Over the last decade the United States has been confronted with not just the collapse of the Soviet empire but also with revolutionary scientific breakthroughs, the transformation of the global economy, and the erosion of many of the basic premises of the Westphalian system of international order. The U.S. policy community has attempted to make sense of these and other changes by recourse to bodies such as the National Defense Panel and the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (USNCS/21). The USNCS/21 is currently in the third phase of its mandated activities. At the end of phase three, the members of the Commission will recommend changes in the institutions of the U.S. national security policymaking system. Its conclusions are likely to stimulate a lively, and much needed debate.
In order for institutional reform to succeed, it will have to be guided by a coherent and compelling national strategy which must, in turn, be anchored in widely-accepted national interests. It will also have to be in accord with such constitutional principles as civilian control of the armed forces and the inviolability of the civil liberties of all Americans. Hopefully, the chapters in this volume will offer some useful insights and some encouragement.