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X. Engage the Opportunities and Confront the Challenges of Globalization

In recent years, the world has witnessed the growing importance of a set of opportunities and challenges that were addressed indirectly in National Security Strategy 2002: the national security implications of globalization.

Globalization presents many opportunities. Much of the world’s prosperity and improved living standards in recent years derive from the expansion of global trade, investment, information, and technology. The United States has been a leader in promoting these developments, and we believe they have improved significantly the quality of life of the American people and people the world over. Other nations have embraced these opportunities and have likewise benefited. Globalization has also helped the advance of democracy by extending the marketplace of ideas and the ideals of liberty.

These new flows of trade, investment, information, and technology are transforming national security. Globalization has exposed us to new challenges and changed the way old challenges touch our interests and values, while also greatly enhancing our capacity to respond. Examples include:

  • Public health challenges like pandemics (HIV/AIDS, avian influenza) that recognize no borders. The risks to social order are so great that traditional public health approaches may be inadequate, necessitating new strategies and responses.
  • Illicit trade, whether in drugs, human beings, or sex, that exploits the modern era’s greater ease of transport and exchange. Such traffic corrodes social order; bolsters crime and corruption; undermines effective governance; facilitates the illicit transfer of WMD and advanced conventional weapons technology; and compromises traditional security and law enforcement.
  • Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response.

These challenges are not traditional national security concerns, such as the conflict of arms or ideologies. But if left unaddressed they can threaten national security. We have learned that:

  • Preparing for and managing these challenges requires the full exercise of national power, up to and including traditional security instruments. For example, the U.S. military provided critical logistical support in the response to the Southeast Asian tsunami and the South Asian earthquake until U.N. and civilian humanitarian responders could relieve the military of these vital duties.
  • Technology can help, but the key to rapid and effective response lies in achieving unity of effort across a range of agencies. For example, our response to the Katrina and Rita hurricanes underscored the need for communications systems that remain operational and integrated during times of crisis. Even more vital, however, is improved coordination within the Federal government, with state and local partners, and with the private sector.
  • Existing international institutions have a role to play, but in many cases coalitions of the willing may be able to respond more quickly and creatively, at least in the short term. For example, U.S. leadership in mobilizing the Regional Core Group to respond to the tsunami of 2004 galvanized the follow-on international response.
  • The response and the new partnerships it creates can sometimes serve as a catalyst for changing existing political conditions to address other problems. For example, the response to the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the earthquake in Pakistan developed new lines of communication and cooperation at a local level, which opened the door to progress in reconciling long-standing regional conflicts in Aceh and the Kashmir.

Effective democracies are better able to deal with these challenges than are repressive or poorly governed states. Pandemics require robust and fully transparent public health systems, which weak governments and those that fear freedom are unable or unwilling to provide. Yet these challenges require effective democracies to come together in innovative ways.

The United States must lead the effort to reform existing institutions and create new ones – including forging new partnerships between governmental and nongovernmental actors, and with transnational and international organizations.

To confront illicit trade, for example, the Administration launched the Proliferation Security Initiative and the APEC Secure Trade in the APEC Region Initiative, both of which focus on tangible steps governments can take to combat illegal trade.

To combat the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics, the Administration devotes over $1 billion annually to comprehensive counternarcotics efforts, working with governments, particularly in Latin America and Asia, to eradicate crops, destroy production facilities, interdict shipments, and support developing alternative livelihoods.

To confront the threat of a possible pandemic, the Administration took the lead in creating the International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, a new global partnership of states committed to effective surveillance and preparedness that will help to detect and respond quickly to any outbreaks of the disease.