Issue Background

Globally Engaged

The international system, comprised of laws, treaties, standards, and organizations, cannot remain effective without United States enforcement.  Therefore the United States must remain active in global affairs if it wishes to enjoy the level of prosperity and security it has come to expect.  The United States Sea Services are critical to maintaining such commonly enjoyed standards as freedom of the seas, international maritime boundaries, the low cost of foreign goods, and maritime economic activity that rely on a stable international environment to work efficiently.  This means that the Sea Service must have enough ships, aircraft, and personnel for the time critical cycle of training, deployment, recovery, and maintenance for both those forward deployed and American based.

The United States’ interests are truly global.  As part of the largest national economy in the world, Americans rely on world-wide trade and business for their prosperity.  The foundation of international trade and economic security is the free flow of goods across international waters and airspace over the world’s oceans, particularly via maritime shipping, which is the most efficient and inexpensive method of transporting goods around the world.  However, the United States and other nations operate in a relatively anarchic environment.  National governments have developed good reputations, signed treaties, created international law and customs, entangled their economies, and formed international organizations to generate greater cooperation among countries.  These principles and standards of behavior have created a system beneficial to all countries with ties to the oceans.  Freedom of movement across the seas allows countries to freely trade with each other, while the vastness of the maritime environment gives governments the flexibility to respond to crises effectively.  For example, one of the most important trade routes passes through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Gulf of Aden.  The immense amount of goods that flow through are a tempting target to pirates but international naval task forces have been able to safeguard people, goods, and ships.  The Suez Canal itself has long operated under international treaty to allow all ships to transit regardless of flag.  The United States currently provides the primary enforcement of international customs and standards, as it is the only country with a military large enough to operate continuously across the globe.  Without American power upholding common values like freedom of the seas, international maritime boundaries, and international standards, the system would not remain stable and America’s economic security would be threatened.  Any power vacuum left by the United States would be quickly filled by another country looking to leverage the international system for its own gain.