Much has changed since the end of the Cold War that augurs well for
the survival of our nation. Most significant, the prospect of
mutually assured destruction in a nuclear exchange with a foreign
power has receded into the background of the last century.
The new century has brought on its own terrible dangers, which
although not reaching the apocalyptic potential of the Cold War,
still have the capacity to shake our world.
In an effort to address the national security needs of America in
this new environment, my colleagues Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) and I have co-founded a study group on
national security. Our study group has been meeting with foreign
policy and military experts to define and formulate national security
policies and objectives, which will keep America safe and free.
There are 10 principles of national security that I believe should
be a guide to our work and form the basis of our defense in the post
Cold War era:
(1) Soldiers: We support our men and women in uniform -- our
soldiers, our sailors, our Marines, our airmen and women, our
reservists, our National Guard -- completely and unequivocally. Our
soldiers are the foundation of the nation’s security, and they must
have the tools they need to defend themselves and this nation. And
when they have done their job, America must look after and honor its
(2) Strength: We believe that America’s military strength is
superior in every respect, and we are committed to making sure it
remains that way. The supremacy of America’s military capability is
the cornerstone of our security. We must prioritize our nation’s
threats, taking prompt action and investing our primary resources in
addressing those dangers that are most proximate.
(3) Transformation: We believe that America’s military must be
transformed to one that is more versatile, more agile, more capable
of responding to multiple crises in faraway places, and even more
technologically powerful. To accomplish this transformation, strong
forces of inertia in all branches of the military will need to be
(4) Troop Levels: We believe that America’s armed forces must not
be overextended, that our reserves must not be stretched too thin,
that the number of our troops must reflect the number of military
commitments we are likely to face and the severity of those
commitments. We must either reduce the number of our engagements or
increase the number of our troops. As Gen. Eric K. Shinseki stated so
presciently: “Beware the 12-division strategy for a 10-division
(5) Intelligence: We believe that in the war on terrorism,
top-quality human and technological sources of intelligence are
essential, and that the reporting of intelligence must be accurate,
timely, and properly weighted. The prompt assimilation of that
intelligence will be essential if we are to avoid another Sept. 11.
(6) Vision: We believe that America cannot make itself secure by
virtue of its military power alone, that moral authority, integrity,
generosity and vision are vital to our peace and prosperity. An
America that inspires hope in its ideals must complement an America
that inspires awe in its strength. We are a more secure America when
we rally the world to our side in a great cause.
(7) Democracy: We believe that our best hope for a secure America
rests in the propagation of liberty and democracy around the world,
and that every instrument of American influence -- diplomatic,
military and economic -- should advance the cause of freedom abroad.
Democracies are poor breeding grounds for terrorism and war.
(8) Homeland Security: We believe that America must be confident
in its strength, vigilant in the defense of the homeland, supportive
of our police and firefighters on the front lines, and jealously
protective of the rights of all Americans. We will not let terrorists
change our way of life; we will not live in fear; and we will not
undermine the civil liberties that characterize our democracy.
(9) Commerce and Aid: We believe that the free and fair flow of
goods and commerce has the capability of lifting countries out of the
despair of poverty, and that we must act resolutely to eradicate the
economic deprivation which allows the germ of terrorism to spread.
Americans are blessed with great plenty; we are a generous people,
and we have a moral obligation to assist those who are suffering from
poverty, disease, war and famine.
(10) World Community: We believe that America lives in an
interdependent world of nations made smaller by travel, technology
and the demands of a burgeoning population. America has a critical
role to play as the most powerful member of the world community. And
in this community, as in all others, the Golden Rule still applies --
we must act toward other nations as we would have them act toward
In the months and years ahead, our study group on national
security will work hard to advance these and other principles that
are the key to providing for our common defense.
* CONGRESSMAN ADAM B. SCHIFF (D-Glendale) is a member of the House
International Relations Committee and co-founder of the Democratic
Study Group on National Security.