I came across an interesting article on one American information resource. It is called "Politics at the level of" speed of relevance "requires relevance." The author is US Army Colonel Todd A. Schmidt. “Relevance” means in this case the ability of the US authorities to meet the moment, the challenges of our time, to act adequately and appropriately.
What American politics lack
Schmidt himself began serving in the 82nd US Airborne Platoon, then served in the artillery, then in the air defense of various US divisions, then in anti-aircraft missile brigades, then in the rear services. He was also an adjutant of the divisional commander and served in the headquarters, participated in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (company). And then he moved to political scientists, last year received a PhD degree at the University of Kansas. Considering that he began his career before the army as an assistant to the then Governor of Indiana, Evan Bay (he was then a senator for a long time), where he obviously would not have taken a person from the outside, it should be noted. that he is a person with the necessary acquaintances and connections, in general, "out of the cage", as they say. He poses interesting questions in his article.
In his opinion, the very “relevance” of US policy is waning. Seriously growing domestic political instability is taking place. Remember the battles of Democrats and Republicans, Trumpists and anti-Trumpists who permeate the American establishment from top to bottom. Does this look like the familiar “Nanai boys fight,” which replaces the political struggle in the “most democratic country” for decades? Yes, they are already in the throat of each other almost ready to cling to! Internal instability, combined with destabilizing behavior in the international arena of the American leadership (which also grows from administration to administration), negatively affects US policy and the importance of America for allies and opponents. Todd believes that solving these problems requires experienced leadership, investment in human capital, organizational adaptability, and the revision of the inherited legal framework for relations between civilian and military personnel and circles.
The crisis of competence and the crisis of adequacy
According to Todd, at the senior management level, decisions on national security issues require recommendations and decisions from informed, experienced and experienced elected officials, interdepartmental leaders, and especially military elites with foresight. Like, they anticipate and consider the approaches of the entire US government to solving strategic issues. Otherwise, there is a risk of an unhealthy imbalance in the use of national power and the civil-military balance of power.
Maintaining US international importance requires stable and reliable investments, presence and interaction with allies and partners, and adequate behavior in relations with rivals (like Russia and China, obviously). If the international environment is an arena of rivalry between superpowers and great powers, then the allies should not question the stability of alliances in the face of stressful situations and threats. The “stability” of the NATO alliance is especially well demonstrated during the coronavirus crisis, when member countries tear off ventilation equipment, masks, gowns, medicines from each other’s throats, essentially engaged in confiscations and piracy and generally behave at the level of “brothers” from 90s in Russia and the former USSR. Moreover, the United States in this "medical piracy" occupy a leading role. But the colonel clearly wrote the article before all this stories.
According to Todd, in addition to the complex international situation in the world, a revolution is taking place in the military sphere. The rapid development of robotics, augmented reality, unmanned weapons systems, hypersonic technologies, space and cyberspace capabilities, artificial intelligence and cloud computing informatics accelerates the political process and command and requires an increasingly high rate of decision-making. Here we can partially agree: there is no revolution, but a certain qualitative transition is taking place, and it again raises the question of quick and correct decision-making and command of troops and forces.
The US’s internal problems, according to the author, include political polarization within the country, weakening of diplomatic influence outside it, the emergence of new political forces and figures (Trump?) And a powerful military community that often wipes away from decision-making, but its influence is still growing . It is not very clear how this combines. Unless it is a question of the fact that the politicized part of the military elite is involved in decision-making, but almost no one consults with real military professionals - this is the case in the United States and has been massively true in recent decades. These problems often interfere with decisions of the country's top military-political leadership (PPR), cause chaos, and lead to confusion in politics and economics. Again, a fairly robust assessment.
The global challenges facing the United States include the destabilizing foreign policy of the United States and a number of the leading forces of the planet - Russia and China, as well as, obviously, Iran, North Korea, the list is obviously incomplete. This gives rise to an uncoordinated response to international problems and increased political instability. This spoils relations with allies and partners and paralyzes a coordinated response to threats to national security. The result of this is the perception of leadership by the United States as inadequate and shameful, which is challenged by powerful rivals, not limited in their ability to weaken American power abroad. Well, of course, again the fables about "American leadership" and the "great mission", it can be seen that even Americans adequately assessing reality just need to meet strongly on the face of their illusions about the table of reality in order to cure these dangerous misconceptions.
"Civil Elites" sink to the bottom
Within the United States, the political environment is characterized by constant lies at all levels, a loss of public confidence and the "cogs" of the governing system in leadership. The opportunist views and polarization of opinions, on the other hand, are also strong. Under political conditions characterized by partisanship and polarization, presidents historically use the “administrative management strategy,” as the author called it. This approach centralizes control in the White House, as presidents appoint politically loyal leaders throughout the bureaucratic vertical to ensure that their political agenda is implemented. Moreover, this applies not only to domestic policy, but also to issues of national security and foreign policy.
According to Todd, the drop in the level of work of the US State Department over the past 75 years after the Second World War is very clearly visible and well documented. Without exception (!) The presidents are consistently dissatisfied with the State Department and are forced to assert greater control over their foreign policy agenda. Today, the State Department is in crisis and is struggling for its need and relevance, Todd believes, since the level of competence of his top leaders (those who are political figures and appointed by the president and his administration) is lower and lower, and the morale of staff at the lower levels of this vertical is low.
With the decline of the State Department, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of appointments of new politicians who do not have diplomatic, intelligence, national or military experience. Moreover, US ambassadors were previously appointed to various unimportant countries, in fact, for money (the more he poured into the election funds of the future winner of the White House race, the warmer he received the post of ambassador). Little has changed here since the time of O. Henry - remember his cycle “The Noble Rogue” and the episode when Messrs. Peters and Tucker tried to buy a sheriff’s place for their friend, but they were deceived, and he got the post of postmaster. Which their employer then exchanged for the sheriff. But for more than 10 years, the practice of appointing ambassadors of such frankly incompetent people in diplomacy for money and to key countries like Germany has flourished. Unless they appoint China or Russia according to different principles, but the ambassadors in Russia do not become more competent — we see this very well as their quality and their work are falling from administration to administration. Of course, in the days of the USSR, there was also no more reasonable, of course, practice of appointing ambassadors of various fined party leaders, who were almost no good, moving from the post of first secretary of the regional committee in the province. But for them the embassy secretaries and other career diplomats "dragged the strap" (who dragged and drag her for the "close and distant neighbors" from the intelligence agencies). But, as a rule, they did not send such responsible comrades to serious countries in the USSR.
The number of members of the Congress who served in the army has also fallen, the author laments, moreover, sharply, when compared with the 1970s. The Senate, apparently, is not taken into consideration by Todd - there are practically life-long posts that are second only to their children, there are plenty of non-replaceable senators, and among them there are families with and without military tradition.
Political ties, fundraising, fraud and an open appeal to the most partisan elements of any political agenda of the party in the aggregate created consistent cohorts of politically connected elected officials with little understanding of theories, history, realities and nuances of national security, foreign policy and strategic military affairs. Simply put, the farther, the more illiterate dropouts come to power in America. But not because the cooks, who were allowed to rule the state, but for other reasons. These novice politicians have little or no executive experience at the federal level. The experience they possess is of little importance for governing the country. They nominally occupy important posts, not knowing about their duties, and are unable to wisely make important decisions and resolve issues facing them. These trends create a vacuum of leadership and a vacuum of knowledge and a vacuum of power that reduces the value and importance of civilians in the process of developing key policy elements. According to the author, there is a "default" of civil authorities, which has not yet been announced.
But what about the military elites?
At the same time, Todd believes that, unlike the incompetence of the civil authorities and elites, the professionalism of military elites has increased dramatically. And, they say, accordingly, the military elites willingly accept the growing "Praetorian role" in the government. It is about the role that the Praetorians played in the late Roman Empire, where they did not miss participation in any conspiracy to change power, and became both a means and an instrument for the construction of new emperors. With increased professionalism, their military elites came to the conclusion that they are more experienced, hardened and mature than civilian counterparts. Novice politicians no longer have the right to make mistakes in decisions on national security issues that threaten the lives of military personnel, according to these elites.
Honestly, the thesis of a certain sharp increase in the competence of the US military elites seems to be far-fetched so that their ears are stretched in the manner of a hare. Practically all decisions of the USA military-industrial complex that have been adopted in recent years on military and national security issues were made not without the direct participation of the “military elites,” that is, the generals. And take steps like withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, which did not lead to the creation of any combat-capable system capable of solving the tasks that were proclaimed adequate? .. Is it possible that in Moscow they can think so, because it was Russia’s hands that were untied as in the creation of a number of air defense-missile defense systems that were previously banned, as well as in the creation of striking means, which was justified by the exit from the missile defense system and the need to “break through” the missile defense system that never appeared (regardless of their real purpose). And the way out of the INF Treaty? And what about the hypersonic “race” begun by the Americans and successfully played by them? But the intervention in Syria, or, say, the war in Afghanistan, which led to peace with a former sworn enemy, who, in fact, was given carte blanche to take power in the country? What about Iraq? Maybe a leapfrog of artillery programs or BMP creation programs, or the circus that was organized in the field of small arms weapons for the army - signs of the highest adequacy? In general, what is the highest competence of military elites Todd talks about? One can only assume that against the backdrop of the decline of civilian elites, some of the military do not look so degraded. And we can say that so far the middle link, all these “sensible majors” and “active lieutenant colonels,” are quite professional, but as for the whole generals, it’s hard to agree with the American.
Self-esteem over civilians is not always justified
Todd believes military elites believe they are more experienced and better trained leaders, managers, and planners in the context of national security and military-political issues. They control huge resources to influence change. They have a global presence and powerful networks. Their military culture and mentality, in his opinion, are exclusively focused on decision-making with immediate, visible consequences for policy purposes. Finally, military elites believe that they are morally superior to civilian counterparts. They do not care about the change of political winds, electoral politics and political heritage. This, of course, is not an exact depiction of reality - it is they themselves who think so of themselves.
Military elites are inherently political. They behave in accordance with their significant ambitions and political beliefs. They are increasingly identifying themselves with political parties, ideologies and are openly participating in political activities. However, military elites may suffer from political “tunnel thinking”, bias, a misunderstanding of the nuances, and a misunderstanding of the elements of national power in the political process. The result of this state of affairs is the decision-making process in the field of national security and US foreign policy, aimed at formulating, coordinating and integrating elements of national power in the interests of achieving national goals and objectives. Politicians and political appointees are suppressed. Unprecedented delegation of authority to military elites and excessive reliance on military power are consistent with the expansion of administrative management strategies, an increase in the number of political actors and competing institutions that are underfunded, undersourced, underserved and, according to some estimates, poorly managed. What is detrimental to government policy as a whole.
Understanding the requirements of aggressive competition between superpowers and great powers requires experienced leadership, investment in human capital, organizational adaptability and effective civilian-military structures that emphasize the control of society over the military. Unfortunately, many politicians are perceived by the military elites as risk averse, irresponsible, incapable of making decisions quickly and not responding to the revolution in military affairs and competition in the "gray zones" of the constant conflict of superpowers and world significant forces, which is below the threshold of a real war. Apparently, the American is talking about those very hybrid conflicts.
To be continued ...