Posted By Peter Feaver Share

Grand strategy appears to be the flavor of the month in the strategic community. I have planned or been invited to numerous conferences looking at the topic and the debates on this topic are as lively as I can remember in a long time. Just recently, I gave a talk to a grand strategy conference at NDU on the myths that afflict the field. Here is the gist of the talk.

Myth 1: The U.S. can't do grand strategy
Many critics claim that the United States is simply too disorganized to do strategy on a grand scale.

In fact, we had a coherent grand strategy during the 19th century build around the Monroe Doctrine. We had a coherent grand strategy during WWII built around winning in Europe first. And we had a coherent grand strategy during the Cold War built around the idea of containment.

Myth 2: The U.S. lost the ability to do grand strategy when the Soviet Union disappeared
Many critics concede we had a grand strategy during the Cold War, but claim that we haven't had one since. This is by far the most prevalent myth and some of the very best in the business peddle it.

In fact, we have had a coherent, bipartisan, and largely successful grand strategy from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama

Myth 3: A grand strategy has to have a 3-syllable label that rhymes with "ainment"
This gets to the heart of why you get the odd argument that we had a grand strategy during the Cold War but we haven't since. When critics say that we haven't had a grand strategy since the end of the Cold War, what they really mean is that we haven't had a label like "containment" that enjoys widespread popularity. This is true, but trivial.

In fact, since the fall of the Soviet Union a 5-pillar grand strategy has been clearly discernible:

Pillar I. The velvet covered iron fist. Iron fist: build a military stronger than what is needed for near-term threats to dissuade a would-be hostile rival from achieving peer status. Velvet covered: accommodate major powers on issues, giving them a larger stake in the international distribution of goodies than their military strength would command to dissuade a near-peer from starting a hostile rivalry.

Pillar 2. Make the world more like us politically by promoting the spread of democracy.

Pillar 3. Make the world more like us economically by promoting the spread of markets and globalization.

Pillar 4. Focus on WMD proliferation to rogue states as the top tier national security threat.

Pillar 5 (added by George W. Bush). Focus on terrorist networks of global reach inspired by militant Islamist ideologies as another top tier national security threat, i.e. co-equal with WMD in the hands of rogue states. The nexus of 4 & 5 is the ne plus ultra threat.

No administration described the strategy in exactly these terms. Every single president succumbed to the political temptation to product differentiate and especially to describe one's own actions as a bold new departure from the "failed" efforts of his predecessor. Yet a fair-minded reading of the core governmental white papers on strategy, especially the National Security Strategy reports prepared by each administration, as well as the central policy efforts each administration pursued, reveals a broad 20-year pattern of continuity.

All post-Cold War presidents championed the first 4 pillars. The last two presidents (Bush and Obama) adopted the last 2. And the major grand strategic moves of the period derive from one or more of these pillars: eg. The outreach to India derives from Pillar 1, the invasion of Iraq derives from Pillars 4 and 5, and so on.

Obama campaigned as if he was going to make a grand strategic innovation by adding a 6th pillar: elevating climate change to be co-equal with WMD and terrorism. But he chose to do health care instead.

Myth 4: Maybe we had grand strategies but they were follies
Some critics say that maybe the United States has tried grand strategies but we are just not good at it.

In fact, all of the grand strategies I have mentioned above were largely successful. I defy you to identify a great power that has had a better 230+ year run, or a better 100 year run, or a better 50 year run. Maybe we could have an interesting debate about whether some countries have had a better 20-year run. Perhaps Prussia under Bismarck had a better 20 years, though the period afterwards rather took the luster off the earlier achievements. And in the era of U.S. sole-superpowerdom, a number of near-great powers have thrived by free-riding on the public goods provided by the United States.

Now I concede that China has had a better last three years or so than the United States has. But despite the bluff and bluster from Beijing, it is clear that Chinese leaders understand the very daunting challenges they face. Betting against America for the medium to long run boosts one's speaker's fees, but it otherwise has not been validated by history.

As great powers go, we have a remarkably good track record. Perhaps you will argue we have just been lucky. I think the capacity to select satisfactory grand strategies and to refine those strategies as circumstances dictate is part of the story.

Myth 5: A grand strategy only exists if it commands such a dominant consensus as to end all politics at the water's edge
If stopping at the water's edge means parties do not have strong disagreements about foreign policy ends and means and do not seek political advantage from foreign policy maneuvers, then I do not know of a period when this happened in U.S. history.

A large part of the confusion about today's grand strategy is due to sloppy historical understanding of the Cold War grand strategy. Containment was coherent enough as an over-arching grand strategy to be recognizably operative from 1947-1989. But during that period, that left room for deeply divisive debates about:

  • The need to defend the Korean peninsula
  • The need to prevent falling dominos in Southeast Asia
  • The possibility and desirability of splitting the Soviet pact
  • The mix of confrontation and détente
  • The adequacy of arms control
  • The requirements of nuclear deterrence

The point is that grand strategies have lots of subordinate debates. We tend to exaggerate the strategic consensus during the Cold War and the strategic dissensus during the post Cold War.

Myth 6: A grand strategy has to be forward looking
On the contrary, grand strategies tend to be backward looking. If generals prepare to fight the last war, grand strategists prepare to avoid fighting the last war. Thus, containment was designed to confront the Soviet Challenge while avoiding another global war like World War II. The post-Cold War grand strategy has been designed to deal with the challenges we face today while avoiding another cold war (i.e. another rivalry where our global interests are challenged by a hostile peer competitor). Even Bush's refinement of the post-Cold War strategy, elevating the threat posed by militant Islamism, had a heavy dollop of backward-looking "never again" to it.

Of course, any successful grand strategy must also address the evolving and future strategic environment. Thus, containment had to adjust to post-colonialism and the Sino-Soviet split. The Bush GWOT was unusually forward-looking, with its emphasis on promoting political and economic liberty in the broader Middle East, and its willingness to contemplate short-term costs to achieve long-term benefits.

But most grand strategies begin with a look backward before they look forward. To the extent that we are starting a fundamental debate about our grand strategy today, it is probably out of a desire to avoid another Global War on Terror, that is a high cost, high OPSTEMPO conflict with a dispersed global footprint.

Myth 7: A grand strategy requires an existential threat
It may be easier to describe the grand strategy when there is an overarching existential threat to concentrate the mind. But as the post-Cold War has shown, it is possible to have a coherent grand strategy even when the threats are dispersed and less-than-existential.

The Cold War was not a time when everything was simple or when everyone knew priorities or everyone agreed on the threat. And it sure wasn't "a time of great stability and security unlike these really dangerous times today," -- a curious view that I hear most often from students who never lived through the Cold War era.

But it was a time when the much more obvious, and by the late 1950's possibly existential threat posed by the nuclear confrontation overlaid on top of a global ideological contest with the Soviet Union circumscribed strategic thinking in a way that is not the case today.

Compared to the Cold War period, we have more slack in our security environment and that introduces a certain amount of indeterminacy in the strategic debate.

Myth 8: Only big grand strategy shifts matter
There is vastly more continuity than change between Obama and his predecessors. As you move up the ladder from rhetoric, to policy, to strategy, the higher the level, the more this is true. But over-time the small changes can be significant, like a 1-degree shift in the vector of an air-craft carrier over a 1000 mile voyage.

So the comparatively small changes -- small compared to the out-sized rhetoric of the 2008 campaign -- could over-time be quite consequential. Obama has made some very consequential and risky bets. If they do not pay out, they could force a reconsideration of our grand strategy. Indeed, the ferment in the strategic community about grand strategy suggests that such a reconsideration is well underway.

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WALTSWRONGWITHTHISPICTURE

1:21 AM ET

November 24, 2011

 

MORANI YA SIMBA

8:15 PM ET

November 24, 2011

A few comments...

"In fact, we have had a coherent, bipartisan, and largely successful grand strategy from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama"

Would you care to spell that out? I don't see the grand strategy in the post cold war period.

" If generals prepare to fight the next war, grand strategists prepare to avoid fighting the last war. "

IF...but they don't WWII France prepared to fight Hitler like WWI, and lost. Westmoreland in Vietnam never understood how different that war was from WWII. And the US went into Iraq as though Iraq's army was the main problem, as it had been in 1991. So the "if" falls apart. I actually think you got it "perfectly backwards" b/c grand strategists do want to avoid the next war, not the last war. The US during the cold war didn't worry about having to liberate a German-occupied Europe again. They worried about the USSR which the US had (almost) never directly fought.

 

BUBBLE BURSTER

6:55 AM ET

November 27, 2011

read the post again

On Feaver's claim of the existence and continuity in GS you said, "Would you care to spell that out"
Umm..look at the five pillars... he did spell it out.

You claim he said "If generals plan to fight the next war..."
but if you look he actually says "If generals fight the last war..."

Did you actually read the post or just react to it?

 

MARTY MARTEL

12:12 PM ET

November 25, 2011

Peter Feavers myths are just that

Let us start with pillar no. 2. Spreading democracy can also bring regimes to power that will not follow our definitions of democracy or worse, will shack up with our enemies.

Take the current so-called Arab Spring. All signs point to Islamic fundamentalists coming to power following West-supported regime changes in Egypt and Libya. When new Islamic fundamentalist-led government in Egypt shacks up with Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel, US will come to regret supporting regime change. Ditto for Libya and even Syria.

Take the case of Iraq. Islamic fundamentalists - both Sunni and Shiite - will wage a full scale bloody civil war after the departure of US troops, joined in by their supporters from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Ultimately US may wind up supporting a military take over to prevent Shiite or Sunni fundamentalists coming to power. So much for democracy.

Take the case of Afghanistan. US is in a full scale denial mode over Pakistani governments’ duplicitous policy of ’running with the terrorist hares while hunting with the American hounds’. After ten long years of Afghan war fueled by its own erstwhile ally Pakistan, US is in a hurry to get out under its own domestic political compulsions and will sign a peace deal dictated by Pakistan with the Taliban leaders of Pakistan’s choice. Pakistan will reimpose Taliban rule once US troops withdraw while US will helplessly look the other way because of its own budgetary woes.

Is this how US is going to spread ’democracy’?

Let us take pillar no.3. It is hard to believe the world will follow our lead in becoming economically more like us when we are unable to put our own economic house in order. Witness the failure of Super Committee to deal with horrendous US governmental finances. Americans want their cake and eat it too - they want their medi-care and social security benefits while still unwilling to pay for them.

Let us take pillar no. 4. US failed miserably in stopping the proliferation of WMD when it intentionally tolerated China-Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation. Now the cat is out of the bag with Iran on its way to become next nuclear power after North Korea. It will get only worse from here on with US unable to do much except offering lip service.

With its recruitment of terrorist State of Pakistan to fight the terrorism that Pakistani State itself created, pillar no. 5 has become a laughing stock. With its continued mollycoddling of terrorist Pakistan and with Islamic fundamentalists coming to power in the middle east, it will also get only worse from here on.

Rivalry between US and China to win friends and allies has already started. If US had an upper hand against Soviet Union in first cold war, then creditor China has an upper hand against debtor US in this second cold war. With its ever-increasing foreign exchange reserves, China is in a much better position to lure away American allies. And the worst part is US has nobody to blame but itself for speeding up rise of China to challenge US.

It was called a stroke of genius in 1972 when Nixon-Kissinger embraced China to counter Soviet Union.

But U. S. did NOT stop there. U. S. decided to give China a much bigger role in world affairs by accepting China as a UNSC member and by inviting China to become the manufacturing hub of the world.

China was a pariah country in the world just like today’s North Korea until Nixon’s 1972 visit. All the West European and East Asian countries stayed away from China following the US lead until 1972 and embraced China after Nixon’s visit. While US would not give MFN status to Soviet Union (remember Jackson-Vanik amendment?) unless Russia shed Communism, it had no problem giving it to China’s Communist dictators with a capitalist mask. Trade with China expanded by leaps and bounds during 12 years of Republican rule beginning in 1981. After campaigning against butchers of Beijing in 1992 elections, even Bill Clinton became enthusiastic supporter of trade with China once he took lessons in foreign policy from Nixon in early 1993 during a special Whitehouse-arranged meeting.

Had it not been for that Nixon embrace in 1972, China’s rise to super power status would have been far more slower with all the US, West European and East Asian markets closed to cheap Chinese products. Had it not been for that Nixon embrace, China’s technological progress would have been far slower in the absence of West’s technology transfers. Had it not been for that Nixon embrace, China’s military progress would have been far slower in the absence of huge forex reserves that China accumulated from the massive exports of cheap Chinese products and China used those forex reserves to acquire latest military technology.

 

PFNOVAK

3:45 AM ET

November 26, 2011

Your analysis on China is a

Your analysis on China is a little off. As you point out China was recognized by Nixon in 72 a full nine years before the growth of trade. Its status as a pariah nation was pretty firmly in tow as long as Mao was alive. No 20th century dictator had more blood on his hands, not even Stalin or Hitler.
Deng was no democrat or humanitarian, but his embrace of market capitalism and effective sidelining of the hard-line elements of the CCP was a far greater factor in the rise of China and its more meaningful participation in world affairs.
Also, East Asia is still extremely wary of China and many of its constituent nations, including Vietnam and Indonesia, would much rather suck up to the US than become de facto Chinese colonies, no matter how much economic leverage they have.

 

BUBBLE BURSTER

7:03 AM ET

November 27, 2011

Does any of this challenge him?

Whether democratization will generate good results in the aftermath of the Arab Spring has nothing to do with the claim that the US generally focuses on democratization as pillar of grand strategy. The fact that containment led the US astray in Vietnam does not imply that containment was not a consistent element of US GS and thus if democratization goes awry in the Middle East does not discredit the idea the democratization is a pillar of GS.

And on your China example, are Nixon's actions not a reflection of the "velvet" part of Pillar 1?

I think you are confusing the existence of a grand strategy with whether you like the effects of the grand strategy. Both reasonable issues, but separate.

 

BANDUNGBABY

5:13 PM ET

November 25, 2011

Great Powers with good runs

I think that that I have found some other great powers with comparable runs to the US ( though it wasn't a great power for all of its 230 years). The first comparable great power would be the Roman empire (Republican and Imperial phases) that had a very consistent expansion and growth of its power. This lasted from roughly 509 BC until 476 AD, some of which was spent in decline while the period from 509BC-117AD was spent in expansion, a much better run than the US. And we have to consider the constraints under which Rome was operating that were not there to hinder the US's rise, such as the absence of railroads or telegraph.
The second major power that had a comparable run is the British Empire (origins are obscure: does it begin with the English conquest of Wales or the acquisition of its first non-European territory?) which went from strength to strength between 1583 and 1914, with the minor hiccup of losing the 13 colonies. However, the British rallied from this loss spectacularly with their conquest of India and managed to become the unchallengable great power of Europe from 1815 to around 1900. This was achieved in the face of very stiff and very close competition from France, Russia and Prussia/Germany. (Though the fact that Russia and France combined felt they could not face Britain down in the Fashoda incident is quite something; could the US force India and China to back down today if they were aligned by some magical coincidence?)
The third power which I have found has gone through several name changes but it is perhaps the most astounding of all: Muscovy-Tsardom of Russia-Russian Empire-USSR-Russian Republic. It started out as a miniscule principality in 1283 and from that point on continued expanding until the middle of the 19th century. Its power also continued to grow though it hit the bottom after the Crimean war in terms of prestige. It rallied again after 1917. I think that it is really hard to beat Muscovy in terms of its achievements as far as going from a tiny state to a major world power over the course of 500 years (in terms of how much territory it acquired relative to its starting size it is almost unrivalled, though the early Muslim empire did do quite well), that is an incredible run of good form that even the US cannot match. Size may not be everything but it is a good measure of success. In addition Russia was a major military power and using contemporary measures of power was highly succesful: Alexander I got to march his armies under the Arc de Triomph.
The Hapsburg monarchy was hardly a state but it was a great power that lasted for several centuries. It did decay at the end but every other great power to date has done the same. I think the same will happen this time and next time and the next time.
I could add that the Ottomans had a good run, as did the Inca, the Qing dynasty in China, the Mughals, Castile and of course the ancient Egyptian empires-many dynasties but one realm.
Undoubtedly the US managed to do quite well despite a devastating civil war but the outcome was quite good as it dealt with the major internal threat to stability (apart from the persistent wealth gap, but poor people can't afford as many guns) and left the country better able to address other issues. How many crises has the US been able to surmount when compared to previous great powers? It has been secure and safe whereas most other great powers (mainly European ones, though China had enough foreign threats see: Eastern Jin, Yuan and Qing dynasties) have often been right next door to their mortal enemies. I would say that becoming top dog and staying that way for anything approaching 50 years, let alone 100, is far more admirable. All of the great powers mentioned above started out far down the ladder, as did the US, and clawed their way up in much the same way except it took longer which lengthens the timescale of their 'runs'. American exceptinalism does not sit well in a historical context as there are many much more surprising rises to power.

A second point is whether the Monroe doctrine was a grand strategy or a tool of an even grander strategy: to grab as much of the West possible by trying to exclude European powers? It seems that one of the major reasons for the rise of the US is the conquest and colonisation of the territories west of the 13 colonies; I know there was never a coherent plan to conquer this land but it was certainly a consistent feature of US policy for almost 100 years. It seems to me that the Monroe doctrine was a tool in this process that was intended to ensure that potential competitors stayed out of the area into which the US hoped to expand. I may just be a cynic who sees the worst in self interested foreign policy.

 

BUBBLE BURSTER

7:11 AM ET

November 27, 2011

why is it bad?

You say "It seems to me that the Monroe doctrine was a tool in this process that was intended to ensure that potential competitors stayed out of the area into which the US hoped to expand. I may just be a cynic who sees the worst in self interested foreign policy."

Why is this seeing the worst. Read McDougall's "Promised Land Crusader State" and you will get a great analysis that preserving liberty at home drove the early foreign policy of the Republic by abstaining from the European balance of power, and then when stronger, by preventing the formation of a balance of power in North America. h argues that US leaders saw the constant war, usurpation of freedoms, and devastation in Europe resulting from the balance of power and that this drove Monroe Doctrine, manifest Destiny and other polices. While there were certainly brutal periods int his expansion they pale in comparison to the bloodshed that would have occurred in the French, British, Russian, and Spanish empires had kept territory in North America and the multipolar system functioned like the one in Europe. While the US domination of the Western Hemisphere may be uncomfortable to modern sensibilities, you must compare it with the likely outcomes if it had not exited. A reasonable reading of history would not predict that absent US dominance that everyone would have held hands and sang Cumbaya.

 

BANDUNGBABY

5:14 PM ET

November 27, 2011

You would think they felt guilty.

I've never yet heard the argument that genocide has been beneficial because it prevented bloodshed on a greater scale. So if we'd let Hitler deal with the Russians and the Jews, gay people and Roma we could have avoided WWII? I know I'm taking it a little too far but that is what your argument allows.
And then I ask myself: preservation of liberty for who? At least Metternich was honest and consistent in his opinions on liberty. In his eyes a every subject was a subject but in the eyes of President Jackson a native was inferior to a white man. For some reason I would prefer to be counted as a subject (with rights, if you take the time to study European legal systems you will see that with the exception of Russia subjects had rights) rather than as an inferior being who can be dispossesed and killed. Liberty is a hollow argument to defend expansionism. If you are an American the Monroe doctrine was a fine thing but if you are from anywhere else on earth it looks like any other tool used to justify one group's disposession of another; this is not bad, it is just normal dirty political practice and should be accepted as such, there is not way it can plausibly be dressed up.
The US also did not stay out of great power politics, it exploited them whenever possible, the war of 1812 coincided nicely with the Napoleonic war when Britain would be distracted. This shows that the US was definitely involved, even if it knew to keep its head down.
I really cannot comprehend your point that the drive to the West was a good thing. By the same token we could argue that every colonisation and conquest was a good thing because for the victors it led to 'liberty' (and I should know because I'm from a very small group who did very well out of colonisation, while it lasted), more accurately taking liberties with other people's property, wives, children and wealth.

I don't want to castigate the US more than the UK or France or Russia or Germany or the Zulu or Canada or Turkey or any other nation with a murderous past for what it did. I just want someone to aknowledge that maybe it was a self interested thing that wasn't very nice and to not dress it up.

 

LOUGOTS

3:06 AM ET

November 26, 2011

U.S. Grand Strategy

American grand strategy in the 19th century merely the Monroe Doctrine?

No indeed; it was far beyond a mere passive assertion of a hegemonic sphere of influence, "Thou shalt not," to the European powers. Rather it was an "I will..

That grand strategy was manifest destiny, a Drang nach Westen which took us to the West coast and out across the pacific. Early American Presidents spoke openly of an American empire, and we have lived the dream. We still do..

 

NOTTHERE

5:12 AM ET

November 26, 2011

Picking your "facts"

Seems to me like Prof. Feaver decided on his headline then picked the "facts", as several commenters have already pointed out.

Pillar 1, the "velvet fist" is something quite a number of people have died from these last few years, and it's giving the US a very bad reputation. Particularly among Muslims. And spending as much as the rest of the world, including all our allies, on arms is somehow never quite enough to dissuade that rival from attempting parity. Piffle.

Pillar 2: Spreading democracy. This is, of course, some type of cruel joke. Post WWII Japan and W. Germany success. But S. Korea, Taiwan, the Phillippines, NIcaragua, Iran!!!, and many others had to battle their way to any form of democracy in the face of US indifference or interference. As to that ribbon from Morocco through to the Middle East, the US has hardly lifted a finger to promote democracy, and in Egypt supported the status quo with hardly a murmur even as Tehrir Square filled, and demurred as Bahrain invited Saudis to help suppress the democracy movement and pulled wounded from hospitals. And so much more democracy "promotion".

Pillar 3: Market promotion has been a little more choosey than implied here. For a grand strategy it sure gets impinged on by domestic politics. Personally I think it is an effective subversive tool over time and was one reason for Soviet Russian satellites increasingly rebelling and the morale disintegration of the hegemon itself. Pity we didn't start this on Cuba 40 years ago.

Pillar 4: Focus on WMD proliferation in rogue states. The prof goes on to imply that this was the reason for the invasion of Iraq. Based on the facts, not buying this one. Not only was this concocted but it made the most significant break with all previous policy: a preemptive war of choice. Our SoD told us $50 billion! And what did we get for it? 5,000 US dead, 16,000 invalids, nobody knows how many PTSD/mentally wounded or at what cost over the next 50 years, at the very minimum 110,000 dead, innocent Iraqis, 3,000,0000+ displaced and $2 trillion+ down the drain. Oh, and an Iraqi economy like Afghanistan's, that revolves around corruption, graft, and power bases that threaten violence. Anybody know how to spell Pyhrric?

Pillar 5: Focus on Islamist terrorist "networks" is a fine idea, but you'd hope that the intelligence agencies (how many are there now? 16 that we know of?) would be working on all possible threats -- known and nascent -- all the time. Too bad they didn't pick up on the warnings expressed prior to 11th September. Too bad the CIA's losing assets to Hizbullah and Iran lately. Despite warnings. Of course those "assets" won't be sitting down to a hot cup of tea and a cookie.

And the worst part of pillars 4 & 5 are that they've been used for the usual US "war-time" over-reaction in undermining the Constitution and the law of the land, never mind all the poor souls rendered to third countries, the thousands jailed for months or years without charge or offense (not just Guantanamo), and those tortured by US citizens or by others on our behalf.

Yep. George Bush and Obama sure are carrying on the same long term strategic policies of George H. W. and Clinton. Yes siree.

 

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KUNINO

3:26 AM ET

November 27, 2011

What were the strategic achievements in ...

... fighting to failure in Vietnam?

... attacking Guyana in the mistaken belief that construction workers there were the Cuban army?

... blitzing Panama to help arrest one man -- who was found no thanks to the blitz?

... attacking Iraq after Iraq had quit before the start of the "Gulf War"?

... hanging round in Afghanistan (for some time this particular week) a full ten years after the nation's foe there, al-Qaeda, had been routed? (And bitching like hell at the commander in chief's intention to get out of there some time in the next decade?)

... investing approaching 6000 American lives in occupying Iraq (as distinction from conquering it over a few weeks in 2003 at the cost of fewer than 200 lives)?

... waging the war on terror while cutting taxes, and so fighting it on the Chinese dime?

If the strategy remains all that grand, its executiion seems particularly incompetent -- and expensive. How come nobody seems to notice?

 

HUCKLEBERRY

12:45 PM ET

November 27, 2011

2 Facts of Grand Strategy

It is uttrely non-democratic in conception, usually un-democratic in execution, and frequently anti-democratic in result.

It is almost invariably invoked by someone who holds a Phd, normally by someone who has never been bear a war, and mostly by someone whose kids will never be anywhere near the point of the spear.

 

GRANT

7:49 PM ET

November 30, 2011

I have to seriously question

I have to seriously question whether terrorism deserves to held as the same kind of threat as WMDs being possessed by states such as North Korea. Admittedly history suggests that 'rogue' states are not highly likely to randomly use such weapons, but they are still capable of being existential threats to the U.S or major U.S allies. In contrast the worst terrorists are capable of is a few thousand deaths. It is tragic, but this in no way threatens the continued existence of the U.S government or people. Realistically speaking, it is not very likely that terrorists will be able to use proper nuclear weapons, and the worst they could do with a dirty bomb would be, again, tragic but not an existential threat.

 

GIANGENTILE

10:49 PM ET

December 9, 2011

you are confusing policy with strategy

What this article is esentially about is foreign policy and not strategy since the latter makes choices and prioritizes resources to support the policy in place.

This phrase used by Feaver shows the confusion between policy and strategy:

"up the ladder from rhetoric, to policy, to strategy"

are you really saying that strategy sits above strategy? I hope not because it is strategy that looks to policy and then in a different direction to apply resources in the most cost efficient way in blood and treasure to achieve policy aims.

 

Shadow Government is a blog about U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration, written by experienced policy makers from the loyal opposition and curated by Peter D. Feaver and William Inboden.

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