Michele Flournoy, President of the Center for a New American Strategy and a Principal DASD in the Clinton Administration, has an outstanding editorial in the Washington Times, quoted in the SWJ Blog. The most important point she makes is that the Bush Adminsitration has never had a political strategy for getting the Iraqi government to do the things it must do to achieve stability and legitimacy in the long run.

There is no question that Michele understands strategy - it was her portfolio in DOD. There is also no question that she is very bright or that her observations are well informed. My only caveat is that while strategy is conceptually easy, doing it well is hard. And executing it is harder still. Today, everybody and his dog is a strategist. But, in government, only the military does it well - and not all the time. Among the many definitions of strategy is: strategy is the process of relating ends to means (through ways). Here is my army bias coming through: I see strategy in ends, ways, and means terms - objectives, courses of action, and resources. But even Army people and our Navy, Air Force, and Marine brothers, do not always get it right often slighting the resource component of strategy. this was true of the SOUTHCOM Regional Security Strategy that I was responsible for in 1988 - 89. We did it better, by far, in Max Thurman's SOUTHCOM STRATEGY of 1989 because he insisted on beefing up the resource component and adding a formal IO supporting strategy.

This brings me back to Michele's point. Who in the USG is responsible for a political strategy in and for Iraq? the answer probably should be State Department. But who in State does strategy? The problem will exist, I think, no matter whether John McCain or Clinton or Obama is elected in November. It will exist unless the next President selects someone who knows what it takes to develop strategy to run the process and backs that person with the authority and power of the Presidency to force the process not only to produce a workable document but also to execute it with all the instruments of national power.



PS In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote two case studies for a project that Michele headed in the Clinton Administration and have attended conferences and workshops with her. I was impressed with her at the time and am still impressed.