When President-Elect Trump and his national security and foreign policy team take office in January, they'll face a formidable map of global threats. Right now, we know little about the President-Elect's foreign policy and national security strategy. But they seem to be focusing much more on countries than on citizens, returning to a classic game of great power politics. The headlines focus on United States, Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other nations. Will Trump cozy up to Putin? Will he create new tensions with China? Will North Korea push us into a potential nuclear conflict?
These are all important questions. But if the new national security team wants to keep America safe, healthy, and prosperous, they will have to look beyond the grand strategy chessboard to the web of networks that link terrorists and global criminals trafficking in arms, drug, and people. These networks also direct migrants and refugees, connecting the world whether or not nations choose to be connected. Policy in this world must look below the surface of the state, focusing on citizens.
All citizens. Here's some advice for the President-Elect and the rest of his team as they begin crafting their strategies: you can't maintain societal stability without thinking about how national security policy can impact women differently than men. For instance, we know that things often go wrong when policy makers don't anticipate how a conflict intervention will affect social stability, the standing of women, or their ability to access food and healthcare for themselves and their families. That costly, time-consuming intervention could end up making a bad situation worse—destabilizing a country or a continent and putting us all at risk. And yet, gender is still considered an afterthought to "hard" security challenges—something to be addressed after we've extinguished the conflagration of conflict.
This special issue of the New America Weekly examines the link between gender and security, looking at how and why it matters to think about a policy's gender impacts, and why policymakers on both sides of the aisle continue to dismiss the linkage. It is, as I've written before, not just about checking a politically correct box, but about creating more effective policies. It is about seeing more clearly that map of emergent threats, and identifying the types of solutions that will make all of us safer.