(This is the third #NoApologyBoockClub post. The second post is here.)
Having argued the case in the first two chapters of No Apology of why America should seek to restore and maintain superpower status, Romney uses the next two chapters, The Pursuit of Power and Pathways for American Power, to talk about the external threats to America and the specifics of how America can restore it’s influence and leadership.
…in the real world, there will always be those with more power and those with less, and it’s far better if those nations that hold power are “good.”
The Pursuit of Power
Of the four competing strategies in the world – China, Russia, Jihad, America and the west – only the America & its allies are reducing its military and defense capabilities. The other three are actively pursuing power.
Since the mid-80s, China reduced its number of soldiers while doubling military spending again and again. That money is going towards modernizing its army, investing in defense industrial capacity, in submarines, in ballistic missile technology, space-warfare and cyber-warfare. Romney notes two things: first, although China still lags behind the USA in military power, it is catching up. Second, they have not (yet) built up their military to challenge the USA head to head, instead they have shaped it to gain control of the theaters of import to them – Asia, as a stepping stone to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. (The recent ongoing showdown with Japan over the Senkaku Islands is one of these moves, imo.)
“It is in our best interest to draw China into the circle of responsible nations and, at the same time, to strengthen our capacity to intervene in Asia, if necessary, to prevent China from imposing its will on independent nations.”
Putin calls the dissolution of the Soviet Union “the greatest political catastrophe of the twentieth century” and he is taking steps to rebuild what was lost. “He has embarked on the authoritarian path traveled by Russia’s past tyrants – complete with the aggregation of personal power for himself, awards of wealth to cronies, suppression of free speech, attempted intimidation of the West, nationalization of key industries, and invaded Georgia*, an independent nation.” Putin is funding Russia’s return to global player status with Russia’s rich energy and natural resources. Putin’s foreign policy shows that he is focused on controlling energy pipelines and rebuilding alliances with repressive regimes, specially energy-rich ones. He is rebuilding Russia’s military and holding on to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. (*Georgia’s new President is rumored to be a Kremlin plant)
While China and Russia are looming threats, the ongoing danger to America’s security are the radical, violent jihadists. Radical fundamental Muslims – Islamists- are estimated to number about 200 million (some believe this is a very low estimate and taht they may be a significant minority of the Muslim population). All violent jihadists are Islamists, but not all Islamists are violent jihadists. While most Islamists do not condone the tactics of violent, jihad, they do share the shame vision. Every non-Muslim state is to be removed from all land once under Muslim control. All these lands must be united under on religious caliphate and eventually Islam will conquer the whole world.
The jihadists view America as the primary obstacle to their goals and a nation bent on denying Allah’s will. Therefore America is their primary target – it must be destroyed. Islamists view freedom as contrary to submitting to the will of Allah, and therefore evil.
Allah decides who will win a war and who will lose it. And most important, Allah will always grant victory to Muslims if they are sufficiently strict in adherence to all aspects of Islamic law and custom.
It is in this context that we have to understand that Islamist-controlled Iran is not just a threat to us – it is our enemy. Iran funds and directs Hezbollah’s efforts to destabilize Lebanon and attack Israel. Iran funds and equips any radical Islamist radical willing to strike at the West.
Pathways for American Power
“National power compels, convinces, or motivates other nations to act or to forbear from acting.” There is soft (economic, diplomatic, persuasive) power and hard (military) power.
America should have a lot of soft power – our economy dwarfs that of any other nation- and yet we do not use that potential influence to our advantage. One example is China, which relies on access to our markets for continued political stability. Despite that, we haven’t been able to stop China from supporting Sudan, or from dealing with Iran. Likewise with persuading with popularity – American brands permeate every corner of the world. Americans only make up 4.5% of the world’s population but we donate 12% of global foreign aid – more than any other nation. Yet America’s “popularity and persuasive sway are on the wane.”
A counter example is Hezbollah – it spends only a relatively small amount of money building village schools, clinics, etc within Shia communities in Lebanon, but this has translated into grassroots support for them. Or in Latin America – everyone there has heard of “Operation Miracle” – Fidel Castro’s cataract surgery program. America spends much more on aid in Latin America than Castro, but because his aid is known, branded, and promoted, it is far more effective at winning hearts.
Romney ties this to the cumbersome nature of getting aid effectively and the lack of accountability.
Beyond State Department bureaucracy, who in the United States with authority and power is focused every day on Latin America, for instance, and is responsible for moving its nations toward freedom and free enterprise? …
Our nation’s military once faced a similar problem of accountability gaps…. No one person was responsible was responsible for pursuing our military objectives in a given region.
President Truman (him again!) fixed this by dividing the world into military regions and assigning a single commander to be responsible for each. It’s worked. “Military success and failure are never orphans in the world of the American military.”
Romney wants to use the same model for soft-power – divide the world into regions and out a person in charge. Then have an independent agency do a yearly evaluation based on defined metrics on how the region was progressing. Ideally other allied nations would create similar positions for their areas of influence (Spain – Cuba, France – Lebanon, etc) and our efforts could be coordinated. Romney sees the leveraging of soft power as an urgent need in the face of rising Jihadist sympathies in the Middle East and Africa. (Even more timely now after the Arab Spring, imo.)
Hard power is defined by military might. Romney explains the need for a defense budget necessary to meet the job we are asking our military to fill. He warns against taking various estimates of defense spending out out by third parties at face value, specially when they are comparing our budget to other nations (apples and oranges). He cautions against cutting defense spending out of unwarranted optimism about the prospects of peace – an under-prepared military could cost tens of thousands of lives.
Romney proposes these five missions for our military:
1. Strategic Defense – this relies on credible nuclear deterrence. This is the big stick – “We must convincingly make clear to friends and foes alike what our response will be if any nation or group chooses to use a nuclear device or other weapon of mass destruction.”
2. Counterinsurgency and Land War Capacity – we must be prepared to fight and win land wars and counter-insurgencies. Right now we are over-using our Reservists and National Guard, creating a heavy burden on families. Romney projects the need for at least 100,000 more soldiers and increased ground warfare weapons.
3. Control of the Commons – this means our military must be able to move freely on seas, in the air, and in space. This allows us to protect trade, respond to humanitarian crisis, enhance our credibility to allies and project our power.
4. Defending Against Discontinuities – defense against cyber-threats and anti-satellite warfare, and even EMP attacks. “Space and cyberspace are the twenty-first century’s new battlefields.”
5. Counterinsurgency Forces – Romney holds up the example of small US military teams partnering with the Philippine military to repel the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao as a model for “Special Partnership Forces.” It a model that could be employed in the many countries now battling jihadist insurgents within their borders.
Lastly, there is our Alliances Capacity. We need strong allies, and we need to strengthen our NATO ties and our leadership.
None of this will be easy, nor will it be cheap. But it is necessary in order to secure the freedom upon which our future prosperity and safety rests.