Posts Tagged ‘Intervention’

What if realists were in charge of U.S. foreign policy?

Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, 30 April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/JXUjc5

Excerpt:

The liberal/neoconservative alliance is responsible for most of America’s major military interventions of the past two decades, as well as other key initiatives like NATO expansion. By contrast, realists have been largely absent from the halls of power or the commanding heights of punditry. That situation got me wondering: What would U.S. foreign policy have been like had realists been running the show for the past two decades?

Editor’s Comment:
Unfortunately we’d only be a little better off. What has been missing is any effort to construct a new international politics following the Cold War. Realism reflects the war system within international politics and will not serve to transcend it.

Maximizing Chances for Success in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel. Brookings Institute, 15 February 2012.
http://defensealt.org/A1HHL6

Excerpt:

The next president will need to move closer to a policy of containing Pakistani aggression, which would mean a more hostile relationship. But, it should be a focused hostility, aimed not at hurting Pakistan’s people but rather at holding its army and intelligence branches accountable.

Editor’s Comment:
I suppose we should give the authors credit for their display of imagination. I, for one, can’t imagine this strategy working. It also raises the question in my mind as to who would be doing the “aggression”, Pakistan or the U.S.?

R2P: The Next Decade

Rachel Gerber. Policy Memo, The Stanley Foundation, 1 February 2012.
http://defensealt.org/AymAmo

Excerpt:

On January 18, 2012, the Stanley Foundation, in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the MacArthur Foundation, convened figures critical to the historical and contemporary evolution of the Responsibility to Protect to assess the current state of the principle and consider the evolving global dynamics that will frame, drive, and challenge policy development in the years ahead.

A bandwagon for offshore balancing?

Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, 01 December, 2011.
http://defensealt.org/Hy7KQE

Excerpt:

…offshore balancing is the right strategy even when our coffers are full, provided that no peer competitors are threatening to dominate key strategic regions. Even during good times, it makes no sense to take on unnecessary burdens or to allow allies to free-ride on Uncle Sam’s hubristic desire to be the “indispensable nation” in almost every corner of the world. In other words, offshore balancing isn’t just a strategy for hard times; it is also the best available strategy in a world where the United States is the strongest power, prone to trigger unnecessary antagonism, and vulnerable to being dragged into unnecessary wars.

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.

Speech by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen at Kansas State University

as delivered by Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas Wednesday, 03 March 2010.
http://www.jcs.mil/speech.aspx?ID=1336

Excerpt:

I’ve come to three conclusions – three principles – about the proper use of modern military forces:

1) … military power should not – maybe cannot – be the last resort of the state. Military forces are some of the most flexible and adaptable tools to policymakers. We can, merely by our presence, help alter certain behavior. Before a shot is even fired, we can bolster a diplomatic argument, support a friend or deter an enemy. We can assist rapidly in disaster-relief efforts, as we did in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake. We can help gather intelligence, support reconnaissance and provide security.

And we can do so on little or no notice. That ease of use is critical for deterrence. An expeditionary force that provides immediate, tangible effects. It is also vital when innocent lives are at risk. So yes, the military may be the best and sometimes the first tool; it should never be the only tool.

2) Force should, to the maximum extent possible, be applied in a precise and principled way.

3) Policy and strategy should constantly struggle with one another. Some in the military no doubt would prefer political leadership that lays out a specific strategy and then gets out of the way, leaving the balance of the implementation to commanders in the field. But the experience of the last nine years tells us two things: A clear strategy for military operations is essential; and that strategy will have to change as those operations evolve. In other words, success in these types of wars is iterative; it is not decisive.

Editor’s Comment:

Mullen’s first principle is dangerous in the extreme. It is a sad reminder of the militarization of the American state. Mullen suffers from an inexplicable amnesia of the horrors of war in the 20th Century.

America will likely be paying a high price for decades to come in what comes around from the quick and easy resort to war in 2002-2003 by policy-makers enthralled with their military instrument. If war is not a last resort, then policy-makers are abject failures as leaders.

An alternative to COIN: It’s time to adapt our security strategy to leverage America’s conventional strengths

Bernard I. Finel. Armed Froces Journal International, February 2010.
http://www.afji.com/2010/02/4387134

Excerpt:

A fundamental challenge in devising a strategy for the use of American military power is that the world has literally never seen anything like it. The U.S. today has military capabilities at least equal to the rest of the world combined. There is virtually no spot on the globe that could not be targeted by American forces, and at most a small handful of countries that could thwart a determined U.S. effort at regime change — and some of those only by virtue of their possession of nuclear weapons.

American military capabilities are not a potential form of power, subject to use only following a lengthy mobilizing and requiring a long campaign to achieve significant goals. Instead, the U.S. can destroy fixed locations in a matter of hours or at most days, and implement regime change in a matter of weeks or a few months.

Because this capability is so novel — dating only to the end of the Cold War — American strategists lack a clear framework to guide the utilization of this force. They have sought to match capabilities to conceptions of the use of force from a different era, one in which the Cold War made regime change unpalatable due to the risk of escalation and that tended to make localized setbacks appear as loses in a perceived zero-sum competition with the Soviets.

The reason, in other words, that the U.S. didn’t simply remove Fidel Castro from power was that after 1962, the international consequences seemed too high and the goal too risky. The reason American leaders felt compelled to engage in a lengthy counterinsurgency in Vietnam was the concern that a communist victory would have been a setback in the broader struggle. But imagine a world in which there were few or no international consequences to removing Castro from power, and imagine a world in which the commitment to Vietnam was strictly commensurate to the threat that the Vietnamese communists could pose to the U.S. That is the change in context that has occurred over the past 20 years, and the U.S. has not yet adapted.

Editor’s Comment:

And so many in the U.S. choose to ignore how this dominant military power motivates other nations to seek nuclear weaponry or hold tightly to those they have acquired already!

Obama’s folly

Andrew J. Bacevich. Los Angeles Times, 03 December 2009.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-bacevich3-2009dec03,0,3209129.story

Excerpt:

So the war launched as a prequel to Iraq now becomes its sequel, with little of substance learned in the interim. To double down in Afghanistan is to ignore the unmistakable lesson of Bush’s thoroughly discredited “global war on terror”: Sending U.S. troops to fight interminable wars in distant countries does more to inflame than to extinguish the resentments giving rise to violent anti-Western jihadism