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Cooperative security is cheaper, more secure, scholars say
STANFORD -- Co-operative, multinational security to prevent war should replace Cold War concepts of national security, some of the nation's most prominent foreign policy and arms control scholars agreed at Stanford University April 1 and 2.
The American public may not yet be convinced that isolationism isn't better, but the events of the last few years and the likely events of the next decade make Pax Americana an unworkable option, many scholars said at a conference hosted by the Stanford Center for International Security and Arms Control.
Besides providing increased security, a collective, multinational security approach would provide economic benefits by reducing public expenditure on defense and removing some impediments to open world trade, they said.
It could not prevent all violent conflict but would focus on preventing wars to seize another nation's territory by force or to destroy its social assets by long-range bombardment.
On a practical level, the scholars said, recent events have given many nations incentives to make cooperative security work.
The conference at Stanford was the third in a series of five working sessions to develop what Harvard's Ashton Carter called "a new organizing principle for thinking about the world and how to act in it." Sixteen of the 38 scholars who attended the session hope to publish a book in early 1993 outlining a new national defense strategy that is really a world defense strategy.
They hope it will be as influential as George Kennan's famous 1947 article, in which the veteran envoy to Moscow, identified only as Mr. X, developed the underpinnings for what became the 40-year-long Cold War strategy of the United States. For it to be so, they said, they must outline motivating trends, practical uses and limits, and strategies for getting there.
Funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York, the project is led by Stanford's William Perry, Carter of Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs, and John Steinbruner and Janne Nolan of the Brookings Institution. Also participating is the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Cooperative security would begin with the central principle that defense of national territory is the only legitimate purpose of national military forces, the authors have agreed.
The central purpose of cooperative security would be to prevent states from assembling or using the means for a successful offensive. The necessary tools for cooperative security might include regional or world air traffic control systems; common standards for the density, concentration and movement of defensive military forces; and flows of information so that military establishments are equitably informed and major violations of agreed-upon norms are known.
Sanctions against violators would include denial of information and trade credits, which threaten nations economically in today's integrated economy, participants said. A last-resort sanction would be coordinated military action, they said.
Motivating trends for cooperative security include the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany and the trend toward regional economic integration in many parts of the world, participants said.
Current U.S. military power is unmatched, but cooperative security is attractive to it because the international system can no longer control the diffusion of advanced conventional weaponry. (See related story.) The United States is already vulnerable to certain types of strikes by less capable enemies, participants said.
Most nations face economic incentives to limit their expenditures on security, and cooperative security would be cheaper, many scholars said.
Other seminar participants were more cautious about the likelihood of success. Stanford's Condoleezza Rice noted the importance of getting armies to sign on, and said it may be difficult in Latin America or the former Soviet Union.
Herbert Abrams of Stanford called the concept "eloquent, imaginative, useful and important" but said the scholars needed to grapple more with resurgent nationalism and the current North-South gap between security and insecurity. Others questioned whether nation-states would remain viable units of power and service, and noted the increasing power of religion in some parts of the world.
The United States may have lost its chief enemy but "people elsewhere will tell you, 'I've got lots of enemies," said Stanford's John Lewis, saying he heard such sentiments on several recent visits to Asia. Regional pacts may be formed, he said, that are not compatible with a worldwide cooperative security system.
Nevertheless, scholars said, the opportunities are greater now than anytime since the end of World War II to get nations to give up a measure of sovereignty in exchange for better security. In the wake of the Persian Gulf War and the collapse of the East-West order, even the world's arms market is shrinking,.at least temporarily, they said.
Whereas the Cold War relied on direct confrontation through deployed military threats, the new situation makes such threats costly to maintain and use, especially because they are effective only against imminent acts of aggression, participants said.
Cooperative engagement alternatively would involve a commitment to regulate the size, technical composition, investment patterns and operational practices of all military forces by mutual consent for mutual benefit.
Europe is explicitly on the path of collective, as well as cooperative, security already, and success there is likely to be the first step in an evolutionary process, several participants said. Many agreed that the current transition period in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union will test the concepts and tenets of cooperative security.
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