For the past two decades U.S. naval power has not been directly challenged by another nation. The Navy’s ability to conduct large-scale operations and sustain forces overseas has been unparalleled. It is less certain whether the Navy will remain dominant throughout the present decade. It may face asymmetric challenges rather than a peer force in the classical Mahanian model of naval competition. Such challenges could well include shifts in foreign-policy objectives and result in shortfalls in the effectiveness of our naval power.
During the 20th century America’s interests became global. Will the high cost of sustaining such interests overshadow the necessity of meeting financial and social obligations in the United States? How will this affect America’s foreign policy?
In his speech to the Detroit Economic Club on 27 August 2010, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen addressed the same point, going so far as to call U.S. debt the greatest threat to national security.1