Continued from page 1

Today politicians in each party compete to get on TV and be quoted in the media by coming up with snappy soundbites - rather than consensus agreements - as quickly as possible. While that may make for good politics, it does not strengthen national security.

The Preliminary Findings Report issued by Project on National Security Reform was like a doctor’s diagnosis of an illness. The next step will be to propose a cure. That will come in October, when the project is scheduled to issue recommendations to restructure our national security system. Work on this is now well under way.

The national security system that served America through the Cold War years is simply no longer adequate for the challenges of the 21st century. Just as no business today could function well operating as it did six decades earlier, the U.S. government’s national security system needs to be updated and improved.

As we saw after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, the way government prepares for and responds to a national security crisis can be, quite literally, a matter of life and death. Making it up as we go along is no longer good enough.

Thomas R. Pickering is a member of the Guiding Coalition of the Project on National Security Reform and vice chairman of Hills & Co. He served as undersecretary of state for political affairs and ambassador to the United Nations and six countries in a diplomatic career that spanned five decades.