Here is a wonderful discussion of how American security has mutated into an American Empire. Seldom are actual threats to America discussed. Threats to American hegemony are presumed to be threats to America. Most of the threats described are never analyzed, probably because they would be shown to have the substance of Saddam’s WMD’s.
The focus is on making the world a better place. Commendable, but for two things:
- we’re borrowing the money for this project, and
- doing it largely by killing.
I wonder what our children and grandchildren will think of the results — as they pay the tab. It’s a gamble without precedent in world history, done without explicit discussion before the American people and Congress. That is, the major public justification for the wars were and are largely lies. Saddam’s WMD’s and ties to 9-11. The Tailiban’s major role in 9-11. The need to occupy Afghanistan to prevent more 9-11’s.
Perhaps the key assumption is that America has the resources — both in resources and wisdom — to reshape the world. Our creditors probably doubt the first. Probably most of the world’s peoples doubt the second.
These are, in a sense, our best and brightest. Dreamers, most of them, wishing for a better world. How sad that again we focus our energies on remaking a distant part of the world while critical problems build at home. If these folks discussed so radically remaking LA or NYC, the Instapundit and conservative websites would condemn their arrogance — and tea parties organize to stop our wealth going down a rathole.
Summary: Striking a Balance, a conference the the Center for A New American Security, 11 June 2009 — Here are the transcripts, where available. At this site are video and audio for all presentations.
(1) Morning Keynote Address by General David H. Petraeus(Commander, U.S. Central Command)
(2) After the Fire: Shaping the US relationship with Iraq, panel discussion:
- Dr. John A. Nagl (President, Center for a New American Security),
- General John (Jack) Keane (USA Ret.),
- George Packer (Staff Writer, The New Yorker),
- Nazar Janabi (Washington Institute for Near East Policy),
- Ambassador Samir Sumaida’ie (Ambassador of Iraq to US)
(3) Public Diplomacy – A national security imperative, the Honorable Judith A. McHale (Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs)
(4) Triage: the next 12 months in Iraq and Afghanistan, by Andrew M. Exum, Nathaniel C. Fick, Ahmed A. Humayun, and David J. Kilcullen — 36 pages. Summary:
Eight years into the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, the situation is as perilous as ever and continuing to worsen. The campaign has been further complicated by a rapidly deteriorating security situation in Pakistan, where the center of gravity of the insurgency has now shifted. In counterinsurgency campaigns, momentum matters. Over the next 12 months, the United States and its allies must demonstrate they have seized back the initiative from the Taliban and other hostile actors.
This paper makes four operational recommendations – two on each side of the Durand line – which allow the new strategy articulated by the White House a better chance of success. In Afghanistan, we recommend that protecting the population take precedence over all other considerations for the time being. At the same time, however, any “civilian surge” must be used to increase the legitimacy of the Afghan government in the eyes of the Afghan population. In Pakistan, meanwhile, the U.S. government should place a moratorium on drone strikes on non-al Qaedatargets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Northwest Frontier Province until such strikes can be incorporated into a coherent strategy for separating the population of these areas from al Qaeda. And the United States should refocus its train and equip mission in Pakistan to place a greater emphasis on the police – the only Pakistani security service focused entirely on domestic security. Especial emphasis should be placed on the security services in those areas where Pakistani authority is strongest, such as in Punjab and Sindh.
In his speech in March, President Obama promised metrics and benchmarks to track his new strategy. This paper provides what we consider to be useful metrics of gauging U.S. and allied successes and failures. More specifically, this paper recommends focusing on metrics which measure outputs rather than inputs. In Afghanistan, for example, less important than how many troops we commit is how many civilians we manage to protect.
To be sure, the road ahead in Afghanistan and Pakistan is long, and we predict violence in both countries to rise over the next 12 months. But with a renewed focus on protecting the population and the strengthening government agencies and security forces, the United States and its allies will be better positioned to seize the opportunities to reverse the deteriorating condition in both countries.
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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
- About America’s national defence strategy and machinery
- About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – my articles
- About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – studies & reports
Here are almost complete directories of the online works by two of these speakers:
- The Essential 4GW reading list: David Kilcullen
- The Essential 4GW reading list: John Nagl
- Andrew Bacevich’s work