Earlier this summer, Richard Betts talked with BookTV in a fascinating discussion about the issues raised in his recent book American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security.
In the interview, Betts discussed how his approach to national security has changed since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. While he saw himself as “hawkish” on military and national security issues during the Cold War, he feels recent, overly aggressive policies have been misguided and costly. Betts argues that the threat of terrorism, while serious, does not approach the magnitude of what the United States was confronting during the Cold War. Thus efforts such as the war against Iraq have been counterproductive.
Richard Betts also responded to questions about a variety of other current issues, including Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, which he supports as the “least bad alternative” in a difficult situation; Iran, which he recognizes as a serious threat but where the policy of sanctions and deterrence must be followed rather than “preventive war.” He also discusses U.S. options in North Korea and Syria.
Betts views preventing terrorists from getting the nuclear bomb as the most crucial issue confronting the United States. However, he also argues that the U.S. must work very hard to build a stronger relationship with China to prevent a Cold War-like situation from developing.