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January 14, 2009

Comments

Oh man, this is the best news I've heard in a while. I really hope this reflects a lot of military people reading Bacevich (one of my current heroes).

It's been my impression that most of the military has felt this way as to Iraq, and subsequently.

" . . . must work to prevent the militarization of American foreign policy . . ."

This was a central point to some of Hillary Clinton's testimony in the Senate confirmation hearings, which I thought was worth a quick mention.

ObWi has never struck me as pro-Hillary, but I think what the Secretary of State designate had to say was worthy of a post.

Would we have gotten a post if Clinton had not performed so strongly and did not look up to the job?

Excuse the pissy tone, thought it was worth bringing up.

Bedtime,

It is one thing to have a Democrat speak like this. It is Light Years ahead to hear the Sec. Def. and JCS Chief say the same thing. Much more newsworthy and not a slight to Hillary.

Point taken, Oyster Tea, but maybe it was worth mentioning that Adm. Mullen was voicing the points Hillary had made.

One of the newsier sides to Clinton's testimony was her promoting "smart power" and its greater effectiveness in so many cases than military power.

In general, I think she showed her intention to make State every bit as influential and important as Defense, which was not the case in all but maybe the last of the Bush years.

And she did it in a way that did not seem ego-centric but rather she clearly spoke for what she thought was best for the country and beyond.

You have to learn how to die
If you want to want to be alive

oh yeah. the GOP will love that!

The Secretary of Defense has made many of these same points in several speeches, as well as his recent article in Foreign Affairs, his vision for the way ahead for DOD.

Many of the other Government agencies and departments designed to implement foreign policies and objectives have lacked capability to operationalize,or implement foreign policy for a long time. Some, like State, have never reorganized following the end of the Cold War.

The Military, meanwhile, was forced to evolve due to constant diverse operations throughout the 1990s, and nearly a decade of war after 2001. Goldwater-Nichols also gave the Department of Defense a jump start on reorganization in the mid 1980s, streamlining many of their outdated command structures and creating an organization (Special Operations Command) that possesssed many of the capabilities that would be needed in the post cold war environment.

It's still adapting, too. The military continues to increase the number of Special Forces Soldiers units every year, Soldiers whose training and aptitudes include language and cultural skills, and with target language/cultural skills for areas of the world most called for by foreign policy objectives and challenges.

Meanwhile, the capabilities of many other government agencies have atrophied over the past two plus decades. My guess is that the DOS does not have a plan right now to dramatically increase the number of foreign service officers, and if it does hire more, will it hire them with the cultural and language skills to thrive in the areas of the world where they are most needed to meet the US' foreign policy needs?

DOD and Hillary are on board; hopefully the new President will direct this to happen, and the new Secretary of State will implement it.

Post Script. A little tough love on the State Department, but their FSOs on board right now have come a long way in recent years. . .

"Would we have gotten a post if Clinton had not performed so strongly and did not look up to the job?"

Um, what?

"It's been my impression that most of the military has felt this way as to Iraq, and subsequently."

Ditto. Possibly before Iraq. But the more people who see that the military is very, very good at doing a certain range of things that are not relevant to all situations, or means of achieving all ends, and therefore that the very idea of treating foreign policy as essentially military is just nuts, the better.

"It's been my impression that most of the military has felt this way as to Iraq, and subsequently."

I believe it's from soldiers I've heard the collective skill set described as "killing people and breaking their stuff".

ObWi has never struck me as pro-Hillary, but I think what the Secretary of State designate had to say was worthy of a post.

Would we have gotten a post if Clinton had not performed so strongly and did not look up to the job?

I voted for Hillary in the primary. And spent time debating many here in the comments section during that process (was not yet a front pager).

Thanks for correcting me, Eric, and I realize I may have sounded too sensitive.

I thought Clinton projected real statesmanship (stateswomanship?). This may have been the job she was born to do.

I agree. I was excited at her selection as SecState. Her breadth of knowledge (and depth), and thoughtfulness, will serve us all well.

And as I was arguing during the primaries, the caricature of her as some neocon hawk (as opposed to Obama) was always wildly exaggerated.

Their positions are, and always have been, remarkably similar on almost every issue. For better and for worse.

But each tried to parry and thrust during the primary in order to score points at the other's expense, and those incidents were amplified and treated as determinative.

So we got Obama the Pakistan hawk and Hillary the non-negotiator. The reality is that each is more moderate on those respective issues than the campaign season might have indicated.

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