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National Security Network

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Formed in 2006, during the George W. Bush Administration, the National Security Network was formed to bring "... cohesion and strategic focus to the progressive national security community." It convenes expert groups to create what it considers ideologically and pragmatically reasonable solution, converts them to public and political messages, and distributes them.[1]

As with many such interest groups and think tanks, more can be inferred from their leadership, affiliations and publications than their position statements. Please pay close attention to National Security Network/Related Articles and the bibliography and external links.

Broad program elements

The organization presents broad program elements on their "What We Believe" page;[1] again, as with many groups, it is best to link the slogans to various components of grand strategy.

"Waging a Smarter, Stronger Fight Against Terrorists and Hostile States

  • We will aggressively root out terrorist networks..." finding their financial lifelines and disrupting them, conducting counterterrorism against their training sites and capturing or killing their leaders, and "disabling their recruiting efforts"
  • " coalitions with our allies whenever possible, but we will act independently if necessary to confront imminent threats to American security."
  • "We will reach out to the Islamic world, isolating extremists..."
  • We will prevent terrorists and hostile states from building or acquiring weapons of mass destruction...through WMD stockpile security, counterproliferation, "and eliminate the transnational networks that sell WMD materials and technologies to the highest bidder.
  • We will put into action a well-funded homeland security strategy that protects all Americans, including our most vulnerable citizens. We will prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of terrorism and natural disasters by implementing the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission.

Confronting Tomorrow's Challenges

  • "...aggressively pursuing cleaner alternative energy sources, implementing tougher efficiency standards, and creating a culture committed to energy efficiency in support of our national security goals."
  • We will engage countries such as Iran and North Korea before they pose urgent threats, instead of neglecting problems until they turn into crises.
  • We will restore America's international competitiveness by ending crippling budget deficits and aggressively investing in education, technology, and research.
  • We will work with our allies to revive moribund global trade negotiations, ensuring a global trading system that is free, fair, and serves the interests of American workers.
  • We will actively prevent and resolve conflicts, promote the growth of democratic civil society, respond to emerging environmental, public health, and economic threats, and foster freedom and economic opportunity around the globe.

Rebuilding Effective American Leadership

  • We will address global problems through global coordination, with the U.S. taking the lead.
  • We will reinvigorate weakened international institutions and rebuild America's frayed alliances.

Restoring America's Moral Authority

  • We will always remember that our nation was founded upon the principles of justice, freedom, and the inherent rights of all people. These American values have sustained our strength since 1776, through civil war and world wars, through good times and bad.
  • We will faithfully honor the letter and the spirit of our Constitution. We will never sanction torture, and we will never tolerate spying on law-abiding citizens.
  • We will use our foreign policy to empower those who seek freedom, support those who stand up for human rights, and aid those who struggle for democracy.
  • We will restore America's moral stature, holding ourselves to the same high standards we demand of others. We will lead by example, showing the world that justice and liberty will always prevail over hatred, repression, and brutality. We will never compromise America's values out of fear.

Honoring America's Fighting Men and Women

See also: Weinberger-Powell Doctrine
  • We will revitalize and strengthen the U.S. military, which has been hollowed out by reckless overextension. We will invest in the people and technologies needed to support the most powerful and flexible military in the world.
  • We will never hesitate to use force when necessary, but we will never needlessly place American military personnel in harm's way. We will send our fighting men and women to war only when peaceful means of resolving conflicts fail."
  • We will provide our armed forces with responsible military strategies that lay out clearly defined political and military objectives; and we will make sure our military has the resources and the political support to achieve those goals.
  • We will actively seek the views of our military leaders, not sideline them when their advice is politically inconvenient.

National Security Discussion

In the organization's blog, Michael Cohen reviewed the controversy regarding GEN Stanley McChrystal's public statements on strategy in Afghanistan, and if they are within reasonable limits of respecting civilian control of the military. " I don't have a problem with General McChrystal expressing his views even when I think he is wrong. And I wouldn't feel comfortable accusing him of explicitly leaking his strategic review to force the president's hands. But somebody leaked it; and some folks have been leaking some variation of McChrystal's argument for the past several months - and that puts undue pressure on the president to follow a particular course in Afghanistan. And it's coming from an institution that is nominally supposed to be above such public intervention in policy discussions."

My concern is when those views become part of the national discussion about Afghanistan policy and end up politicizing that debate, which as near I can tell is precisely what is happening. And just to be clear this is not a partisan viewpoint. [2] Cohen pointed out this is not a Democratic view; similar comments came from Peter Feaver at Foreign Policy's blog.
It is not good to have a document like this leaked into the public debate before the President has made his decision. Whether you favor ramping up or ramping down or ramping laterally, as a process matter, the Commander-in-Chief ought to be able to conduct internal deliberations on sensitive matters without it appearing concurrently on the front pages of the Post. I assume the Obama team is very angry about this, and I think they have every right to be.[3]


According to their executive director, Heather Hurlburt, a successful reconstruction will be even harder than in Iraq. “In Iraq, the development challenge was much less severe...You had infrastructure that was beaten down or destroyed but could be rebuilt. In Afghanistan, you have this 90% illiteracy rate, with people who have never seen a doctor. And Afghanistan has never had the level of governance Iraq had.”[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 What We Believe, National Security Network
  2. Michael Cohen (October 02, 2009), "What Gen. McChrystal Said", Democracy's Arsenal
  3. Peter Feaver (21 September 2009), "Bob Woodward strikes again! (McChrystal assessment edition)", Foreign Policy
  4. Andrew C. Schneider (5 October 2009), "Look for Obama to Commit Many More Troops to Afghanistan: After carefully considering all his options, the president will go with his field commander’s plan.", The Kiplinger Letter