Paper: USA 2018 National Defense Strategy

This is an official USA govt document describing how the USA views the world and approaches our foreign policy. Here is what I noticed while reading:
  1. Free markets are described as critical to USA standard of living
  2. phrase "asymmetric advantage" occurs like ten times
  3. "maintaining favorable balances of power" is the goal
  4. Thus by "free markets" they really mean markets where USA enjoys asymmetric market power and ability to do whatever USA wants in order to increase and maintain this advantage
  5. I think this idea of "total dominance over competition" under the guise of "freedom" is totally baked into our culture and reflects what Capitalism is all about.
My questions are:
  • what is the goal of USA foreign policy?
  • What does our foreign policy have to do with our standard of living?
  • Is there a connection between our standard of living and our defense investment?
  • What does this have to do with the middle east?
  • Why are we constantly invading countries?
  • Is standard of living zero-sum - does the USA standard of living come at the cost of decreased wealth for human beings living in other countries?
  • What exactly is going on in North Korea?
  • Why does USA continue to increase military spending?
  • Does any of this have a connection to Capitalism and income inequality?
Below is roughly in order some interesting quotes with some comments from me in brackets.

Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security. (1)

China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics

to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors. As well, North Korea’s outlaw actions and reckless rhetoric continue despite United Nation’s censure and sanctions. Iran continues to sow violence and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability. Despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate, threats to stability remain as terrorist groups with long reach continue to murder the innocent and threaten peace more broadly. (1)
DUSTIN: Global markets would seem to be the free-est markets in the world. They precisely reflect what happens when competing parties act in their interests, as is supposed to generate optimal wealth distribution in Capitalism. So, What is "predatory economics" and why is this idea not acknowledged in the domestic debate about free markets?
Failure to meet our defense objectives will result in decreasing U.S. global influence, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, and

reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living

DUSTIN: This feels like our "defense objectives" is a major factor in our prosperity, which begs the question, How much of our prosperity is a function of our defense investment?
The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions. (2)
DUSTIN: Clearly there is an advantage to gaining influence over other nations' governmental decisions. What is the advantage?
Another change to the strategic environment is a resilient, but weakening, post-WWII international order.

In the decades after fascism’s defeat in World War II, the United States and its allies and partners constructed a free and open international order to better safeguard their liberty and people from aggression and coercion.

DUSTIN: i think this is a moral imperative manufactured after the fact. You can use morality to justify literally anything.
Although this system has evolved since the end of the Cold War, our network of alliances and partnerships remain the backbone of global security. China and Russia are now undermining the international order from within the system by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously undercutting its principles and “rules of the road.” (2)
DUSTIN: Other countries besides USA have human beings. What about their liberty?
What happened to free markets and competition? Is this capitalism? Connection to Capitalism vs Communism propoganda in the cold war?
revisionist powers and rogue regimes are competing across all dimensions of power. They have increased efforts short of armed conflict by expanding coercion to new fronts, violating principles of sovereignty, exploiting ambiguity, and deliberately blurring the lines between civil and military goals.
Rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran are destabilizing regions through their pursuit of nuclear weapons or sponsorship of terrorism. North Korea seeks to guarantee regime survival and increased leverage by seeking a mixture of nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional, and unconventional weapons and a growing ballistic missile capability to gain coercive influence over South Korea, Japan, and the United States. In the Middle East, Iran is competing with its neighbors, asserting an arc of influence and instability while vying for regional hegemony, using state-sponsored terrorist activities, a growing network of proxies, and its missile program to achieve its objectives. (2)
Missile defense. Investments will focus on layered missile defenses and disruptive capabilities for both theater missile threats and North Korean ballistic missile threats. (6)
DUSTIN: This is a reference to new classified technology

The fact that many technological developments will come from the commercial sector means that state competitors and non-state actors will also have access to them (3)

States are the principal actors on the global stage, but non-state actors also threaten the security environment with increasingly sophisticated capabilities. Terrorists, trans-national criminal organizations, cyber hackers and other malicious non-state actors have transformed global affairs with increased capabilities of mass disruption. There is a positive side to this as well, as our partners in sustaining security are also more than just nation-states: multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations, and strategic influencers provide opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

Terrorism remains a persistent condition driven by ideology and unstable political and economic structures, despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate. (3)

Achieving peace through strength requires the Joint Force to deter conflict through preparedness for war. During normal day-to-day operations, the Joint Force will sustainably compete to: deter aggression in three key regions—the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and Middle East; degrade terrorist and WMD threats; and defend U.S. interests from challenges below the level of armed conflict. In wartime, the fully mobilized Joint Force will be capable of: defeating aggression by a major power; deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere; and disrupting imminent terrorist and WMD threats. During peace or in war, the Joint Force will deter nuclear and non-nuclear strategic attacks and defend the homeland. To support these missions, the Joint Force must gain and maintain information superiority; and develop, strengthen, and sustain U.S. security relationships. (6)
The Department will invest broadly in military application of autonomy, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, including rapid application of commercial breakthroughs, to gain competitive military advantages. (7)

Mutually beneficial alliances and partnerships are crucial to our strategy, providing a durable, asymmetric strategic advantage that no competitor or rival can match. This approach has served the United States well, in peace and war, for the past 75 years.

Our allies and partners came to our aid after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and have contributed to every major U.S.-led military engagement since. Every day, our allies and partners join us in defending freedom, deterring war, and

maintaining the rules which underwrite a free and open international order. (8)

DUSTIN: A free and open order, which asymettrically benefits the USA. If there is asymmetric power in play, is that freedom? A central idea of Libertarianisn is that you need a small but storng kernel of government to establish basic values like "you are free to do anything but restrict someone else's freedom" which is derived from Natural Law. But this does not account for asymmetric power structures. The greater power becomes the government. I think Libertarianism is fundamentally unstable for this reason.
By working together with allies and partners we amass the greatest possible strength for the

long-term advancement of our interests, maintaining favorable balances of power that deter aggression and support the stability that generates economic growth.

When we pool resources and share responsibility for our common defense, our security burden becomes lighter. Our allies and partners provide complementary capabilities and forces along with unique perspectives, regional relationships, and information that improve our understanding of the environment and expand our options. Allies and partners also provide access to critical regions, supporting a widespread basing and logistics system that underpins the Department’s global reach. (8)
Our alliances and coalitions are

built on free will and shared responsibilities. While we will unapologetically represent America’s values and belief in democracy, we will not seek to impose our way of life by force.

We will uphold our commitments and we expect allies and partners to contribute an equitable share to our mutually beneficial collective security, including effective investment in modernizing their defense capabilities. We have shared responsibilities for resisting authoritarian trends, contesting radical ideologies, and serving as bulwarks against instability. (9)
DUSTIN: How could this possibly be true, this whole document is about cultivating an asymettrical advantage
A free and open Indo-Pacific region provides prosperity and security for all. We will strengthen our alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific to a networked security architecture capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability, and ensuring free access to common domains. With key countries in the region, we will bring together bilateral and multilateral security relationships to preserve the free and open international system. (9)
We will foster a stable and secure Middle East that denies safe havens for terrorists,

is not dominated by any power hostile to the United States, and that contributes to stable global energy markets and secure trade routes.

We will develop enduring coalitions to consolidate gains we have made in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, to support the lasting defeat of terrorists as we sever their sources of strength and counterbalance Iran.

The U.S. derives immense benefit from a stable, peaceful hemisphere that reduces security threats to the homeland. (9)

DUSTIN: Peaceful in our hemisphere. At the cost of everyone else.
Resilient and agile logistics. Investments will prioritize prepositioned forward stocks and munitions, strategic mobility assets, partner and allied support, as well as non-commercially dependent distributed logistics and maintenance to ensure logistics sustainment while under persistent multi-domain attack.
Success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting ... We must not accept cumbersome approval chains, wasteful applications of resources in uncompetitive space, or overly risk-averse thinking that impedes change. (10)
A dominant Joint Force will protect the security of our nation, increase U.S. influence,

preserve access to markets that will improve our standard of living,

and strengthen cohesion among allies and partners. (11)