Thursday, April 9, 2009

Response to Policy and Purpose

In response to a piece written by General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF, and Timothy R. Kirk, Lt. Col. USAF entitled, "Policy and Purpose-The Economy of Deterrence," (2009, p. 23), state: “The ultimate goal is to leverage military capabilities in cooperative fashion to maximize legitimacy and control to the degree necessary for achieving the purpose of national policy.” Working backwards from the purpose, we can determine, first, what it is we wish to achieve. Throughout the paper by Schwartz and Kirk (2009), the purpose is continually clarified by the authors. The purpose is transparent and abundantly clear. Although “purpose” is couched in slightly different phraseology each time it is mentioned, the authors’ descriptions of purpose meld into a salient and admirable philosophy of government [see Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 12, 15-18, 20, 24].
In their conclusion, Schwartz and Kirk (2009, p. 25) point out that the purpose has not changed, as they state: “In sum, the purpose of our policy remains unchanged, the objects are suitably similar though different in number and degree, and the number of relevant actors in the game is increasing.”
History provides a look at the dynamics of purpose and policy, as seen through the recounting of historical encounters of diplomacy and/or military might and nation-state power balances. The references of this order given by Schwartz and Kirk (2009) include: the Berlin airlift (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 21-22), the Cold War (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 12, 17, 22-24, 27-28), and a NATO treaty (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 20, 22). Each such historical scenario provides a lesson or lessons for today. Schwartz and Kirk (2009) do not claim to hold a corner on the market of military strategy. Neither do they entertain a pretense of the USAF “pulling rank” over any other branch of the Service. Schwartz and Kirk (2009) know the intent of the USAF to shoulder the responsibilities that fall to it as a critical branch of the US military. In all humility, the authors describe the Air Force as invaluable in that its nature [in contrast to that of the other branches of the military] is “inherently flexible” (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, p. 23).
The dynamics of peacekeeping rest largely on policy. Policy is complex, and for the sake of breaking it down into palatable bites or bytes, Schwartz and Kirk (2009, p. 19) utilize a diagram of quadrants. A contrast is established between today’s dynamic and previous decades of nation-states’ conflicts, be they by means of physical encounters or with diplomatic and philosophical wars of words.
Today’s policy mix calls for a blend at the intersection of the four quadrants shown on page 23 of Schwartz and Kirk (2009). At this intersection, a bite is taken from each quadrant to blend a triumphant assimilation of the most applicable purpose and/or policy of each quadrant – with the tailored blend of the elements brought to bear in a given circumstance.
Although Schwartz and Kirk (2009) did not say so in “so many words,” throughout the reading of their well-crafted document, it has become apparent that slick, pat, pre-rehearsed, and decade-old solutions will not work. You cannot succeed by putting square pegs in round holes.
The whole of the Schwartz and Kirk’s (2009) paper flows like a river of information, informing the reader. Written between the lines, we seek a hope and a prayer for diplomatic solutions. Thought, theory, strategy, military brilliance, and strategic genius each have a place in nation-states’ relationships. Avoiding overt acts of destruction for destruction’s sake, we do not wish to spread fear by terror and terror by fear. These are the least chosen courses upon which we see our purposes achieved.
Hope – while reading the following sentences – welled within me, and tears fell down my cheeks as the authors spoke of leverage (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, p. 23; emphasis added):
The military instrument must leverage limited ways and means in close concert with the other instruments of power without forsaking maintenance of a backdrop of capabilities with overwhelming potential. Successful policy and purpose achievements in this realm are the fruit of sophisticated strategists, diplomats, economists, and statesmen.
And I thought to myself: “Such success is also the result of the dead and injureds’ brave actions, by which sacrifices were made at the altar of purpose to save our country from ‘takeover’ by a foreign power.”
Schwartz and Kirk’s (2009) discourse may serve as a rallying call for all rational men and women to put forth every possible effort to empower the USAF to have the strength needed to assist in deterring an international holocaust. Also, we must continue to educate our men and women so that true statesmanship and powers of deterrence and dissuasion may succeed, through insight, historical perspective, and contemporary savvy.
If we are to deter and dissuade, we must have the strength to stand firm against the aggressor. We must hold firm to our purpose and reflect in our policy our willingness to seek answers and to work through complex policies in these “complex” times.
The absolutely brilliant portion addressing the subnational actor shows Schwartz and Kirk (2009) to have crafted a superb piece on how to deal with terrorists. Our mistake has been to give terrorists status, as if they, as an entity, were some sort of nation-state. They are rogues and are not to be treated as “nationals.” They are citizens of no country. As long as we afford them an identity (an I.D.) and a status, we might as well give them a passport.
Shall we act as if chasing them from country to country is some sort of solution? I do not think so! If we were to do so, we would have made a diplomatic faux pas that may very well be our undoing!
Do not despair! The article concludes on an upbeat stance: “We [the USAF] will succeed in improving the rigor and relevance of our thinking and the delivery of effective national security strategies now and in the future” (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, p. 29). God bless the USAF!

Enrico R. Valentia

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