Hard Power

The New Politics of National Security

Kurt M. Campbell, Michael E. O’Hanlon
Release Date: October 1, 2006

In the past five years, national security has again become a political tool, a “wedge issue,” a symbol of pride and fear. And yet the issue is often dominated by extremist ideology on one side and muted protest on the other—when what America desperately needs is a vigorous, intelligent two-party debate that will give rise to workable solutions. In this hard-hitting call to arms, two of the nation’s top security experts show the way with a smart, tough approach and bold new ideas.

In Hard Power, Kurt Campbell and Michael O’Hanlon explain how the Democrats lost credibility on issues of security and foreign policy, how they can get it back—and why they must. The party of Roosevelt and Kennedy—the party that led the United States to victory in World War II, devised the NATO alliance, and successfully managed the downsizing of American defense forces after the Cold War—has a responsibility, the authors argue, not only to master the politics of national security but also to develop and promote bold new ideas. And they demonstrate the power of this hard-nosed approach with innovative suggestions of their own, on everything from the ascent of China to the important role of energy to a new strategy to win the war on terror.

Rather than promote partisan opposition, the authors present a better blend of hard and soft power, of decisive American leadership combined with multilateralism, of focus on the new “globalization agenda” as well as continued emphasis on the hard-core national security agenda. And in doing so they offer all Americans—Democrats and Republicans, politicians and citizens—a new blueprint for national security policy in the twenty-first century.