December 2012: Conference on Sustainable Security: Smarter Strategy for a Changing World

In December, the Tobin Project convened an interdisciplinary group of over 30 top scholars, along with key policymakers, to explore how how the U.S. can sustainably pursue its national security interests when faced with a decade of costly foreign wars, a devastating global financial crisis, mounting public debt, and profound realignments in international political and economic power.  

Core questions included:

  • How does U.S. security relate to U.S. economic power?
  • How have past great powers facing political and economic constraints at home and abroad recalibrated their security strategies to prepare for future strength?
  • What are the costs and benefits of the U.S.’s “portfolio” of foreign security commitments and how might these commitments be restructured to better serve the U.S.’s security goals in the contemporary political and economic environment?
  • In the context of the U.S.’s shifting political and economic interests in South Asia, how could a deep political and social understanding of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, as well as innovative diplomacy, inform policies that could mitigate inter- and intrastate conflicts in the region?
A number of papers presented at the conference have been published, including: "Don't Come Home, America: The Case against Retrenchment" published in International Security by Stephen Brooks (Dartmouth), G. John Ikenberry (Princeton), and William Wohlforth (Dartmouth) and "Thinking Long on Afghanistan: Could it be Neutralized?" published in the Washington Quarterly by Audrey Kurth Cronin (George Mason University). 

This research program builds on a series of preliminary seminars held by the Tobin Project in the summer and fall of 2011.  Ultimately, we hope that this inquiry will produce interdisciplinary scholarship that offers a more holistic conception of sustainable security strategy for the contemporary world and paves the way for innovative thinking in academia and the policy arena. The conference was chaired by Stephen Van Evera (MIT), with Jeremi Suri (University of Texas at Austin) and Benjamin Valentino (Dartmouth) serving as co-chairs.

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