Monday, October 17, 2022

So, we Have a National Security Strategy

It may have taken over 1/3 of his first – and perhaps only – Administration for President Biden to publish his National Security Strategy, but it finally hit earlier this month – so let’s look at it.

What I’d like to do is not dig into the details, as to be blunt – it isn’t the details that matter. Though it sounds cynical perhaps, it really isn’t. The primary purpose to have a National Security Strategy is to say you have one. It isn’t meaningless, but this political document (and it is political, heck its title is officially “National Security Strategy” but on the Whitehouse website the file is stored under, “Biden-Harris-Administrations-National-Security-Strategy-10.2022”) … so yes, very blobby but political) will be used as “Ref. A:” for politicians, bureaucrats and all manner of tribes in the chattering class.

I used to like to read the details, but the last quarter century has made one thing clear – our national security nomenklatura has at best a spotty record on identifying the next great threat to our nation. It isn’t always wrong, but it is helpful to at least take a moment to consider any published National Security Strategy to be a counter indicator of what might actually require our attention.

For example, since even before the end of the Cold War up until the early years of the Trump Administration, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) – I have comments on that usage later – was welcomed and even encouraged to rise. We gave them undeserved trade advantages. We willingly transferred aerospace technology including the technology to enable MIRV’d warheads. As we busied ourselves chasing illiterate and inbred tribal castaways through every meaningless village in Central and Southwest Asia. We looked the other way as China decided to be not just a player, but the player on the world stage. There is a reason we started “The Long Game” series 18 years ago when no one else was really interested in China. It was clear as day what was coming. The Long Game is now today.

The last decade of the 20th and most of the 21st Century to date, we divested our intellectual capital in keeping an eye on the largest nation ion Europe – Russia. As recently as 2012, the blob laughed at anyone who thought Russia was a threat. The first year of Midrats in 2010 we started having Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg from CNA on to talk about Russia. Our take was, “If the DC blob isn’t interested in that big old bear, then we better be.” Again, looking where the establishment nomenklatura didn’t want to look was the smart move.

So, if there is value in looking at a published National Security Strategy as a contrary indicator – what does this OCT 2022 Strategy tell us?

This is hobby and I have a paying gig, so let’s take a shortcut that I have found useful over the years – and often more useful than detailed analysis: let’s dive in to wordcounts.

People will tell you what they are concerned with and what they value by the words they use and the entities they reference. Respect that. 

This is simple wordcount stuff here. You can do it yourself with a CTRL-F if you wish, but it is telling. We’re looking at nations, organizations, concepts and geography.

Gold Medals: Word Count Greater Than 50
Economic/Economics/Economy: Word Count 126
- Well, of the four levers of power, we see what we are most focused on here. Actually, I’m good with that. At our core we are a maritime and aerospace mercantile republic. You’ll see the others, Diplomatic-Military-Informational listed below. Not expected here, but welcome.

Russia/Russian word count: 71
- I’m very much with Bridge here – regardless of what is happening with the Russo-Ukrainian War that delayed the publication of the Strategy – China must be the primary focus. Also I would not be remiss if I did not post this:

China/People’s Republic of China (PRC)/Chinese wordcount 59
- A little pet peeve here: there is a certain strain in the natsec left does not want to call the People’s Republic of China “China” due to, hell I don’t know, probably something about “racism” or somesuch. There is also a certain strain in the natsec right that wants to call China the People’s Republic of China because it is a way to remind everyone that they’re commies. Guilty as charged here, but we don’t call Russia its official name, The Russian Federation … so some consistency would be nice.

Terrorist/Terrorism wordcount 51: 
- As you will see below, even well over a quarter century of people coming at our throats, we still cannot attach a tactic/idea to nation states.

Military/militaries: 50
- Economic power followed by military? I’d prefer diplomacy to be higher up … but that is just <checks notes> me I guess.

Silver Medals: Word Count Between 20-49
- Europe: 35
- Pacific: 34
- Africa: 34
- Ukraine: 32
- Indo-Pacific: 32
- Diplomacy/diplomatic: 30
- Nuclear: 24
- Climate Change: 20

Bronze Medal: Word Count Between 5-19
- Arctic: 19
- NATO: 17
- Information: 17
- Freedom: 17
- Diplomacy: 14
- Diversity/Equity: 13
- Migrants/immigrants/refugee: 12
- Asia: 11
- Middle East: 11
- Disease: 9
- India: 8
- United Nations: 8
- Crime: 7
- Iran: 7
- Taiwan: 7
- Australia: 7
- United Kingdom: 7
- Violent Extremism: 7
- Atlantic: 6
- Japan: 5
- Integrated Deterrence: 5

Honorable Mention: Word Count Between 1-4
- Israel: 4
- Drugs: 4
- Syria: 3
- People’s Republic of Korea/North Korea: 3
- Caribbean: 3
- North America: 2
- Canada: 2
- Antarctic: 2
- Commerce: 2
- Central America: 1
- Germany: 1
- France: 1
- Balkans: 1
- Turkey: 1
- LGBTQI+: 1
- Mexico: 1
- Italy: 1
- Republic of Korea: 1 
- Mediterranean: 1

What the Hell Happened Here? The Zip-List:
- These are the things that received no mention. Zip. Zero. Nada: Saudi Arabia, Poland, South America, Black Sea, Vietnam, Baltic, Egypt, Brazil, Iraq, Islamic State (ISIS), Al Qaeda.

Look again at the zip-list. Remember the David Frum/Bush 43 “Axis of Evil?” They get a combined 10. We may be tired of ISIS, Al Qaeda and all that mess – but they are not tired of us. I’m not sure we should totally take our eyes off them, but there we go. 

One of the greatest destabilizing threats the USA and her European allies is the migrant crisis on both of our southern borders. In parallel to that is the flood of drugs responsible for decreasing lifespans by killing hundreds of thousands of citizens. Not much of a focus. 

We just got off the worst pandemic in a century – still in it globally – and yet, look at where it is.

Now compare the above where we have American forces overseas. 

Still impressed? I'm not.

Though I still am watching Russia and especially China, I am also looking at the "Honorable Mentions" and the "zip-list" as there is a fairly good chance that is where the next issue will arise. 

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