Clarity Of American Strategic Thought, 2009

Obama it seems increasingly clear will embrace his inner Goldilocks Paradigm and cave to the tragically inappropriate and misguided COIN meme peddlers. He will festoon his surrender to CENTCOM manipulation with a compromise troop number and — as we noted before — the political optics of a more agile, pervasive global counter-terrorism focus. But his imprimatur will transform this needless exercise in political expediency into a policy that will echo for decades and only further radicalize and cohere the very anti-Americanism it seeks to ‘pacify’ locally and for jihadists elsewhere.

That NATO as bureaucracy seeks relevancy by endorsing the only mission it can plausibly claim should surprise no one, least of all leadership in its member states. If we were dragged back into Europe in 1949 to keep the Germans down and Russians out, it appears now that the Brussels contingent votes for America to pursue a ruinous policy merely to keep them employed. In truth, if we wisely jettison the Neocon fantasy of American containment of Russia by permanent encroachment across her European and Central Asian periphery NATO truly has no raison d’etre. Votes on this or not.

Given the depleted political, real and military capital Obama inherited, the wise deployment for shaping an evolving international order at least amenable to American identity and interests is crucial. How truly sad that a chance to undertake a clear audit of American interests, capabilities and commitments is being tossed away. Escalation in Afghanistan serves no even medium term American strategic interest. The core American strategic imperative for the immediate term is to repair and re-calibrate our squandered economic base. This requires a profound national recommitment to re-think American capitalism and how it functions for American society. We haven’t even begun to scratch that surface. But that effort is the foundation and wellspring of all means of future national power, hard and soft. Time is not on our side. Developments in ASEAN and elsewhere are just a reminder that the world is already planning for the post-American era.

A prolonged military engagement in the Kush with unavoidable ‘defeat’ in strategic terms will be an economic, social, political and diplomatic ‘lock-in’ to the past. While the world happily builds itself anew. Defeating jihadist terrorism is an issue for the global community rather than an epic solo American mission re-enacting romantic delusions and (maladriot) demonstration of ‘power’. The strategic issues are so much larger than the Imperial City labels of ‘counter insurgency’, ‘containment’ and ‘counter-terrorism’.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Doing the AFPAK jaw jaw schtick. Will have a post up Friday (this being Thurs. AM).

    There have been some other interesting developments worth touching on, such as the (unjustified) enthusiasms for J Street, the Bureau sting/arrest, Karzai’s brother and the potentially intriguing ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’. Have to cop to enjoying the trailer.

    We’ve also been meaning to dig into the FCC’s Net Neutrality vote and telco politics from our various vantage points of draft legislation manipulator, AgitProp conductor and senior advisor to various CXO and VPs of most of the companies involved. If you know who Art Brodsky is, back in the day when he was The Man at CD, we got into an elliptical debate about the best sci fi show on tv at the time. He was resolutely a ‘Sliders’ fan, and during Season Two of ‘Babylon 5’ I argued the latter. Art was smart and never pressed the point because he wanted the scoops and knew we could go with Mike at the Post. But if you seek someone who knows where the bodies are and who put them there, Art is about the best.

    re AFPAK, one prays the celery, dip and finger food will sustain a determined effort to feign interest while someone explains The Meaning Of It All with lettuce stuck between their teeth. Am heading downtown with a fresh tin of Altoids to offer should need arise just in case.

  2. DFH Dave says

    Dr Strauss,
    Your use of the Boeing-built CH-47 Chinook helicopter as an illustration for your comments is tragically prescient, in light of the recently reported casualties sustained in the poppy field firefight in Afghanistan. All of today’s news stories have been careful to include the statement that “at least 14 insurgents/terrorists/generic brown people were killed in the engagement.” This harkens back to our military’s use/falsification of body counts to connote “progress” during the war in Vietnam, when the Boeing-built CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter was used to deliver thousands of US troops to their deaths in another wanton orgy of senseless murder. Different model, same beneficiary. Didn’t President Eisenhower warn us about this 50 years ago?

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Exercises in futility:

    Even seeing the parameters at this remove makes it an obvious lip sync exercise. Further evidence of American intellectual inertia and exhaustion. Have we learned nothing?

    Who remembers:

    Does anyone doubt the system was implicitly designed for – ‘No do-overs, no rocking the boat’. The fleet sunk by Americans by suprise at Midway? Never happened, resurrected!

    We’ve run war games before. We would have loved to have sat in on Mullen’s ‘report’. And thrown some spitballs; it’s about all one can do as this thing is on greased rails.

  4. Comment says

    Russia and India and China , for that matter — should be pleased to see us in Afganistan, forever.

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