adapt military strategy to better fit counterterrorism missions; and ensure consistency with the rule of law and fundamental American principles.
  • [W]e must work with others to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and change current patterns of energy consumption.
  • Strategic leadership ... recognizes that in an interconnected world, the best way to secure our own interests is to understand and help secure the interests of others. It understands that in a world in which power has diffused, leadership can mean convening, listening and brokering agreements as well as seizing the initiative and expecting others to follow.
Well, what do you know? Some others may see us on our way—all together now—to that better world.
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1Phoenix Initiative, by Matthew Iglesias, in The Atlantic.com (Accessed August 13, 2008)
tags: Politics

Read the Brookings Summary and Download the Report

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