Gideon Rose’s latest essay in Slate discusses the Defense Department’s current challenge for post-conflict situations. A key graf (you should really read the whole thing): Much has been made of the Rumsfeld Pentagon’s determined and well-considered efforts to “transform” the war-fighting abilities of the U.S. armed forces, making them smarter, quicker, lighter, and more nimble. ...
Gideon Rose's latest essay in Slate discusses the Defense Department's current challenge for post-conflict situations. A key graf (you should really read the whole thing):
Gideon Rose’s latest essay in Slate discusses the Defense Department’s current challenge for post-conflict situations. A key graf (you should really read the whole thing):
Much has been made of the Rumsfeld Pentagon’s determined and well-considered efforts to “transform” the war-fighting abilities of the U.S. armed forces, making them smarter, quicker, lighter, and more nimble. What has not been generally appreciated yet, however, is that it is now just as important to bulk up their other abilities as well—whether or not this fits the military’s view of its appropriate duties. As Rachel Bronson of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote last fall, Washington needs to develop “a greater appreciation for the fact that intervention entails not simply war-fighting, but a continuum of force ranging from conventional warfare to local law enforcement.” That means creating plenty of units in unsexy job categories such as civil affairs and military police—the sort of folk we could use to run Baghdad today.
This challenge is particularly acute if the administration wants to minimize the UN’s role in postwar Iraq. Will the DOD rise to the challenge? Signals are very mixed. On the one hand, there’s this Chicago Tribune report from today:
The United States military can expect to face more Iraqi-style reconstruction projects in the future and should adjust to better prepare for that role, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday. While denying that the U.S. is involved in “nation-building” in Afghanistan or Iraq, Rumsfeld said the military can provide crucial order in the vacuum-of-power period after a regime falls and before a new government forms. “Somebody has to try to create an environment that’s sufficiently secure and hospitable to that kind of a change, but . . . without doing it in a manner that creates a dependency. Is that likely to be a role that the United States will play from time to time? I think yes,” Rumsfeld said, speaking at a question-and-answer session with Pentagon employees. “I don’t think of it as a nation-building role, because I don’t think anyone can build a nation but the people of that nation,” he said.
On the other hand, there’s this Chicago Tribune report from four days ago:
Even as the U.S. military grapples with the largest peacekeeping effort in a generation, the Army is shutting down its only institute devoted to such operations, prompting protests from inside and outside the Pentagon. Since its creation in 1993 at the Army War College, the Peacekeeping Institute has struggled against a military culture that sees itself as a war-fighting machine that should leave peacekeeping to others…. The Peacekeeping Institute, in Carlisle Barracks, Pa., will close Oct. 1. A Jan. 30 Army news release said its functions and mission will be absorbed at the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Ft. Monroe, Va. A spokesman for the training command, however, said Monday that it has no plans to accept the institute’s charge. “I can tell you that no functions from the Peacekeeping Institute are being transferred to the Center for Army Lessons Learned, nor are they being transferred to TRADOC,” said spokesman Harvey Perritt. Lt. Col. Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman, said that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld supports closing the institute. He added, however, that the decision to close the institute was the Army’s….. An Army spokesman denied that the shutdown signals any reduction in the importance placed on peacekeeping but said it is emblematic of the “hard choices we have to make” in operating in as efficient a manner as possible. Out of a $81 billion annual Army budget, the Peacekeeping Institute ran on $200,000 a year. (emphasis added)
To be fair to Rumsfeld, he’s fighting a deep antipathy among the service branches to functions other than warfighting (click here for more background). Rumsfeld, and the rest of the Bush administration’s foreign policy team, face a clear choice. It can outsource peacekeeping functions to the United Nations or close allies, at the cost of some constraints on foreign policy implementation. It can minimize the U.N. role and develop/train its own peacekeeping force. Or it can do neither and run into trouble down the road. Developing….
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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