Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Analogies of War 

Political leaders have long relied on historical analogies to frame, explain, and justify important policy choices. The current administration is no exception when discussing its policy toward Iraq—the most recent instance occurring when Tony Snow described keeping US forces in Iraq “as we have in South Korea.” Indeed, Iraq has been a war full of analogies: Bush’s father analogized Saddam Hussien to Hitler in the first Gulf War, Rumsfeld wanted to rebuild Iraq like Germany after World War II, the insurgents in Iraq created another Vietnam, though the US did not want to leave like Vietnam, with Baghdad well on its way to becoming a new Beirut, and now it looks like the US will remain, as we have in Korea.

Analogies are more than just passing references to history. Analogies are caricatures of key moments seared into the country’s collective memory, commonplaces that evoke a particular emotion, triumph, or failure. The specific details of the historical moment in question are less important than the memory it evokes. At Munich, appeasement failed and subsequent Munichs are avoided by leaders invoking the analogy and standing strong against aggressive dictators.

Leaders use analogies because they offer a powerful tool to legitimize policy options. Analogies frame the discussion by identifying the key issues at stake. Historical commonplaces are known for one key moment. Beirut is a once proud city in the chaos of an intractable civil war. Invoking Beirut brings the discussion to civil war and sectarian strife. German reconstruction successfully created a thriving democracy out of a former enemy, focusing the discussion on democratic success. Analogies explain policy by laying out a simple story of how a process works. Each historical moment has a caption, and that widely recited caption gives a logical progression of how a goal can be achieved. Robust deterrence contained the Soviet Union and brought about its downfall. Analogies justify by drawing on widely shared collective judgments on historical events. The unfamiliar situation of the present can be read through a well-understood template on which society’s collective judgment has already been rendered. Everyone “knows” Vietnam was a failure, so avoiding another Vietnam in Iraq is to avoid national humiliation.

When Snow invoked the Korea analogy, he was attempting to legitimize the Administration’s current policy in the face of substantial criticism. Korea frames the policy as a discussion of long term engagement with a partner country in the face of a mutual threat. Korea explains the policy: just as a robust but isolated US presence deters further aggression from North Korea, allowing South Korea to thrive, so too would a sustained US presence in Iraq help ward of future threats from terrorism in the Middle East. Finally, Korea justifies the policy as a successful, sustainable, and affordable price to pay to realize a key national interest.

The problem, as political scientists who study the use of analogies readily point out, is that analogies are a particularly bad way to make decisions and lead to highly flawed policy choices, usually with disastrous outcomes. Analogies are caricatures of history, not history itself, and as a result, this selective memory leaves out the messy, complicated, and contingent details that produced the relevant outcome. The strained comparison between past and present glosses over significant differences between wars and important historical details that are, in fact, essential factors of success or failure. Iraq is neither Germany nor Vietnam nor Korea, and treating it as such is sure-fire recipe for disaster. Trying to win the last war is no way to win the current one.

Quibbling over the accuracy of a historical comparison—Korea, Vietnam, Germany—misses the larger significance these analogies the contemporary policy debate. As historical commonplaces, analogies are rhetorical tools to define a debate and legitimate its resolution. Despite overwhelming public opinion to the contrary—61% of Americans say the war is not worth fighting and 55% want to reduce US forces in Iraq—the Bush Administration has made a clear decision to maintain a substantial military presence in Iraq for the long haul. Deploying the Korea analogy narrows the debate. Discussion moves away from what kind of progress the troops in Iraq are actually able to make and what future outcomes are even possible to hollow choice of Korea or Vietnam. If the administration can shift the debate to a question of what a sustained US presence in Iraq looks like by using the Korea analogy, it will make the point that such a presence is acceptable to the American public. In doing so, it will gloss over the tremendous gap between Yongsan Garrison in Seoul and the Green Zone in Baghdad, and side-step the fundamental question of what now constitutes success in Iraq and what compromises we must accept to approach it. Korea is not a model for the future of the US in Iraq, it’s a justification for a policy that the Bush Administration would rather obfuscate with history than discuss and defend in the present.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Its About Time 

Last Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill made a sudden and surprise visit to North Korea to talk directly with the North Korean government about their nuclear program.

All I can say is-- its about (_______) time. And, it shows the power of good, pragmatic diplomacy.

From 2001 through 2004, the Bush Administration held a very tough line toward North Korea--axis of evil, no direct talks, CVID, etc. This tough line was very popular with the Administration's base conservative philosophy about getting tough with the evil dictators around the world and not negotiating with untrustworthy regimes. Their rationale remains--North Korea is an evil regime that will eventually cheat on its agreements anyway, so don't give them anything and make them take not just the first step, but absorb most of the risk as well. The result? North Korea backed out of the Agreed Framework nuclear deal the Clinton Administration had negotiated and reactivated its nuclear program. Eventually, the Bush Administration convened the 6-Party Talks, designed to be a multi-lateral format for all those in the region to pressure North Korea to move on its nuclear program, particularly China. This almost worked, in that several near-deals were negotiated, but, like the 2005 deal, fell apart soon thereafter. At the center of the 6-party talk policy was a position that the US would not directly negotiate with the DPRK, all meetings should be in the multi-lateral format. To be sure, there were some side meetings between US and DPRK people around the 6-party talk venue, but a side meeting is not the same as the recognition accorded by a formal bi-lateral meeting.

The problem with the get-tough approach was that North Korea got rather frustrated with its lack of progress, and in an attempt to signal the US, it re-started its nuclear program, tested a couple of missiles, and ultimately tested its first bomb. They were particularly annoyed with the US cutting off access to its funds through a Macao bank.

That alone stands as one of the greatest foreign policy failures of the Bush Administration-- a new no-friendly nuclear state on its watch, when all the evidence points to the fact that some sort of continued engagement would have postponed, if not forestalled, the DPRK going nuclear.

Finally, after a number of years of get tough, the administration reverses course to a more engagement / negotiation approach, very similar to the approach taken (with modest success) by the Clinton Administration. They agreed to return North Korea's money. And it seemed to work. It was telling that now-former administration officials such as John Bolton and Robert Joseph (both who served as Under-Secretary of State for International Security, a key office in these types of negotiations) heavily criticized the deal reached with North Korea.

But Hill, a very skilled diplomat and now the senior State Department North Korean negotiator, was persistent, and pressed for the ability to deal directly with the DPRK. When the invite was issued, he snapped it up and set up his trip.

Lo and Behold, it seems to have paid off. North Korea agreed to shut down its Yongbyong reactor, ending its production of plutonium for bombs. The IAEA is set to enter North Korea this week for the first time since 2002 for inspections and to set up a plan to monitor this reactor shut-down. And there is (yet another) commitment to restart the 6-party talks. This is a big deal. First, it ends the production of plutonium, meaning that North Korea's nuclear arsenal won't grow as it continues to negotiate the future of its nuclear program. Its a pragmatic choice first made in 1994--the US doesn't get a full accounting of or end to the nuclear program, only a promise to negotiate over it, but the nuclear arsenal stays put. This was obviously more important prior to the test, as it kept North Korea from being able to develop a bomb to test, but still, it contains the problem and keeps it from getting significantly worse. Second, it gets IAEA inspectors back into North Korea. This is very important because, as we've learned over the past decade of global non-proliferation, the IAEA is pretty good at its job. They had Iraq's nuclear program pegged after '91. Having that inspection regime in place is a tremendous asset in learning about the DPRK program-- it keeps what they've got in check and gives the international community tremendous insight into the North Korean program. Moreover, it significantly increases the legitimacy of any future deal or hard line with North Korea. It places a UN-family organization in a critical seat and brings dedicated IAEA member-states into the process as stakeholders. The IAEA can legitimate an agreement, and non-cooperation with the IAEA is not the same as non-cooperation with the USA. There are many tired allies who might now be willing to look the other way when North Korea and the US get into a future shouting match. But, bringing the IAEA into the mix helps to legitimize the role of the international community, making this a global problem, not just a regional or bilateral one.

This is a move the US should have made a couple of years ago-- its not that costly to send one Assistant Secretary of State to Pyongyang, and the payoff for the move (at this point) seems significant. Now, lets see State is able to follow up on its initial gains and implement this agreement. If it can, its a success for diplomacy enhancing the National Security of the USA.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bomb Iran? 

Reading Sunday's NYT, I was somewhat surprised to read about the intensity of debate within senior Administration circles about how to address Iran's nuclear program.
The debate has pitted Ms. Rice and her deputies, who appear to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office who, according to some people familiar with the discussions, are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities....

But conservatives inside the administration have continued in private to press for a tougher line, making arguments that their allies outside government are voicing publicly. “Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, if they want it,” said John R. Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Only a few weeks ago, one of Mr. Cheney’s top aides, David Wurmser, told conservative research groups and consulting firms in Washington that Mr. Cheney believed that Ms. Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Mr. Bush might have to decide whether to take military action.
Then, take Joe Lieberman's statements on Face the Nation:
"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman told Bob Schieffer. "And to me, that would include a strike into... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."
Is it time to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran?

a perfect excuse for some audio and video links--McCain singing it here (youtube), but he ripped it from the Capitol Steps, who did 'Bomb Iraq' back in the Clinton years (on this album). Here (MP3) they update the parody, the song is about 2/3 of the way into the clip.

Actually, a friend asked me this very question a few weeks ago, and what follows is our email exchange on the subject.

His question:

Dear Peter,

Seriously, as scholars of international security, is the idea of a U.S. invasion of Iran in the cards at all? I mean, yes, Duncan Hunter mentioned a tactical nuclear strike and Clinton-esque air strikes against Iranian targets could well be a possibility but isn't all this talk of "war" with Iran pure hyperbole?

How, for example, is this implicated in the current row with Russia over missile defense elements in Eastern/Central Europe and therefore the overall U.S.-Russia strategic relationship?

Inquiring minds want to know. :)


(redacted for privacy considerations)

My Response:

Dear (redacted again)

Its an astute question.
My 'expert' analysis: (and if its any good, maybe it will morph into a blog post at some point)
and here it does just that!...

Is war with Iran possible? Sure. We don't like them, they don't like us, and we each have been escalating--both diplomatically and militarily-- the confrontation between us. So, yes, it could happen, and as such responsible deep thinking planners at State, DoD, and CENTCOM should have an up to date contingency plan for just such an occasion.

The appropriate line, I think, comes from a scene in one of my favorite movies, "Hunt for Red October" where the Soviet Ambassador and US National Security Adviser are discussing the growing naval presence in the North Atlantic and the NSA says-- "It would be well for your government to consider that having your ships and ours, your aircraft and ours, in such proximity... is inherently DANGEROUS. Wars have begun that way, Mr. Ambassador."

Or, to put it another way (and foreshadow the rest of the answer)-- never underestimate the role that stupidity and bad luck play in the unfolding of history. Anything can happen.

That said, is a war probable? I don't think so.

Every major explanatory tool / theory we have in IR / Security, save one, suggests no war. To be clear, this is not a political or policy recommendation against war, but IR theory / Security Studies offering a theoretical prediction on future outcomes. Your base realism / strategic analysis suggests no war. Iran is big and strong (stronger than Iraq pre-invasion), offering a more robust deterrent. The US is weaker--though the US flanks Iran with ongoing military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, those two ongoing wars have stretched the US military about as far as it can go in its current configuration. As any military person around town will tell you, we're stretched very very thin just to keep up the surge. Troops are on quick rotations, the Army is burning through all its equipment, the carriers are maxed out in deployments-- where is the fighting force going to come from? With Iraq, there was never a question of a relatively easy victory (over Saddam's regime-- the post war is a different story). That assurance is no longer there with respect to Iran. Power politics says that it’s not going to happen.

The domestic / liberal explanations similarly suggest no war. When Bush went into Iraq, he had a pliant public, a cheerleader Congress, bureaucratic support within the government, and significant public approval. Today, none of that exists. The public is against the Iraq war, has no appetite for further war, and Bush's approval ratings are low--historic lows for a president. Congress is now controlled by opposition Democrats, and while, yes, they are not as active as many would like in taking steps to end the current war, you can assuredly bet that any Congressional authorization for a new war is a non-starter. Its one thing to do as Biden claimed in the debate the other night and support troops already in the field, but its another thing to prevent troops from going into a new field. Even the bureaucratic organs of the government seem reluctant to build up for a war. The Intel community, chastened by its failures (and being hung out to dry for those failures) on Iraq would resist, and DoD, really, the career military, particularly senior officers, don't seem willing to support such adventurism any more. They'll fight the war in which they are implicated (Iraq) but I don't see the bureaucracy lining up to support a new war with Iran.

And, the campaign is now on. Who among the R-10 do you see lining up for a full-on war, and how do you see even the most modestly competent D campaign responding? Its one thing to spout campaign rhetoric of I'm the Tough Guy (tough on crime, tough on terrorists, tough on proliferaters)--there are votes to be won there--but its another thing to be the war candidate--there are only votes to be lost there. Contrast the R-10's tough talk on Iran with the subtle attempts to open some distance between themselves and the President in Iraq.

Plus (to pay homage to my friend's leanings here), where's the money in it? The "Special interests" of the 'war machine' and oil people have their hands full in Iraq, which has turned out, I would argue, to be less of a payoff (or rather a much more costly investment for a payoff), than anticipated. There's plenty of oil in Iraq left un-tapped, who can handle Iran's on top of that? Who even needs it? Even Blackwater probably can't handle an Iran operation on top of Iraq, they're very busy as it is.

The only analytical tools in the IR kit that leaves open the possibility of war are the individual / psychological / group-think ones. Its still possible for key actors to misperceive the situation and massively screw things up. More likely, though, is that there remains a core of true believers, blinded by ideology, within the administration that necessarily include the President and VP. These folks, in a group-think situation, could talk themselves into a war with Iran. You do see hints of this-- anything that comes out of Cheney's office (see the lead-in above), Bush at some point saying he wanted to deal with Iran and not leave it for the next president. So, like the Tuesday lunch group, they could decide that a war with Iran is the way to go.

But, again, I consider that highly unlikely. When that happened with Iraq, the decision was a 'slam dunk' but the legitimation and justification and bringing the country / bureaucracy along was much easier due to the political alignment at the time and post-9-11 shock of the country that was suddenly in a mood to go after 'those guys'. Those things aren't there any more, and even if Bush and Cheney wanted a war, I just don't see how they could sell it and get the necessary support within the government and within the country to make it work. When you hear that John Ashcroft, of all people, and his senior staff almost resigned en-mass after the president ordered certain domestic spying programs, and you look at the reception Gen. Newbold now gets, its all the sudden plausible to believe that a revolt of the Generals or Senior State / DoD / Intel staff is possible in the event of a proposed War with Iran.

So, no, I don't see it as likely.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Iraq as Shakespearean Tragedy 

How many ways, how many times, can one say that the US is screwed in Iraq?

Today, two of the better military correspondents following Iraq (each with a must-read book on Iraq) dispense key insights as to how problematic Iraq is for the United States.

Michael Gordon in the NYT reports that:
The top American military commander for the Middle East has warned Iraq’s prime minister in a closed-door conversation that the Iraqi government needs to make tangible political progress by next month to counter the growing tide of opposition to the war in Congress.
In a Sunday afternoon discussion that mixed gentle coaxing with a sober appraisal of politics in Baghdad and Washington, the commander, Adm. William J. Fallon, told Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that the Iraqi government should aim to complete a law on the division of oil proceeds by next month.
The admiral’s appeal, which was made in the presence of Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador to Iraq, a senior political adviser to the command and this reporter, elicited an assurance from Mr. Maliki that he hoped to make some progress over the coming weeks. But he also offered a lengthy account of all the tribulations facing the Iraqi government, including tenuous security, distrustful neighboring Sunni states and a complex legal agenda.
The US, now driven by domestic politics opposing the war, wants yet another quick fix to the problem of governing Iraq. Time and again, the US has pushed for institutions, events, and milestones hoping that the country would catch up to its 'leaders' while ignoring the large-scale political processes necessary to legitimate such institutions of government that allow them to function. Gordon's pearl of wisdom:
At times, the two sides appeared to be operating on two different clocks. While Admiral Fallon emphasized the urgency of demonstrating results, Mr. Maliki cast the political process as a long journey from dictatorship to democracy.
Therein lies the rub. We need a quick fix for Iraq, but there is nothing quick about fixing things in Iraq. The US is part of the problem, and yet, the US leaving is also part of the problem. Staying allows the Iraqi government to put off the really tough choices it needs to make about how it will govern and who will be part of the governing coalition. Leaving opens the door for a whole host of political factions to vie for power in what could easily devolve into a civil war. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Hell of a way to run a war.

Tom Ricks dispensed his wisdom in one of the Washington Post's regular on-line chats about Iraq, Q & A style (with me paraphrasing the longer Q's, but his answers in full). His central insight:
I think the beginning of wisdom on Iraq is to understand there are no good answers available. So the question is, What is the least bad answer?
Question: Is there a way to get out without making things worse?
That is very much the vibe that I picked up in Baghdad in recent weeks--that there are different ways of getting out, or reducing the US military presence, and that we could do it in ways that intensify the violence, or we might be able to do it in ways that lessen the violence, and that we should starting thinking through these courses of action.

As one officer put it to me, "Just because we invaded Iraq thoughtlessly doesn't mean we should leave it that way."
Question: Does that mean we we're in for another 18 months, until Bush is out of office?
18 months? That's optimistic. In my view, this is a Shakespearean tragedy. His works had five acts, and I think we are only in Act III.

When I was writing 'Fiasco' I'd sometimes look out the window at about 3:30 in the afternoon and see a group of kindergarteners being led from the elementary school down the street to a nearby day care center. On my pessimistic days (most of them), I'd think, "One of those kids is going to fight and die in Iraq."

I do think that is a possibility. I don't like it. But I think that Iraq is a tougher problem for the US government, and people, than the Vietnam War was. We could walk away from that one. Yes, it was awful if you were Cambodian, or a Vietnamese who had cast your lot with the Americans. But the United States as a nation could pretty much wash its hands of Vietnam. I don't think it will be as easy to walk away from Iraq.

It is too bad we didn't have this conversation in the summer and fall of 2002, huh?
Question: So will Iraq ever be able to govern / secure itself?
This question gives me a headache. That doesn't mean it is a bad question, it is just that it points to how damn difficult the Iraq situation yes.

No, there is no guarantee that Iraqi security forces will be competent--or even-handed. Again, that is another reason US planners are thinking about a "post-occupation" presence, because Sunni leaders might ask for such a force to guarantee that Shiite-dominated Iraqi army and police forces don't attack them. But just how do we guarantee that? Do we attack the Iraqi government? Do we post soldiers to protect Sunni enclaves?

I think the fingers-crossed answer we will get from American officials is that political accommodation should ease the security situation, and so lessen the need for US intervention. But that's a hope, not a plan.

Iraq doesn't seem to get any easier, does it?
Too bad there are no candidates from Hope running in this election (sorry, bad pun!).

Here's the heart of the matter-- for all those on the far left or far right who think the the 'only way' to go in Iraq is to either get out now or stay the course (it doesn't matter which)--its high time to recognize that neither is much of a solution--its "a hope, not a plan." Unfortunately, trying to sell a bad anwer to Iraq is a sure loser in any election, which is why no one wants to do it. But its pretty clear that we have painted ourselves into a corner from which there is no easy way out. The honest answer is to admit as much.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

A new Command for Africa 

Last summer, I noted the significance of the Pentagon's creation of an Africa Command in the unified command plan. My conclusion then was:
By creating such a high-profile position for Africa, the bureaucracy of the Pentagon and the US Government as a whole, will see Africa in a whole new light.
On Monday, the Washington Post ran an article based on analysis of a CRS Report on the new command (You can read the entire CRS Report here).

There are two broad issues here that I think merit discussion and reflect more than just the basic reorganization of boxes on the Pentagon's Org chart.

First is the concern over the militarization of US policy toward Africa.
The creation of the Defense Department Africa Command, with responsibilities to promote security and government stability in the region, has heightened concerns among African countries and in the U.S. government over the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, according to a newly released study by the Congressional Research Service.

AFRICOM would have traditional responsibilities of a combat command "to facilitate or lead [U.S.] military operations" on the continent, but would also include "a broader 'soft power' mandate aimed at preemptively reducing conflict and would incorporate a larger civilian component to address those challenges," according to the CRS study.

Fear that it could represent a first step toward more U.S. troops in Africa led [Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy] to assure African leaders that the "principal mission will be in the area of security cooperation and building partnership capability. It will not be in warfighting."
As has been discussed often on this blog, usually by Dan, the US role as hegemon with a global order / empire to manage has required a number of US policy and grand strategy shifts in recent years. The US has become more involved militarily in more corners of the globe, not only fighting terrorism, but also enforcing and maintaining the current global order. Africa, long ignored in this process, now gets its own military command, allowing the Pentagon to further extend US military interests in Africa. Given the power of the Pentagon in the current Administration, its highly likely that under the new Command, the Pentagon's priorities for Africa will come to dominate the US Government's priorities and policies toward Africa, thereby increasing the militarization of US Foreign Policy.

However, the interesting line above is:
also include "a broader 'soft power' mandate aimed at preemptively reducing conflict and would incorporate a larger civilian component to address those challenges,"
How soft can power be? Nye's idea of soft power rests on getting people to want what you want so that one can achieve outcomes without having to resort to military or economic force. Unresolved in Nye's definition, I think, is the very question raised by AFRICOM--can the military employ 'soft power?' Is soft power defined by the tools used to realize it, making it a cultural/media/internet type phenomenon, or is soft power defined by the way one exercises power over another--in this case, allowing for the possibility that the military might be the organization that is best able to convey values and ideas to other actors.

The US Military has a very mixed record on this front. On the one hand, military engagement programs have been very very effective in helping to transform former communist countries into Western-European, NATO allied market democracies. These engagement programs have been all run out of EUCOM, so creating an AFRICOM might similarly duplicate this success in Africa. Moreover, the military may in fact be one of the most powerful social institutions (for good or ill) in many African countries, so using soft power to spread certain ideas through the military could be a good way to reach more (and more important) people than working through some other social network. On the other hand, the military does like to see and solve military problems, and its hard to see how a special forces A-team or IMET money will make serious progress in sustainable agriculture, clean water, or combating HIV-AIDS.

Second is the change in US bureaucratic politics:
A State Department civilian official is to be one of the two deputy commanders of AFRICOM, though that official would not be in the chain of command on military operations, according to the CRS report. In addition, more than one-third of AFRICOM headquarters personnel would be from outside the Pentagon. Defense officials told CRS that "the new command will seek greater interagency coordination with the State Department, USAID and other government agencies," according to the report.
Now this is very interesting. In my earlier piece on AFRICOM, I noted that having a high-profile, well funded bureaucratic organization within the government to generate knowledge, raise and define issues, advocate for positions, and implement programs would change the way the US government sees Africa. Now, there already is one person who ostensibly does this: Jendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. I never heard of her either until I looked up that link. Compare her stature and resources to those of the eventual three or four star flag officer who will assume command of AFRICOM, and under Goldwater-Nichols report directly to the National Command Authority--The President and Secretary of Defense. Add, on top of that, the rise of the Unified Command Combatant Commanders in recent years and the rise of the Pentagon within the national security bureaucracy under the current administration, and you have a very strong new player on African Issues who will probably come to dominate the agenda (leading to the worries of militarization above).

But, notice how 'inter-agency' the new command is supposed to be. Having a State Department official as a Deputy Commander will create a new role in the diplomatic corps and give State and other civilian agencies a huge say in the Command's activities. Having one third of staff from non-military agencies, including USAID, suggests that AFRICOM may very well start to champion inter-agency cooperation on African issues and perhaps might even be able to raise the profile of key development issues on the continent. Of course, there is the price of securitizing development, AIDS, and the like, but the lesson in Washington is that this is how things get done these days. Perhaps the new, inter-agency make up of the Command will lead to a 'softer' military presence, and engagement in non-military or partially military development and capacity building activities.

Do you think it would make a difference if a 4-star general in full uniform heads up to the Hill to testify on behalf of an increase in the 150 account (the foreign aid budget) for development in Africa?

If this model works, it could very well serve as a model for future government reforms, where inter-agency cooperation and coordination is a key need. Look no farther than Iraq where DoD, State, and everyone else couldn't get along and it turned into a colossal disaster (as Dan just pointed out). Key agencies worked at cross-purposes to the detriment of the government's policy agenda. Worse, they failed to learn from each other, ignoring key bits of knowledge, expertise, and insight that could have prevented many of the worst elements of the post-invasion occupation from happening. Granted--the failings of the inter-agency process in Iraq were as much the result of fighting among principles, not line-workers, but having some more State Dept and AID folks on Frank's staff might have helped them just a bit when the "planned" the invasion.

So, I think the creation of this new Command and the way in which its being done will have far-reaching affects--on how the US sees the world, develops policy, and goes about its business as a national security state.

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