By: Arun Iyer

What is the kernel of the issue?

The turnover in political administrations every 4 to 8 years leads to a frequent disruption in US National Security and Defense strategies, resulting in a lack of continuity in long-term execution.

Why is the issue important?

Of the United States’ strategic competitors, 100% have various forms of authoritarian government that can push their agendas while exploiting the seams, gaps and “whipsaws” that occur during changes in the US presidential administration (usually including turnovers in political party.)  This opens the US to having its greatest strength used against it, particularly when administrations visibly repudiate the policies of their predecessors for political reasons.  This can also delay approvals in the National Defense Authorization Act, leading to inefficiencies and obstacles in a central function of the federal government.  As the US braces for a long era of competition with China and Russia, this is a competitive disadvantage that should be mitigated.

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should develop a non-partisan (or at least bi-partisan) steering committee to develop a baseline long-term Security and Defense Strategy, with a parallel initiative in the legislative branch. The strategy would represent the long-term foreign policy issues common to both Democratic and Republican parties; and provide the needed continuity and focus on the most challenging issues for the US and allies, while serving as the departure point for future administration’s National Security Strategy.  An added benefit would be decreased incentive for future foreign interference in US elections.

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