Liberals Present ‘Pentagon’s New Strategy’

0
464

Establishment liberals are presenting President Obama’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) released this week as a break from the Bush-Cheney-neocon policy. Fair to say that the jury is out. With record defense expenditures, many remain skeptical that the U.S. empire is being driven back at the American public’s behest, and that the military-industrial complex and the permanent war economy are evolving under a new domestic industrial policy.

From Think Progress – Pentagon’s New Strategy
by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Max Bergmann, and Alex Seitz-Wald — On Monday, the Obama administration released its Quadrennial Defense Review(QDR) which, despite deferring some hard choices, signaled a stark break with the approach pursued by the Bush administration four years earlier. The QDR is released every four years and is intended to be an over-arching strategy document for the Department of Defense. As Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution explained, the QDR “provides a look at how the Pentagon sees the worldand how it intends to move forward.” Importantly, this new QDR recognizes the complexity of 21st century challenges and abandons simplistic Cold War-style monikers to describe the threats and challenges confronting the United States. The QDR also broke new ground by finally acknowledging the potential dangers posed to the United States by climate change. However, like past QDRs, it failed to adequately answer many of the hard strategic and budgetary questions. By neither weighting competing priorities nor recommending any difficult trade-offs necessary to rebalance the force, the document loses strategic focus and fails to set a course for fiscal discipline after a decade of runaway spending.
 
A 21st CENTURY APPROACH: The QDR wisely abandons outdated strategic constructs and simplistic organizing monikers and instead recognizes and accepts the complexity of the modern strategic environment. The Washington Post reports that the QDR “predicts a future dominated by ‘hybrid’ wars, in which traditional states will fight more like guerrillas and insurgents will arm themselves with increasingly sophisticated technology, such as antitank weapons and missiles.” This reflects the experience gained from Iraq and Afghanistan and corrects earlier assumptions that engaging in forcible regime change would be relatively easy. As a result, the QDR abandons the “two-war doctrine,” in place since just after the Cold War, that held the U.S. had to be prepared to fight two conventional wars became unrealistic and outdated. Furthermore, the document drops the favored “long war” concept of the Bush-Rumsfeld 2006 QDR. Assistant professor at the University of Kentucky Rob Farley explains, “the 2006 QDR was explicitly structured around the concept of the ‘Long War,’ which is essentially another name for the War on Terror,” adding that it was “striking the degree to which the Cold War could easily be substituted for the Long War, with communists playing the role of terrorists. In the 2010 QDR, not so much. The United States is fighting ‘wars’ rather than a ‘Long War’ which is a crucial distinction.”

FIGHTING ‘THE WARS WE ARE IN’: The QDR shifts the focus of the military to the wars that we are currently fighting. For too many years, the Pentagon remained excessively focused on high-end systems to counter obscure hypothetical threats, instead of prioritizing basic necessities like getting body armor to the troops or building vehicles that could withstand an IED blast. Defense News notes that “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been working to force the Defense Department to shift more focus and annual spendingtoward, as he puts it, ‘the wars we are in today.'” In doing so, the QDR calls for greater investment in technology to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs), more helicopters and special forces, and more UAVs all of which have direct relevance to the troops on the ground. The review also reduces the role of nuclear weapons and prioritizes combating nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

CLIMATE SECURITY: For the first time, the QDR acknowledges that climate change is an important force impacting the United Statesas well as the global strategic environment and as a result should become an important factor in U.S. defense planning and operations. It also sets a priority on decreasing the military’s reliance on fossil fuels and advocates a shift toward greater use of renewable energy sources, since “energy efficiency can serve as a force multiplier.” Southwestern University professor Erik Loomis explains that the fact “that the new QDR even discusses climate changeis a big step. The 2006 version, written during the Rumsfeld years, couldn’t care less.” In response to the threat of climate change, the QDR advocates working with the militaries of at risk nations to help them better prepare for disaster response and calls on the Senate to finally ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty in no small measure due to the potential conflict over the Arctic. Importantly, the QDR emphasizes the reality that disaster response has become an important function of the U.S. military and that is in the national security interests of the U.S. to strengthen weakened governments in the face of natural disaster. 

However, the strategic assessments of the impact climate change should go further, as Loomis concludes, “In the end then, the QDR’s approach to climate change is a good first step, but little more. … [H]opefully, the next QDR will build upon these early ideas.”

SOME HARD CHOICES DEFERRED: The President recently announced a spending freeze but exempted the Department of Defense, despite the fact that defense spending is more than half of all discretionary spending and its budgets over the last decade have ballooned out of control, rising to a historically high level. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) have said that the Pentagon should be included in the spending freeze and the former Secretary of the Navy, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), stated that defense spending should not be “sacrosanct.” Unfortunately, the QDR fails to set the path toward fiscal sanity. As the Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman reported, “the cuts in the QDR will not be as extensiveas the ones announced in last year’s Pentagon budget.” The failure to make hard budgetary choices reflects a lack of strategic focus and a failure to set strategic priorities. As Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress noted, “[S]pending on future weapons systems has outpaced spending on our troops.” While the QDR calls for eliminating certain weapons programsand rightly advocates focusing on the “wars we are in,” it fails to provide the adequate guidance to make the necessary budgetary tradeoffs needed to successfully rebalance the force to meet these priorities. Jim Thomas of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments concludes, “I think the review gets the diagnosis right on the big external challenges facing the Defense Department, but at the end of the day, the preexisting mismatch between the strategy and the [budget] program still exists.” Singer assesses that “the 2010 review offers more a series of agenda items than a comprehensive vision. … 

Without an overall vision, and without hard targets to drive change internally, I fear that many critical issues laid out in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review will remain in need of action when we revisit them four years from now.” Pentagon’s New Strategy

 





On Monday, the Obama administration released its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) which, despite deferring some hard choices, signaled a stark break with the approach pursued by the Bush administration four years earlier. The QDR is released every four years and is intended to be an over-arching strategy document for the Department of Defense. As Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution explained, the QDR “provides a look at how the Pentagon sees the world and how it intends to move forward.” Importantly, this new QDR recognizes the complexity of 21st century challenges and abandons simplistic Cold War-style monikers to describe the threats and challenges confronting the United States. The QDR also broke new ground by finally acknowledging the potential dangers posed to the United Statesby climate change. However, like past QDRs, it failed to adequately answer many of the hard strategic and budgetary questions. By neither weighting competing priorities nor recommending any difficult trade-offs necessary to rebalance the force, the document loses strategic focus and fails to set a course for fiscal discipline after a decade of runaway spending.
 
A 21st CENTURY APPROACH: The QDR wisely abandons outdated strategic constructs and simplistic organizing monikers and instead recognizes and accepts the complexity of the modern strategic environment. The Washington Post reports that the QDR “predicts a future dominated by ‘hybrid’ wars, in which traditional states will fight more like guerrillas and insurgents will arm themselves with increasingly sophisticated technology, such as antitank weapons and missiles.” This reflects the experience gained from Iraq and Afghanistan and corrects earlier assumptions that engaging in forcible regime change would be relatively easy. As a result, the QDR abandons the “two-war doctrine,” in place since just after the Cold War, that held the U.S. had to be prepared to fight two conventional wars became unrealistic and outdated.Furthermore, the document drops the favored “long war” concept of the Bush-Rumsfeld 2006 QDR. Assistant professor at the University of Kentucky Rob Farley explains, “the 2006 QDR was explicitly structured around the concept of the ‘Long War,’ which is essentially another name for the War on Terror,” adding that it was “striking the degree to which the Cold War could easily be substituted for the Long War, with communists playing the role of terrorists. In the 2010 QDR, not so much. The United States is fighting ‘wars’ rather than a ‘Long War’ which is a crucial distinction.

FIGHTING ‘THE WARS WE ARE IN’: The QDR shifts the focus of the military to the wars that we are currently fighting. For too many years, the Pentagon remained excessively focused on high-end systems to counter obscure hypothetical threats, instead of prioritizing basic necessities like getting body armor to the troops or building vehicles that could withstand an IED blast. Defense News notes that “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been working to force the Defense Department to shift more focus and annual spendingtoward, as he puts it, ‘the wars we are in today.'” In doing so, the QDR calls for greater investment in technology to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs), more helicopters and special forces, and more UAVs all of which have direct relevance to the troops on the ground. The review also reduces the role of nuclear weapons and prioritizes combating nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.

CLIMATE SECURITY: For the first time, the QDR acknowledges that climate change is an important force impacting the United States as well as the global strategic environment and as a result should become an important factor in U.S.defense planning and operations. It also sets a priority on decreasing the military’s reliance on fossil fuels and advocates a shift toward greater use of renewable energy sources, since “energy efficiency can serve as a force multiplier.” Southwestern University professor Erik Loomis explains that the fact “that the new QDR even discusses climate changeis a big step. The 2006 version, written during the Rumsfeld years, couldn’t care less.”In response to the threat of climate change, the QDR advocates working with the militaries of at risk nations to help them better prepare for disaster response and calls on the Senate to finally ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty in no small measure due to the potential conflict over the Arctic. Importantly, the QDR emphasizes the reality that disaster response has become an important function of the U.S. military and that is in the national security interests of the U.S. to strengthen weakened governments in the face of natural disaster. 

 

 

However, the strategic assessments of the impact climate change should go further, as Loomis concludes, “In the end then, the QDR’s approach to climate change is a good first step, but little more. … [H]opefully, the next QDR will build upon these early ideas.”

SOME HARD CHOICES DEFERRED: The President recently announced a spending freeze but exempted the Department of Defense, despite the fact that defense spending is more than half of all discretionary spending and its budgets over the last decade have ballooned out of control, rising to a historically high level. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) have said that the Pentagon should be included in the spending freeze and the former Secretary of the Navy, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), stated that defense spending should not be “sacrosanct.” Unfortunately, the QDR fails to set the path toward fiscal sanity. As the Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman reported,the cuts in the QDR will not be as extensive as the ones announced in last year’s Pentagon budget.” The failure to make hard budgetary choices reflects a lack of strategic focus and a failure to set strategic priorities. As Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress noted, “[S]pending on future weapons systems has outpaced spending on our troops.” While the QDR calls for eliminating certain weapons programs and rightly advocates focusing on the “wars we are in,” it fails to provide the adequate guidance to make the necessary budgetary tradeoffs needed to successfully rebalance the force to meet these priorities. Jim Thomas of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments concludes, “I think the review gets the diagnosis right on the big external challenges facing the Defense Department, but at the end of the day, the preexisting mismatch between the strategy and the [budget] program still exists.” Singer assesses that “the 2010 review offers more a series of agenda items than a comprehensive vision. … 

 

Without an overall vision, and without hard targets to drive change internally, I fear that many critical issues laid out in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review will remain in need of action when we revisit them four years from now.”

Author Details
G M
This is a general posting account for VT
ATTENTION READERS
Due to the nature of independent content, VT cannot guarantee content validity.
We ask you to Read Our Content Policy so a clear comprehension of VT's independent non-censored media is understood and given its proper place in the world of news, opinion and media.

All content is owned by author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images within are full responsibility of author and NOT VT.

About VT - Read Full Policy Notice - Comment Policy