Well, I read the NSS this weekend … and I haven’t yet written that thorny post that I promised to write as yet. This post will not reach that lofty goal I held for myself but it may do as a weak substitute. As mentioned on Friday what I was going to try to do is take this middling sized document (about 60 pages) produced by Mr Obama which comprised the new National Security Strategy which his administration is allegedly following and this document comprises a submittal to the Senate explaining the overall features of that strategy.

What I discovered in my attempt to bypass the Satan hermeneutic and to attempt to read it sympathetically is that this exercise is really really difficult. When you read a document such as this and stumble at every paragraph or even every few sentences with objections to fact, to interpretation of events or situations, and to the efficacy of particular strategic offerings it is difficult to catch yourself every time and to remember that the author does not see these objections. He sees either obvious solutions to those problems or doesn’t see the objection as valid. It is the exercise then for the reader at each of these catchpoints to pause and to reflect and try to imagine either the solution or why the objection is invisible.

In the near future I hope to do that exercise for a fragment of this document and demonstrate how it works out. But for now, there are some broad brush impressions I’ve garnered in the attempt to use this method. A third post I hope to write is one reflecting finally on the actual overall NSS as a strategic plan.

What I’ve learned is that Mr Obama is a statist, he has Marxist leanings and has either not read the Petraeus COIN manual or Paul Collier’s books on the third world (or if he has read those latter two works he’s rejected their conclusions and their suggestions). Let me explain.

  • As Statist — All his solutions to various problems whether it be engaging foreign states both friend and foe or strengthening the economy and the internal status of our county the solution is the same … the federal government.
  • As Marxist — He finds one of the essential source of conflict in the world are class struggle identified by inequalities of opportunity and wealth between different tribal, national or ethnic groups. Mr Collier points out in his book the Bottom Billion that there is no statistical basis for that premise. It seems to me this is going to be a strategic problem if you misidentify the source of conflicts.
  • COIN —  One of the theme’s hammered home time after time in the COIN manual is that there are a host of tasks that need to be done in the context of an counter-insurgency operation. These tasks we are informed (repeatedly) are not best done by the military but by other government and NGO organs. The development and extension of these capabilities have consequences beyond the specific task of COIN operations but if developed could be an effective tool for aiding nations in that “bottom billion” on the road to recovery.
  • Collier — Like Mr Bush before him, Mr Obama thinks democracy is the answer and would encourage its development. Mr Collier points out some of the pitfalls of democracy for the bottom billion which is unacknowledged and ignored. As Mr Collier points out the pet solutions for the third world held by left and right are only accidentally and occasionally useful. Each of these countries is unique and the solution for one country may be harmful for another.

Let me point to one of my objections listed above in more detail. In engaging our enemies Mr Obama thinks that diplomatic and government interactions are key to breaking the history of distrust. He talks about engagement. Now it seems to me there is an obvious “better” way to go about skinning that cat and that while the federal government might have a role they, that role is not primary but an enabling one. Economic entanglement by getting opening and bringing small to medium sized businesses in these countries to interact and establish relationships would be a better one. For example, if you want to “reset” relations with Russia, drop visa requirements and try to get Russian companies, e.g., Teremok and the like, to open branches here. Try to get them to reciprocate and start bringing the grassroots of our economies more interdependent.

Filed under: Foreign PolicyGovernmentMark O.

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!