A conversation with former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy
America’s strategic position in the Indo-Pacific is under unprecedented strain. Facing an increasingly strong and assertive China and the erosion of its own military-technological edge, the United States can no longer be sure of its ability to maintain deterrence and unilaterally uphold a regional balance of power.
Whoever wins the US presidential election will have to address this reality in the context of growing geopolitical and economic disruption wrought by COVID-19. This will require hard choices about the overall size and structure of the US military, its global operations and force posture, the nature of its engagement with allies and partners, and the way it should counter Chinese grey zone coercion and strengthen deterrence.
How might a Biden administration address these challenges? Where will US defence priorities and trade-offs evolve? And what could this mean for the US-Australia alliance and America’s other allies and partners in the region?
The USSC hosted a webinar featuring Michèle Flournoy, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (February 2009 to February 2012) in the Obama Administration, who shared her views on these important issues.
The webinar was moderated by Ashley Townshend, Director of Foreign Policy and Defence at the United States Studies Centre.
Michèle Flournoy is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of WestExec Advisors, and former Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), where she currently serves on the board. Michèle served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012. She was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense in the formulation of national security and defence policy, oversight of military plans and operations, and in National Security Council deliberations. She led the development of the Department of Defense’s 2012 Strategic Guidance and represented the Department in dozens of foreign engagements, in the media and before Congress. Prior to confirmation, Michèle co-led President Obama’s transition team at the Defense Department.