The prevalence of “U.S.-centric” approaches to addressing international security

Dec 15, 2017 |

Spending the last several months as a visiting scholar at CISSM and the School of Public Policy (SPP) has been a valuable experience for me. By interacting with CISSM experts, participating in CISSM events, attending SPP classes, and engaging other experts in the area, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of how Americans in particular view problems of international security. 

Academic approaches to international security share many common features across borders. But scholars from different countries always bring somewhat different knowledge and often speak from different cultural perspectives. During my time at CISSM, I was surprised to realize how much more common a U.S.-centric approach to international security is in this country than a Russia-centric approach is, with similar tasks, in Russia. 

For example, during a class I sat in on, the task was often to figure out measures that could be applied to resolve a conflict that had the potential to destabilize global security. In the process of working on these somewhat-fictional regional crises, the American students tended to immediately focus on what measures the U.S. government could apply to resolve or mitigate the crisis. These students talked about the crisis management potential of other powers in the conflict region, but not extensively. 

This U.S.-centric way of thinking in some cases downplayed the potential for regional partnerships to play a role in resolving the crisis. The prevalence of this viewpoint can be seen as merely an example of how contemporary politics (e.g. active U.S. foreign policy) influences the process of education, or it can be seen as an opportunity to present a broader (non-U.S.) framing of international security issues.