Thursday, January 19, 2012

Security by Design

 It is commonly assumed that our national security depends only on our capacity to project military power beyond our borders and has little to do with how we organize the internal business of the country. 

The nation’s armed strength and its “soft power” are necessary components of security, but they are not—and cannot be—the whole of it. A larger vision of security includes the internal resilience, health, and sustainability of the nation, that is to say its capacity for self-renewal. Real security, in other words, is inseparable from issues of energy policy; education; public health; preservation of soils, forests, and waters; and broadly based, sustainable prosperity.

From this perspective, America is less secure than at any time in its history, despite expenditures in excess of $1 trillion per year for the defense budget and war appropriations. The challenges of the twenty-first century are larger, more complex, and longer-lived than any we have faced before. Of these, the most salient is not terrorism or the ongoing global economic crisis, but rather the threat posed by rapid climate destabilization.1 

What was a solvable problem when first presented to President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 is approaching irreversible catastrophe. The heart of the problem is our failure to establish a coherent and farsighted energy policy despite the verbal commitments of every president since 1973 to raising energy efficiency and developing renewable energy sources. That failure, in turn, has amplified many other problems now grown into crises, including the unnecessary expenditure of trillions of dollars paid to unfriendly governments to secure oil resources that we waste because of inefficiency; foreign policy entanglements in politically unstable regions; the resulting military burdens—financial and human—of fighting wars to maintain access to energy that we otherwise would not need; and blowback from consequences that we fail to anticipate. More



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