Monday, May 9, 2011

Guest Commentary - A NATIONAL STRATEGIC NARRATIVE - By Mr. Y - Part 3

Credible Influence in a Strategic Ecosystem
Viewed in the context of a strategic ecosystem, the global trends and conditions cited earlier are seen to be borderless. The application of credible influence to further our national interests, then, should be less about sovereign borders and geographic regions than the means and scope of its conveyance. By addressing the trends themselves, we will attract others in our environment also affected. These converging interests will create opportunities for both competition and interdependence, opportunities to positively shape these trends to mutual advantage. Whether this involves out-competing the grey and black market, funding research to develop alternate and sustainable sources of energy, adapting farming for low-water-level environments, anticipating and limiting the effects of pandemics, generating viable economies to relieve urbanization and migration, marginalizing extremism and demonstrating the futility of anti-modernism, or better managing the global information grid – international divisions among people will be less the focus than flexible and imaginative cooperation. Isolation – whether within national borders, physical boundaries, ideologies, or cyberspace – will prove to be a great disadvantage for any competitor in the evolution of the system.

The advent of the internet and world wide web, that ushered in the information age and greatly accelerated globalization, brought with it profound second and third order effects the implications of which have yet to be fully recognized or understood. These effects include the near-instantaneous and anonymous exchange of ideas and ideologies; the sharing and manipulation of previously protected and sophisticated technologies; vast and transparent social networking that has homogenized cultures, castes, and classes; the creation of complex virtual worlds; and, a universal dependence on the global grid from every sector of society that has become almost existential. The worldwide web has also facilitated the spread of hateful and manipulative propaganda and extremism; the theft of intellectual property and sensitive information; predatory behavior and the exploitation of innocence; and the dangerous and destructive prospect of cyber warfare waged from the shadows of non-attribution and deception. Whether this revolution in communication and access to information is viewed as the democratization of ideas, or as the technological catalyst of an apocalypse, nothing has so significantly impacted our lives in the last one hundred years. Our perceptions of self, society, religion, and life itself have been challenged. But cyberspace is yet another dimension within the strategic ecosystem, offering opportunity through complex interdependence. Here, too, we must invest the resources and develop the capabilities necessary to sustain our prosperity and security without sacrificing our values.

Opportunities beyond Threat and Risk
As was stated earlier, while this Strategic Narrative advocates a focus on the opportunities inherent in a complex global system, it does not pretend that greed, corruption, ancient hatreds and new born apprehensions won’t manifest into very real risks that could threaten our national interests and test our values. Americans must recognize this as an inevitable part of the strategic environment and continue to maintain the means to minimize, deter, or defeat these diverging or conflicting interests that threaten our security. This calls for a robust, technologically superior, and agile military – equally capable of responding to low-end, irregular conflicts and to major conventional contingency operations (questionable premise - the editors). But it also requires a strong and unshakable economy, a more diverse and deployable Inter Agency, and perhaps most importantly a well-informed and supportive citizenry. As has also been cited, security means far more than defense, and strength denotes more than power. We must remain committed to a whole of nation application of the tools of competition and deterrence: development, diplomacy, and defense. Our ability to look beyond risk and threat – to accept them as realities within a strategic ecology – and to focus on opportunities and converging interests will determine our success in pursuing our national interests in a sustainable manner while maintaining our national values. This requires the projection of credible influence and strength, as well as confidence in our capabilities as a nation. As we look ahead, we will need to determine what those capabilities should include.

As Americans, our ability to remain relevant as a world leader, to evolve as a nation, depends as it always has on our determination to pursue our national interests within the constraints of our core values. We must embrace and respect diversity and encourage the exchange of ideas, welcoming as our own those who share our values and seek an opportunity to contribute to our nation. Innovation, imagination, and hard work must be applied through a national unity of effort that recognizes our place in the global system. We must accept that to be great requires competition and to remain great requires adaptability, that competition need not demand a single winner, and that through converging interests we should seek interdependencies that can help sustain our interests in the global strategic ecosystem. To achieve this we will need the tools of development, diplomacy and defense – employed with agility through an integrated whole of nation approach. This will require the prioritization of our investments in intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth; investment in the nation’s sustainable security – on our own soil and wherever Americans and their interests take them, including space and cyberspace; and investment in sustainable access to, cultivation and use of, the natural resources we need for our continued wellbeing, prosperity and economic growth in the world marketplace. Only by developing internal strength through smart growth at home and smart power abroad, applied with strategic agility, can we muster the credible influence needed to remain a world leader.

A National Prosperity and Security Act
Having emerged from the Second World War with the strongest economy, most powerful military, and arguably the most stable model of democracy, President Truman sought to better align America’s security apparatus to face the challenges of the post-war era. He did this through the National Security Act of 1947 (NSA 47). Three years later, with the rise of Chinese communism and the first Russian test of a nuclear device, he ordered his National Security Council to consider the means with which America could confront the global spread of communism. In 1950, President Truman signed into law National Security Council finding 68 (NSC 68). Often called the “blueprint” for America’s Cold War strategy of containment, NSC 68 leveraged not only the National Security structures provided by NSA 47, but recommended funding and authorization for a Department of Defense-led strategy of containment, with other agencies and departments of the Federal government working in supporting roles. NSA 47 and NSC 68 provided the architecture, authorities and necessary resources required for a specific time in our nation’s progress.

Today, we find ourselves in a very different strategic environment than that of the last half of the Twentieth Century. The challenges and opportunities facing us are far more complex, multi-nodal, and interconnected than we could have imagined in 1950. Rather than narrowly focus on near term risk and solutions for today’s strategic environment, we must recognize the need to take a longer view, a generational view, for the sustainability of our nation’s security and prosperity. Innovation, flexibility, and resilience are critical characteristics to be cultivated if we are to maintain our competitive edge and leadership role in this century. To accomplish this, we must take a hard look at our interagency structures, authorities, and funding proportionalities. We must seek more flexibility in public / private partnerships and more fungibility across departments. We must provide the means for the functional application of development, diplomacy, and defense rather than continuing to organizationally constrain these tools. We need to pursue our priorities of education, security, and access to natural resources by adopting sustainability as an organizing concept for a national strategy. This will require fundamental changes in policy, law, and organization.

What this calls for is a National Prosperity and Security Act, the modern day equivalent of the National Security Act of 1947. This National Prosperity and Security Act would: integrate policy across agencies and departments of the Federal government and provide for more effective public/private partnerships; increase the capacity of appropriate government departments and agencies; align Federal policies, taxation, research and development expenditures and regulations to coincide with the goals of sustainability; and, converge domestic and foreign policies toward a common purpose. Above all, this Act would provide for policy changes that foster and support the innovation and entrepreneurialism of America that are essential to sustain our qualitative growth as a people and a nation. We need a National Prosperity and Security Act and a clear plan for its application that can serve us as well in this strategic environment, as NSA 47 and NSC 68 served a generation before us.

A Beacon of Hope, a Pathway of Promise
This Narrative advocates for America to pursue her enduring interests of prosperity and security through a strategy of sustainability that is built upon the solid foundation of our national values. As Americans we needn’t seek the world’s friendship or to proselytize the virtues of our society. Neither do we seek to bully, intimidate, cajole, or persuade others to accept our unique values or to share our national objectives. Rather, we will let others draw their own conclusions based upon our actions. Our domestic and foreign policies will reflect unity of effort, coherency and constancy of purpose. We will pursue our national interests and allow others to pursue theirs, never betraying our values. We will seek converging interests and welcome interdependence. We will encourage fair competition and will not shy away from deterring bad behavior. We will accept our place in a complex and dynamic strategic ecosystem and use credible influence and strength to shape uncertainty into opportunities. We will be a pathway of promise and a beacon of hope, in an ever changing world.


~ END ~


And now more on the enigmatic Mr. Y…

In 1947 George Kennan published The Sources of Soviet Conduct in Foreign Affairs under the pseudonym X, so as not to reveal his identity as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. The X article gave the United States an intellectual framework within which to understand the rise and eventual fall of the Soviet Union and a strategy to hasten that objective.

Mr. Y is a pseudonym for CAPT Wayne Porter, USN and Col Mark "Puck" Mykleby, USMC… who are actively serving military officers. (The views expressed herein are their own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.)

Stated briefly, Porter & Mykleby’s strategic narrative of the United States in the 21st century is that we want to become the strongest competitor and most influential player in a deeply inter-connected global system, which requires that we invest less in defense and more in sustainable prosperity and the tools of effective global engagement.

We think that we are an exceptional nation, but a core part of that exceptionalism is a commitment to universal values – to the equality of all human beings not just within the borders of the United States, but around the world. We should thus embrace the rise of other nations when that rise is powered by expanded prosperity, opportunity, and dignity for their peoples.

The Y article is the first step down that new path.


It is written by two military men who are non-partisan by profession and conviction. Their insights and ideas should spark a national conversation. All we need now is for politicians, pundits, journalists, businesspeople, civic leaders, and engaged citizens across the country to understand that we are entering a new era where cooperation and mutual respect become the political priority, not military might.