Thursday, December 12, 2013

Next US Strategy Carries Heavy Expectations

Although in today's age of transparency having a classified national security strategy is probably not feasible but I would suggest that the staffers who are going to write the national security strategy go back and start with a review of President Reagan's top secret national security strategy (NSDD 32) at this link  
Obviously it was focused heavily on the Soviet Union so most will say it is of little relevance but I would submit there are some useful ideas in the short 8 page document.
December 11, 2013

Next US Strategy Carries Heavy Expectations

WASHINGTON ‹ The new national security strategy document that the White
House plans to release in 2014 is shaping up to be key to laying out the
administration¹s thinking on everything from diplomatic engagement to
counterterrorism to training and advising allies, a host of national
security experts say. 

 But how it should do that is a matter of debate. 
 The broad outline of what the document will contain has been expressed in
speeches by President Barack Obama and administration officials over the
past several years: a push for nuclear disarmament, a rebalance of
diplomatic and military attention to the Asia-Pacific region, helping build
economic stability in emerging regions, and a continuing focus on the global
counterterrorism mission. 

 The administration¹s first national security strategy was released in 2010,
a little more than a year after Obama entered the White House and as the US
was still engaged in Iraq, preparing to surge more troops into Afghanistan,
and still firmly in the grips of a crippling global economic crisis. 
 Four years on, with the economy stronger, Osama bin Laden dead, as much as
$1 trillion in government spending to be slashed over the next decade, and
American troops out of Iraq and heading for the exits in Afghanistan, the
landscape has changed. 
 Most notably, there has been a shift from the Defense Department to the
State Department taking the lead as the face of American foreign policy,
with the jet set diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry dominating the
headlines as he brokers deals with Syria, Iran and Libya, while preparing to
set his sights on the Israel-Palestine peace process. 

 As for specific recommendations for how the administration can use the
document to help shape the way it uses both diplomatic and military power
until the end of Obama¹s presidency in 2016, Rachel Kleinfeld, of the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Truman Foundation, said
the strategy must address the Arab Spring and subsequent political changes
in the Middle East and North Africa.


The Arab revolutions show an urgent need to weigh more heavily in our
security calculus the risk factors that could create a sudden state collapse
in allies and strategic states,² Kleinfeld said. ³That means greater weight
to acute corruption and population unrest in our security strategy ‹ and
developing the tools to help allies alter gradually rather than fail

 What¹s more, with the Afghanistan war winding down and al-Qaida more
globally dispersed than when the wars began, the US needs ³a new strategy to
fight terrorism,² Kleinfeld said. 

 The issue here is the contentious debate over the 2001 Authorization for Use
of Military Force (AUMF), which many on Capitol Hill want rewritten to clip
some of the broad powers that it has granted the White House to use the


This document will have to catch up to the shift from stability operations
to a more limited train, advise and assist mission, and hopefully fill in
the blanks on what the civilian agencies provide in that realm,² said
Kathleen Hicks, who served as principal deputy defense undersecretary for
policy from 2012 to 2013, and is now with the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington. 
 When it comes to the global counterterrorism mission, ³I don¹t think we
really have a strategy right now for that,² Hicks added. ³At the tactical
and operational levels, there¹s a lot of good work going on, but I don¹t
think we¹ve articulated the problem at a strategic level. This is an
opportunity for that.² 

One former government official said the AUMF will have to be addressed in
the document, predicting that ³I would expect to see a legal framework
that¹s very much tied to al-Qaida and what this means in terms of how the US
conducts itself going forward.² 

 Related to the AUMF issue are the lingering questions over the targeted
killing program the Obama administration has employed, largely by using
armed drones. 
 Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official now with the Center for American
Progress, expects the strategy will include ³something about the use of
drones and covert action.² Korb also said he thinks the strategy will stress
that ³diplomatic solutions should always be our first option.² 

 Diplomacy also plays a major role in writing such a sweeping, high-profile
document. Aides and senior officials spend months changing words and entire
sections, worried a friend or potential foe will react poorly.
(Continued at the link below)

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