U.S. Foreign Policy and the Southern Border

U.S. Foreign Policy and the Southern Border: What the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance and the movement of people have to tell us


The Institute for Defense and Business (IDB), a nonprofit education and research institute, has created a panel titled, Security in our Hemisphere: A look at the U.S. southern border and the intersection of development and diplomacy in the security context. The panel which takes place this Thursday, September 2nd at 2pm EDT will discuss two key issues highlighted in the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance (INSSG)—namely human insecurity and irregular migration and examines how to address their root causes. Additionally, the four-person panel comprised of highly qualified experts will provide invaluable insight into the situation at the U.S. southern border and will consider the future of the United States’ role in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, specifically Central America.


As the current U.S. administration approaches its one-year mark, a major task will be addressing a challenging and complex situation at its southern border. Not only must it contend with an influx of individuals arriving at the border, but it will have to account for a long-term approach to curtailing the number of people willing to leave their respective countries for the U.S. In its 2021 report, the Congressional Research Service points to “economic and security conditions being major factors driving migration trends.” A long-term strategy for addressing the factors causing individuals to migrate has the potential to reshape our existing relationships with partners in the LAC region as well as the United States’ security strategy and foreign policy.


The 2021 INSSG, a precursor to the National Security Strategy, provides a vision for how America will engage with the world. Close to home, it outlines steps to strengthen relationships with nations to our south. According to the INSSG, the overarching themes of the current administration are the strengthening of alliances and returning to the global arena. The guidance goes on to highlight that the United States’ critical national interests are intimately connected to the wellbeing of its immediate neighbors in the LAC region. As Dr. Evan Ellis, a research professor of Latin American studies at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute stated in 2020, “U.S. security and prosperity are intimately tied to Latin America through bonds of commerce, geography, and family.”


As the Biden Administration sets out in the INSSG, its intent is to strengthen relationships and partnerships in the Western Hemisphere based on a “commitment to security, human rights and dignity.” According to the strategy, the Administration will work with Congress to provide Central America “4 billion in assistance over four years” in addition to “taking other steps to address the root causes of human insecurity and irregular migration, including poverty, criminal violence, and corruption – problems made exponentially worse by COVID-19 and the deep recession and debt crisis it has wrought throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.”


As these concepts and strategies begin to take shape in policy and practice, informed discussions on their implications are critical. The upcoming panel presents an excellent opportunity to further this conversation.


Clark Streets, IDB Program Associate


Panel Registration Link 


IDB Course Offerings 

In addition to this Thursday’s panel, the IDB will kick-off this year’s iteration of its Security Studies course alongside esteemed faculty from both Duke and Johns Hopkins Universities. 


The Institute for Defense and Business’ Security Studies course introduces participants to the security and geopolitical challenges of the Central and South American region (Latin America), viewed through the framework of U.S. national security strategy and global interests. The course begins by exploring overarching issues in U.S. foreign policy, from the interagency process to the meaning of hard, soft, and smart power. It introduces participants to major debates and themes in American strategy, as described in key documents such as the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance and the National Defense Strategy. While this year’s iteration of the course is centered on the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), it alternates annually between the different U.S. geographic combatant commands.   


About the Institute for Defense and Business 

The Institute for Defense and Business (IDB) delivers educational programs and research to teach, challenge and inspire leaders who work with and within the defense enterprise to achieve next-level results for their organization. IDB features curriculum in Logistics, Supply Chain and Life Cycle Management, Complex Industrial Leadership, Strategic Studies, Global Business and Defense Studies, Continuous Process Improvement, and Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction. Visit www.IDB.org or contact us on our website for more information.  

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