Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told students at Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School today that the current financial crisis -- particularly the intricate economic interdependence among nations with major militaries -- creates a powerful deterrence against conflict.
Moscow’s military adventure in August against Georgia exacted a toll on Russia’s economy.
“In this market turmoil, Russia and China could have chosen a different path that would have been incredibly difficult for us to survive,” Cartwright told the audience in Baltimore, according to the Armed Forces Press Service.
The interdependence of the world’s economy influenced “a conscious choice by their governments” to think twice about aggression, the Marine general speculated.
Cartwright said that interdependence is reflected in an “as they go, we go and as we go, they go” mentality, which is something that is easier to deal with than the Russian-U.S. strategy during the 1950s to 1980s.
“Much as nuclear weapons in the Cold War tended to be able to tell each other when we were uncomfortable, it’s far more comfortable in my mind to use the economy to tell each other when we’re uncomfortable,” he said.
The 2008 National Defense Strategy, signed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this summer, directs Pentagon planners to try to account for the consequences of globalization and possible economic shocks.
Globalization and growing economic interdependence, while creating new levels of wealth and opportunity, also create a web of interrelated vulnerabilities and spread risks even further, increasing sensitivity to crises and shocks around the globe and generating more uncertainty regarding their speed and effect. Current defense policy must account for these areas of uncertainty.