Substance beyond the Humor: Analyzing the Jones Address
The tempest in a teapot about Gen. James L. Jones’s opening joke in his address to The Washington Institute’s twenty-fifth anniversary symposium last week diverted attention from the truly newsworthy aspects of the national security advisor’s remarks. On five key issues, he made important, substantive, and at times innovative statements of policy. Given the political and strategic timing of his remarks, they should be viewed as one of the most significant statements of administration policy on Middle East issues this year.
National Security Strategy
In a passage totally overlooked by the media, General Jones gave the first glimpse into the new National Security Strategy (NSS) that he said will be unveiled in the coming weeks. This document, which transcends Middle East issues, concretizes the overall foreign policy approach of an administration and usually reflects the thrust of a president’s approach to international security. In his remarks, General Jones said the new NSS would be based on four pillars:
* Security — “We have an enduring interest in the security of the United States, our citizens, and U.S. allies and partners.”
* Prosperity — “We have an enduring interest in a strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity.”
* Values — “We have an enduring interest is upholding universal values, at home and around the world.”
* International order — “We have an enduring interest in an international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.”
A detailed assessment of these pillars and the policies they represent is beyond the scope of this article. But it is important to point out that enunciation of these pillars alone marks a significant shift from the key principles of the final George W. Bush and Bill Clinton NSSs. For example, there is no reference in the Jones statement to democracy, freedom, or liberty, terms that dominated the Bush NSS. Democracy promotion, not specifically mentioned in General Jones’s remarks, was also a stated pillar of Bill Clinton’s final NSS.
Interestingly, there was in the general’s statement an echo from a doctrine advanced by an earlier president — the reference to “international order” sounds eerily similar to the post-Gulf War call by President George H. W. Bush for the creation of a “new world order.” How the new NSS fleshes out these principles into a full strategy will provide a fascinating window into the administration’s deepest thoughts about the direction of foreign policy.