Friday, July 11, 2014

Obama’s counterterrorism blueprint looks good, on paper


Obama has the right concept in creating a global network of Special Operations forces and intelligence services that can combat the frightening evolution of al-Qaeda into new and potentially more toxic offshoots. But someone at the White House needs to drive this policy every day and make sure it’s happening on the ground, in Syria and Iraq and all the other potential ungoverned places on Obama’s new map.
We can take issue with the policy and strategy (and the proposed ways and means as some have done).  But I think Ignatius is exactly right.  Someone has to "do strategy" and do it every day, managing the process and making sure the efforts of the government are well orchestrated to to achieve the strategic end state and support the policies.

And I would also argue that there are other challenges to the US besides terrorism and that we have to have our strategy fully integrated and not stove piped dealing separate problem sets in isolation.
David Ignatius
By David Ignatius Opinion writer July 10 at 7:53 PM 
In President Obama’s sometimes maddeningly cautious foreign policy, you can see him struggling to answer what may be the hardest question of his presidency: How should the United States project power in a disorderly world without making the same mistakes it did in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Obama, whose deliberative approach often resembles that of a Supreme Court justice rather than a politician, has developed a conceptual framework for combating terrorism and instability. It looks good on paper. But the problem is that he hasn’t yet applied this framework successfully in dealing with the challenges that arose on his watch: civil wars in Libya, Yemen and Syria, and the emergence in Iraq of the Islamic State.
David Ignatius writes a twice-a-week foreign affairs column and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. View Archive
Obama is emphatic about what he doesn’t want to do. He wants to avoid “boots on the ground” with U.S. troops; he wants to avoid unilateral actions that isolate the United States; he prefers quiet partnerships that shield America and its allies from domestic political criticism. He is willing to use what amounts to targeted killing.
Instead of significant U.S. military intervention, Obama seeks a network of partnerships stretching from Morocco to South Asia. The United States would provide training and other support for the security services and militaries of nations across this belt. Where governance has vanished and terrorism reigns — as is the case now in parts of Syria and Iraq — the United States would fill the gaps, using surveillance drones, armed drones and Special Operations forces.
It’s a strategy in which Obama, despite his legalistic temperament, plays a role I’ve described as “covert commander in chief.” He relies on the two instruments of national power he most trusts: the CIA and its armed drones and “special activities,” overseen by Director John Brennan, one of his closest aides; and Special Operations Command’s “Global SOF Network,” developed by Adm. William McRaven, the architect of the Osama bin Laden raid and perhaps Obama’s favorite military adviser.
(Continued at the link below)

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