2013 National Security Strategy Questions

I’m confused after reading a draft 2013 National Security Strategy that popped up on the Internet. 

Pg 1 – We have moved from the prior administration’s NSS which did not name World Order as a national interest, to Obama’s 2010 NSS which named World Order as a 4th interest, to the 2013 NSS which presumes a World Order and asks only how to lead it as a “First Among Equals”.  Doesn’t a purposeful World Order presume a Liberal security ideology? What Realist argument defends World Order as an interest of the United States?

Pg 4 – Increasing UN Security Council membership appears to be a Liberal security view which counts on the world really being driven by Realist power balances.  If I read it correctly, we would like to “induce cooperation” by “encouraging dialogue on changing membership.”  This is a Realist extortion argument supporting a Liberal security agenda.  What?  I can’t get my head around any consistent logic here.

Pg 6 – Drones will be used when another State can’t/won’t stop terrorism on its territory. Does this conflict with Westphalian conventions of sovereignty? If drones are justified for this reason, isn’t any other use of force justified this way?  Why use pages of a National Security Strategy (bigger than Air Force, bigger than military power) to explicitly talk about drones (a very narrow specific military tool)  unless there is intent to distinguish them from other uses of force?

The NSS says, “The use of drones provides the United States with new advantages and opportunities to pressure our adversaries on the truth of their intentions and capabilities.”  In his 2003 article “Exploring the Bargaining Model of War” (pg 31 in particular), Dan Reiter pretty much equates this to war.  Yet America is not declaring war on other nations.  So what’s up?

Pg 7 – Other nations may develop nuclear technology for energy, but not for weapons. I’ve never heard anyone explain why other States do not have the right to pursue nuclear weapons. I have heard Realist security arguments against proliferation.  However, Realist arguments do not use words like “rights”; claiming rights is not a concept in Realism. This must presume Liberalist ideals, or perhaps Constructionism. Why are Liberals borrowing Realist’s argument instead of using one of their own?

Pg 12 – “Military dominance was never the goal [of our military]. Rather, we should focus on what allowed our military to become dominant: economic dynamism, a positive demographic growth pattern, and public/private partnering for investment in research and development.” What? Now I’m really confused.

I’m not sure how to interpret this in light of years of published doctrine of “shock and awe,” which Wikipedia defines as “rapid dominance” – which reflects the common understanding for 2 decades or more in the military, based on century old strategists such as Clausewitz.  Are the new NSS authors discarding their military Clausewitz books in the trash?  Many military members who risk their life would really like to know what it means to march onto the battlefield with an attitude of, “Let’s go NOT dominate.”  American Civ-Mil relations will be tested to new limits if the civilian direction is “Go die, but do not dominate.”  Any Marines reading this?  What does this mean to you?

I am glad to see a recommendation in the J7 Joint and Coalition Operational Analysis, which says on page 9, “The US must maintain its overmatch in conventional warfare…”  Okay.. a rose by any other name..   To match the NSS, we won’t “dominate”, but to win conflicts, we’ll “overmatch”.

I read and re-read the passage, and I know I could be mistaken.  Please correct me if I have it wrong.  However, here’s what I hear in the words:  “Pursue most powerful and capable military (but don’t dominate); do this by pursuing strong domestic economy, having babies, and government subsidies.”  What? Ouch.

I’m confused.  I fear that’s what our National Policies will be, too.  I wonder if the final version of the NSS will be similar to the draft.


About Brian

Engineer. Aviator. Educator. Scientist.
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