The Launch of the Project on U.S. Leadership in Development:The Role of Development in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security
June 4, 2012
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 represent a watershed for the United States, redefining its national security priorities in the twentyfirst century. Today, the greatest threat to the United States is no longer powerful rival states; rather, it is fragile and failing states that pose the greatest danger to U.S. borders. These “ungoverned spaces” with poor, ineffective, or absent governments lack basic services and fall behind on economic development. With today’s interconnectivity, these unchecked pockets of the world that propagate corruption, terrorism, and the trafficking of drugs, arms, and humans create major security threats that can permeate across insecure borders.
To accommodate this changed international landscape, U.S. global engagement today must be holistic—addressing defense, development, and democracy together—and specific to the needs of each context in which the United States operates. It is in the interest of U.S. national security to support the establishment of “responsible sovereigns” abroad, where a functioning, democratic government can promote economic growth and secure its own borders. To do so, international development efforts should be strategic, forward-thinking, and combined in the correct order and magnitude with diplomacy and security in order to create stability and prosperity both at home and abroad.