Small Wars Journal

Stabilization Assistance Review: A Prudent, Economical Path Forward

Stabilization Assistance Review: A Prudent, Economical Path Forward by James Durso - Real Clear Defense

The Department of Defense (DoD) has asked Congress for $25 million to establish a post-conflict stabilization assistance fund, and a Defense Support to Stabilization (DSS) program and program office at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). The DSS program office will provide guidance for designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating DoD's post-conflict stabilization activities.

 

The DoD appropriation will be the “earnest money” for a joint stabilization effort by the DoD, the Department of State (DoS), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)which was announced in the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR), published in May 2018.

 

After the “money for nothing” years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is approaching post-conflict stabilization in a way that reduces the upfront cost to the taxpayer and provides an off-ramp if the stabilization effort is not bearing fruit within five years. This will give Congress the opportunity to demand proof that local political actors are making real progress before it appropriates funds for large-scale (and expensive) reconstruction…

 

 

Read on.

Comments

First item from our article above:

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After the “money for nothing” years in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. is approaching post-conflict stabilization in a way that reduces the upfront cost to the taxpayer and provides an off-ramp if the stabilization effort is not bearing fruit within five years.

END QUOTE

How dumb is this, to wit: telling our adversaries that they only have to maintain their "instability" efforts for a period of five years.  After that, America goes home; this:

a.  Regardless of how important "stabilty" is in this locale and associated regions.  And: 

b.  Regardless of the strategic concequences of simply "going home?" 

(Wonder what Europe, Japan and/or S. Korea would have looked like if this timetable, and this rationale, were in place back in the day?)

Next item -- this time from the SAR: 

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The goal of stabilization is not to remake societies, but to help those with legitimacy to peaceably manage conflict.  This approach requires more humility and more realism as we work to understand the dynamics in places where we are operating and how we can influence them.

END QUOTE 

So, again using Europe, Japan and/or S. Korea as our example:

a.  What would have been the strategic and other consequences of not remaking these societies -- more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines?

And, in this exact context (not remaking these societies -- more along modern western political, economic, social and value lines):  

b.  Who would have been "those with legitimacy to peaceably manage conflict" -- that we would have employed to (a) get "stability" done in 5 years because (b) after that, we go home?

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

To me, this "Stabilization Assistance Review" document seems worthless -- a "pipe dream" (an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme )-- one which, as can be seen by my simple (but hopefully not simple-minded) offering above, to not be based on (a) any form or notion of reality and/or (b) any historical examples or precedence?