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  • Writer's pictureThe Aspen Strategy Group

A Sum Greater Than Its Parts: Integrated Deterrence and Strategic Competition

"We had been living in a world where we believed that the [People’s Republic of China] was going to integrate into the world international rules-based order in a way that was responsible – that’s not the world we live in.” Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

China’s emergent military might, coupled with its international economic power and increasingly global ambitions, have prompted United States and its allies to reevaluate great power competition. The 2022 National Security Strategy (NSS) and National Defense Strategy (NDS) emphasize the need for a fresh approach to address the challenges posed by China and other major powers. Policymakers are trying to navigate this new geostrategic environment while China, the U.S., and many other nations simultaneously pursue significant military modernization efforts. Washington must build and execute a coherent strategy, which can adapt to this evolving landscape.

Integrated Deterrence is a whole-of-government approach that leverages all elements of national power—economic, military, informational, and diplomatic—as well as whole-of-world collaboration with key allies and partners to achieve these goals.

The Aspen Strategy Group, in partnership with MITRE, convened a high-level group of national security and economic strategists to explore Integrated Deterrence and examine its applications for the response to China. This report summarizes ideas from those meetings and recommends rapid improvement of economic-military integration and leveraging the combined economic might of allies and partners.

This strategic approach, rooted in nuclear deterrence theory but expanded to encompass whole-of-government efforts, aims to manage strategic competition, build de-escalatory off-ramps, offer opportunities for cooperation, and prepare for all possibilities.

By leveraging all elements of national power across the whole-of-government and the private sector, the U.S. and its allies can develop a more effective and coordinated strategy to navigate the complex relationship with China and achieve maximum effect in deterring acts of aggression.


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