General Jones on Restoring America’s Leadership in the World

February 1, 2010 By John Glenn

Following President Obama’s State of the Union address, General James L. Jones, National Security Advisor, made a major address reviewing the national security challenges facing the Administration on January 29th at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Weaving elements of the “three-legged stool that I like to talk about” throughout his remarks, General Jones observed that global challenges will continue to demand U.S. leadership, even as Americans face economic hardship at home.

General Jones laid out his vision of a national security environment with new types of global threats that travel at “network speed” including climate change, pandemics, and cyber attacks.  Looking over the past year, he suggested that Obama administration has made progress in “restoring American leadership in the world” through comprehensive engagement, which he defined as “laying out a strategic vision” focusing not only on shared threats but on “shared interests and common aspirations that unite America with the world.”

He focused on numerous challenges for the United States in 2010, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, violent extremism, Iran, and the Arab-Israeli peace process.  He highlighted the Administration’s “comprehensive strategy” in Afghanistan that seeks to harmonize military efforts to provide security with civilian efforts to promoting good governance and development, as well as partner with Pakistan.  In dealing with Iran, General Jones emphasized the Administration’s focus on diplomacy, both in showing a willingness to engage with Tehran and in working with the international community.

As the media and networks debate the Administration’s first year in office, General Jones observed, “if you’d asked me a year ago how long it would take for America to restore its standing in the world, my answer would have been years.”  And yet, he suggested, public opinion polls and his experience partnering with other nations and organizations suggest it has been a year of “progress,” even as challenges remain ahead.