Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NSC is Playing Wordgames While China is Playing Rugby


If you had any question why the national security environment is such a mess in 2016 - this should help you understand the root cause;
The White House has barred Pentagon leaders from a key talking point when it comes to publicly describing the military challenges posed by China.

In February, Defense Secretary Ash Carter cited the "return to great power of competition" in the Asia-Pacific, "where China is rising."

Similarly, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson characterized China and Russia as rivals in this "great power competition" in his maritime strategy.

But a recent directive from the National Security Council ordered Pentagon leaders to strike out that phrase and find something less inflammatory, according to four officials familiar with the classified document, revealed here for the first time by Navy Times. Obama administration officials and some experts say "great power competition" inaccurately frames the U.S. and China as on a collision course...
Good googly moogly. Have these sweet little people issued a trigger warning to the delicate, easily offended Chinese?

I'll let Bryan do the spanking for me;
“Their explanation is an exercise in nuance and complexity, purposely chosen by the administration to provide maximum flexibility, to prevent them from committing to a real structural approach to the most important national security challenge of our time,” said Bryan McGrath, a naval expert and retired destroyer skipper.
In other words, it lets them practice faculty lounge name games while the real world it being shaped by adults in other nations run by serious people.

This is a unnecessary distraction and own-goal. This mixes up our messages, and for what?
Rumors of the directive also rankled some on Capitol Hill. During a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asked Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford to comment.

“General Dunford, are we in great power competition with China?” Cotton asked, to which Dunford replied: “We are, senator.”

When Cotton asked Carter, the secretary replied: “We are. Absolutely right."
As mentioned earlier, this is all faculty lounge intellectual narcissism. Mixed in with it you can find the influences of the self-esteem movement, everyone gets a trophyism, mindless non-judgementalism, and national self-loathing.
“My view is that it's unhelpful to describe a very complex relationship in a simple phrase, regardless of whether it is positive or negative,” said Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Michael O’Hanlon, an influential security policy expert at the Brookings Institution, said that focusing solely on the positive or the negative aspects of the relationship isn’t good policy.

“To oversimplify in either direction is not only analytically inaccurate, but consequential for the tone and substance of the relationship,” he said. “The White House really does have it right, I strongly believe.”
Let's end this with Bryan's final points.
“This kind of lawyerly nuancing is not what the American people need,” said McGrath, who leads the consulting firm The FerryBridge Group. “They don’t need nationalism or jingoism, they need a restatement of the role the U.S. plays in the proper function, security and prosperity of the world. To actually contend in great power competition, you have to identify for the American people what is the problem. The problem with this administrations’ insistence in avoiding terms that the American people understand is it lacks clarity.

"What this means is we will spend at least the next 90 days with an administration that’s just trying to tread water.”
Whoever pushed this memo at the NSC should be the first people invited to find a position back in academia where they are less of a hazard to themselves and others.

Sad thing is, Mrs. Clinton will probably keep a lot of them on.

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