Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

History shows danger of arbitrary defense cuts

Paula G. Thornhill. CNN, 23 November 2011.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/23/opinion/thornhill-defense-cuts/index.html

Excerpt:

The nation’s leadership needs a Plan B so that a heroic assumption — or hope — about the unlikelihood of future wars does not inadvertently lead to strategic disaster. This is harder than it seems. Plan B would allow more flexibility to meet what could go wrong in the strategic environment rather than just making budget cuts.

Editor’s Comment:

Plan B is to maintain a good ‘strategic reserve.’ As neo-conservatives like to point out the United States spends only 4.5% of its GDP on its military. If new threats pinch, the U.S. can easily ramp up spending and engage its still considerable industrial and knowledge base. The problem this country faces with a reconstitution strategy is lack of political will. Civilian leaders are loathe to ask the American people to sacrifice. A robust National Guard and Reserve force that is not abused by frequent deployments to unnecessary wars and a societal expectation to pay a tax surcharge in times of national emergency are the fundamentals of what this country needs to be strategically prepared while maintaining a small standing peacetime force. With such a strategic plan the U.S. can be well provisioned for any threat.

A 1% Solution Gives Pentagon Strategic Choices

Matthew Leatherman. Bloomberg Government, 21 November 2011.
http://defensealt.org/veAUPs

Israel vs Iran: the regional blowback

Paul Rogers. Open Democracy, 11 November 2011.
http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-iran-regional-blowback

Excerpt:

The near-unavoidable reality is that out of confrontation Iran will soon acquire a limited nuclear arsenal. This is because even a limited bombing of Iran will create a new dynamic where Iran is at the centre of the post-attack region; will have several new options to impose costs on its opponents; and will go full-tilt for its own deterrent.

If You Want Peace, Stop Clamoring for War

Kelsey Hartigan. Democracy Arsenal, 10 November 2011.
http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2011/11/if-you-want-peace-stop-clamoring-for-war.html

Excerpt:

If Romney believes that he can waltz into the Oval Office, give a few rough and tough speeches and suddenly Iran will open its doors to IAEA inspectors, well, he’s in for a rude awakening.

Belligerent rhetoric won’t solve the situation with Iran. In fact, most experts will tell you that it will make it worse. Threats of military action, or worse, actual military action, will only play into the hands of Iran’s hardliners…If a U.S. military presence was going to convince Iran to cooperate, I would have thought it would have happened by now.

Going for Broke: The Budgetary Consequences of Current US Defense Strategy

Carl Conetta. PDA Briefing Memo #52, 25 October 2011.
http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/1110bm52.pdf

Excerpt:

The sharp rise in the Pentagon’s base budget since 1998 (46% in real terms) is substantially due to strategic choice, not security requirements, per se. It reflects a refusal to set priorities as well as a move away from the traditional goals of military deterrence, containment, and defense to more ambitious ends: threat prevention, command of the commons, and the transformation of the global security environment. The geographic scope of routine US military activity also has expanded.

companion piece: The Pentagon’s New Mission Set: A Sustainable Choice?, by Carl Conetta. An updated and expanded excerpt from the Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget (USB) for the United States, August 2011. http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/111024Pentagon-missions.pdf

Strategic Adjustment to Sustain the Force: A survey of current proposals

Charles Knight. Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #51, 25 October 2011.
http://www.comw.org/pda/fulltext/1110bm51.pdf

Excerpt:

…modest changes to U.S. military strategy and global posture implemented over the next ten years can reliably offer deficit-reducing savings from the Pentagon budget ranging from $73 billion a year to $118 billion a year.

To achieve the savings only requires the application of different means to attaining strategic goals. That is precisely what any good strategy does when conditions change.

The Arab Spring and the Future of U.S. Interests and Cooperative Security in the Arab World

W. Andrew Terrill. Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2 August 2011.
http://defensealt.org/H8If97

The world’s best policeman

Jeff Jacoby. Boston Globe, 22 June 2011.
http://defensealt.org/HzhtEB

Excerpt:

…with great power come great responsibilities, and sometimes one of those responsibilities is to destroy monsters: to take down tyrants who victimize the innocent and flout the rules of civilization. If neighborhoods and cities need policing, it stands to reason the world does too. And just as local criminals thrive when cops look the other way, so do criminals on the world stage.

Our world needs a policeman. And whether most Americans like it or not, only their indispensable nation is fit for the job.

Editor’s Comment:

When three-quarters of Americans reject a role of global policeman for the U.S. perhaps they understand something fundamental about policing that Jeff Jacoby doesn’t. A police force without oversight by a judiciary and a guiding body of law is surely a formula for tyranny.

Jacoby would never endorse tyranny, but the avocation to be global policemen by White House occupants who are elected by and responsible to only 10% of the world’s people is a decision to be a vigilante on the global stage. Consider that Americans would be up in arms if China or Russia took it upon themselves to be global vigilantes.

For the leaders of the U.S. to so gladly to take up this role only serves to delay the day when we have capable international judicial and policing institutions. If our leaders attempt to think even a few years into the future it should be clear to them that the practice of vigilantism does not serve American interests.

[A version of this comment was published as a letter to the editor in the Boston Globe, 28 June 2011.]