4-D Approach

Effective American leadership in the 21st century requires us to employ every tool of global engagement to seize opportunities for progress and resolve complex challenges. Truman refers to this as the 4-D approach – where America leverages its Defense, Diplomatic, Development and Democratic engagement tools to lead towards a safer, more prosperous world.

Defense and Intelligence. Together with our allies, our military and intelligence communities must maintain the strength and agility to deter conflict, and quickly and decisively defeat any adversary when conflict is unavoidable. Our military plays an indispensable daily role in maintaining global stability, but we must never forget that the large-scale use of military force is a profoundly costly and uncertain matter of last resort.

Diplomacy and Alliances. Protecting American national security requires a continued investment in strong security alliances and diplomatic engagement with allies and adversaries. Our interests may at times require ad-hoc coalitions, or even unilateral action, but America cannot solve today’s transnational threats without the sustained cooperation of nations who understand that we face shared challenges.

Development and Trade. Violent extremists and organized criminals take advantage of state weakness, poverty, and corruption to further their aims. America must attack these threats with a serious investment in strategic development aid and a commitment to free and fair trade.  A commitment to open trade requires an equal commitment to supporting labor rights and environmental protections to ensure that a competitive global markets lift people up, rather than pulling us down.

Democracy and the Rule of Law. Advancing American national security requires us to promote our deepest values of freedom and liberty in deed and word.  Democracies that abide by the rule of law and uphold minority rights are more stable and less likely to go to war with one another. Robust democracy cannot come at the barrel of a gun. America must help liberate those inside oppressed countries and help them build strong democratic institutions.