Integrated Power: A New National Security Framework

Today the American Progress National Security Team released “Integrated Power,” a new progressive national security strategy. The authors of the report will be discussing it here for the next few days, soliciting feedback from the progressive community. — ed.

I wanted to use this first post to get your thoughts on a question that has fueled heated (sometimes overheated) debate in recent months: how do progressives describe their most basic philosophical differences with conservatives on national security? Integrated Power tries to answer this question. We lay out a new way to explain what distinguishes our strategy to protect the American people from the Bush administration’s approach.

The main concepts: Integrated power and fragmentation. Our notion of integrated power calls for a broader definition of national security. It discards the previous concepts of “hard” and “soft” power, viewing them not as alternatives but as essential partners that cannot be delinked. It aims to wipe away the artificial divisions that previous administrations have created between defense, homeland security, diplomatic, energy, and development assistance policies. For example, when it comes to setting our spending priorities, our report calls for a unified security budget, one that integrates the offensive, defensive, and preventive elements of our national defense spending and replaces the outdated, Cold War structure of divided accounts.

Why? Because we believe the most serious threats to our national security today — terrorist networks, extreme regimes, and weak and failing states — are forces of fragmentation that can only be dealt with using a unified approach that conservatives reject. Four years of the administration’s rejection of integrated power — of alienating allies, failing to counter anti-Americanism abroad, botching diplomacy, doing the bare minimum on economic development and trade, and going backwards on energy policy — have left us weaker and more vulnerable to our most serious threats.

Thoughts? Ideas of your own? I’ll be reading and responding to your comments, so please contribute.

— Robert O. Boorstin, Senior Vice President of National Security, Center for American Progress