National Security Strategy shifts from military might to increased cooperation and development

By Oxfam

Washington, DC — International humanitarian organization Oxfam America praised the shift toward cooperation and preventing human suffering outlined in the National Security Strategy unveiled today. In reaction, Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America, made the following statement:

“President Obama today clearly and forcibly answered the two most important foreign policy questions: what type of international order the United States seeks to shape and what capabilities are required to reach that goal.

“In so doing, President Obama has given the bureaucracies their marching orders: build and coordinate modern expeditionary diplomatic, development, intelligence, and law enforcement institutions that are capable of working with others to resolve the great challenges of our age and prevent future conflicts. 

“The President strongly shifted the balance away from a National Security Strategy based primarily on costly military reaction toward one rooted in cooperative engagement aimed at preventing conflict and human suffering. The document rightly places a ‘renewed emphasis on deterrence and prevention by mobilizing diplomatic action, and use development and security sector assistance to build the capacity of at-risk nations.’

“The Strategy importantly acknowledges the existential challenge global poverty poses to our security, prosperity, and values. But fighting global poverty must be a goal in and of itself rather than subordinated to short-term political needs, and will require a clear policy, strategy, and rebuilt capability.

“The Strategy also recognizes the growing link between security and climate change and the need to work with poor and vulnerable communities around the world to increase their resilience to the climate change impacts happening today.

“The strategy further emphasizes the need to stand with those around the world seeking to hold their own governments accountable for their conduct, whether it be respect for basic rights, investing in the basic needs, or ensuring that natural resources are managed transparently.

“This shift is long overdue. Years of underinvestment in civilian foreign policy instruments and the prioritization of narrow short-term interests have crippled the capabilities of civilian institutions and made them less able to prevent conflicts, address human suffering, and support people's efforts to build just and equitable societies around the world. Now that the goals have been set, we urge the President to build on these capabilities and spell out detailed policies in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and the planned US Global Development Strategy.”

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