Revisiting the good tools of the Cold War


Heather Beshears

As massive military action in the war on terror takes a turn toward retrenchment, threats to national and global security are not dissipating. This puts a challenge to policymakers: Is it possible to change behavior among governments that threaten the United States without resorting to military force? And, if so, what are the best tools to shape outcomes?

Ethan Kapstein, Arizona Centennial Professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University, part of the College of Public Programs, and senior director for research at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, argues that “the answer to these questions requires a strategy of non-kinetic intervention, which brings together the instruments of national power to promote more benign behavior among governments and non-state actors that threaten the United States.”

His analysis draws from the Cold War, a time when the U.S. fought for the "hearts and minds" of citizens across the developing world. In responding to that challenge, the U.S. emphasized the need for governments to adopt political and economic reforms in response to local grievances.

Kapstein describes how we can look to history to find opportunities going forward.