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National Security Strategy in an Era of Growing Challenges and Resource Constraints

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The United States is struggling to emerge from the greatest peacetime economic downturn since the Great Depression. Known as the Great Recession, the country’s current fiscal difficulties seem unlikely to abate any time soon. If there is a consensus regarding the country’s recovery, it is that it will be both gradual and protracted.1 Some economists, eyeing the government’s rapidly growing debt and expanding obligations, have expressed concerns over the country’s ability to sustain healthy growth levels over the longer term. The implications for US security are potentially profound. Washington has long relied on its ability to bring to bear far greater resources than any other country against any threat to the nation’s security. If current trends play out, this advantage is almost certain to diminish, perhaps dramatically, in the coming years. Long accustomed to pursuing a “rich man’s” approach to strategy, the United States will find itself increasingly challenged to take a “smart man’s” approach—one for which it seems ill-prepared.

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