Exclusion as National Security Policy


From Parameters, Spring 1994, pp. 51-65.

In the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States has transformed its basic security policy. Although not explicitly stated, a policy of Exclusion has replaced Containment as the basic theme in American security efforts.

Whenever any country, alliance, organization, or corporation challenges US international interests, Washington's immediate reaction is predictable: exclude the challenger from sources of trade, capital, and aid. The usual vehicle is sanctions. In 1993, sanctions were central to the US security response in Haiti, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Guatemala, Libya, the former Yugoslavia, and Nigeria. Although armed intervention remains an option in all crises, US policymakers consider it a last resort. They prefer sanctions as the primary US response to international crisis. Given this reality, practitioners and students of American security policy need to understand the rationale and effect of this de facto security policy.

The Foundations of Exclusion

In a June 1993 speech to European Community foreign ministers, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said: "We need a collective policy of containment to halt Iran's nuclear and chemical weapons programs. Iran must understand it cannot have normal commercial relations if it pursues a program of developing weapons of mass destruction."[1] Prior to joining the Clinton Administration as senior defense policymakers, Ashton Carter and William Perry wrote: "The use of military force by the United Nations--or any nation--is a last resort, to be invoked only after political pressure and economic sanctions have failed."[2]

Although not articulated, a common theme in both statements is Exclusion. When US security is challenged, it is the de facto policy of the United States to signal resolve, punish, coerce compliance, or mitigate adverse effects by excluding the challenger from sources of wealth and power. Exclusion is a "collective policy of containment," prosecuted by withholding normal relations through sanctions. It anticipates using force only as a last resort.

Exclusion is not a new idea. The American colonies boycotted English goods over the Stamp Act. The Union blockaded the Confederacy. The United States has used sanctions and embargoes throughout its history. What's new is its leading role in the post-Cold War era. American policymakers have come to embrace Exclusion as a primary security theme. Since the economy of the United States constitutes 22 percent of the world economy,[3] and the world economy is increasingly interdependent, Exclusion is considered a powerful tool in the hands of American decisionmakers. Past and present examples of Exclusion include:

It is important to note that Exclusion is applicable to more than just nation-states. Alliances, multinational organizations, non-state actors, and corporations are vulnerable to Exclusion. All need access to markets, technology, capital, and resources. This is a significant consideration if trends deemphasizing the nation-state in world affairs continue.

As with military escalation, the national leadership selects levels of Exclusion proportionate to the issue. The severity of Exclusion depends upon the level of injury to US interests; the higher the perceived damage, the more severe the Exclusion. For example, the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Iran resulted in complete Exclusion. Restrictions encompassed trade, bank deposits, investments, travel, education, and arms purchases. Toward the other end of the scale, the 1989 Tiananmen Square shootings resulted only in canceled arms contracts and opposition to International Monetary Fund loans. Exclusion is not a blunt, all-or-nothing instrument. American policymakers can choose from a menu of options to threaten or impose.

Some countries or organizations experience more than one aspect of Exclusion. For example, the United States has long refused Cuban imports and exports. Travel restrictions are tight; foreign aid, zero. In addition, the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act expanded Exclusion by prohibiting even foreign subsidiaries of US firms from doing business with Cuba.

Furthermore, Americans consider Exclusion a sufficient policy toward Cuba. Americans who wouldn't dream of invading Cuba believe it to be perfectly within their rights to impose commercial and cultural Exclusion on that country. The popular rationale is straightforward: let the punishment fit the crime. Cuba's rejection of American values warrants America's withholding the fruits of those values.

This policy is consistent with mainstream American opinion. Americans traditionally view international relations as a voluntary effort. They believe no one has a right to American markets, products, or cooperation without American consent. When their interests are challenged, they have few compunctions about disrupting commercial and cooperative agreements with the challenger. Whether the other party agrees is considered irrelevant.

Western[4] Cooperation

This de facto security policy of Exclusion, however, contains a major handicap: what America can deny a challenger is usually available through other countries. Thus unilateral Exclusion may not achieve its purpose. For example, it would do little good for the United States to "exclude" Libyan oil if Italy continued its imports. South Africa evaded the US arms embargo via Israeli and French sources. Iraq bypassed the US nuclear technology embargo through firms in Germany. The Soviet Union evaded the 1980 grain embargo through purchases in Argentina. Since no single nation has a monopoly on trade, technology, capital, and resources, and since America's share of world trade is decreasing, Exclusion requires Western cooperation.

The United States seeks this cooperation in many ways. The preferred forum has been the United Nations Security Council. UN sanctions provide legitimacy in terms of international law. They firm political will within member states, enabling sanction enforcement over extended periods. The effects of UN sanction resolutions may increase as the UN pursues the Secretary General's "Agenda for Peace."

Regardless of the mechanism, the American goal has been to unify Western actions in pursuit of Western security. By working together, the United States and the other capitalist democracies can exert immense leverage worldwide. As a Defense Department official noted: "North America, the European Community, and Japan together account for almost ninety percent of the world's GNP [Gross National Product]. The US and the [European Community] each have GNPs of roughly $5 trillion. This economic power gives us tremendous resources and leverage with which to pursue our common goals of political and economic freedom."[5] The list of international systems controlled or dominated by Western nations is extensive. Western nations:

As the world becomes more interdependent, the levers of power that control these systems become very important. Since these levers affect nearly every transaction, the capitalist democracies influence (if not control) all substantial international economic and commercial activity. From telephone calls and air travel to imports, exports, and money transfers, very little happens without critical Western involvement. Peter Drucker observed: "Even the Ayatollah could fight the West only by using money paid by the West for Iranian oil to buy Western technology and Western arms."[6] The West also owns the keys to future development through control of capital, research, and technical education. Importantly, the West maintains the military might to insulate this status from military attack. For example, a primary mission of Western military forces in the Persian Gulf after Operation Desert Storm has been to enforce sanctions.

The cooperation required for an effective policy of Exclusion is hardly a given. In fact, many nations may reject Exclusion as impractical due to deep misgivings about allied reliability. This is a thin argument, since depending on allies is nothing new. Western nations did not go it alone during the Cold War. They worked together in terms of basing permission, force availability, combined military planning, and export restrictions. Allied cooperation was crucial to enforce containment during the Cold War. Cooperation was gained through a commonality of interests, enhanced by vigorous US leadership. The same challenge and solution apply in the post-Cold War era.

In addition, domestic political realities require allied cooperation. Few national leaders wish to operate independently during international crises. They want multinational support. The absence of foreign support--be it UN, NATO, coalition, or bilateral--will severely weaken domestic support for a specific foreign policy in most democracies. Realistically, any Western security policy must recognize the necessity for allied cooperation and incorporate its benefits.

Cooperation is also needed from the West's partners. While nations such as Russia and China are not part of the Western camp, they can frustrate Exclusion efforts. The desire for inclusion within the Western system is key when dealing with these and other non-Western nations. The West can offer levels of inclusion within their system to obtain support from such countries. For example, the United States could offer loan guarantees to Russia in return for an aid cut-off to Cuba. Germany could make Romanian trade contingent upon Bucharest's compliance with sanctions on Serbia. In these hypothetical examples, the carrot of inclusion in the Western system works hand-in-hand with the security stick of Exclusion. American reaction to China's export of ballistic missile technology to Pakistan provides a specific recent instance of carrot and stick diplomacy. In this case, the United States imposed minor sanctions to try to dissuade China from further exports of missile technology.

By contrast to a policy of high-risk unilateral Exclusion, multilateral Exclusion has tremendous potential. By working together, the nations of the West can use Exclusion to strengthen their security.

Potential Effects

Exclusion has considerable potential. Targeted correctly, an Exclusion campaign can reduce trade to a trickle. Replacement parts, sources of electricity, and the necessities of wealth creation are all vulnerable to a properly crafted Exclusion campaign. By disrupting these and other key elements of national power, Exclusion can bring both the present and the future of a country or organization to a halt.

Over time, Exclusion should rechannel or at least restrict a state or organization's behavior. The sanctions against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein illustrate this range. According to the CIA, sanctions halted more than 90 percent of Iraq's imports and exports prior to Desert Storm.[7] While their continuance may or may not cause sufficient unrest to drive a change in government in Baghdad, their imposition makes it nearly impossible for Saddam to establish regional hegemony. According to then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, the Iraqi military is "about 40 percent of what it was before Desert Storm. It's maybe been built up a little bit, but not much, because the sanctions are still on [as are] other economic pressures."[8] Another source put it this way: "As long as the sanctions are there, [Saddam] cannot possibly achieve a prewar level."[9]

There will be occasions, especially when the target is powerful, when the situation requires a faster response than that offered by Exclusion. Again the case of present-day Iraq is illustrative. Saddam has ample supplies of energy and continues to control the security apparatus; these assets could keep him in power while Iraq builds or buys weapons of mass destruction. In such cases, the United States retains the option of selective military strikes to aggravate the effects of Exclusion. Today this option probably would be invoked only if the danger was imminent and attack the only alternative to inaction. Tomorrow, the advent of non-lethal weaponry may make this option increasingly attractive. Non-replaceable nodes, especially those purchased from the West, offer high leverage. When the target's behavior improves, the West could then replace those critical infrastructure components.

Exclusion also can be applied against specific segments of a society. It may not be necessary or even desirable to punish an entire society. For example, if the ruling elite is the problem (e.g., present-day Haiti; the Marcos regime in the Philippines), its overseas bank accounts and investments could be identified and frozen.[10] Decisionmakers could be designated as pariahs in the international community, their passports rendered useless in the West. In some cases, these and other limited actions may be sufficiently coercive to modify behavior. Although the United States usually implements Exclusion against entire societies, the opportunity for selective application within a society exists as well.

Just as with actual combat, Exclusion can inflict casualties on both sides. Midwest farmers remember the failed Soviet grain embargo of 1980. Dock workers in both countries lost their jobs when the United States banned banana imports from Nicaragua to pressure the Sandinistas. Also, excluding a company's products from the US market may decrease American competitiveness until ways are found to work around the problem. To moderate expectations, these downsides should be communicated to the American people prior to implementation. However, when the alternatives are either inaction or attack, the amount of pain (and the attendant risk) is far less with Exclusion.

North Korea offers a current example of Exclusion's effects and the associated risk. North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons constitutes the CIA's "most grave current concern."[11] So how can the United States frustrate North Korea's weapons program? By preemptive military strikes? That seems unlikely. Another military option is to accept their deployment, then depend on anti-ballistic missiles for defense. This is an expensive proposition with insufficient guarantees of absolute success. The preferred method to date has been to rely on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), buttressed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. However, North Korea's threatened withdrawal from the NPT would negate this method. A possible US counter could be to threaten total Exclusion, sanctioned by the UN. This effort, to include an embargo of oil, could bring North Korea to a halt, thus stopping any further weapons development. Resumption of trade would be contingent on adherence to the NPT, with intrusive IAEA inspections.

Implementing total Exclusion on North Korea entails considerable risk. It would cause Kim Il Sung's regime to face almost certain economic--and political--collapse. With little to lose, Kim might resume the war in Korea. Such a possibility presents policymakers with a limited number of options. One option is to do nothing and hope for the best. Another option is to bomb known North Korean nuclear facilities, which might start a war. In this particular case, Exclusion may be the best of several bad alternatives. As David Baldwin wrote in Economic Statecraft, "Alternatives matter. Information about the likely utility of a given tool of statecraft acquires significance only by comparison with alternative policy instruments. Assertions that economic statecraft will not work should be accompanied by suggestions as to what policy option is likely to work better."[12]

Exclusion has other limitations. It does not apply to humanitarian operations, such as the 1992-93 Somalia operation, Provide Hope. Humanitarian missions are undertaken for reasons other than national security. As a result, Exclusion (a national security policy) is a poor guide in some circumstances.

Exclusion also has proven unworkable in the face of hostile opposition by a superpower. That's why Exclusion did not work in Korea (1950) or Vietnam (1965). During the Cold War, the USSR and its allies supplied North Korea and North Vietnam despite US sanctions. The Cold War limited the United States' ability to enforce Exclusion without risking nuclear war. The end of the Cold War removes this impediment.


While agreeing with this concept in general, some may be troubled by the word "Exclusion," which is a negative word. More positive terms usually gain wider support, although "containment" was also a negative concept. Instead, some may prefer "Inclusion" as a more positive statement of policy. This is a reasonable position. However, such wordsmithing may confuse the debate by using the same term for both national policy and national security policy.

"Inclusion" is the implicit overall policy of the United States government. Although usually stated in domestic terms ("The Politics of Inclusion"), it also applies abroad. In foreign affairs, the goal of the United States is to "include" as many individuals, groups, or nations as possible within the system of democratic values and interests. In President Clinton's words, "If we could make a garden of democracy and prosperity and free enterprise in every part of this globe, the world would be a safer and a better and a more prosperous place for the United States and for all of you to raise your children in."[13]

In theory, including states in the Western orbit results in greater stability. It has become a fashionable concept for dealing with the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Initiatives such as extending the security umbrella, granting most favored nation status, and providing investment credits are considered essential to fostering democratic capitalism in these states. Democratic capitalism, in turn, is deemed essential to stability. As stated by then-President Bush, "What is it we want to see? It is a growing community of democracies anchoring international peace and stability, and a dynamic free-market system generating prosperity and progress on a global scale."[14] Simply stated, Americans feel most secure in a world where ideas, people, and commerce move as freely as possible. This is not a new position; Inclusion has been an American foreign policy theme since the founding of the Republic.

While pursuing Inclusion, it is unrealistic to assume that all international actors will eventually adopt values compatible with those of the United States. Different values, the products of different cultures, will certainly endure. Although different cultures can exist without conflict, different values may result in radically different interests. When such interests conflict with those of the United States, Washington will need a policy to secure its objectives. According to the National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake: "Our policy toward such states must seek to isolate them diplomatically, militarily, economically, and technologically. It must stress intelligence, counterterrorism, and multilateral export controls. It must also apply global norms regarding weapons of mass destruction and ensure their enforcement."[15] This national security policy is best described as Exclusion. It can be applied against both state and non-state actors, some of which may already belong to the Western system. As a security tool, it embodies the stick, while dangling the carrot of Inclusion.

Offsetting Weakness

Exclusion plays to America's strengths. It has the added benefit of mitigating major American weaknesses. These weaknesses involve casualty intolerance, impatience, and non-state actors.

Casualty intolerance. The specter of casualties and prisoners inhibits the national leadership from committing armed force. Prior to the Desert Storm ground offensive, then-Secretary of Defense Cheney said low casualties were his "number one priority."[16] This was a remarkable statement; victory is usually the number one priority. Navy Lieutenant Robert Goodman's capture in Syria in 1983 after a bombing raid became an international incident. American reaction to the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, the attack on USS Stark, and the Ranger ambush in Somalia illustrate this constraint on national decisionmakers. If American soil is directly attacked (e.g., Pearl Harbor), Americans will accept high casualties. During the Cold War, Americans accepted high casualties in Korea and Vietnam because of the perceived threat of communism.[17] However, in the post-Cold War era, if the fight is over American interests, casualty tolerance will be far less.

This intolerance extends beyond US citizens. When cruise missiles struck Baghdad in 1993, several civilians died. While the American people accepted these deaths as tragic mistakes, the Iraqi government gained considerable propaganda advantage with "state funerals" and media tours of destroyed homes. While no data are available, this propaganda may have swayed considerable numbers of people around the world. In today's world, the use of force faces strong restrictions. Therefore, alternate forms of coercion, or compellence, are needed. These alternate forms must minimize all types of casualties. Exclusion offers the possibility of coercion without attack; casualties should be minimal.

Impatience. American impatience with foreign affairs takes many forms. Once a security challenge is identified, Americans want an immediate response. Public opinion pressures the President to take some action on Day One of every crisis. If the challenge is well defined and unquestionably serious, military options are possible. If the issue is ambiguous, "signaling American resolve" via aircraft carrier deployments and diplomatic missions is the usual first step. Unfortunately, while signals demonstrate concern, they have no teeth. Exclusion, on the other hand, offers a range of immediate steps short of military force early in a crisis, with the added benefit of coercive effect.

Once fighting begins, Americans may have even less patience. No sooner are troops committed than deadlines for their withdrawal are demanded. Potential adversaries are aware of this American characteristic, which lessens the coercive value of military threats. An American threat of long-term military action may not always be very credible. Conversely, Americans have little problem imposing Exclusion over the long term. Cuba (since 1959) and Vietnam (since 1975) are two examples. Exclusion seems to have been unaffected by American impatience.

Non-state actors. The principles of Exclusion also are applicable to influencing various types of non-state actors. Certainly Exclusion is well suited to protecting and advancing American interests with international corporations, since fewer and fewer corporations operate in only one country.[18] Because the actions of corporations can directly affect US security (weapons sales, sanctions compliance, environmental responsibility), and with reduced control of corporate behavior by host governments, the United States needs a way to apply pressure directly to corporations. The threat of Exclusion from Western markets, financial institutions, and commercial infrastructures should dissuade most corporations from actions injurious to US security. If not, the actual imposition of Exclusion should mitigate the undesirable effects of the actions.

Non-state actors representing multiple states, such as European Community trade commissioners, or representing elements of a society, such as the Japanese zaibatsu, present unique challenges to policymakers. In this regard, again, trade and industrial policy become increasingly included within the national security arena. According to President Clinton, "The foreign policy of my Administration will be built upon three pillars. First, we will make the economic security of our nation a primary goal of our foreign policy."[19] In the past, when the independence of Western Europe and Japan depended to some measure on the US security umbrella, multinational groups could be approached through allied governments. However, with no Soviet threat, that security umbrella has less leverage. As a result, the United States needs an alternative. Since these non-state actors depend on access to institutions controlled by the United States and its allies, the best tool available to the United States is Exclusion, in one of its many forms.

Certainly other non-state actors may be less susceptible to Exclusion. Extra-national actors, such as the PLO, may fall into this category. And the United States may be even less capable of positively modifying the behavior of extra-legal actors, such as the drug cartels, whether through Exclusion or through military action. Such exceptions, however, do not diminish the role of Exclusion in promoting US interests with more traditional non-state actors.


Although Exclusion is the de facto security policy of the United States, it is poorly articulated. This lack of explicit recognition contributes to faulty implementation. In both national and international affairs, the US government usually implements Exclusion on an ad hoc basis. Organizations responsible for military, economic, commercial, and political instruments of national power are only loosely tied together. They sometimes work well together during a crisis; they tend to falter when the lack of institutional coherence degrades long-term follow-through. They bring little artistry to execution; target states and organizations routinely maneuver within the decision loop of the United States and its allies. Fortunately, this situation could be improved through alliances, domestic coordination, institutional responsibility, and military force structure.

Alliances. Since alliance cooperation is essential to effective Exclusion, and since Exclusion employs all instruments of power, America's alliance structures need to incorporate all instruments of power. For example, NATO Headquarters in Brussels should review alliance capabilities concerning sanctions. Establishing or enhancing liaison with multilateral monitoring agencies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the London Suppliers Group, could improve anti-proliferation efforts.

Eventually, this might lead to integrating COCOM (Coordinating Committee on Multilateral Export Controls) with NATO, and adding a G-7 liaison.[20] The G-7, whose economic strength is essential for international security, should "form a kind of steering committee to deal with security and economic problems," and "become the premier instrument of Western policy in dealing with international crises."[21]

In the long term, adding other industrial democracies, such as Japan and Australia (already members of COCOM), to a redefined NATO would enhance Exclusion's coercive potential. The intent of such an initiative would be to combine the four key instruments of power (political, economic, social, and military) of all NATO states to facilitate sanction selection and enforcement.

Domestic coordination. The United States should modify its national security apparatus to enhance its Exclusion policy. Currently, the key instruments of national power are controlled by different executive departments: State, Treasury, Commerce, and Defense. Some departments work closely together, such as State and Defense. Others, such as Defense and Commerce, have very weak ties. These four departments need to integrate their national security functions.

Some might argue that the interagency process already provides this integration. That argument misses the point. Coordinating between departments is not the same as unified planning and execution. Assuming a degree of intelligence and sophistication in an opponent, plus the consequences of increased profit opportunities for commercial interests, the United States must structure its Exclusion apparatus to anticipate options and then quickly manipulate the levers of national power in an integrated fashion. This facility is key to our success.

Unfortunately, such facility is lacking. To illustrate this, imagine a hypothetical scenario in which China and Pakistan fight over disputed territory. Would the United States immediately respond with military force? Possibly (the United States has a security treaty with Pakistan), but not likely. Nonetheless, prudence dictates military contingency plans and war games. Given this same situation, would the United States immediately respond with some level of Exclusion? Almost certainly. The national leadership might suspend trade, restrict loans, and cancel contracts. These actions could have immediate effects. In 1992, Chinese exports totaled $85 billion; 30 percent went to the United States. China's trade surplus with the United States was $18.2 billion.[22] Non-economic options might include denial of student visas and opposition to Chinese initiatives in the UN. These are significant options. But who has planned for these options and gamed their systemic effects? Who has prudently prepared contingency plans for employing these non-military instruments of national power? In this scenario, the least likely US response (military action) has probably received more advanced planning than the most likely response (Exclusion).

The Clinton Administration's creation of a National Economic Council (NEC) may be a step in the right direction. While Defense and State, through the National Security Council, have always had a voice on security matters within the White House, Treasury and Commerce may gain a similar voice on security matters through the NEC. If the staffs of these two councils were pulled together, they could better integrate the major instruments of national power at the strategic level.

Institutional responsibility. Once the national leadership directs Exclusion against a particular state or organization, it should be treated as an "Exclusion Campaign." This campaign may last for years. It may involve several series of dynamic actions across a broad spectrum of issues. Continuity of policy will be important, as will the authority to rapidly shift tactics when conditions change. We should organize ourselves to work together, not just side-by-side, over an extended period of time. In such cases, making a single agency responsible for success or failure would be the best organizational structure. This agency might coordinate operations over an extended period, possibly decades, as with Cuba. Thus, an institution--with an institutional memory and institutional commitment--is preferable to a committee. Decentralized or ad hoc operational control won't work.

An existing institution, such as the Department of State, the Department of Defense, or one of the military services, could assume this role. In so doing, it would expand its decision authority to encompass economic, commercial, political, and military matters. An alternative would be to create a new institution, possibly modeled on the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, whose responsibilities cross many existing departments. Either course would be unpopular. Since power in Washington is a zero-sum game, and since this proposal would shift considerable power, different segments of the bureaucracy will oppose either management concept.

Despite their opposition, we require a decision on structure. The United States currently employs Exclusion as its de facto national security policy. Its importance will likely grow. National security would be best served if one institution was responsible for Exclusion's articulation, comprehensive implementation, and success.

Military force structure. A national security policy of Exclusion affects US military force structure decisions. In general, Exclusion requires military forces that are capable of protecting the policy and its effects, denying the enemy a military option to end its Exclusion, identifying enemy vulnerabilities, and creating or accelerating an Exclusion environment by denying needed resources. More specific military requirements include the following:

Sanctions enforcement. In a humane and effective manner (and with few casualties), military units must be capable of enforcing political and commercial sanctions. Political sanctions may impose loss of sovereignty over specific areas (e.g., no-fly zones in Iraq and Bosnia). Commercial sanctions may block both exports and imports. While some level of smuggling is inevitable, military forces must be able to identify and stop large-scale trade.

Surveillance. Knowledge of trade and information patterns within a state or organization is crucial to Exclusion enforcement. This charter is within the competence of military intelligence systems. The Director of US Naval Intelligence recently identified economic analysis and strategic trade as matters of "increasing importance. . . . It's the one area in my business where we've actually gotten a plus-up in money and people."[23] Intelligence systems and methods can detect substantial leaks by specific nations or companies. Intelligence agencies also can identify crucial nodes in the target's system. These nodes may include time-sensitive capital requirements, sole-source raw material needs, ethnic discord, and electrical and transportation infrastructures, in addition to well-understood military targets. For Exclusion to succeed, we must be able to identify weaknesses, priorities, and leaks, to include specific source and content.

Border restoration. An aggressor may attempt to present the United States and its allies with a fait accompli via a rapid territorial grab, as did Iraq in 1990. In this case, Exclusion may be impractical either as a deterrent prior to aggression or as a concept for restoring the status quo. As in the Containment era, military forces must be able to roll the aggressor back to within its boundaries. Exclusion could then be applied to punish, restrict further aggression, and coerce correction.

Selective destruction. To aggravate the effect of Exclusion, destruction of critical nodes may be necessary. For example, the effect of an oil cutoff would be accelerated through destruction of oil storage tanks and refineries. Another option might be to destroy crucial nodes for which the West is the sole source of repair parts or expertise.

Military education. In the aftermath of Vietnam, American military officers have relearned the importance of politics. They have taken to heart Clausewitz's theory of politics as the ultimate purpose of war. Military officers have studied political science and served in politico-military billets. Those crafting military strategy have developed an understanding of war's political effects.

As the world shifts emphasis from geopolitics to geoeconomics, American military professionals must adjust again. They must learn the economic and commercial effects of military power. When presenting his budget, then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin emphasized the importance of economic strength to American national security: "In the short run, the national security of the United States is protected by military force. In the long run, the national security of the United States is protected by economic strength."[24] For the same reasons that these factors are important to America, they are important to other nations and groups. All depend upon economic and commercial health for security, and that health is vulnerable to Exclusion. When implemented, Exclusion may require military action. Just as with political effects, however, military officers must now learn to understand the economic and commercial effects of their actions if military operations are to succeed.


In the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States has gradually reshaped its national security policy. Containment, authored by George Kennan and others in the late 1940s, has given way to a new American security policy. Although this shift and its implications have yet to be explicitly recognized, the evolving American security policy is best described as Exclusion.

Reluctant to use force to secure its interests, the United States employs other means to protect its legitimate interests and to support basic human values. When a state, organization, government, or people transgress against basic American objectives, US policy generally is to exclude that group from the benefits of normal relations. Given the significant benefits of normal relations with the United States, the threat or actual imposition of Exclusion may coerce substantial changes in behavior.

With allied cooperation, rogue actors can be isolated from the developed community. Access to trade, communications, banking, capital, travel, and energy can be denied. Since all depend to some degree on these infrastructures, and since the Western nations control access, the threatened or actual Exclusion from the Western system is a powerful weapon.

This policy can be imposed over an extended period of time. If the nature of the behavior requires an immediate response, Exclusion's effects can be accelerated through selective military strikes on critical nodes dependent on Western sources for repair. Repair would be contingent upon a redress of grievances.

For maximum effect, Exclusion is best controlled by modified security structures. At the multinational level, alliance structures would expand to include economic and commercial staffs. The intent would be to combine the economic power of the G-7, the commercial power of COCOM, and the military power of the United States and its allies. At the national level, an institution with the responsibility and capability to integrate key instruments of national power over an extended period of time is needed. Teamwork between staffs of the National Security Council and the new National Economic Council would be a step in the right direction.

The concept of Exclusion is not new; it has a long history and is today's de facto American national security policy. However, this security policy is not explicitly recognized. As a result it is poorly organized. A comprehensive Exclusion policy, in cooperation with allies, offers the United States a coercive security framework suited to both American interests and the post-Cold War world.


1. "U.S. Urges Halt to Iran Sales," The Washington Post, 10 June 1993, p. 25.

2. Ashton B. Carter, William J. Perry, and John D. Steinbrunner, A New Concept of Cooperative Security, Brookings Occasional Papers, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., 1992, p. 25. In 1993, Perry became the Deputy Secretary of Defense; Carter became the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Security and Counter-Proliferation.

3. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook 1992 (Washington: Brassey's, 1993), pp. 359, 376. Based on 1991 statistics.

4. For brevity, "Western" is shorthand for nations the World Bank classifies as "industrial countries." Other synonyms include "developed countries" and "capitalist democracies."

5. Paul Wolfowitz, "North American-European-Japanese Security: An American Perspective," speech delivered 17 June 1990 to a NATO conference at Knokke-Heist, Belgium.

6. Peter Drucker, The New Realities (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 28.

7. Les Aspin, Sanctions, Diplomacy, and War in the Persian Gulf (Washington: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1991), p 13.

8. Interview with Frank Sesno on CNN's "Newsmaker Sunday," 27 June 1993.

9. Interview with General George Crist (USMC, Ret.), former commander, US Central Command, by David Martin, "CBS Evening News," 29 June 1993.

10. On 4 June 1993, the US government froze the cash accounts, real estate, and other property of 83 individuals and 35 institutions supporting the military government in Haiti. It also barred Haitian families supporting that government from entering the United States. See "New Sanctions By US Aimed at Haiti Rulers, The New York Times, 5 June 1993, p. 1.

11. CIA Director James Woolsey, quoted in National Review, 29 March 1993, p. 12.

12. David A. Baldwin, Economic Statecraft (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1985), p. 371.

13. President Clinton's speech at American University, 26 February 1993.

14. President Bush's address at the Coast Guard Academy graduation ceremony, 24 May 1989.

15. Anthony Lake, speech at Johns Hopkins University, 21 September 1993, quoted in The New York Times, 26 September 1993, p. D3.

16. "Low Casualties Are Top Priority," Associated Press Wire News Highlights, 8 February 1991.

17. As the link between the Cold War and the Vietnam War became less certain, casualty tolerance decreased.

18. Robert Reich, The Work of Nations (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), see chap. 12.

19. President-elect Clinton's remarks to the Diplomatic Corps, 18 January 1993. Second priority is military restructuring. Third priority is the spread of democracy.

20. The Group of Seven (G-7) is made up of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy.

21. Richard Burt in an interview with Frank Sesno on CNN's "The World Today," 9 June 1993.

22. Lena H. Sun, "U.S. Warns China That Renewal of Trade Status Depends On Several Conditions," The Washington Post, 13 May 1993, p. A19.

23. "With Cold War Over, Naval Intelligence Focuses On New Missions, Threats," Defense Week, 24 May 1993, p. 10.

24. Department of Defense News Briefing, "FY 1994 Defense Budget," 27 March 1993.

Colonel Jeffery R. Barnett, USAF, is the Senior Military Assistant to the Director of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense. His flying experience is in transport aircraft, including combat airdrops in Southeast Asia. His staff experience includes tours in politico-military affairs at Headquarters Pacific Air Forces and Headquarters USAF. A 1972 graduate of Holy Cross, he earned his M.S. in International Relations from Troy State University. Colonel Barnett is a graduate of the USAF-Army Air Ground Operations School, Squadron Officers School, and the Air War College.

Reviewed 5 May 1997. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil.