National Security and Defense Program

About the National Security and Defense Program

About the Program

The National Security and Defense program aims to enhance the peace and prosperity of the United States and its allies by helping policymakers and the public better understand the threats the United States faces and the options it and its allies have for responding to them. In the post–9/11 world, threats to the national interest come from a greater variety of sources than ever before: traditional nation-states—not least the "rogue" variety—remain potential adversaries in conventional conflicts, while non-state actors—especially transnational terrorist organizations, insurgencies, and drug cartels—have become more effective than ever in asymmetrical warfare. CFR's national security fellows work to develop the policies, strategies, and tactics needed to minimize security vulnerabilities in our rapidly changing global environment.

The stakes are high. The long-term outcomes of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are far from decided; Egypt and Syria are in turmoil; and the future of the region in the wake of the Arab Spring remains an open question. Iran is working on acquiring nuclear weapons; North Korea has them already. China's power is growing, while Al Qaeda spreads its franchises across the Middle East. The war on terror continues to push the limits of U.S. military and intelligence capabilities, while raising difficult questions for international and domestic law. The military faces the twin challenge of maintaining its combat advantage in the information age while accepting the budget constraints of the age of austerity.

Dealing with these threats and many others requires informed policymakers and an informed electorate. The National Security and Defense program works to enrich the public debate  through books, articles, op-eds, blog posts, interviews, congressional testimony, roundtables, and briefings.

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