With the United States facing two major revisionist powers, Russia and China, as well as additional security threats from North Korea, Iran, and jihadist terrorism, a critical advantage for the United States is its global network of alliances and strategic partners. As the 2018 National Defense Strategy states, “Alliances and partnerships are crucial to our strategy, providing a durable asymmetric strategic advantage that no competitor or rival can match.”
The advantage of having military allies and partners is enhanced by the core capacity of the American military having remained largely the same over the past decade, though the global security environment grew more complex and difficult during that time. In short, the United States needs allies and security partners. But the United States needs allies and partners that can pull their weight militarily if the country is going to be able to maintain a favorable balance of power in critical regions of the world. The second edition of A Hard Look at Hard Power provides an in-depth examination of the overall strategic perspective, defense plans, budgets, and capabilities of seven key European and Asian allies, three frontline strategic partners, and NATO.