It would be an understatement to say the Coast Guard plays a critical role in the new era of great power competition. The service has several important missions to execute supporting a strong national posture and assisting allies in this changing landscape. The so-called Pax Americana, which endured beyond the end of the Cold War, is giving way to a new model, and the Coast Guard will be important in developing a new era of global peace and prosperity.
A 1992 paper from the U.S. Naval War College, “Toward a Pax Universalis,” outlined several possible ways forward in maintaining global security following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It included discussion of a “naval bridge” strategy—“a combination of improved forward presence and relative closure capability”—that offers a starting point for strategies in the present.1 As China’s regional and global influence grow, the United States—and specifically the Coast Guard—must take lessons learned from the upheaval following the end of the Cold War and incorporate them into a strategic response to ensure sovereignty and prosperity on a global level.
1. Gary Anderson, “Toward a Pax Universalis,” The Newport Papers no. 2 (Newport, RI: U.S. Naval War College, 1992).
2. Lily Kuo and Niko Kommenda, “What Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative?” The Guardian, 30 July 2018.
3. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, “Alameda-based Coast Guard Cutters Depart for Eastern and Western Pacific Patrols” (2019).
4. Ben Werner, “U.S. Navy Destroyer, Coast Guard Cutter Transit Taiwan Strait,” USNI News, 25 March 2019.
5. “How Much Trade Transits the South China Sea?” Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2019.
6. Office of Naval Intelligence, ”Annual Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Summary 2019.”
7. U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Strategic Plan 2018–2022 (Washington, DC: 2018).
8. Reuters, “Mideast Diplomacy—Excerpts from Bush’s Address to General Assembly: For a ‘Pax Universalis,’” The New York Times, 24 September 1991.