Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Serious Call to Arm-Chair Strategists

       This is not a trick question or a gimmick.

       Let us suppose that President Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, appointed you to be his National Security Advisor, and wanted your serious advice on future policy in Afghanistan and any related areas.

       Let us also suppose that his confidence in you was so strong, that your opinions and recommendations would prevail, and the Secretaries of State and Defense would follow your lead.

       Let us further suppose that the President assured you that he fully trusted your judgment and would see to it that your plans would be carried out to the best of his authority and ability.

       (Now don't be offended because I called you an arm-chair strategist.  Almost all of us are exactly that.  Certainly the National Security Advisor is.  Certainly the President is.  And there is nothing wrong with that; it is just the way things are.)

       Let us assume that you take this responsibility as seriously as you can.  You have been following the war for the past 10 years, but you are going to brush up on the real facts before you start making proposals that will be quickly turned into operational plans and orders.  You can get your information from anywhere, but if you'd like just a bit of quick input, you could check with Fred Reed for a pretty up-to-date view.

       Of course, having plenary authority, you have plenary responsibility for the outcome.

       Basically, what would you actually propose -- all things considered?  Precisely all things, considered.

       You may consider the comments section as a great place to develop your assumptions, your objectives, and your means and methods.  And, you will probably get at least as good feedback as the real National Security Advisor.



  1. Bring all the troops home. Now. Apologize. Promise never to do it again.

  2. Yes, I agree with Andrew. And abolish the standing army, except the Navy.

  3. Robert, why do I get the feeling as a rank outsider, that your foreign office is more influenced by Tom Clancy and Readers Digest, than good scholarly articles and live experience? Not to talk about your def dept - they seem to compulsorily read and work on only Clancy fantasies. Life is not a Jack Ryan novel.


  4. Dear Bangalored:

    Humorous response: As a rank outsider, you get the feeling that our foreign office is more influenced by Tom Clancy and Readers Digest, because our foreign office is more influenced by Tom Clancy and Readers Digest! Our politicians are -- generally -- the most anti-intellectual of our people. They are the middle managers of our business men.

    Serious response: Same as above, but add that our entire education system teaches the Whig Interpretation of History. Part of this is borrowed from British whiggery, and therefore is a mix of the knavery of the Colonial Office and the flawed idealism of British protestantism. The rest of it is homegrown American justification of Manifest Destiny and "Judeo-Christian" exceptionalism. A toxic brew.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  5. Have you read the new Fred column? He'd taken a poke on an average American's ignorance of everything in his previous post FOXghanistan, but the joke backfired on him.


  6. If someone where to abolish the standing army and bring all of our troops home at the same time there would be an excess of homeless veterans on the streets. Also our country would be open for attack because we would no longer have a strong grip on many of the countries that we currently occupy. It would be a good thing if we could bring the majority of our troops home and transition them into good jobs. Also transfer many of our strong leaders over to the reserve and national guard. But this would take a long period of time because we would also have to smooth over our relations with the countries that we would be unoccupying and we would not want to be defenseless while we are doing this. There are so many detail and so much that would have to be considered. It would take at least five years to make any real progress with this.