Jake Sullivan: We Will Avoid Protracted Forever Wars

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The White House adviser, in an article in Foreign Affairs, called for reforming some of the established principles of the US foreign policy. One of the main developers of American foreign policy called for “laying a new foundation of American strength”, promising to “avoid protracted forever wars”. In a large article published in Foreign Affairs, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan shared an unusually candid and sometimes critical assessment of the US achievements and shortcomings. Doing so, he called for reforms of many traditional foreign policy principles. “The US foreign policy has been shaped in an era that is rapidly receding into the past, and the question is whether the country can adapt to the major challenge it faces - competing in an era of interdependence,” Sullivan pointed out. In Sullivan’s opinion, the US has missed some important things. He said that while the US had remained the world’s leading power, “some of its most important muscles had atrophied.” “The US has ceded leadership in critical manufacturing industries. It has not made the necessary investments in infrastructure. And the middle class has been hit,” the White House adviser explained. According to Sullivan, the military-industrial base “has suffered from a number of vulnerabilities that have not been addressed.” Sullivan pointed out that in the current competitive environment, a “new foundation of American strength” must be laid. “If we are to make America stronger than when we came in and more prepared for what lies ahead, it will require a rethinking of established perceptions,” he said. “The fundamental elements of national power, including demography, geography and natural resources, matter, but history teaches that they are not enough to establish which countries will shape the future,” Sullivan said. “It is the strategic decisions that countries make that matter most: how they organize their domestic affairs, what they invest in, who they choose to cooperate with and who wants to cooperate with them, which wars they fight, which they deter and which they avoid,” he said. The White House adviser stressed the importance of fighting terrorism. “However, we will avoid protracted forever wars that can tie up the US forces and do little to meaningfully reduce threats to the United States,” he wrote. “We have learned that Washington can no longer afford an undisciplined approach to the use of military force, despite mobilizing a huge effort to defend Ukraine and stop Russian aggression,” Sullivan added. Sullivan did not talk about Russia as a strategic challenge, but emphasized that the US is seeking to “de-risk and diversify, not cut off” relations with China. “China will remain a major player on the world stage for the foreseeable future,” he said. According to Sullivan, “the country’s future will be determined by two factors: whether it can maintain its core strengths in geopolitical competition, and whether it can rally the world to address transnational challenges, from climate change and global health to food security and inclusive economic growth.” “This requires a shift in US perceptions of power at a fundamental level,” he summarized.