The last two Presidents have executed foreign policy strategies that have been schizophrenic at worst, and ambiguous at best.
The US invasion of Iraq and the “no look” withdrawal has created a power vacuum in that region. One can easily argue that US policy in Iraq had a hand in creating civil war in both Iraq and Syria. And let’s not forget that it also made ISIS vogue in the Middle East.
US Foreign policy strategy should not be some secret sticky note tucked away in Patrick Kennedy’s (Under Secretary of Management) office safe at the Department of State, it should be well-known to American citizens and the world at large. For a plan to work, it has to be well-known by everyone for it to succeed. This is something that has been learned in the blood of lost teammates in the Special Operations community.
The fact that US foreign policy isn’t known or understood is a massive problem. I’ve asked members of Congress and high ranking bureaucrats, “What’s our strategy?” and I often got a look that was very similar to a dog staring at a ceiling fan.
American foreign policy strategies in a post 9/11 world have been opaque at best, and recently the unhinged plan is playing out on the world stage in countries like Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ukraine.
If you ask an average American on the street what our strategy is to defeat al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, or any other faction of radical Islam, it is likely that you will get different answers from everyone.
Any good strategy in an organization, even big government, can be easily understood and is widely known by the people in the organization – in this case, the American public. Ask someone at Apple what their company stands for and what the company strategy is and chances are you’ll get straight, unified and coherent answers back. This is the problem with American government and the bureaucracy that surrounds it today, and it crosses party lines.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. America’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been inconsistent and schizophrenic for decades. However painful it will be to engage in nation building, the alternatives are far worse. This is our opportunity to reverse the polarities of war and change the Middle East forever.
The following is an excerpt from an enlightening book we recommend reading, called The Tree of Knowledge. We encourage that it be read in Team Room, a group or book club because of the complex nature of the material presented, but the content is powerful. Here’s an excerpt:
A story is told of an island somewhere and its inhabitants. The people longed to move to another land where they could have a healthier and better life. The problem was that the practical arts of swimming and sailing had never been developed—or may have been lost long before. For that reason, there were some people who simply refused to think of alternatives to life on the island, whereas other intended to seek a solution to their problems locally, without any thought of crossing the waters (the current state of thinking in America). From time to time, some islanders reinvented the arts of swimming and sailing. Also from time to time a student would come up to them, and the following exchange would take place:
“I want to swim to another land.”
“For that you have to learn how to swim. Are you ready to learn?”
“Yes, but I want to take with me my ton of cabbages.”
“The food I’ll need on the other side or wherever it is.”
“But what if there’s food on the other side?”
“I don’t know what you mean. I’m not sure. I have to bring my cabbages with me.”
“But you won’t be able to swim with a ton of cabbages. It’s too much weight.”
“Then I can’t learn how to swim. You call my cabbages weight. I call them my basic food.”
“Suppose this were an allegory and, instead of talking about cabbages, we talked about fixed ideas, presuppositions, or certainties?”
“Hummm….I’m going to bring my cabbages to someone who understands my needs.”
Suppose we think about our own traditional ideas surrounding American culture and religion as our own “cabbages” that prevent us from new thinking towards situation in the Middle East. How do we cast off fixed ideas and engage in new thought? Remember that not too long ago it was unpopular to believe that the earth was round and rotated around the sun. In fact, the church could jail you for thinking this, and we would be smart to remember this when thinking about how to deal with the problems of radicalism in the world today.
The Tree of Knowledge by Maturana & Varela pages 249-250
Excerpt from SOFREP.com’s The ISIS Solution.
You don’t have to dig very deep to figure out that President Obama’s recent request of Congress is another half-baked and unthought out option, sure it buys him some more time and takes a little pressure off his situation in the White House but the pressure continues to build and mount overseas. How long until the negative sentiment follows us home in the dark of the night, and we experience 9-11 part 2?
It’s time for all of us Americans to put some political pressure on our elected officials. Start asking them tough questions like, “Why don’t we have a clear foreign policy strategy?” “How come we aren’t addressing the root cause of how and why radical terrorists are being minted at alarming rates?” and most importantly, “What are you going to do about it?”
It’s time for real leadership in America. You don’t put men on the moon with half-baked plans, and you don’t put terrorism out of vogue with them either.
(Featured Image Courtesy: AP)