Wednesday, December 20, 2017

National Security Strategy

As long time readers know, one of ComNavOps overarching themes is that all things military flow from a national geopolitical strategy.  Military actions and acquisitions should follow this simplified chain of actions:

1)      Geopolitical Strategy – sets the nation’s goals and defines our desired relationship with the rest of the world
2)      Military Strategy – defines how to achieve our geopolitical goals via military means
3)      CONOPS – defines the role and use of specific, individual military assets and lays out the tactics that the asset will employ within the context of the military strategy
4)      Acquisition – having defined the needs and characteristics of specific, individual assets, we can now acquire them with assurance that they will prove useful

Sadly, the U.S. has not had a valid national geopolitical strategy for many years.  Because of this, the U.S. military has been adrift, having no guidance as to what it should do.  The lack of guidance has resulted in haphazard acquisitions where the military has been focused on acquiring technology rather than assets that would actually be useful in a specific region and against a specific enemy.  Thus, we get the LCS which has no useful purpose, the Zumwalt which has no mission, the Marine’s expansion into aviation which duplicates and conflicts with existing national aviation forces, the F-35 which is an international jobs program with dubious combat value, etc.

The lack of a geopolitical strategy has also paralyzed the military’s actions regarding potential enemies.  Having no guidance, the military has defaulted to appeasement.  This has given us the Iranian seizure of our boats and crews with no repercussions, the uncontested seizure of the entire South and East China Seas by China using largely illegal measures, our passive acceptance of the unremitting and unsafe harassment of our military units by Russia, and an unhindered build up of NKorea’s nuclear ballistic missile program.

In short, due to the lack of a geopolitical strategy, the U.S. has been drifting aimlessly on the world stage for many years and has accomplished little and, likely, worsened many situations.

Now, for the first time in many years, the government, in the form of President Trump, has put forth a National Security Strategy (1).  Let’s examine it. 

Note:  I don’t care whether you support President Trump or not.  We’re going to examine the National Security Strategy (NSS) document as it relates to the military.  We’re going to determine whether or not it provides the guidance necessary for the military to regain a sense of purpose and direction.

The NSS begins on a positive note by laying out an underlying foundation:

“Putting America first is the duty of our government and the foundation
for U.S. leadership in the world.”

Aside from being one of President Trump’s campaign slogans, this also provides a clear basis for all subsequent strategic considerations.  Agree or disagree but it’s quite clear.

The document then goes on to list four “pillars” of the strategy:

               I.      Protect the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life

              II.      Promote American prosperity

             III.      Preserve peace through strength

            IV.      Advance American influence

Clearly, these pillars are based on the “America First” principle as stated in the introduction to the strategy.  This is a geopolitical strategy that approaches international relations and events from a very specific perspective – an American perspective.  This provides ample guidance to the government and the military as to what path to follow, what shape our international relations should take, and what rationale our actions should be based on.

If the document contained only those few words and no others, this would almost be sufficient.  However, the strategy also enumerates specific enemies, threats, and actions that further define the pillars.  Here are some of the noteworthy items:

            1.      Protect the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life
a.      Deploy a layered missile defense aimed at Iran and NKorea
b.      Control weapons of mass destruction
c.      Strengthen border control and immigration policy
d.      Eliminate terrorist safe havens
e.      Dismantle transnational criminal organizations
f.       Defend against cyber attacks

          2.      Promote American prosperity
a.      Put an end to unequal and unfair international trading practices
b.      Promote domestic economic prosperity via regulatory and tax relief
c.      Pursue energy dominance

          3.      Preserve peace through strength
a.      Recognizes that war is a spectrum of actions, most of which are non-violent but still threatening
b.      Reestablish military overmatch
c.      Improve readiness
d.      Reverse the decline in size of our military forces
e.      Protect and promote the domestic manufacturing and defense industrial base
f.       Use diplomacy to advance American interests
g.      Maintain our position as the preeminent economic force in the world
h.      Modernize the military

          4.      Advance American influence
a.      Encourage partnerships that advance American interests
b.      Exercise leadership
c.      Champion American values

The strategy concludes by addressing specific regional concerns.

“The United States must tailor our approaches to different regions of the world to protect U.S. national interests. We require integrated regional strategies that appreciate the nature and magnitude of threats, the intensity of competitions, and the promise of available opportunities, all in the context of local political, economic, social, and historical realities.”

This very wisely recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to geopolitics and it recognizes that individual regions and enemies have specific characteristics that the government and military need to be aware of and account for.

The regions addressed are:

  • Indo-Pacific
    • enumerates the threat posed by China and NKorea
    • stresses the need for regional partnerships
    • espouses military forward presence and regional missile defense
    • maintain strong ties with Taiwan while recognizing the “One China” policy and the “Taiwan Relations Act”
  • Europe
    • recognizes Russia’s subversive activities and intimidation
    • calls on European countries to increase defense spending
  • Middle East
    • recognizes the threats posed by Iran and terrorists
    • deny Iranian nuclear progress
  • South and Central Asia
    • strengthen ties with India
    • pressure Pakistan to increase its counter-terrorism activities
  • Western Hemisphere
    • combat international crime
    • strengthen economic ties and trade
  • Africa
    • encourage governmental reform and sanction repressive governments
    • strengthen trade partnerships
    • counter terrorist encroachments

There you have it – the gist of the National Security Strategy.

Unlike “strategies” put forth by previous administrations, this one is has a central theme (America first), names enemies and details their threats, and offers a surprising amount of specific actions to be taken.  In short, this explicitly defines our view of other countries and the nature and basis for our relationships with them.

Here are few specific thoughts on the strategy.

  • The willingness to name enemies and specifically describe their threats and negative actions is realistic and refreshing.  For example, no longer will we be forced to try describe a “Pacific Pivot” but deny that it is aimed at China.  You can’t fight an enemy if you won’t even speak their name (Obama’s refusal to say “radical Islamic terrorism”).  The level of detail about the illegal, immoral, unethical, and unfair actions of unfriendly countries is stunning in comparison to all previous Administrations and strategies.

  • The strategy specifically recognizes the return of great power competition and the impact that has on America, our military, and the world.  This recognition provides the basis for addressing our own military issues of force sizing, readiness, procurement, budget, and modernization. 

  • Refreshingly, after several years of retreat from the world stage, the strategy emphasizes the need for American leadership and the value and benefit of that leadership for the world.

  • The strategy recognizes that America is the standard for the world and the hope for the future of the world.  This is a complete reversal from the previous Administration’s policy of constant apologies for American existence.

  • In one of the notably ambiguous issues, the strategy is still trying to walk the tightrope on the Taiwan-China issue by expressing strong support for Taiwan while acknowledging the One China Policy.  This ambiguity will not assist the military in formulating actions and operations.

  • The strategy is notably weak on African specifics and defaults to generic statements about trade, economics, and politics.  Given that Africa is a rapidly growing host for terrorism and is one of China’s focal points for expansion, this region should have been addressed in much more detail and specifics.

  • The strategy stops short of defining exactly how far we are willing to allow China, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, Iran and NKorea to go in their endeavors.  For example, it does not say whether we will allow China to expand globally, try to contain them regionally, contest their existing expansion, or something else.  Similarly, it does not describe how far we are willing to allow Russia to go.  Will we allow Russia to complete a takeover of Ukraine and expand into other countries?  The strategy’s consistent theme is “America first”.  Does that mean we’ll allow Russia to continue invading countries as long as American interests are not adversely impacted?

While not perfect, this strategy is a vast improvement over anything that has come before it and even considered in isolation is quite adequate.  It defines our enemies and their threats and details specific actions we need to take.  Just as importantly, it provides a consistent basis and rationale for our relationships and actions.  This is exactly what the military needs to formulate military strategies.  Given this document, the military should be able to develop clear and specific strategies for each region and each enemy that we face. 

The Administration has set a viable geopolitical strategy and it is now up to the military to support that with specific and effective military strategies.  There is no longer any excuse for the aimless drifting that has characterized American military behavior for the last few decades.

You can agree or disagree with this National Security Strategy but it must be acknowledged that this is a clear, consistent, and fairly specific strategy.  This is the geopolitical strategy that ComNavOps has been calling for.  The ball is in the Pentagon’s court now.  The President has provided the military with the guidance it needs.  The challenge for the military is to now pick from the range of potential capabilities and actions those that will best support the NSS and assemble coherent strategies for each region and country.  This is exactly what a professional warrior should be able to do.  Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that we do not have professional warriors leading our military.  If the military does not quickly provide the President with the required military strategies then he should initiate wholesale firings of military leadership.

One last time:  the point of this post is not to agree or disagree with the geopolitical strategy presented but to evaluate whether it is a viable, effective guidance for the military.  In that respect, it absolutely is.



  1. Re establish military overmatch. Finally somebody gets it. If only we can get the politicaly tainted military leadership to wake up and smell the coffee.

    1. Programs like the LCS, which has no combat power, have to cease. We also need to stop focusing on networks and start focusing on firepower.

  2. There is an inherent contradiction between the focus on "America first" and the apparent return to a pre-WW1 transactional foreign policy and the repeated calls throughout the document for "regional partnerships", "increased trade" "American leadership" and "strengthening partnerships". It's psychofrenic. This administration seems to want to have its cake and eat it.

    1. Apologies if this violates your request to only talk about the strategy's role in terms of shaping defence expenditure. I couldn't resist. My defence would that I think the strategy is not clear or consistent - just the opposite. It's all over the place and breathtakingly naive. I therefore would argue that it's a poor basis on which to guide a military.

    2. These documents are always full of platitudes. Somebody always gets their pet sentence or phrase in there somewhere.

    3. "This administration seems to want to have its cake and eat it."

      Be fair. All Administrations do about everything!

    4. "There is an inherent contradiction between the focus on "America first" and the apparent return to a pre-WW1 transactional foreign policy and the repeated calls ... for "regional partnerships", "increased trade" "American leadership" and "strengthening partnerships"."

      I see no contradiction. The call is for trade agreements, partnerships, and relationships that benefit America. Honestly, what other kind would we want? Now, an agreement that benefits America does not automatically mean that the other party has to suffer. The best agreements and relationships would see both parties benefit!

      I'm unfamiliar with your reference to a pre-WWI transactional policy. Tell me about it and give me some examples. How is it different from what we do today?

    5. "These documents are always full of platitudes."

      Yes ... and so? How is that a problem?

    6. "I think the strategy is not clear or consistent - just the opposite. It's all over the place and breathtakingly naive. I therefore would argue that it's a poor basis on which to guide a military."

      That's an opinion and worth discussion.

      The strategy is incredibly consistent with its basis of "America first" so I really can't credit your criticism that it's inconsistent. Give me an example of some inconsistencies.

      The same goes for clarity - it's incredibly clear. Give me examples of its lack of clarity.

      Again, give me some examples of its naivete.

      If you can provide enough valid examples of the criticisms you levy, then you have a foundation on which to make the claim that it's a poor guidance for the military.

      As you consider this, ask yourself if your criticism is objective or if it's based on an anti-Trump bias. In other words, if Hillary or Obama had written this would you have the same criticisms? If you can honestly answer yes, that's fine. If not, then your objections are biased and you need to reconsider.

      I urge you to make every effort to keep this discussion factual and objective. I would enjoy seeing a well reasoned critical critique of the strategy.

      One final thought - have you read any of the Obama and Bush "strategic" writings? You may disagree with Trump's strategy but it puts the others to shame in terms of specifics, consistency, and clarity!

    7. The platitudes explain some inconsistencies. These documents get some many fingers in the pie is a wonder they are even mildly coherent. I did not say it is a problem, I merely stated it as a matter of fact. Its like any big government project. Everybody wants in, and getting someone's pet phrase in there can be used as a favor or payback.

    8. It's fair to ask me to expand on what I said. The basis of my point centres around the recent embrace of classic bismarkian, transactional foreign policy. This is in direct contradiction to the multilateral, cooperative world order established primarily by FDR and Truman in the final months of WW2, but which had their roots in the idealism of Woodrow Wilson in his unsuccessful attempts post WW1 to establish a multilateral global community of nations benefiting from overlapping interests and a foundation of cooperation as opposed to constant competition. It is an idealistic idea borne primarily in the US and successfully implemented by virtually every president since FDR until now. It's an idea that underpins the UN (another American idea), that has formed the entire basis of US partnerships across the first world and is arguably he 3rd greatest strength. It is the genuine desire for a multilateral world order not based purely on hegemony, power dynamics and the formerly common idea of Darwinism competition between nation states which led the world into two world wars. It's arguably America's greatest achievement, and is the thing which separates her from other powerful states like China and Russia. It's why the US has so many allies and so much influence in a way that China could never have - because everyone knows China cares only for her own interests, while only the US as a global power has ever offered an alternative, multilateral world order based on rule of law and shared values. To abandon this for the simplistic logic of "America first" fundamentally undermines everything America has ever proffered to stand for internationally and undermines all her international relationships. America has never in the post war period enjoyed less influence among her natural allies then she does now.

    9. In terms of my specific criticism and reference to inconsistency within the strategy, the entire principal of "America first" is a repudiation of 75 years of American foreign policy and has weakened existing global relationships while making future agreements and cooperation more difficult. It is absurd that the policy talks of always putting America first while also building new partnerships and strengthening cooperation. You'll find your new allies very fickle - why wouldn't they be, they know America doesn't care about them it's all just a racket to advance her own interests. The current administration has just experienced an unprecedented repudiation in the UN security council from her own allies and is about to get another in the general assembly. This is evidence of weakened relationships and battered partnerships. If that's the world the US wants, it's not hard to get it. I mean historically it's the general way of things. But as an americanophile I find it genuinely sad. It's an abandonment of her leadership position which was not based on military strength or her ability to bully smaller nations - America's leadership was based on the understanding that she genuinely wanted to fashion a better world order based on multilateral, cooperative global relations for the betterment not just of herself, but humanity itself. It's lofty stuff and on the surface anf might seem.naive - but it's been remarkably successful until now.

    10. Apologies for the typos I'm typing this on my phone in an airport.

    11. "only the US as a global power has ever offered an alternative, multilateral world order based on rule of law and shared values. To abandon this ..."

      You may be reading more into this than there is. I see nothing (and have heard nothing) that indicates anyone in the Administration wants to "abandon" a "multilateral world order based on rule of law and shared values". All I see is a call for ensuring that American interests are taken care of AS WELL AS THE OTHER PARTY'S INTERESTS. For the last several years, or more, we've engaged in a series of agreements that have not only not been in America's best interests but have actually harmed American interests. The "America first" idea is a reaction to the actively negative agreements of the last few Administrations. There's nothing sinister here.

      We'll still make trade agreements - we just won't intentionally punish ourselves doing it. We'll still encourage defense partnerships - we just won't bear the entire brunt of the costs. We'll still engage with the UN - we just won't agree to resolutions that actively penalize us over other countries. And so on.

      As I said, I think you're making more of this than there is.

    12. "America has never in the post war period enjoyed less influence among her natural allies then she does now."

      This is one of your key points and it's absolutely true. HOWEVER, you seem to lay the blame for that on Trump rather than recognizing that the basis for that sad state of affairs has been laid and built over the last 8 years of Obama's Administration. His "strategy" was to retreat from the world stage, cede leadership to other countries, apologize for America's very existence, take blame on America for every ill in the world, abandon traditional allies in favor of terrorist states and evil nations. Our world standing didn't change the day after Trump was elected. Let's be fair. Trump is barely even getting his various ambassadors in place now due to Congressional delays. Many of his policies, regardless of what you think of them, have been stymied in courts and have not been implemented, he's barely had time to even visit more than a handful of countries, and so on. This NSS could change our international relationships (for better or worse) but those changes won't be felt for years, yet. Let's be fair about why America's standing is so low and where that originated.

      So, recognizing that our international standing is at low point and admitting that it isn't due to Trump (yet), we have to then consider blaming the policies and "strategies" that were in place before Trump arrived - the very policies that you claim were "good"! That's gotta make you think!

      This is an excellent discussion and I want to commend you for it. You're making a calm, reasoned case, incorrect though it may be! Other readers can benefit from this by seeing alternate views. Whether you agree with me or, in this case, disagree, this is the kind of discussion I encourage. Please continue.

  3. The problem, as I see it, what's the difference in what DoD is procuring? Because so far from what I'm hearing is coming out from procurement FY18 and further out to the right, it's just more of the same....if we had seen this policy AND THEN SOME MAJOR CUTS AND SHIFTS in procurement, then I would agree even though I despise if there's no changes in procurement, why be so "happy" about this "new" NSS doc? Does this new NSS really mean anything if it's just business as usual for DoD?

    It looks like WE ARE GOING TO GET more of the same, more F35s, more LCSs, 2 new Fords coming up, probably more Burkes and a few more Virginias, etc,etc....

    1. "what's the difference in what DoD is procuring?"

      Let's be a little bit fair, here. The Strategy document JUST came out whereas the DoD's FY18 purchasing requests have been in the making for a year or more - the Navy, for example, has 30 year shipbuilding plans. To expect an instantaneous, radical change in procurement is unrealistic. Many of the purchases are multi-year purchase agreements that are locked in. It will take some time for shifts to occur.

      Further, the Strategy just came out. Now, the military has to formulate specific regional and country military strategies which, AFTER THEY ARE FORMULATED, will dictate procurement changes. Given the glacial pace of DoD studies and reports, the military strategies could take months or years, sadly.

      So, let's be fair about expectations. Set your hatred for Trump aside and look at the strategy process itself. This document is the first, the most important, baby step in the overall process leading to adjusted procurement. To believe the entire process will occur in hours or days is naive or biased by personal animosity towards Trump.

      Finally, I'm happy about the NSS document because it's the most important piece of the process from which everything else is derived and it's been missing for many years. Now that we have it, we can start working on the next step which is the supporting military strategy. Setting personal animosity aside, establishing the most important piece of the process is certainly cause to be "happy". If you can't see that then your bias is warping your judgement. You may disagree with the strategy but any reasonable person would acknowledge that we now have the long missing, most important part of the process.

      Did you really think that an hour after issuing the NSS, we'd cancel major acquisitions and announce new ones?

      Are you biased beyond reason or are you objective? Be objective and rational as you discuss this.

  4. Just 3 comments:

    1) I'm not American, but I would be very happy if my country gets a national security strategy that is as clear and specific as this one.

    2) Regarding: "In one of the notably ambiguous issues, the strategy is still trying to walk the tightrope on the Taiwan-China issue by expressing strong support for Taiwan while acknowledging the One China Policy. This ambiguity will not assist the military in formulating actions and operations"

    I disagree with CNO regarding ambiguity because here is also a useful message (even not so clear): status quo. The US won't make an attempt to change the actual situation and doesn't want a change from any other (i.e. China) as well.

    I think this should be enough for military high-level planning.

    3) Nice post and analysis of the NSS.

    1. "I disagree with CNO regarding ambiguity because here is also a useful message (even not so clear): status quo."

      You're right and I'm right. You're right that the call for status quo is clear. I'm right that the status quo is ambiguous. Attempting to support Taiwan while simultaneously acknowledging the One China policy is contradictory which makes it inherently ambiguous.

      If I were the military, I'd be utterly confused. So, do you want me (the military) to aggressively defend Taiwan or do you want me to stand back and let China eventually annex Taiwan? If we defend Taiwan then we're repudiating the One China policy. If we disengage then we're not supporting Taiwan. We're trying to walk the tightrope. We need pick a side.

    2. On Taiwan, actually there was some 'policy recon' done to gauge Chinese attitude a week or so back.

      In the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, there was a clause of (I paraphrase) 'possible reciprocal Naval port visits between Taiwan and the US'. Right after POTUS' signing of the act, China announced (I paraphrase) 'the day the USN makes a port visit to Taiwan is the day China starts its unification-by-force'.

      My take: the US probed and got a response, but the short timing between that response and NSS speech did not allow WH to clarify the matter with Chinese and to come up with a clearer (or better) statement. Also, I don't think the US-mil is confused on what it will take to fight China, from limited to all out, from conventional to nuke, from Taiwan to 2nd island chain..WH has all the information needed to formulate its China policy.

    3. "the day the USN makes a port visit to Taiwan is the day China starts its unification-by-force"

      So China is stating that it will plunge the world into global war over a port visit? Hmm, that doesn't sound like the peace loving China you've repeatedly described. That sounds more like the bent-on-war and global conquest China that I've described. I guess we now know who's right - it was me!

    4. CNO, every time you and I talk about 'China', I don't know when/where/how I'll set off a firecracker. I guess I just did.

      Still, you and I have came to the same conclusion, from different angle, that why 'Taiwan' is China's strategic must-have if there comes a US-China throw down in the Westpac. And as long as China perceives the threat from the US forward presence in 1st island chain, Taiwan will always be in that precarious position.

      As for going from China's 'Taiwan' to 'global conquest', you're making an analytical leap I can't quite follow. Actually, I find this thinking of 'China wants to replace the US as global hegemon' common among Pax-Americana guardians. Why such great leap of conviction, and what kind of dots are you connecting to make it so?

    5. Either you have a preconceived position that won't allow you to see the evidence or you see it, don't care, and are just a China apologist - in which case, there's no point discussing this!

      On the off chance that you've simply missed the evidence, consider the following:

      -Having seized (illegally) the S/E China Seas, Chinese "thinkers" (both civilian and military, if there's a difference) are now discussing China's right to the second island chain. China's expansion goals seem to have no bounds

      -China is proposing prior ownership of Okinawa and other Japanese islands. Again, no bounds.

      -China is expanding militarily into Africa and has at least one base in Djibouti.

      -China is building up a military far beyond the needs of regional self-defense

      -China is in the process of seizing Philippines via state sponsored emigration.

      -China has utterly ignored the UNCLOS tribunal ruling from a treaty that China is signatory to.

      -China has built a space warfare site in Patagonia, Argentina. I'm sure China claims it's for science or some such but they could do that from somewhere in China.

      -China is attempting to acquire a base in Myanmar.

      -China is engaged in global currency manipulation.

      -China has been implicated in numerous cyber attacks against U.S. military and commercial networks - and those are just the ones that have become public knowledge!

      -China has seized U.S. unmanned underwater vehicles in international waters. That's piracy!

      -China has declared illegal EEZs far beyond what is allowed under international law.

      Seriously, I could list this stuff all night but I have other things to do. As I said, the evidence is pretty plain if you're open to see it. I fear this discussion is pointless as you'll undoubtedly rationalize every example away.

      Does this sound like a peaceful, friendly world neighbor who is content with their borders?

    6. CNO, China has not shed one drop of foreign blood in 2+ decades, and millions of unarmed civilian Chinese are all over the 3rd-world, including today's many hot spots, and seldom you hear they were killed/hurt due to geopolitical or ideology reasons. That's the clear confirmation of China's live-&-let-live-peaceful-coexistence foreign policy.

      All the points you made, let me ask you: were these unofficial hear-says put to acts, or were there victims? (the closest one would be the SCS UN tribunal ruling- but the two main parties have settled and moved on.) As for these SCS man made islands, yes, it was quite a Chinese stretch to normalize/justify them, but it was out of military necessity (one that you, the mil.professional, can hardly disagree if you wore their shoes) to protect its sub base. And, China-in-Patagonia-hurting-US-interest?? Ouch! my hamstring! I agreed that China shouldn't of fish that drone torpedo, but is that misbehavior proportional to the crime (it was one-off, and we haven't heard of any recent mis-encounters.) Again, the sum of all you listed, is it proportional to the norm behavior we associated with past-to-current-global hegemons or hard powers (Roman, Brit, the US, USSR/Russia..)?

      Do me a favor sir, bounce this off to someone(s) (who is of your similar background, that you trust, and knows the topic) and ask their feedback.

      I'll try to step lightly next time.

    7. Well, this is pointless so I'm moving on. The ironic part is that I actually hope you're right and I'm wrong!

  5. No mention of Mexico, arguably our biggest foreign policy challenge (failed/failing state, huge trading partner, neighbor with many linkages (e.g. water, roads, etc.)), and so forth.

    Regardless of how painful, we could walk away from almost every overseas alliance and commitment, but Mexico is not one of them.

    For most of U.S. history, the U.S. Army was in charge of policing the border so this is a huge omission.

    I also note that it is entirely possible to be 100% engaged in the international community without having a single soldier, sailor, airman, or marine deployed overseas.

    We tend to forget that economic power, is potentially far more important than military power in almost every instance except when an enemy posses a direct threat to national territory.


    1. Quite right about Mexico and I didn't pick up on that.

      Also, quite right about economic engagement. China is conducting economic warfare against the U.S. specifically and the world, more generally. I would like to see us retaliate in kind (tariffs, taxes, regulations, etc.). We could bring back every job that went to China if we wanted. I'm way out of my field regarding international economics so I'll leave it at stating my desire and leave the specifics to those who understand the system.

      Great comment, as usual.

    2. Trade wars and protectionism are losing economic policies. Those "cures" are worse than the disease.

      The jobs lost to China are gone. Many have been subsequently lost to automation. They can't be brought back.

      Germany has kept a strong manufacturing sector in the face of globalization. We should look to their example.

    3. Take it back to military matters or drop it.

  6. The world is now anarchic (no one, controlling power). Which means the Liberal Order (rules based cooperation) is mostly dead. Therefore, our Grand Strategy must be Realist (each State acts in its own best interest)

    We also must end trying to be a Global Hegemon, which is exhausting us. It implies an Offensive Grand Strategy which seeks to gain power over more & more areas of the world. Our Grand Strategy must be Defensive (Defending our own territory and interests & not seeking more). Other countries will have to share the burden of managing their own spheres of influence.

    Defensive Realism should be our Post-Cold War National Security Strategy. Here is what that looks like (hat tip: John Mearsheimer):

    1) We will remain THE regional hegemon in the Americas.

    2) We will NOT allow another Great Power to become a regional hegemon in any of the 3 key regions. If we allow a regional hegemon to form, they will then have the freedom of action to begin harassing other regions (like ours)

    3) The 3 key regions (in order of importance): A) Western Pacific B) Persian Gulf (NOT the Middle East, just the Persian Gulf) and C) Europe.

    4) Our Grand Strategy should rely heavily on Diplomatic Power Balancing to always deny one of the Great Powers dominance over their neighbors. NAVAL Diplomacy can be VERY useful here.

    The effect of this National Security Strategy would clarify exactly what the military should be focusing on. One hint: NOT on Africa, which is typically a responsibility for the Europeans to police.


Comments will be moderated for posts older than 7 days in order to reduce spam.