2 Thursday, September 12, 2019 12:31

US can't ignore nonmilitary threats

Almost two decades after thousands died in the attacks of 9/11, there remain many active efforts underway to protect America from international terrorism.Since 9/11, American domestic and international security policy has been focused on individual terrorists, terrorist groups and rogue countries as the primary threats.

The country’s defensive response has been focused on the military and law enforcement capabilities. That’s natural, because the military knows how to shoot, drop and launch things at threats like that. And those dangers still exist.Advertisement:However, as someone who routinely analyzes threats, vulnerabilities and risks, I see the U.

S. again falling prey to a decades-old problem, which the 9/11 Commission termed a “failure of imagination.” That’s when leaders miss important, relevant connections or alternatives to what they’re focused on.Specifically, there are other, equally, if not more, dangerous risks to American national sovereignty and security, not to mention citizens’ peace of mind that they are able to live and work in a safe and secure society.

The economy, climate, transportation and public utilities are all vulnerable to nonmilitary threats. Unfortunately, those weaknesses tend to receive little attention from elected officials — much less any meaningful efforts to solve them. I believe this is because dealing with such concerns isn’t immediately evident, easily profitable, politically expedient or exciting to show on TV.

Borrowing weaknessI see America’s growing indebtedness as a huge economic vulnerability.The United States government is US$22 trillion in debt, its highest level ever, and $2 trillion more than in 2017. The national debt is expected to rise to just below the amount the entire nation’s economy produces in a single year by 2029.

If an external adversary intentionally caused or worsened U.S. economic problems, the effects in the U.S. and on the global economy could present extremely significant risks to American security, domestic stability and peace of mind.Advertisement:Many countries invest some of their national treasuries in U.

S. debt, such as Treasury bonds or government-backed mortgage securities, because they are viewed as low-risk. However, a country holding large amounts of American national debt might decide to suddenly sell some or all of its bonds, as Russia threatened to do in 2008. Certainly, nations like Japan hold significant amounts of debt, but presumably these countries are not likely to sell it for political leverage.

By contrast, Russia or China, who also hold large quantities, may be more inclined to do so, especially during a prolonged trade war.A bulk sale of American debt would roil U.S. and global financial markets, slow economy grown by raising the costs of borrowing and rattle global investors’ confidence in the stable value of the U.

.S. dollar.Admittedly, if China or Russia sold significant amounts of their.....

News Code: 346592  |  Salon
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