The past four years have seen extraordinary changes abroad as the Cold War drew to a close.
have entered a new strategic era. The collapse of the Soviet Union -- the disintegration of the internal as well as the external
empire, and the discrediting of Communism as an ideology with global pretensions and influence -- fundamentally altered, but
did not eliminate, the challenges ahead. The integration of the leading democracies into a U.S.-led system of collective security,
and the prospects of expanding that system, significantly enhance our international position and provide a crucial legacy
for future peace. Our national strategy has shifted from a focus on a global threat to one on regional challenges and opportunities.
We have moved from Containment to the new Regional Defense Strategy.
The changes made over the past four years have set the nation on a solid path to secure and extend the
opportunities and hopes of this new era. America and its allies now have an unprecedented opportunity to preserve with greater
ease a security environment within which our democratic ideals can prosper. Where once a European-wide war, potentially leading
to nuclear exchange, was perhaps only a few weeks and miles away, today such a threat has fallen back and would take years
to rekindle. With the end of the Cold War, there are no global threats and no significant hostile alliances. We have a marked
lead in critical areas of warfare. Our alliances, built during our struggle of Containment, are one of the great sources of
our strength in this new era. They represent a democratic “zone of peace,” a community of democratic nations bound
together by a web of political, economic, and security ties. This zone of peace offers a framework for security not through
competitive rivalries in arms, but through cooperative approaches and collective security institutions. The combination of
these trends has given our nation and our alliances great depth for our strategic position.
Simply put, it is the intent of the new Regional Defense Strategy to enable the U.S. to lead in shaping
an uncertain future so as to preserve and enhance this strategic depth won at such great pains. This will require us to strengthen
our alliances and to extend the zone of peace to include the newly independent nations of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet
Union, as these now-fragile states succeed in their struggle to build free societies and free markets out of the ruin of Communism.
Together with our allies, we must preclude hostile non democratic powers from dominating regions critical to our interests
and otherwise work to build an international environment conducive to our values. Yet, even as we hope to increasingly rely
on collective approaches to solve international problems, we recognize that a collective effort will not always be timely
and, in the absence of U.S. leadership, may not gel. Where the stakes so merit, we must have forces ready to protect our critical
Our fundamental strategic position and choices as a nation are thus very different from those we have faced
in the past. The choices ahead of us will reset the nation’s direction for the next century. We have today a compelling
opportunity to meet our defense needs at lower cost. But as we do so, we must be guided by a strategy that recognizes that
our domestic life cannot flourish if we are beset by foreign crises. We must not squander the position of security we achieved
at great sacrifice through the Cold War, nor eliminate our ability to shape an uncertain future security environment in ways
favorable to us and those who share our values.
Guided by the new strategy, we are restructuring our forces to meet the essential demands of strategic deterence
and defense, forward presence, crisis response, and reconstitution. As we do so, we are reducing our forces significantly
-- by more than a million military and civilian personnel. These reductions will reduce force structure to its lowest level
in terms of manpower since before the Korean War and spending to the lowest percentage of GNP since before the attack on Pearl
Harbor. Yet even as we reduce our forces in size overall, we must not carelessly destroy their quality or their technological
superiority. Along with alliances, high-quality personnel and technological superiority represent capabilities that would
take decades to restore if foolishly lost in this time of reductions.
Even in this time of downsizing, we must retain capable military forces. For the world remains unpredictable
and well-armed causes for conflict persist, and we have not eliminated age-old temptations for nondemocratic powers to turn
to force or intimidation to achieve their ends. We have sought through the Regional Defense Strategy to anticipate challenges
and opportunities yet to come, to shape a future of continued progress, and to preclude reversals or the emergence of new
threats. This document discusses the new strategy in some depth and is intended as a contribution to a national dialogue that
very much needs to continue as we look to protecting the nation's interests in the 1990s, and beyond.
We must preserve the extraordinary environment that has emerged from the challenges of the Cold War -- an environment
within which the values of freedom that we and our principal allies hold dear can flourish. We can secure and extend the remarkable
democratic “zone of peace” that we and our allies now enjoy, preclude threats, and guard our national interests.
The Gulf War is a vivid reminder that we cannot be sure when or where the next conflict will arise. In early 1990, many
said there were no threats left because of the Soviet commitment to withdraw from Eastern Europe; very few expected that we
would be at war within a year. The experience of the past century is replete with instances in which enormous strategic changes
often arose unexpectedly in the course of a few years or even less. This is not a lesson that we should have to keep learning
As we reshape America’s military and reduce its size, we must be careful that we do so in accordance with a defense
strategy and a plan that will preserve the integrity of the military capability that we have so carefully built. If we choose
wisely today, we can do well something America has always done badly before --we can draw down our military force at a responsible
rate that will not end up endangering our security. The new Regional Defense Strategy has set a course to ensure our ability
to deal with potential threats and shape the environment in ways favorable to our security.
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