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Chapter III AMERICA’S STRATEGIC IMMUNITY A NATIONAL STRATEGY begins with a general statement and a specific question. To the extent that a country—any county—is strategically immune it can well afford to dispense with its activist security policies. What is the narrowest security perimeter that makes for America’s strategic immunity, that which safely allows it to forego political-military involvements beyond the perimeter? The strategic immunity concept is encompassing in its scope and diversity . Just as there is no shortage of health-threatening bacteria and viruses , there are numerous military, geostrategic, economic, and political challenges—aggressively and defensively motivated—that could threaten the nation’s immunity. Breaking down this concept analytically helps insure that all the potentially threatening actions of all opponents will be identified, that none will escape the finer mesh of its component parts. Being more precise and more manageable, they also facilitate a systematic assessment of America’s greater or lesser immunity. And if it turns out that there are some holes in one or another panels of the country’s immunizing umbrella, these can be repaired without collapsing an otherwise perfectly good form of protection. A country’s strategic immunity is broken down into four components by first distinguishing between the rival’s attempts to expand his space and to expand his muscle. Territorially, he may try to extend his span of influence and control over other countries. Militarily, he could attempt to build up his armed forces. One type of expansive action could, of course, be used to make gains with regard to the other, yet this commonly used distinction is fundamental and reasonably clear. Given all the uses to which territorial expansionism can be put, along with military improvements they exhaust all but one kind of potentially threatening actions— the economic ones involving trade and finance that might detract from our material well-being, if not also our military security. As it relates to Japan and Europe this possibility is taken up in chapter 5 when critiquing America’s primacist strivings—the aim of remaining number one in the world militarily, politically, and economically—and in chapter 9’s discussion of trade relations. The opponent’s expansive actions are also distinguished according to their consequences. Immunity obtains insofar as they fail to attain their immediate territorial or military aims, or any successful ones do not have CHAPTER III 64 Figure 2. An Analytic Breakdown of Strategic Immunity significant security-deflating consequences. For example, a challenger does not succeed in its attempt to gain control over Persian Gulf oil, or its success in doing so does not detract from America’s economic security. These two distinctions are brought together in figure 2. The types of expansive actions are located on the vertical axis, their outcomes on the horizontal one. Any country’s strategic immunity is seen to depend upon its insulation, invulnerability, impermeability, and imperviousness. (These abstract categories may seem analytically overblown, but each needs to encompass a diversity of actual and possible actions and outcomes .) A state is insulated insofar as the rival’s efforts to extend his territorial sphere of influence-control prove to be unsuccessful. It is invulnerable to the extent that successful geographic extensions do not have a security-deflating impact, either in impairing its deterrent-defensive capacities for protecting the core or its economic good health. A country is impermeable if the opponent’s force additions and improvements do not translate into superiority. They do not give him a quantitative or qualitative advantage, either strategically or conventionally. And it is impervious when the contender cannot exploit the military imbalance. His bigger and/or better armed forces are neither effective for purposes of coercion nor for fighting in and around the core. According to the national strategy’s first doctrinal tenet, the United States has been and will continue to be strategically immune into the foreseeable future within and around the narrow core perimeter whose North American and oceanic bounds were outlined in the previous chapter. The encompassing scope and great potency of numerous immunity-enhancing conditions make for a high ranking with regard to each of its four components . The need for activist adversarial and conciliatory efforts is sharply curtailed since America enjoys a great deal of extra insurance; in most AMERICA’S STRATEGIC IMMUNITY 65 (not all) respects it is doubly immune in that a rival’s expansive actions are unlikely to attain their objectives and any successful ones are not about to detract from the...


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