SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Conflicts -- Current & Future > Operation Iraqi Freedom > US Policy, Interest, and Endgame

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-11-2008   #1
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default Toward Sustainable Security in Iraq and the Endgame

I've been reading the discussion on our SOFA negotiations with Iraq, and thinking about what the means for Security Force Assistance. I did not start out to write a long post, it just came out that way as I got deeper into the what I htought "sustainable security" meant with regard to Iraq. Anyway, I thought it might be worth discussing so here it is:

Greater stability in Iraq is a supporting policy goal of our desire for greater stability in the Middle East. Iraq has the potential to add to greater ME stability, or to detract from it. Key to greater stability in Iraq is sustainable security of the sort that accounts for its ability to defend itself against all enemies foreign and domestic. To do this a state requires a security sector that has accountability and oversight and is resistant to the abuse of power. It needs to assist the political leadership in considering the threats to its sovereignty and support the development of the ends, ways and means required to realize its domestic and foreign policy objectives. The security sector must fit the political, economic and cultural environment in which it is to operate. It must develop systems and processes which not only meet the requirements of the moment, but help set the course for meeting enduring requirements.

There is much in the news about our future security negotiations with Iraq, and whether our positions are impinging on their sovereignty, or impeding their ability to govern, etc. Maybe we need to discuss where we are in the movie with regard to sustainable security of the type that could facilitate more stability. I think there are several questions that might be useful in considering how our SFA (security force assistance) efforts (from advising to IMET, and from internal to external defense) can best help them achieve sustainable security. These are the same types of questions we go through ourselves when drafting our strategic security documents. Maybe it is worthwhile to try and consider Iraq’s pursuit of its security as if we were faced with their security issues. I am not saying impose our U.S. values on Iraq – I mean just given some of the geo-political issues they face.

1) What are Iraq’s interests & supporting objectives (short and enduring)?
2) Who would oppose those interests and why?
3) Of those who would oppose their objectives, why would they?
4) What do their enemies see at risk with regard to their own interests and objectives? Why?
5) How would they oppose Iraq’s interests? Would they oppose Iraq in a competitive, non violent (meaning everything short of violence), or would they oppose them through war (everything from IW to conventional)?
6) What does Iraq have in terms of resources, access, etc. that potential enemies might see of sufficient value as to go to war to obtain it (resources, security, access or denial of access, etc.)?
7) Who can be counted among Iraq’s allies? Why? What do they bring to the table?
8) Are their potential allies with like interests who remain formally uncommitted? Why?
9) What are the gaps in Iraq’s ends/ways/means equation that prevent Iraq from achieving its own goals of sustainable security while preventing others from achieving those goals which threaten it?

Question 10 is one that might concern us with regard to our own interests, objectives and SFA efforts, and how they match up with Iraq’s.

10) How do our current and future actions and efforts better enable Iraq to achieve its security goals while satisfying our own interests and objectives?

How best do our objectives and those of Iraq reflect something satisfactory for the U.S., Iraq, and the broader regional and international states and actors who have legitimate interests in Iraq’s future,? We need to consider it from multiple perspectives in terms of suitability & feasibility for the most relevant participants to get sustainable security. One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is the difference between securing yourself against four categories of threats: internal domestic; internal but foreign supported; external but domestic supported; and purely external threats. The four categories represent different combinations of threats and require different things from a state’s security sector. It is not meant to be along the specificity of the U.S QDR quad chart – this is meant to be more generic.

For the last few years the immediate threat has arguably come from the first two categories (internal domestic; internal foreign supported), our military efforts in support of Iraq have been geared toward combating those forces directly and in building Iraqi security forces in capabilities and capacities that can take over that effort (our by, with and through efforts). We have also been engaged in the Iraqi security sector in terms of the development and reform of those ministries and supporting institutions which provide accountability and oversight toward sustainable security. We have also assisted Iraq in development & reform of the economic and political sectors (reform should not be seen here as imposition of our values – just the reformation of things with the purpose of congruence in the objective environment as negotiated between Iraq and the United States). These efforts have become part of our FID & COIN operations, and our broader strategy.

But what about as we look down the road? The second category (internal but foreign supported) has been altered to include Iranian support, intimidation and interference, and because the interest have become more contested they have become linked to the third category (external but domestic supported). Linked in terms of how others see Iraq connected to their own interests and objectives. We continue to make progress in assisting Iraq with resisting this category through our development of the security, economic and political sectors – our BPC efforts. Between Iraq, and its allies (the U.S. and broader coalition) and there is evidence that sustainable internal domestic security is achievable. I’m not saying it’s a done deal, in fact I’d argue that it is reversible if we withdrew our support in a manner that did not fully consider the consequences of the action and did not account for the range of effects such an action would have.

One of the issues we must help Iraq consider is how to transition their security sector in a manner and at a time that allows them to address all four categories with assistance that meets their needs while not impairing their sovereignty. What direction and scope should our SFA activities take as we move from a focus on FID to one focused on deterring regional aggression and ultimately to one of fostering security cooperation between partners with like interests? Questions such as how soon can the Iraqis (with our assistance) develop committed, competent, capable, and confident police and other domestic services so that the military and supporting intelligence services can better assume those roles the state requires to defend it from external aggression? With the establishment of events that marks the ability to transition the Iraqi Military, the question arises of what type of SFA activities best support those Iraqi and U.S. policies with regard to not only Iraq, but the region, and how do we implement them with an eye toward sustainability? For our own requirements, what type of demand signal does the send in terms of SFA? And will we have the resident capabilities and capacity to assist Iraq? If we don’t do we develop them, or do we turn to another partner with interests coincide with ours and Iraq’s, and who now at a time where Iraq’s operating environment may be more politically accommodating is willing and capable of providing SFA? Are their other alternatives which meet both Iraq’s interests and ours?

continued..
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 06-11-2008   #2
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default Toward Sustainable Security in Iraq and the Endgame (Continued)

Secretary Gates has repeatedly mentioned the risk of losing of the endgame. While there is the ongoing discussion about the level and type of continued support to the government of Iraq with regards to the first three categories, what about the fourth category (external)? What are the external threats to Iraq’s sovereignty? As a consequence of those threats how are our own interests at risk? How can our security force assistance plans account for the fourth category and help Iraq reach its own strategic objectives? Our approach to securing the endgame must account for sustainable security in Iraq that looks beyond those security issues that we see most visibly right now, and consider the competitive environment in which Iraq must exist further down the road. As a region we know the Middle East will be competitive from both within and without for reasons that range from human security to regional intolerance and fear, to global energy consumption. These issues are often intertwined and overlayed with one another and/or masked by other out growth issues. The SOFA and SFA (Strategic Framework Agreement) negotiations set not only the tone of military cooperation, but also much of our future political and economic cooperation. A successful negotiation that both Iraq and the United States see as supportive of their interests and policies support both sustainable security and the securing of the endgame.

Our endgame with regard to Iraq is greater stability of the type that by its nature resists extremism and supports regional access and openness. It is underpinned through sustainable security. The development of committed, competent, capable, and confident security forces that are rooted in accountability and oversight are operational objectives. They must be in tune with regard to Iraq’s geo-political environment, and they must be in tune with Iraq’s political, economic and cultural realities. The endgame may not represent the “end” so much as it represents a point where the policy goals we share with Iraq are for most purposes irreversible and require what we might think of as the type of routine SFA interactions we have with other partners and allies for opportunities that strengthen interoperability and open the door for other areas of cooperation via increased familiarity and trust.


Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 06-11-2008   #3
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

Rob, sounds like you're doing a little Operational Design Process.

Let me suggest that many of the things we're concerned about are caused by our distrust of Iran and not the needs of the Iraqi state.

Any prime minister who can get Ahmadinejad on line 1 and Bush on line 2 probably isn't that concerned about finding allies in the event of external attack. Secondly, there was no security agreement with Kuwait in 91 and everything worked out OK.

Top down attacks on the enemy - "command and control centric" - didn't work in Iraq. Top down "inside the green zone" politics hasn't achieved much. Top-down economic development efforts haven't done anything. In fact, economic development organizations around the world have moved away from the top-down approach. Instead of building massive infrastructure, they give local entrepreneurs $50 loans.

Top down security arrangements aren't very important or useful. Take a look at the recent conflict between Maliki and Sadr. There was no capacity building. There was no joint police force. There was no signed document. We built a fence around Sadr City. The fence will stay until the Sadrists learn to play nice with others. The end.

Strategy should be simple. IMO, we need a one page document that lets us fence in every community in Iraq. Then, don't let them out until they agree to play nice together. It doesn't matter what they agree to as long as they're happy with it. We do COIN. They build their own nation. (With a little luck, they'll find a "Reagan" who won't try to interfere with the process.)

Oh, and we need need an agreement that says you guys won't ever need to go on trial in Iraq for doing your jobs. I'd rather "surrender" - to use a McCain term - than see one of you guys arrested by the people you're trying to help.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.
Rank amateur is offline  
Old 06-12-2008   #4
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Hi RA- good comments,

I think you are correct in that Iran does influence our negotiations, that seems natural given our interests and those of our partners and allies. I also think it influences Iraq's in multiple ways as well - they have to live there, share many bonds at different levels, and also fought a brutal, exhausting war that left its imprint on many Iraqi leaders and soldiers I know.

I disagree though if you mean Iraq's security needs do not concern us. Here are a few reasons why:

1) A successful or unsuccessful Iraq has consequences beyond the ME in terms of U.S. influence. It certainly has consequences within the ME for future agreements. Its a "brand name" issue, if Iraq rises from the ashes so to speak (and I believe it can given its people and resources), the early international perceptions of U.S. involvement become tempered. Its security is paramount to its ability to do so. Our friends and enemies are and will be watching to see how Iraq does, and if we remain committed to honoring any agreements we make, or in more general terms, how our involvement worked out. In that regard it is in our interests that Iraq succeed.

2) Iraq's success or failure affects us domestically in political and economic ways beyond our foreign policy goals. I'm not just talking about the election of political leadership - although that can be an effect derived from it. It has something to do with the way we ascribe value to ourselves and to others - I know that is pretty subjective, maybe that is one for MarcT

3) Iraq's ability to secure itself does more then just affect Iran's ability to spread influence. It may also affect its other neighbors in positive ways. If Iraq can over time extend control over its borders it influences Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait in other ways. From the way trade and people flow, to positively influencing events that are destabilizing to those states Iraq's ability to secure its self matters. Many of these issues provide additional animosities and stresses upon which political leaders in some of those states either must contend with in the domestic and international community, or in some cases use as rational to impose policies to which their populations might not otherwise agree. These states are also important to us both in terms of our bilateral relations and in terms of how their broader relations with their neighbors and the international community - they count in our foreign policy and Iraq's security affects them.

4) Economically Iraq matters - and so its security matters. Its not just the oil and natural gas with regard to the global energy market, historically (going way back) - Iraq's geography and culture have played a key role in regional and (for western world at the time) international economics. It may have more to offer in terms of natural resources and agriculture production then any of its neighbors. It also has significant human capital - given sustainable security, and development - those people may bring forward advances in many areas - political, technology, religious, cultural, etc. Without sustainable security though the benefits of civilization remain elusive.

You also had a good point about top down vs. bottom up. I think its a little of both. Significant things which make agreements or legislation at the top are made sustainable by the base of support that is seen at the bottom. It could be the perception of that base, or it could be the actual base. Generally I see them worked from both ends at the same time - with pyramids we have to contend with physics, with people its different.

Its the same thing I see with the Inter-Agency reform - while there are calls for a GN II, the reality is the workers are already finding ways to make it happen because of the need - any formal codification will hopefully make it better - but alone codification neither sustains it, nor makes it a fact - it only makes it more possible. Codification lacking the will to make it happen right - can be empty, can be obfuscated, can be ignored to some degree, or could be misconstrued.

Best, Rob

Last edited by Rob Thornton; 06-12-2008 at 01:16 PM. Reason: added to point 3
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 06-12-2008   #5
wm
Council Member
 
wm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On the Lunatic Fringe
Posts: 1,237
Default

Rob,
Successful national restoration in Iraq is a double edged sword (or is that a scimitar?). Having it join Barnett's "have"/"functioning core" nations may not be as wonderful a thing as many seem to think--especially since America does not seem to have that simple strategy and view of the desired endstate for our involvement with Iraq that RA alluded to with his link.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
1) A successful or unsuccessful Iraq has consequences beyond the ME in terms of U.S. influence. It certainly has consequences within the ME for future agreements. Its a "brand name" issue, if Iraq rises from the ashes so to speak (and I believe it can given its people and resources), the early international perceptions of U.S. involvement become tempered. Its security is paramount to its ability to do so. Our friends and enemies are and will be watching to see how Iraq does, and if we remain committed to honoring any agreements we make, or in more general terms, how our involvement worked out. In that regard it is in our interests that Iraq succeed.
An important consideration here is the view taken as to the means by which Iraq succeeds. By this I mean how is Iraqi success at rebuilding itself viewed. Is the success understood to have occurred despite US involvement or because of US involvement? If the former, I think Iraq earns more respect in the region. If the later, then Iraq likely is viewed as little more than an American lackey. I doubt the nations of world will like us better because we helped Iraq rise from the ashes that many view us as having put it into.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
2) Iraq's success or failure affects us domestically in political and economic ways beyond our foreign policy goals. I'm not just talking about the election of political leadership - although that can be an effect derived from it. It has something to do with the way we ascribe value to ourselves and to others - I know that is pretty subjective, maybe that is one for MarcT
Same applies to how the Iraqis view themselves. My point above applies here as well I think.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
3) Iraq's ability to secure itself does more then just affect Iran's ability to spread influence. It may also affect its other neighbors in positive ways. If Iraq can over time extend control over its borders it influences Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait in other ways. From the way trade and people flow, to positively influencing events that are destabilizing to those states Iraq's ability to secure its self matters. Many of these issues provide additional animosities and stresses upon which political leaders in some of those states either must contend with in the domestic and international community, or in some cases use as rational to impose policies to which their populations might not otherwise agree. These states are also important to us both in terms of our bilateral relations and in terms of how their broader relations with their neighbors and the international community - they count in our foreign policy and Iraq's security affects them.
I am more concerned about the downside of Iraq appearing as a regional power. Seems to me we've already seen the kind of conflict that can arise when a couple of ME nations vie to be the regional hegemons (Iran v. Irag for 10 years or so in the 1980s, for example and of course there was that little event between Iraq and Kuwait that provoked DS/DS--could also look at more ancient history of the region).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
4) Economically Iraq matters - and so its security matters. Its not just the oil and natural gas with regard to the global energy market, historically (going way back) - Iraq's geography and culture have played a key role in regional and (for western world at the time) international economics. It may have more to offer in terms of natural resources and agriculture production then any of its neighbors. It also has significant human capital - given sustainable security, and development - those people may bring forward advances in many areas - political, technology, religious, cultural, etc. Without sustainable security though the benefits of civilization remain elusive.
I seem to remember that Iraq once provided a haven for many Palestinians who were unabe to find meaningful employment in Israel/occupied territories--sort of a gastarbeiter presence similar to Turks in W. Germany in the 70s and 80s. But this is another double edged sword not unlike the illegal alien workforce that is doing America's yardwork (among other "menial" tasks).
__________________
Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris
wm is offline  
Old 06-12-2008   #6
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Wayne,
There all good points. I'll try and adress them.

Quote:
An important consideration here is the view taken as to the means by which Iraq succeeds. By this I mean how is Iraqi success at rebuilding itself viewed. Is the success understood to have occurred despite US involvement or because of US involvement? If the former, I think Iraq earns more respect in the region. If the later, then Iraq likely is viewed as little more than an American lackey. I doubt the nations of world will like us better because we helped Iraq rise from the ashes that many view us as having put it into.
I'm not sure "liking us" is what matters. I think "respecting us", and having transparency in terms of how we approach both foreign policy investments and war is what matters. If Iraq sits back and lets somebody do all the work for them, that would be viewed differently then say if Iraq continued to do what it could, and as it could do more it did so until a point where it assumed full responsibility. Its in both their interests and ours for them to recover as quickly as possible. I think the issue of being viewed as an American lackey comes into play based on who is doing the labeleing and why, and whether or not Iraq has the fortitude and latitude to stand on its on. My estimate is they will both because they are not afraid to act in their interests, acknowledge but reject our advice and becuase they have the resources to do so over time.

Quote:
I am more concerned about the downside of Iraq appearing as a regional power. Seems to me we've already seen the kind of conflict that can arise when a couple of ME nations vie to be the regional hegemons (Iran v. Irag for 10 years or so in the 1980s, for example and of course there was that little event between Iraq and Kuwait that provoked DS/DS--could also look at more ancient history of the region).
It is a risk. Of course many view U.S. power as a risk. Nigeria is a regional hegemon is W. Africa. China and India play increasingly important roles in their regions. States with more resources, drive and energy may become more influential then their neighbors. The issue is how they use their influence, i.e. do their actions engender stability or instability, do their actions match their narrative? How Iraq integrates into the broader ME is something of an open question - however its recent experiences will shape some of that. Its one of the reasons why our involvment remains a requirment in this moment - our assistance in shaping their institutions matters. Did you know we've assisted them in building in an IG like function in MoD and IGFC? I both know the advisors who assited them in building it and understanding its value as well as having experienced its value first hand (another thread for sure - but it worked in helping them get some accountability and oversight into the MoD). I bring it up because we are assisting them in builidng in accountability and oversight into their instituitions - accountability and oversight is key to sustainability.

Do we want Iraq to go it alone or is it in our intrests to assist them in integrating into the regional framework? Would we want them put in a position where their best alternative was to turn to Iran for support because they could not sustain their security yet? Somebody is going to make use of Iraq's resources - should it be a responsible government of Iraq, or a neighbor who opposes our vital interests openly? The decisions we and the broader regional and international communities' make now will help set the tune on how Iraq relates to the rest of the world in the future.

Quote:
I seem to remember that Iraq once provided a haven for many Palestinians who were unabe to find meaningful employment in Israel/occupied territories--sort of a gastarbeiter presence similar to Turks in W. Germany in the 70s and 80s. But this is another double edged sword not unlike the illegal alien workforce that is doing America's yardwork (among other "menial" tasks).
There are at least two cosndierations here. One is a political willingness to do something - a choice. This choice is based on political willingess reflected in its domestic and foreign policies which are shaped by how it sees its interests best preserved and advanced. What are the advantages and risks with adopting policies - not only with regard to how it relates to others, but the danger to its own citizens as potentially destabilizing influences are encouraged, allowed or illegally make their way in.

The second part is the states ability to secure its borders and points of entry, and respond to destabilizing influences within. A security sector that integrates border and domestic security with its intelligence sector for the purpose of protecting its legitimate citizens is both part of a state's obligation to its population and the means to secure its sovereignty. It allows it to regulate and tax trade, preserve order, etc.. The capability to do so does not mean it must keep everyone out, but without the capability it could not do so if it chose to.

Like you brought up both of these are issues we contend with in our own domestic and foreign policy debates - as does almost every other state that has more to offer the person or groups leaving one place for another.

I think your concerns are legitmate in that they should shape how we view our involvment with regard to our other policy goals and how we conduct our relations with Iraq's neighbors. However, I still think our own foreing policy goals are better preserved and advanced by assiting Iraq in its recovery and integrating it into the region. I think key to this is Iraq's achieving sustainable secuirty.

Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #7
wm
Council Member
 
wm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On the Lunatic Fringe
Posts: 1,237
Default

Rob,
Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I agree with your point about other nations respecting versus liking the US--lazy use of language on my part. However, gaining respect is not enough. Even though other nations may respect the USA, they still may not do the things which we Americans believe are the right things to do. America needs to be prepared for those eventualities--which was an underlying concern in my point about Iraq becoming a regional hegemon--and decide how it will respond to them. Sort of like having a plan to deal with one's kids that are having temper tantrums (or coping with one's teenaged offspring in general ).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
I still think our own foreing policy goals are better preserved and advanced by assiting Iraq in its recovery and integrating it into the region. I think key to this is Iraq's achieving sustainable secuirty.
On this point, I would like to agree. However, I have concerns that America has some foreign policy goals that may well be contradictory or at least contrary to each other. This makes it hard to see any one course of action (COA) (such as ensuring that Iraq achieve self-sustainable security) as being a better way to achieve this goal than other posible COA.

BTW, I presume you noticed that I modified your position from sustainable security to self-sustainable security. These are two very different policy goals. Which one does America really want for Iraq (or any other nation it helps out with SFA)? Is there a "one-size-fits-all" answer to this ?
__________________
Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris
wm is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #8
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Default

Hi Wayne,

Quote:
BTW, I presume you noticed that I modified your position from sustainable security to self-sustainable security. These are two very different policy goals.
I think you have the right of it with "self-sustaining". This gets after the need to go beyond train and equip and assist in the development of the systems which make self sustaining security possible. It requires a holistic look by both the "assister" and the "assistee" Both words may not fully show the relationship though because its context driven. Much as U.S. policy realizes the need for partners and allies in its foreign affairs, so too do other states to varying degrees based on their security concerns and FP goals. The level of cooperation and participation varies over time and circumstance I think.

Quote:
Which one does America really want for Iraq (or any other nation it helps out with SFA)?
I beleive self sustaining security is the goal. But that goal is relative to Iraq's capability and capacity when measured against its security environment - so we need to manage our expectations with regard to our level of assistance lest we unduly risk other FP interests. Assisting Iraq to get itself to a point where it can self sustain more, frees up more of our own means, and promotes Iraq's own self-image and interests as a sovereign state - which in my opinion also advances some of our interests.

Quote:
Is there a "one-size-fits-all" answer to this ?
I don't think there is, I'm don't believe there should be. Each situation must be considered of its own merit. I think some of the questions I put into the ODP for SFA piece should be asked up front. The geopolitical environment is dynamic, so a state's interaction with others needs to account for that both in terms of what is important in the now/short term and what better serves its long term interests. This is one of the sources of friction you mentioned in reconciling FP objectives - often the actions we take to address a short term need don't serve us well in the long term, and often those that better suit our long term objectives don't address the pressures or sense of immediacy of the moment.

There are many reasons this is so I think - our form of government, our election cycles, our value of of free press, our strategic culture, etc . - however its not a uniquely American issue - from polis to politic its been a feature. It is something we must recognize though and muddle through as best we can. While a state with sufficient means can legitimately have more room between "either" and "or" to make decisions, the argument will not be based on means alone, but will be influenced by politics which often only appear rational to the person, party or constituents who base their position off of their own goals, vision and perception of what is best for them, their constituents and their view of what the state should be. That changes over time through new events, changes in culture, changes in power (ours and others), etc. so too will some of our policies - not necessarily all at the same time, or in congruence with one another.

Well - need to go - talk to you later, Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #9
Steve Blair
Moderator
 
Steve Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 3,195
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wm View Post
On this point, I would like to agree. However, I have concerns that America has some foreign policy goals that may well be contradictory or at least contrary to each other. This makes it hard to see any one course of action (COA) (such as ensuring that Iraq achieve self-sustainable security) as being a better way to achieve this goal than other posible COA.

BTW, I presume you noticed that I modified your position from sustainable security to self-sustainable security. These are two very different policy goals. Which one does America really want for Iraq (or any other nation it helps out with SFA)? Is there a "one-size-fits-all" answer to this ?
Sorry to cut in on the conversation....

I think that, given the nature of our system, it's almost inevitable that we will have contradictory foreign policy goals. Each administration (and for that matter each iteration of the Senate and House Foreign Policy Committees) will have its own agenda (or agendas), and often bits of a previous agenda linger on in the minds of a group of staffers or others...and get slipped into current (or new) policy. Or, out of respect for a previous administration, a policy that has already started may be left in place...running almost on autopilot (Vietnam is to my mind a classic example of this...both with Kennedy and Johnson).

Like Rob, I don't think there's a "one-size-fits-all" answer for this stuff, because each situation is going to be unique in some aspects. We need to be able to tailor our goals and expectations and not try to fit a single template over each circumstance.
__________________
"On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War
Steve Blair is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #10
wm
Council Member
 
wm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: On the Lunatic Fringe
Posts: 1,237
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
Like Rob, I don't think there's a "one-size-fits-all" answer for this stuff, because each situation is going to be unique in some aspects. We need to be able to tailor our goals and expectations and not try to fit a single template over each circumstance.

I concur. I am just a Cassandra or "voice crying in the wilderness," trying to remind folks that the quest for a silver bullet solution to foreign policy problems is very much like the quest for the Holy Grail. Seems to me American policy wonks and/or implementers of policy initiatives forget that too often.
__________________
Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris
wm is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #11
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default The policy wonk and implementers

sure do forget it. Worse, there are millions out there (many of whom like to comment volubly on both sides of the political weblogs) who have never learned
Quote:
"...the quest for a silver bullet solution to foreign policy problems is very much like the quest for the Holy Grail."
Too much effort is expended in attempting to achieve the impossible...
Ken White is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #12
Rob Thornton
Council Member
 
Rob Thornton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Posts: 1,512
Talking

Steve - glad to have you and Ken on the thread

Steve said:
Quote:
I think that, given the nature of our system, it's almost inevitable that we will have contradictory foreign policy goals. Each administration (and for that matter each iteration of the Senate and House Foreign Policy Committees) will have its own agenda (or agendas), and often bits of a previous agenda linger on in the minds of a group of staffers or others...and get slipped into current (or new) policy. Or, out of respect for a previous administration, a policy that has already started may be left in place...running almost on autopilot (Vietnam is to my mind a classic example of this...both with Kennedy and Johnson).
made all the more complex given the nature of political interaction in our domestic and foreign policies. Its not just our policy which is subject to change, but the policies of all the participants. This is the interactive nature of politics and people. This is why policy objectives require continued engagement - the interaction does not stop just because we say it does - or as Clausewitz remarked "In war the result is never final, the outcome is merely a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found in political conditions at a later date."

Wayne said:
Quote:
trying to remind folks that the quest for a silver bullet solution to foreign policy problems is very much like the quest for the Holy Grail.
made yet more fun by our constant reinterpretation of what is "holy" and our redefining of what a "grail" is. As such getting consistency in our means and ways by which go pursue any policy objective is made all the more difficult. It is the policy equivalent of a self-inflicted GSW to the foot. The value each element (or party) places on its own political philosophies and and the way they devalue the other elements creates a self constraining bias. It creates conditions where policy objectives may be forfeited either because those policies or objectives do not fit their specific view, or because their bias and loyalties prevent them from realizing the significance. This seems to be true even when the goals are actually the same - but because the other party put it in motion it must be renamed, restaffed, redefined, etc. to put their brand name on it. Doing so takes time and interrupts funding and resourcing and generates undue fog and friction. We are powerful enough that our biggest impediment to achieving our policy goals is often ourselves. No good deed will go unpunished.

Best, Rob
Rob Thornton is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #13
Steve Blair
Moderator
 
Steve Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 3,195
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
made all the more complex given the nature of political interaction in our domestic and foreign policies. Its not just our policy which is subject to change, but the policies of all the participants. This is the interactive nature of politics and people. This is why policy objectives require continued engagement - the interaction does not stop just because we say it does - or as Clausewitz remarked "In war the result is never final, the outcome is merely a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found in political conditions at a later date."
Quite so. I was focusing more on the internal considerations because I think there are too many "ghosts in the machine" within our system to allow it to quickly adjust to its own changes, let alone the outside factors. That and there is a tendency (aided by the addition to polls) on the part of some policy makers to focus on internal factors to the virtual exclusion of the other parties involved.

In keeping with Wayne's comment, I don't think there's a silver bullet for this problem. Far from it. Our system is somewhat tailored to respond quickly (or fairly quickly) to internal problems and doesn't focus much on what goes on outside the borders. As parties rotate through power, our policies become circular in a way...providing a sort of continuity provided one is patient enough to wait for the pendulum to swing back to his favorite corner. Sometimes those swings are radical, but I think that has more to do with the entrenched power structures in Congress than anything else.

Part of the key may lie in the Department of State, but I'm not sure if their infrastructure is sound enough to carry consistent policy evaluation these days. If current events are any clue, I would say that it is not...
__________________
"On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War
Steve Blair is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #14
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Those are the understatements of the week...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
... but I think that has more to do with the entrenched power structures in Congress than anything else.

Part of the key may lie in the Department of State, but I'm not sure if their infrastructure is sound enough to carry consistent policy evaluation these days. If current events are any clue, I would say that it is not...
Me, too...
Ken White is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #15
Tom Odom
Council Member
 
Tom Odom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: DeRidder LA
Posts: 3,949
Default

Quote:
Part of the key may lie in the Department of State, but I'm not sure if their infrastructure is sound enough to carry consistent policy evaluation these days. If current events are any clue, I would say that it is not...
I am more optimistic. The FS is changing and for the better. It has a ways to go but the demands placed on it in the past 5 years alone have done much to move its central ethos in a different direction. Used to be the FS saw the initial entry process as a validation of its elite status; we got in and therefore we are the best. The military offers the ethic you can come in and become the best. The new FS selection process is a step toward the latter and that is a good thing.

Now where I am not optimistic is in the political policy arm--those political appointees who are in because of their allegiance to a political party and its agenda. There is where inconsistent policy evaluation starts and as Wayne offered the search for a holy grail. Funny that I worked with these political wonks from the Democratic party camp and their goal in Africa was "democracy". The means they put forth to achieve that end were quite different from the means put forth by the current administration for the same goals.

Then again I have to say that my latter concerns apply equally to the political apparatus that gets installed in the Pentagon with every change in the White House so I am not at all sure we can just point to State for a lack of consistent policy.

Tom
Tom Odom is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #16
Steve Blair
Moderator
 
Steve Blair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 3,195
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
Then again I have to say that my latter concerns apply equally to the political apparatus that gets installed in the Pentagon with every change in the White House so I am not at all sure we can just point to State for a lack of consistent policy.

Tom
Tom,

I don't hang the whole thing on State by any stretch of the imagination. My point was more than we might be better served to look to State for something approaching a consistent view of foreign policy/direction than we might other areas in government. It's good that they seem to be changing for the better, and like you I have little faith in the political appointees that riddle the system. But a solid State might be able to influence those appointees and keep the system on something approaching a stable track.

One of the flaws, IMO, in our system is the constant shuffling that takes place in high levels any time there is anything approaching an election. Not sure if there's an easy solution for that (and if there is, it's certainly another thread).
__________________
"On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War
Steve Blair is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #17
Outsidethewire
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 7
Default

It's a little ironic to read the last few posts, because more often than not State (my home for the last 20 years) is criticized for being TOO consistent in how it steers policy, and not responsive enough to the political leadership of the day, (think Newt Gingrich accusing State of undermining President Bush's Iraq policy in 2003). Arguably, continuity over the years is one of the key characteristics of U.S. foreign policy -- look at relatively consistent US positions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, security in Europe, security in Asia, etc. State plays a key role in that, as the manager of all the countries, regions, and issues that DON'T inspire much contention and don't require high-level political involvement.

Every administration comes in and focuses on a few key issues, and on those there may very well be significant swings in policy. State, as an implementor of the President's policies no less so than DOD, is charged with carrying those out. Perhaps the changes are, indeed, the result of "political appointees who are in because of their allegiance to a political party and its agenda," (Tom Odom) but isn't that what our system is designed to do? If the career diplomats in State were to pursue a "consistency" in foreign policy that conflicted with the duly elected President's decisions to take things in another direction, I think most would see that as a real problem.

My point is that State does, in fact, pursue a consistency in foreign policy, grounded in an analysis of US interests and factoring in primarily external, not internal political, variables. But in our political system, no USG institution could or should try to hew to its own definition of USG interests and objectives to the complete exclusion of the internal political system.
Outsidethewire is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #18
Tom Odom
Council Member
 
Tom Odom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: DeRidder LA
Posts: 3,949
Default

Quote:
My point is that State does, in fact, pursue a consistency in foreign policy, grounded in an analysis of US interests and factoring in primarily external, not internal political, variables. But in our political system, no USG institution could or should try to hew to its own definition of USG interests and objectives to the complete exclusion of the internal political system.
Good post and I agree with what you are saying--I don't think we are that far apart. When I talked of political appointees and agendas, that is where I see the inconsistency, most often expressed in inappropriate or unachievable goals through equally inappropriate means. For example: democracy in Africa. A political appointee DAS appears in my AO (Zaire) and demands what I am doing to professionalize the Farce Armees Zairoise by downsizing and generally influencing them to "do the right thing." I started laughing which endeared me to the Charge to no end.

Another example, the political appointee Assistant Secretary for Human Rights comes to Goma with an entourage to begin examining the issues of bringing the killers to justice in an international tribune. He and his entourage want to see the camps. Stan and I take them. The Assistant Secretary then wants to get out and discuss human rights and the need for trials with the killers. I refuse and only when the same killers disembowel a suspected spy in front of my vehicle does the Assistant Secretary and his entourage decide to accept my counsel.

These are just a couple. And I am being unfair in that I have similar stories from senior level political appointees within DoD.

These are the inconsistencies I spoke of that are as Steve and you say are inherent in our system. I agree that the career FS provides the consistency. And I also fully recognize that consistency is inconsistent with short term politcal goals. You mention the Arab-Israeli dispute. Been around that one for years and all I can say is I understand how that roller coaster rides.

best

Tom

Last edited by Tom Odom; 06-13-2008 at 08:05 PM.
Tom Odom is offline  
Old 06-13-2008   #19
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Good post and I agree. What you say tracks

with my observations over many years. My concern is that State doesn't get listened to (or adequately funded and manned) by Congress. That and the fact that the DoD geographic commands effectively end up setting foreign policy -- which is not their job and in fairness, most of them and most of DoD know that, it just happens by default no matter how much the GCC try to avoid it.

We could probably stop with the political plum Ambassadors, too...
Ken White is offline  
Old 06-14-2008   #20
Surferbeetle
Council Member
 
Surferbeetle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,110
Default Economic Surge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post

Greater stability in Iraq is a supporting policy goal of our desire for greater stability in the Middle East. Iraq has the potential to add to greater ME stability, or to detract from it. Key to greater stability in Iraq is sustainable security of the sort that accounts for its ability to defend itself against all enemies foreign and domestic.
Rob,

I agree with your base assessment that stability in Iraq will lead to greater stability in the Middle East. This increased stability is in the Worlds interest as well as that of the United States, however to date we have had great difficulty expressing this both to the Regional and the World Communities. Perhaps it is time to change our tactics and use a 'new marketing plan' to advertise this change in emphasis.

The definition of security bears closer examination. My 1997 Webster’s Dictionary defines Secure as “a. Free from care, anxiety, fear; safe; fixed; stable; in close custody; certain; confident.“ Iraq is currently at a tipping point while all involved hold their breath and wait for America’s future Foreign Policy to coalesce and take shape following our elections. My thesis is that successfully isolating the civilian populace of Iraq from the insurgency has a significant economic component that has eclipsed the security component at this point. Though it may be politically painful for the current administration to consider, it is time for an Economic Surge.

The December 2006 issue of FM 3-24 advises us, in paragraph 1-124, that insurgents must be isolated from their cause and support and goes on to say “Dynamic insurgencies can replace losses quickly. Skillful counterinsurgents must thus cut off the sources of that recuperative power. Some sources can be reduced by redressing the social, political, and economic grievances that fuel the insurgency.” Dr. Nathan Toronto’s article, Forty Years of Coin, in the 3rd Quarter 2008 issue of Joint Force Quarterly briefly discusses how an $800,000 dollar investment after the Six Day War led to a $48 million dollar increase in Palestinian agricultural production in just three years with an associated measurable increase in security. It has been my personal observation that in Iraq a significant proportion of the population is unemployed, and that of these unemployed workers a significant portion is involved in agriculture. USAID, in their Iraq Transition Strategy Plan 2006-2008, presents as their second strategic objective “Expand Private Sector Opportunities”. This report notes that the agricultural sector is Iraq’s largest employer.

The Commanders Emergency Response Program provides an opportunity for Maneuver Commanders to build upon security successes, capitalize upon indecision inside of Iraq resulting from our upcoming election cycle and execute an Economic Surge in order to further separate the insurgents from the populace.

How can our Maneuver Commanders rapidly and accurately infuse an Economic Surge (Money is indeed a Weapon) into Iraq? Having significant funding (using a ratio of 1 dollar per x dinars in order to ensure both sides have skin in the game) and numerous (nine per BCT?) credentialed arabic speaking Subject Matter Expert Teams (i.e. local Iraqis) using a Public-Private-Partnership model targeted at the local, tactical level (bottom up) with easily measurable results (such as harvest quotas) may be a way forward.

Quote:
“We need to put the angry young men to work. One of the key hindrances to us establishing stability in Iraq is the failure to get the economy going. A relatively small decrease in unemployment would have a very serious effect on the level of sectarian killing going on. ...For a very small amount of investment, we can put a very large number of jobs in place, long-lasting jobs that will produce goods and services that are wanted by people in Iraq and outside of Iraq.”

Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, United States Army
Former Commanding General, Multi-National Corps – Iraq
Quote:
“We do believe that reviving the sectors of agriculture, services and industry will develop the Iraqi economy. The government is still the biggest investor because we don’t have an active private sector and huge foreign investments.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh
Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq
*** More to follow in a subsequent post***

Regards,

Steve
__________________
Sapere Aude

Last edited by Surferbeetle; 06-14-2008 at 06:28 AM.
Surferbeetle is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 09:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation