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The Wisdom of In-Sourcing

Military operations may neutralize immediate kinetic threats and strategic communications may make promises, but enduring change comes from systemic overhauls that stabilize unstable regions. Security, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, and development are critical for ultimate democratization. These are the real propaganda of deeds. Without competent and comprehensive action in these areas, tactical operations are simply a waste of time, money, and life.

So starts a remarkably insightful analysis of how the US national security apparatus should be operating in order to more effectively deal with the myriad problems facing the US around the world that are not well resolved with gunpowder.

The author, Matt Armstrong – one of two people in the country who actually hold graduate-level credentials in Public Diplomacy – goes on to argue that the US government has resources and strategies to address these problems, though both are limited in various means, and a proper alignment is far off:

The National Security Strategy declares the need to bring all of the elements of America’s national power to bear to build the “infrastructure of democracy” and to be a champion of “human dignity”. But, instead of consistent, coherent, and coordinated, operations, the U.S. relies on ad hoc reconstruction and stabilization solutions heavily dependent on outsourcing in lieu of any substantial internal capacity.

Some will argue that building such a capability to deal with the aftermath of wars is to build capacity that will rarely be used, but the employment of such a capability worldwide could largely reduce the need to use force over time. Lipstick on the nation-building pig? In Matt's own words:

This is not about building ‘nations’ but creating structural capacity that leads to enduring institutions that will lead to a stable state that has a chance to become prosperous while denying sanctuary and ideological support to terrorists, insurgents, and extremists. Don’t build this capacity and the enemy will simply wait us out.

A must read.

1 Comment

I generally agree with Matt, but not this time. Regardless of his fine distinction differentiating nation-building from his proposal, it is, IMO, a distinction without a difference in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan. I present my argument on the flawed strategy of exporting Democracy and of ignoring the advice of the 2006 NIE which recommended enlisting the aid of moderate Muslims to offset Radicalization at IntelFusion.net in the paper "Slaying the Hydra of Jihadi Terrorism".