A panel of distinguished academics debated the Bush administration’s new National Security Strategy document during a round-table discussion Monday.
Sponsored by the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, the discussion — “The New U.S. National Security Strategy Document: What Does it Mean for International Cooperation?” — featured diplomat-in-residence Charles Hill, Georgetown University government professor John Ikenberry, and globalization center director Ernesto Zedillo.
Held in Sterling Memorial Lecture Hall, the three panelists presented their views and then participated in a question and answer session, which was moderated by Political Science chairman Ian Shapiro.
All three panelists agreed that the National Security Strategy, or NSS, could have important political implications for national security and America’s position in the international community.
Hill said the document is significant because it is the first to outline a full U.S. national security strategy since the Cold War era. He added that it will be crucial in defining the Bush administration’s foreign policy.
“You can hold the administration to this document when you’re filling out their report card in a couple of years,” Hill said.
Ikenberry said that the document reveals two realities in the world political order — the rise of new global terrorist threats and the reality of American hegemony.
But Ikenberry cautioned that the document could have detrimental effects on the traditional rules of war because it allows for the possibility of pre-emption. He added that consistent unilateral action by the United States would be unsustainable.
Much of the later discussion focused on the debate between multilateralist and unilateralist policies in the United States. All three panelists agreed that they cannot predict the document’s impact on the debate.
While the document has drawn criticism for its unilateralist tendencies, Zedillo said the document still allows for multilateralist policies.
“Paradoxically, the NSS also provides the strongest endorsement of multilateralism ever provided by the Bush administration,” Zedillo said.
Shapiro concluded the discussion by asking the panelists to comment on the document’s implications for the situation in the Middle East.
While Hill said the document could potentially create a plan of action in the Middle East, Zedillo said America should work in conjunction with the United Nations when taking action.
“If that is not the case — I can only see a rather sad disaster,” Zedillo said.
Ryan Floyd ’03 said he was pleased by the discussion on unilateralism and multilateralism.
“If nothing else, it’s just good that this is being debated in a very sober discussion,” Floyd said. “This is a fundamental turning point in U.S. foreign policy.”
Elizabeth Prochaska GRD ’03 said she was glad the panel did not focus exclusively on the situation in Iraq.
“I thought it was by far the most comprehensive and interesting discussion on this topic,” Prochaska said.