Infinity Journal (Adam Elkus) – Must American Strategy be Grand?
Does America need a grand strategy? Is our current one defective? This essay submits that the concept of “grand strategy” in American policy discourse suffers from several major deficiencies. First, grand strategy is conceptualized as a dominant “big idea” instead of the steps that translate high concept into action. American grand strategy’s conceptualization of strategy is divorced from classical strategy’s instrumental focus on bridging violence and politics. American grand strategy’s present form simply adds a superficially strategic character to what is predominately ideological foregrounding to national policy.
Like a family, American grand strategy and classical strategy need not always agree. But classical strategy provides a framework from which grand strategy originated, and American grand strategy’s somewhat “grand” departure from this original grounding has not yielded greater analytical utility or practical value. It is time for a family reunion.
The Diplomat –The West’s First War with China
Maybe it’s an awareness of this rapidly-changing status quo that’s motivating Western experts to urge Washington to contain China, and it seems that President Barack Obama is moving in this direction, even as his Republican rivals urge even more ambitious military buildups.
Yet one rarely hears them making a much cheaper and ultimately more effective suggestion: to learn more about traditional Chinese warcraft and military affairs. No nation is so deeply imbued with its own history as China. Commanders in China’s armed forces are as deeply aware of China’s deep legacy of military thought as Zheng Chenggong and his generals were. They know their Sun Tzu, their Zhuge Liang, their Qi Jiguang. But they can also quote Clausewitz and Mahan and Petraeus. They know their own tradition, and they know the Western tradition. They’re following Sun Tzu’s advice: “Know your enemy and know yourself.”
Thomas P.M. Barnett – The Hunger =the Hate
On a walk last night and I was thinking about what I know about the future that I feel supremely confident about, and the answer that popped into my head is China’s coming difficulties. Not that I wish it any harm – anything but. It’s just that the hubris and the nationalism and the hunger for all things – all completely natural in a rise of this caliber – are combining to create antipathy abroad and extreme anxiousness at home. The tough times that follow will force China into a scary and dangerous democratization. It happens to the best; it happens to the rest. There is no Chinese “alternative.”
Neat pair of NYT stories to illustrate.
First one (above) is about an Asian art exhibit. The paper version had the title that caught my eye:
East is East; West is Omnivorous
Exhibit covers the time period of Europe’s early global expansion and the apocalyptic views it generated among the conquered in Asia.
The only thing I thought when I saw the title was, now the worm has turned. Now the West is West and the East is omnivorous. And that hunger for all things creates the growing hatred of China….
Small Wars Journal – Narrative Landmines
Strategic communicators often dismiss rumors as untrue or as gossip and thus trivial. Yet research shows that rumors can have serious social, economic and political consequences. Rumors about President Obama’s birthplace, despite their falsity, have armed his political foes and distracted attention from his governance. Rumors that Jews or the Bush Administration were behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center extend and reinforce troubling stereotypes and conspiracy theories. And in Iraq and Afghanistan, rumors magnify the use of violence and ideology that shapes the allegiance of the contested population—those caught between supporting the host government and coalition forces on the one hand and the insurgency or Taliban on the other. Recognizing the importance of rumors, especially their function in periods of civic unrest, and understanding their nature and spread as a particular kind of story phenomena are the subjects of our recent book Narrative Landmines: Rumors, Islamist Extremism and the Struggle for Strategic Influence (Rutgers University Press, 2012).
World Politics Review (Steven Metz) – Strategic Horizons: Strategic Retrenchment the Smart Way
….Given all this, the question is not whether the United States will undertake strategic retrenchment, but where and how much. Should the United States lower its level of engagement in some parts of the world or even disengage entirely? If so, where? Africa, with its growing al-Qaida presence and expanding economies? Asia, with an increasingly menacing China? Europe, with its shared political values and historical ties to the United States? Or is it enough for the United States to simply resist certain types of actions, especially large-scale counterinsurgency operations like Iraq and Afghanistan? This latter approach has deep support among advocates of strategic retrenchment. Rather than direct engagement in regional security, they argue, the U.S. military should remain offshore or over the horizon, to be used only to prevent a hostile power from gaining outright control of some important region. What is not clear is whether this will be enough either to assure U.S. security or lower the costs of American strategy.
Scholar’s Stage- Grand Strategy absent Grand Ends
Global Guerrillas – How Drones Could Live off the Land for Years
SWJ Blog – To COIN or Not
The Glittering Eye – Learned Nothing
Gene Expression – William D. Hamilton: Science without Artifice
The New Atlanticist (James Joyner) – America’s Losing Streak
Information Dissemination – What Land Power Sounds Like