Something to consider.
- Is a vital national security interest threatened?
- Do we have a clear attainable objective?
- Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
- Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
- Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
- Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
- Is the action supported by the American people?
- Do we have genuine broad international support
- The United States should not commit forces to combat unless the vital national interests of the United States or its allies are involved.
- U.S. troops should only be committed wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning. Otherwise, troops should not be committed.
- U.S. combat troops should be committed only with clearly defined political and military objectives and with the capacity to accomplish those objectives.
- The relationship between the objectives and the size and composition of the forces committed should be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.
- U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a “reasonable assurance” of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress.
- The commitment of U.S. troops should be considered only as a last resort.
I happen to have a little bit of experience with the intersection of national security and foreign affairs (masters from the Naval War College, worked on the Joint Staff J5 (Politico-Military Affairs) in ’92-93). One thing I learned was there is no simple answer on anything. Pres. Clinton discovered this when he took office with his think-tank driven multilateral engagement policies. Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, North Korea, etc. [Note: of those listed, only Yugoslavia turned out relatively well.]
What do we see today? There are no longer two generally rational superpowers maneuvering chess pieces & fighting proxy wars for strategic gain. Russia is now focused and quite a bit more belligerent. China is stronger and playing for the long game. We have Islamic aggression that we refuse to acknowledge much less confront. Iran is strengthening and will soon have nuclear weapons.
The U.S.? Gazing at our navel because we have no clue and no strategy and no plan.
We have a mess. We haven’t learned from Iraq & Afghanistan (which by the way I supported). We support the toppling of dictators in the name of freedom yet we “hope” that the radicals won’t take over. Doves are now hawks to save political face, not because they have any convictions. Hawks are now doves because either they (1) hate the administration or, in my opinion, (2) see we haven’t a clue about what we are trying to accomplish. That would require a strategy.
Hope isn’t a strategy.
It seems that no one wants to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead, we hear precisely crafted statements that one can point back to and claim that the statements were factually correct. The recent presidential press conference offers a couple of excellent examples.
“I have no evidence at this point, from what I’ve seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.”
- “from what I’ve seen” — If you haven’t seen the evidence then you can’t speak to anything regarding it such as whether it was disclosed, what was disclosed, the manner of the disclosure, and whether it had a negative impact.
- “would have had” – limits this to a possibility of impacting something prior to this particular statement. The disclosure could therefore have a future impact and still be a correct statement.
- “negative” – depends on one’s view on what you view as negative. What I see as a negative might just be viewed as a positive or neutral by someone else.
- “our national security” – my view of “our national security” is likely different from that of the current administration. For example, I viewed so-called Arab Spring uprising in Egypt as bad as it might result in the Muslim Brotherhood governing the country. The President viewed otherwise. (and how’s that working out?)
Another example is the President’s statement about Ambassador Rice’s “presentation” to the five Sunday talk shows. He stated, “she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her.”
- “her best understanding” – First, Amb. Rice is not an intel analyst. (She is very smart, but she is also a political creature. She also knows how information is crafted as she was one of the area directors on the NSC during the Clinton administration – I had brief interactions with her on crafting the USG position on support for the UN sponsored Transitional Authority in Cambodia. At least during the first Bush & first Clinton terms, talking points and positions are crafted and massaged by interagency folks BEFORE going out to speak. Of course if it was a political position then DoD and CIA are cut out.) So was she able to ask specific questions relating to the intelligence? Or as a political creature did she realize that as someone who was not in the loop of what actually happened (but sent to talk about it anyway) that it would be best not to ask questions? What kind of briefings did she receive and from where did they come?
- “that had been provided to her” – Obviously this is the key wording. If she was provided slanted intelligence to fit a particular narrative then she would have been telling the “truth” according to what she knew at that particular time even if it really was what was actually known.
Politicians aren’t the only ones who do this. We do this when what others might think of us when the truth is spoken plainly. Take your lumps, apologize, fix it, and move forward.
From the Paper of Record concerning the terrorist ringleader of the Benghazi consulate attack ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/world/africa/suspect-in-benghazi-attack-scoffs-at-us.html?_r=1& ) :
An earlier version of this article described incorrectly a beverage that Ahmed Abu Khattala was drinking at a hotel in Benghazi, Libya. It was a strawberry frappe, not mango juice, which is what he had ordered.
Guess that cleared things up quite a bit.
H/T to Mark Krikorian from the National Review Online.