Decision 2020 Report: The Present And Future Of U.S. National Security Strategy; “Phase One” Of The U.S.-China Trade Deal

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
decision 2020

The second edition of the Decision 2020 explores the present and future of U.S. National Security Strategy in light of the Trump administration’s stated policy goal of re-establishing deterrence of Iran with the drone strike that killed its military leader Qassim Suleimani. It also covers the potential impact of “Phase One” of the U.S.-China Trade Deal.

Deterrence as Strategy

Image credit: 
Patrick Beaudouin

On Monday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivered an address to an audience of Stanford University students, faculty, and Hoover fellows, stating that the deterrent effect of the Trump administration’s strike on Qassim Sulemaini should be viewed in broader strategic terms and applied to any adversary who threatens American lives and interests.

“Deterrence means persuading the other party that the cost of specific behavior exceeds its benefits,” Pompeo said. “Your adversary must understand that not only do you have the capacity to impose costs, but that you are willing to do so.”

Watch Secretary Pompeo’s full address here.

In the Boston Globe, Milbank Family Senior Fellow Niall Feruguson writes that President Trump has adopted President Andrew Jackson’s foreign policy doctrine. “Like his supporters in red-state America, Trump has no appetite for ‘endless wars’ they associate with George W. Bush’s administration. But he and they also believe that the United States should retaliate against attacks on Americans.”

In The Atlantic, Davies Family Senior Fellow Amy Zegart argues that history shows that deterrence has been useful only under very specific conditions, including the environment of the Cold War, “when mutually assured destruction was very good at preventing one outcome: total nuclear war.” However, she makes the case that certain forms of aggression may not be deterrable, especially in the cyber realm.

In the newest edition of the Classicist podcast, Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson analyzes the impact of the Trump administration’s strike against Suleimani, and increasing protests against Iran’s governing regime.

“Trump has all the cards,” Hanson told co-host Troy Senik. “[The Iranian government] can do nothing and each day the economy worsens.”

Dealing with China

ON CNBC’S Closing Bell, Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow Edward Lazear commented on “Phase One” of the U.S.-China Trade Deal, which concluded in a pledge from China to buy tens of billions in American manufactured and farm goods, and increased safeguards for U.S. intellectual property.

“The deal is a good one,” Lazear argued. “But it’s not going to be transformational in terms of how it affects our economy.”

In Project Syndicate, Senior Fellow Raghuram Rajan writes that the emerging dispute with China hasn’t been about manufacturing jobs, but about services.

“Emerging-market competition is increasing – and prompting a major push by advanced-economy firms to enact new service-related trade rules,” Rajan says. “Ostensibly, this will ensure continued open borders for services. But it will also be an opportunity to protect the advantages of dominant developed-country producers.”

Discover more on U.S. Foreign Policy Strategy and China Policy from Hoover Fellows

Read Pragmatic Engagement Amidst Global Uncertainty: Three Major Challenges (Hoover Institution Press, 2016) edited by Senior Fellow Stephen Krasner and Davies Family Senior Fellow Amy Zegart.

Watch “China in an Emerging World,” a 2019 Hoover Institution discussion about China that is part of a series led by former secretary of state George Shultz.