In celebration of a very Thankful week, here is the latest in the military's approach to foreign policy, government lying, Latin American diplomacy and defense budget wonkery.
- Think big, USCENTCOM [PDF]. In a Center for Strategic and International Studies report, Anthony Cordesman outlines a plan for USCENTCOM to broadly restructure its approach to the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia during the forthcoming departure from Iraq. Diplomacy and foreign aid should be accompanied by a re-posturing of U.S. military so that troops are working alongside allies in the region rather than in their stead. Even more importantly, we must solicit local support to address the root causes of terrorism by altering our rhetoric for the "War on Terror" so that it is no longer perceived as anti-Arab or anti-Muslim. Cordesman concludes with a recommendation based on the lessons of Iraq: Maintain a presence in the region, but don't over commit and get dragged into another 21st Century "great game." -- SW
- The U.S. Ministry of Truth. Professors from The University of Illinois' Cline Center for Democracy have released a study demonstrating that the factual content of several White House press releases detailing the composition of the Coalition of the Willing were revised and backdated in ways that made the updated documents appear original. From 2003 to 2005, continuing long after the invasion had ended, surreptitious alterations to the apparent number and names of the countries comprising the coalition were made, but the documents retained their original release dates and were presented as unedited lists. In some cases, earlier lists were simply removed from public record. Historians will need to tread carefully when assessing the legacy of this administration, which will have left behind specious documentation of its Iraq invasion. -- DH
- Linchpin diplomacy. Yesterday, Brookings rolled out its Latin America policy ideas, advising the Obama administration to work with the region's countries as partners. While large asymmetries endure between the U.S. and its neighbors, Brookings argues the western hemisphere can work together as an "America's Eight," modeled after the Group of Eight, without the U.S. dictating goals and programs. This will work because Latin America has changed: Countries in the region rely less on funds from development banks and are now more competitive in international markets. They have also matured politically and diplomatically, opening new embassies and leading international forums. If the region takes a downturn, the U.S., conversely, will feel the pressure of its widespread poverty and an increase drug crime. -- CP
- Strategy and the defense budget. This extensive report from a number of Pentagon insiders closely examines the relationship between defense budgets and defense strategy, and -- surprise! -- the two don't add up. With some of the highest defense budgets ever -- higher even than in World War II -- the United States has fewer combat brigades, airplanes and ships. It also explores the danger of having our defense priority be a military capable of defeating China and Russia, since any war with one of those states would have disastrous repercussions on the entire world -- meaning that even planning to fight such a war is planning to fail. Read the whole thing, especially in light of the defense budget fights predicted for the early days of the Obama administration. -- TF
-- TAP Staff