Russia has been dismissed as a declining by some policymakers and analysts who prefer to focus on competition with China. Yet Russia remains one of the most assertive and powerful states in the international system and ignoring the threat it poses is a strategic error.
In this brief, the authors explore a defense approach they have labeled the Progressive Values Strategy. The strategy is grounded in a view that the military instrument is not well suited to meeting many of the security challenges facing the United States. It focuses on achieving a level of military sufficiency that deters adventurism by others—as well as itself.
A strategic overcorrection has put China at the center of virtually every U.S. national security conversation and consideration. That positioning is at once distracting the United States from appropriately responding to growing trans-regional geopolitical volatility while also failing to achieve outcomes in U.S. China policy.
Geopolitical competition is increasingly playing out in the gray zone—the space beyond diplomacy and short of conventional war. The nature of this competition is forcing the United States to confront the liabilities of its strengths. This report assesses current U.S. government actions to deter, campaign through, and respond to competitors’ gray zone tactics.