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Policy Analysis

Policy Focus 107

Obama's National Security Vision: Confronting Transnational Threats with Global Cooperation

Matthew Levitt

Also available in العربية

Counterterrorism Lecture Series, Volume 4

October 2010

The Obama administration's May 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS) laid out a strategic vision that draws on interagency information sharing as well as active engagement with foreign partners to secure American interests. This multilateral approach is likely to succeed in the tactical areas of counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But given the emergence of several critical national security threats -- including Iran's nuclear program and the emerging danger of "homegrown" terror -- the long-term challenge remains considerable. Will the administration's national security vision translate into strategic success?

Obama's National Security Vision: Confronting Transnational Threats with Global Cooperation, the fourth published compilation in the Stein Program's lecture series by senior counterterrorism officials, tracks the evolution of U.S. counterterrorism and counterproliferation policy during the Obama administration's first two years, with particular focus on the 2010 NSS and its implementation by various government agencies. As U.S. officials strive to keep up with the ever-changing tactics of adversaries, the administration's formidable goal of reshaping the current strategic environment demands the kind of timely analysis and creative ideas compiled in this volume.

Offering their unique insights and perspectives:

  • John T. Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Todd M. Rosenblum, deputy undersecretary of Homeland Security
  • Daniel Benjamin, coordinator for counterterrorism, State Department
  • David Cohen, assistant secretary for terrorist financing, Treasury Department
  • Steven Pelak, national coordinator for export enforcement, Justice Department
  • David T. Johnson, assistant secretary of state, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs


Dr. Matthew Levitt, director of the Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, is a former U.S. deputy assistant treasury secretary for intelligence and analysis (2005-2007); in this capacity he coordinated efforts to protect the U.S. financial system from abuse by terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other rogue actors. He writes and comments frequently on Iranian proliferation of weapons to terrorists and on the effectiveness of sanctions to halt Iran's nuclear program. Previously, Dr. Levitt provided tactical and strategic analytical support for counterterrorism operations at the FBI, including the ongoing terrorist threat surrounding the September 11 attacks. Serving as an expert witness for the Justice Department in many terrorism cases, he is a professorial lecturer in international relations and strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University's SAIS. Dr. Levitt is the coauthor, most recently, of the 2010 Strategic Report Fighting the Ideological Battle: The Missing Link in U.S. Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism.

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