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05 January 2012

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William R. Cumming

This is the operative sentence in Mr. Cordesman analysis:
"As President Obama, Secretary Panetta, and Chairman Dempsey made clear in presenting the new strategy, most of these details will not be made clear until the specifics of the coming budget request are [sic] come out over the new few weeks."

Let's look at his last item however specifically its impacts on volunteer military. My guess is that the ground forces will have the most difficult job recruiting for their necessary but reduced numbers. As more and more short term veterans filter back to their home communities, some injured but without adequate care or pensions, the real message of their service will be conveyed to other potential volunteers. And given the fact that the focus of the document is on technology not people those with greatest technological skills will be the most employable in the civilian sector and least likely to volunteer.

Perhaps I am wrong. I doubt that potential new recruits will be given this new strategy document [about 45 other national strategies have now been published in the last decade]to help with recruiting. In fact guessing that more copies in translation might well be distributed than in English.

Note lack of definitions in the document such as "anti-proliferation" and "counter-proliferation"!

And notice no indication of how document was prepared, reviewed, circulated, or who exactly prepared it including what contractors.

But hey I guess it is meaningful to someone somewhere. Let's see how soon it is mentioned in the Presidential primaries.

Frabjous

The goals of the US in the post-WWII period have been achieved to varying degrees (which can be argued, but not here): containment and eventual elimination of the USSR as a threat, establishment of the global economic system, global trade mechanisms, freedom and security of the seas, democracy and the rule of law as (at least aspirational and occasionally functional) international standards, and the use of technological development to meet the basic needs of (most of) humanity for food and shelter.

Discussions of the future mission of our military begs the question: what is our role in the 21st century? Or to put it another way, what do we want to accomplish? I don't presume to know the answer to this question but I think that it is essential that we consider it.

Although our goals post-WWII were, for the most part, never expressed as an over-arching strategy, some sense of them did seem to frame and motivate our perception of nationhood and our place in the world; that sense seems now to be lacking such that we have no framework within which existential discussions such as the role of our military can and must occur.

Here we are in the land of plenty with our every need near at hand, and we have no concept of what's next!

One of many axes of fracture in the world is the extent to which our advancements are mostly limited to the "developed" world and are largely absent from the "developing" world - surely an impediment to declaring "mission accomplished" and retreating into our continental fortress. OTOH one nation can not and should not arrogate to itself responsibility for the rest of the world; however what processes or collection of other actors will "carry the torch"?

Mark

stanley henning

The issue that civil-military operations is not really addressed would seem to be the crux of the issue as Mr. Cordesman points out. Had a civil-military concept of interacting factors been applied in the case of Iraq, we likely would not have gone in and, in the case of Afghanistan, we would more likely have limited our involvement to the kind of commando operations that successfully took out Osama Bin Laden.

Matthew

The cocktail party set is worried. Seehttp://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/01/obamas-new-defense-strategy-reax.html

I, for one, am unconcerned about Hungary's drift toward authoritarianism. Let Merkel explain why she can afford to keep chopping the German military.

confusedponderer

I am not unconcerned with Hungary's drift towards totalitarianism. I have Hungarian relatives. Also, I live just a country away.

I find it all the more tragic that Hungary had a rather decent and fair constitution, that was now, with a one party majority changed to meet that party's preferences.

For instance, iirc Hungary's current ruling party Fidesz accused their predecessors of corruption, initiated corruption charges and iirc wanted to retroactively confiscate their predecessor's incomes. That law was ruled unconstitutional by the constitutional court. Fidesz was outraged.

Instead of changing the law to meet constitutional requirements, Hungary's ruling party went on and changed the constitution so that such laws on taxes are no longer open to judicial review by the constitutional court. So, a law specifically taxing you and you only would still be unconstitutional, but there was no way to seek legal protection against such executive overreach.

That little episode alone tells a lot about that party's hostile approach to the rule of law.

I had a discussion with an exceedingly fervent fanboy for dear leader Orbán, expressing my concerns about abolishing judicial review in such a way, and he saw no constitutional problems what-so-ever (Quote: This is a new order and such steps are necessary!). Indeed, the only conceivable reason for my petty bickering could be that I was a raving leftist, and "one of them".

I didn't have as nutty and rancorous a discourse ever since I discussed (and called into question) the 'threat' posed by Iraq with American pro-war enthusiasts in 2002/2003. It is darkly amusing that they, too, concluded the only conceivable reason for my disagreement was that I must be a raving leftist, and "one of them".

Indeed, what else!

Fred

I think the cocktail party set is worried about their gravy train being cut, not the actual impact on America's military capabilities. Kori Schake's reference to the Defense Business Board is enlightening. Those who actually defend the Republic need to get their retirement and medical benefits cut. Sure can't raise taxes on those whose total wealth has doubled in the last decade.

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