ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The new U.S. National Security Strategy, unveiled yesterday, recognizes that America’s strength is based on all elements of national power, and the power of its example to the world, Vice President Joe Biden said today at the U.S. Naval Academy here.
Speaking to the 2010 graduating class, Biden said the four pillars of the new strategy are designed to “guarantee America’s continued ascendency in the 21st century [and] to guarantee our security.”
Biden outlined these four basic principles: strengthening the U.S. economy; marshalling non-military as well as military capabilities; building and strengthening U.S. alliances and partnerships around the world; and remaining true to America’s foundational values.
“A strong economy is the only foundation on which we can build a guarantee for our national security,” he said, citing broad economic initiatives under way. “Our strength and influence all depends on our economic prosperity and elevation.”
Biden reiterated President Barack Obama’s recognition during his graduation address last week at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.: “At no time in human history has a nation of diminished economic vitality maintained its military or political primacy.”
The new security strategy also recognizes the importance of using “all the arrows in the quiver” – applying all instruments of U.S. national power — to maintain security, he noted.
“Our military capacity is absolutely necessary, but not in and of itself sufficient to guarantee our security,” he told the graduates.
Diplomacy, development, education, and economic, intelligence and law enforcement initiatives also are key in addressing challenges before they escalate, he explained.
“Although we reserve the right to act preemptively,” he said, “we will strive to stop crises before they start, to avoid whenever we can the choice of last resort of the danger in action.”
The strategy seeks to build on a long history of establishing strong military alliances and effective international organizations that Biden called critical to dealing with global challenges.
“The threats we face, from pandemic disease to terrorism, … have no respect for borders,” he said. “To defeat them requires responsible nations to set down rules of conduct for the 21st century… [and to] insist that other nations, along with us, enforce those rules of conduct.”
In its pursuit of national security, the United States can’t lose sight of its values that have sustained it since its founding, Biden emphasized.
“Our own strength lies not in the example of our power, but the power of our example,” he told the graduating class.
Biden rejected the notion that the United States has to choose between its safety and its ideals in the face of those who seek to threaten its way of life. “If we yield on our ideals, they will have already won,” he said.
The vice president noted that the vast majority of the world looks to the United States for inspiration. “That is why we cannot undermine our strength by compromising those values in the name of security,” he said. “They ultimately are our security.
“In the broad struggle against extremism, upholding our values makes us stronger,” he continued. “Compromising them is what makes us weaker and yielding.”
Biden recognized the values instilled at the Naval Academy – honor, courage and commitment – and said they’re the same ideals that define America. “Our ideals are what make us the greatest nation in the history of mankind,” he said. “And ultimately, they are a powerful incentive for the world to respond.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)