Introducing Secretary of State Thucydides-Machiavelli-Hobbes-Morgenthau-Kissinger-Waltz

 

screen-shot-2012-10-22-at-4-22-50-pmChairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey wrote the introduction to the Pentagon’s National Military Strategy, which has just been updated:

Today’s global security environment is the most unpredictable I have seen in 40 years of service. Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode. We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups – all taking advantage of rapid technological change. Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield.

I note (with cool detachment) that the Kremlin “regrets [the] new military strategy targeting Russia.”

… the security concept is a document intended for a medium and long-term perspective, and the emergence of such language in the document suggests a confrontational attitude devoid of any objectivity in regard to our country,” Russia’s president Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Washington’s new military strategy will “hardly contribute to attempts to steer our bilateral relations in the direction of normalization, which is needed for a joint fight against existing challenges,” such as the Islamic State, the spokesman added.

I observe (with equal sangfroid) that China is “angered by [the] new U.S. military strategy report.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the United States was pushing unfounded exaggerations.

“We express dissatisfaction and opposition towards the U.S. side’s report’s irrational exaggerations of China’s threat,” she told a daily news briefing.

“We have already clearly explained our stance on the issue of construction on islands and reefs in the South China Sea several times,” Hua added.

“We believe that the U.S. should abandon their Cold War mentality.”

Ladies and Gentlemen of Ricochet, I introduce to you a beloved figure of international relations theory, Secretary of State Thucydides-Machiavelli-Hobbes-Morgenthau-Kissinger-Waltz.

Some of you may have met him before. SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa (for short) is devoutly committed to the realist or neo-realist perspective in international relations. (Click on the link for a quick tour of the history of this school of thought.)

Consider the circumstances described in the Pentagon’s report, which I’m sure you’ll study with the same calm I did. (After all, freaking out never did anyone a damned bit of good.) These circumstances are rather dreary. It doesn’t seem things are quite going well on the international scene. So let’s ask SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa for some advice, shall we?

What would SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa do?

Would he be correct to pursue this strategy?

If not, why not?

 

Published in Foreign Policy, General
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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: (After all, freaking out never did anyone a damned bit of good.)

    Are you sure?

    • #1
  2. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Arahant:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: (After all, freaking out never did anyone a damned bit of good.)

    Are you sure?

    Let’s say that just as hope is not a policy, neither is freaking out.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Arahant:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: (After all, freaking out never did anyone a damned bit of good.)

    Are you sure?

    Let’s say that just as hope is not a policy, neither is freaking out.

    I certainly agree it is the case in international politics.

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Family politics, on the other hand, strategic freak outs can be quite beneficial.

    • #4
  5. Gödel's Ghost Inactive
    Gödel's Ghost
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    Arahant:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: (After all, freaking out never did anyone a damned bit of good.)

    Are you sure?

    “Don’t everyone panic! You and you, stay calm. You, you, and you, panic!” — Andrew Klavan

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Somehow, I’m guessing it was not Claire’s intent for us to focus on that one parenthetical aside.

    • #6
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Arahant:Somehow, I’m guessing it was not Claire’s intent for us to focus on that one parenthetical aside.

    I offer suggestions for discussion because I’m curious about the discussion that will ensue, not because I’m determined the discussion converge upon my intent. Carry on.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Do you think that SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa’s views would have anything to do with crushing our enemies, to see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentations of their women? If so, I’m okay with that.

    • #8
  9. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    (Obviously, my only goal for a Saturday is to get a *facepalm* out of Claire.)

    • #9
  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Arahant:Do you think that SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa’s views would have anything to do with crushing our enemies, to see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentations of their women? If so, I’m okay with that.

    But of course. That’s our goal. But he has certain views about the strategies most apt to result in the meeting of our goals, you see.

    • #10
  11. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Having had the good sense to take 4 quarters of German in college(language requirement), I don’t know what the SecState thinks or plans but I do have a personal preference. Based on Obama’s new world order, it might be a good time to get out of Dodge move to Switzerland.

    • #11
  12. user_370242 Member
    user_370242
    @Mikescapes

    “Since the last National Military Strategy was published in 2011, global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode.”

    Sounds like Dempsey is diplomatically making a plea for a more favorable military budget.

    • #12
  13. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    Being a simple-minded libertarian/conservative, I believe a national military strategy begins with the basic, most fundamental enumerated power of the federal government: controlling our borders; knowing who is here and keeping enemies out of the homeland. The rest is barely comprehensible.

    ADDENDUM, by way of punctuation: Since this post, a woman was shot and killed in San Fransisco by an “undocumented worker” who had been previously deported five times.

    • #13
  14. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Dial it back. Let our friends and enemies set the stage. Then step in for the final act.

    • #14
  15. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    The international scene really is a disaster, and I don’t think there are any quick fixes.  We can certainly stop making deals with two-bit dictators and supporters of world terror.  We could stand and articulate moral clarity.  We can revitalize our military, and make a statement by retaking Iraq.  You can’t speak softly and carry a big stick if (1) your stick is not big or (2) no one thinks you’re going to use it.

    • #15
  16. user_138833 Inactive
    user_138833
    @starnescl

    Claire – only had a few minutes, but had to look.

    This seems like the nut graf, for the Chairman’s Foreward:

    But it also asserts that the application of the military instrument of power against state threats is very different than the application of military power against non-state threats. We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly…that control of escalation is becoming more difficult and more important…and that as a hedge against unpredictability with reduced resources, we may have to adjust our global posture

    I have not read the full report, but I read the above as saying less focus on those nasty state actors with a pivot to dealing with non-state.  So, more continued success, which is not happening, against ISIS and Boko Haram while backing off Iran, Russia, and China (which is.)  Plus, work with those state actors in concert against non-state actors.

    That is a disastrous way to deal with such regimes.  It the Russian Reset, the Iran Negotiations, and the Asian Pivot – not actual attempts to deal with the problem, but to back away and CYA.  With no real resistance, they will make bolder and bolder moves.  This is dangerous.

    Anybody else but Claire read the rest of the report yet?  Is that what it says? Of course, I may have misread it.

    • #16
  17. user_138833 Inactive
    user_138833
    @starnescl

    Casey:Dial it back. Let our friends and enemies set the stage. Then step in for the final act.

    Casey – yes.  This is how I read the summary at least.  Except your second sentence won’t matter because there will be no good outcome on which to step in.

    • #17
  18. user_138833 Inactive
    user_138833
    @starnescl

    Oh, and of course there is much dissonance between what I picked out and the Chinese and Russian reaction Claire highlighted.  Either she’s a master of irony, with alarming consequences if I’m right, or – again, I just haven’t grasped the meaning of the doc.

    • #18
  19. user_82762 Inactive
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    OK. You are giving me 24 pages of pure Government Obamese to wade through. Then 30 pages of good analysis of the history of thought on International Relations that takes me from the Melian Dialogue straight thru to Neo-Realism. I, of course, will not hesitate to use the full Kantian perspective on all of it. I don’t think the 500 word limit comment format is going to hold it.

    I have only one question for you. Any chance I can get paid to do this?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Tedley

    Claire, pol-mil analysis has never been my strong suit, but let me say this:  The NMS is always a fairly generic document.  I think this one identifies most of the threats effectively, and lays out an adequate blueprint for the military to use over the next few years.

    That said, the NMS only provides unclassified information.  There are far more details in classified documents developed for Defense and State department leadership, where SecDef and SecState would identify the detailed actions to be taken which implement the national military strategy.  However, even with someone as adroit as SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa in the Cabinet, I’m not sure that he could convince the current occupant of the White House to go beyond what he’s already doing.

    • #20
  21. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    We could begin by adopting a posture of being nice to our friends, and mean to our enemies.

    • #21
  22. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    I thought Secretary Homo Kiss Wa was in charge of Civil Rights enforcement. I guess I’m confused.

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant:Do you think that SecState ThuMaHoMoKissWa’s views would have anything to do with crushing our enemies, to see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentations of their women? If so, I’m okay with that.

    I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you [CoC] with me, I’ll kill you all.

    – Gen. James N. Mattis, USMC (ret.)

    Now that’s diplomacy.

    • #23
  24. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: But he has certain views about the strategies most apt to result in the meeting of our goals, you see.

    I like the “crazy old man on the block” approach.

    This was popular under Reagan, and one of the reasons the Iranian Mullahs made damn sure they released the hostages just before he was sworn in.  There is something to be said for a major power that it’s opponents look at and go ” gee I don’t know we better not upset them, those crazy Americans might go all Cowboy on us and toss a fleet of B 52’s or a Minuteman at us”……

    • #24
  25. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Secretary Thumahomokisswa stepped onto the podium and gazed across the sea of reporters.  For this most important report, which would decide the future of the world, he wore his golden clothes to signify the importance.

    “The regrettable first rule of foreign relations are that things are what they are.  We must deal with power as it is, with human nature as it is, and realize that for all our preferred idealism, the international world is a place where those without power live lives of fear -nasty, brutish, and, mercifully, short.  The strong do what they will.  The weak suffer what they must…”

    At that point, the secretary looked out across the reporters, saw them staring with complete confusion and incomprehension.  He looked at his comprehensive plan -over 5,000 pages -to masterfully resurrect American foreign policy, and sighed.

    “[CoC] it.”  He reached under the podium and pulled out his guitar labeled “only in the most dire of circumstances” and began to play.

    As the musical number blasted through its final pelvic thrusts, the murder of reporters pulled that most amazing audience reaction: the fainting ovation.  The press room collapsed in waves of the raw and uncontrolled erotic power -the Secretary remembered his favorite aphorism that power is, after all, the most powerful aphrodisiac -until not a reporter was not laying spread eagle and applauding.

    Placing the guitar back in the bullet-proof case, he stepped down from the podium and said:

    “You, Suffer.”

    • #25
  26. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    Embajador de EE.UU. en República Dominicana celebra mes de la igualdad

    <image002.jpg>

    SD. El mes de junio es asumido por la comunidad LGBT (lesbiana, gay, bisexual y transexual) como un período de reclamo de derechos y reivindicación de identidad. En ese mes se realizan diversas actividades, como los desfiles del Orgullo Gay. El pasado domingo se hizo uno en la ciudad de Santiago, y habrá otro en el malecón de la capital el próximo día 5 de julio.

    • #26
  27. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @IWalton

    It is useful to contrast the Cuban missile crisis with the Soviet nuclear sub base non crisis.  Khrushchev perceived Kennedy easily pushed around,  so the first almost led to war, caused a misunderstanding among Kennedy’s best and brightest that Yale Historian Professor Donald Kagan blames for the disastrous misapplication of power in the Viet Nam war.  The other, because Nixon Kissinger were perceived as not easily pushed around, disappeared with the answer to a simple planted question, “was it true that the Soviets were building a nuclear sub base in Cuba?”  Kissinger merely replied something like,  “if true it would be a very grave matter”   Power exists in the minds of those who might challenge the power.  The question is how does one achieve such perceptions short of going to war, within what kind of foreign policy vision is such power created, used and toward what?  The debate is essential.  The cold war’s old hands are dying off.  We need these adults with long real world experience as well as kids (kids anybody under 60/70) from the think tanks.  The old hands understand the limits of our power but also its sources.  Above is an example  (arrived in my inbox this morning from the DR) of our new priorities and vision and why we need the old hands.

    • #27
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