Engaging an Emerging China
Through an intense "track-two" dialogue with Chinese defense and military leaders, the Preventive Defense Project works to affect the specifics of U.S. "engagement" policy toward Beijing - reducing the chance that an emerging China will come into conflict and competition with the United States. The Preventive Defense Project's annual "Strategic Security Delegation" to China and Taiwan represents the centerpiece of the project's two-track efforts. This high-level channel has been identified by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin as "THE track-two" dialogue between the United States and China, particularly regarding cross-Taiwan Strait relations.
Responding to International Nuclear Crises
North Korea: In view of the failure of successive rounds of Six Party Talks to achieve measurable progress towards resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, the Preventive Defense Project seeks to cultivate a more effective international response to breaking the stalemate through intense "track-two" discussions with U.S., Chinese, South Korean, Japanese, and Russian officials. The Project also seeks an opportunity to return to its contacts at high levels in the North Korean government at a propitious time.
Iran: In light of the fragility of the current European diplomatic effort to halt Iranian nuclear enrichment, the Preventive Defense Project has convened a workshop designed to develop a coherent "Plan B" strategy for dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons program should the EU-led talks with Iran ultimately fail.
Countering the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD):The Preventive Defense Project seeks to address a set of forward-looking WMD problems, including: what to do the day after an actual nuclear detonation in a major world city; the relationship that U.S. actions with respect to its own nuclear weapons arsenal has on nonproliferation; the relationship between energy security and nonproliferation; and how to identify tomorrow's proliferation regimes and reduce the likelihood that they will seek to acquire WMDs.
Developing sustainable cooperative security relationships with U.S. allies and international organizations: The Preventive Defense Project seeks to redirect the mission and purpose of U.S. cooperative security relationships that were a hallmark of U.S. national security policy during the Cold War to meet the new security challenges of the 21st century. PDP's activities have focused on NATO, U.S.-South Korea, and U.S.-Japan alliances.
Reforming the NPT System: The Preventive Defense Project has worked to reform and strengthen the NPT system by making significant contributions to the Policy Advisory Group convened by then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Richard Lugar. Specifically, the Project has studied emerging issues such as: the fuel cycle proliferation threat; the NPT right of withdrawal; treaty verification and enforcement; the sub-state nuclear threat; and the U.S.-India nuclear deal.
Revising the U.S. National Security "Architecture": New threats to U.S. security such as WMD proliferation, catastrophic terrorism, and failed states require government-wide responses that are fundamentally interagency in nature. The existing U.S. national security establishment, with its emphasis on traditional, agency-centered roles and responsibilities, is not organized effectively to mount such responses. The Preventive Defense Project is therefore working to promote a new national security architecture that is better suited to conduct vital cross-cutting missions such as homeland security, counter-terrorism, and counter-proliferation. Such an architecture begins with effective high-level management.
Defense Budget and Transformation
Most national security debate concerns the ends of our policies, but too often neglected are the means by which we implement those strategies. While the U.S. military is the finest fighting force in the world, the system that supports it in the Defense Department, and other parts of the national security and foreign policy establishments, does not exhibit the same level of proficiency. Operating with Cold War-era structures and practices, the system suffers from an array of managerial problems, organizational flaws, and technological deficiencies that increasingly threaten our military's readiness and effectiveness. The Preventive Defense Project's highly acclaimed book, Keeping the Edge: Managing Defense for the Future (The MIT Press, 2001) explored these issues and provided specific recommendations about how the U.S. national security establishment - and especially the Department of Defense - should change to improve the U.S. ability to implement its chosen policies, to manage its programs, and to anticipate and adapt to a changing and uncertain world.