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Future Foe Scenarios

January 6, 2012
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I was all set to offer up my own thoughts on the results of DoD’s strategic review, but came across something that I fear will be proven correct.

Overall, the new strategy is still one of champagne tastes on a beer budget. It requires the U.S. military to be capable of too many missions and to do too many things. While it proposes being more judicious in our choices of where, when and how to intervene abroad, no administration has demonstrated any self-discipline in this area. We have 100 U.S. soldiers in Uganda. If we cannot even see our way clear to leaving the Lord’s Resistance Army unmolested, where won’t we go and who won’t we fight?

I didn’t agree with much else Dan Goure wrote in the post from which the above paragraph was taken, but it was worth reading for that.

As my friend Gulliver notes in his excellent review of the review, this “strategy” doesn’t appear to set any priorities. I fear that I’ll be lumped in with the libertarian set, or worse, Ron Paul, but this so-called strategy and the idea of significantly reducing the growth of the Department of Defense is meaningless unless we’re prepared to revisit our assumptions on the utility of military force. Moreover, we have to rethink what constitutes “vital American interests” when considering military action. I propose we drop the ‘vital’ from that cliché – it assumes interests are automatically at stake, which is not a valid assumption, and frames the choice as one of vital interests or just interests. Instead, we should be thinking in terms of interests or no interests. Intervening in, say, Libya is either in our interest or it isn’t.

The strategic review is meaningless because as Goure notes, no administration has demonstrated any self-discipline in choosing where, when, and how to intervene abroad. I see no evidence that this will change in the future. The War Powers Resolution was meant to provide a check, but if the current Congress is the norm, then the President will be able to do whatever he/she wants. So, although this review is supposedly setting out a roadmap for a leaner military and a smaller Department of Defense, force is still likely to be a growth industry.

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