Small Wars Journal

Newsweek and Charlie Rose Twofer


The 8 December edition of Newsweek Magazine features leading foreign-policy experts offering their recommendations on dealing with some of the world's most difficult and pressing challenges. Here's the lineup:

Wanted: A New Grand Strategy - Fareed Zakaria

The next US president faces a unique opportunity to put in place an architecture of peace for the 21st century. Grand strategy sounds like an abstract concept - something academics discuss - and one that bears little relationship to urgent, jarring events on the ground. But in the absence of strategy, any administration will be driven by the news, reacting rather than leading. For a superpower that has global interests and is forced to respond to virtually every problem, it's all too easy for the urgent to drive out the important.

Afghanistan: What's Our Definition of Victory? - Andrew J. Bacevich

In Afghanistan today, the United States and its allies are using the wrong means to pursue the wrong mission. Sending more troops to the region, as incoming president Barack Obama and others have suggested we should, will only turn Operation Enduring Freedom into Operation Enduring Obligation. Afghanistan will be a sinkhole, consuming resources neither the US military nor the US government can afford to waste.

Iran: Talk Tough With Tehran - Dennis Ross

It's not too late to stop Iran from getting the bomb. Tehran clearly wants nukes for both defensive and offensive purposes. But it's not clear the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would sacrifice anything to get nuclear weapons.

Russia: Ease Moscow's Suspicions - Michael Mandelbaum

Russia has reason to feel betrayed by the process of NATO expansion, begun in 1997. Seven years earlier, the Russians believe, American and German officials working on German reunification pledged not to take advantage of Moscow's weakness by extending NATO into Russia's traditional backyard.

China: Don't Isolate, Integrate - Richard N. Haass

The single most important challenge for the new administration—one with the potential to shape the 21st century - is China. As goes China, so go 1.3 billion men, women and children - one out of every five people on the planet.

Middle East: Know the Limits of US Power - John J. Mearsheimer

The United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East. Despite Barack Obama's promises to withdraw from Iraq, the debacle there shows no sign of ending soon. Hamas rules in Gaza; Iran is quickly moving to acquire a nuclear deterrent. We need a radically different strategy for the region.

Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose Show - A conversation about National Security with Steve Coll, Nic Burns and Fareed Zakaria.


Ken White

Tue, 12/02/2008 - 10:49pm

I read the Zakaria article three times and still have questions, none of which are important...

The only other item I would comment upon is that by Professor Bacevich. Following is a slightly modified cross post from the Small Wars Council Discussion Board.

I rarely agree with Bacevich but do to an extent concur with this analysis. I agree that infusing a large number of additional troops is not wise and I agree that we need a definition -- not of victory, there will be no victory -- but of our aim in that nation and in the region.

I do disagree with the Bacevich statement that<blockquote>"No country poses a greater potential threat to U.S. national security--today and for the foreseeable future--than Pakistan."</blockquote>
Hyperbole, I believe. Further, he ends: <blockquote>"Rather than sending more troops to the region, the new American president should start withdrawing them and devise a more realistic--and more affordable--strategy for Afghanistan."</blockquote>I agree that sending more troops is not smart but disagree with a too soon withdrawal. That would seemingly be in contradiction to his concern for Pakistan as a threat...

Withdraw precipitously and leave a vacuum in the region? Bad plan. We don't need to devise a realistic and affordable strategy for Afghanistan. We do need to determine what precisely is the US and NATO goal in Afghanistan. From that, a logical operational plan will flow. We do not need to spend the next 20 or 30 years there trying to obtain the mirage of an effective government and a happy productive nation but too rapid a withdrawal would be unwise.

Many current 'strategists,' baby boomers all, are thinking in erudite terms but they grew up during the Cold War and that's colored their perceptions. In this age, there are no centers of gravity -- there are hundreds if not thousands of them. We're back to Victorian-Edwardian era chaos. You can shut down Pakistan and another 'COG' will quickly replace it. The current terror problem is amorphous, worldwide and not conducive to Clausewitzian treatment. Trying to make it so only confuses the issues. We're dealing with a Starfish -- cut off an arm and it will grow a new one, slightly different in form...

Better to watch the Starfish you know than create a new one that you may not recognize or otherwise lose sight of.