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xix Introduction There is increasing evidence that the U.S. national security apparatus, designed for a decades-long great-power conflict, is ill-suited to the needs of the twenty-first century and that the burden has largely fallen to a military designed for other purposes. Military forces for the Cold War were designed to deter, and if necessary defeat, the military forces of an opposing great-power alliance. Rather than the clash of titans—the militaries of major-power alliances colliding on the field of battle—today’s forces are tasked to conduct what the Bush administration called capacity building, the Clinton administration called nation building, the British called operations in support of civil authorities, and the Marine Corps called small wars. This class of intervention requires a deft employment of all instruments of power, not the military instrument in isolation. Prior to World War II, the Department of War and the Department of the Navy were distinct institutions in parallel with the Department of State. To execute the constitutional responsibilities to conduct foreign affairs, the president, through the State and Navy Departments, could employ gunboats and marines for operations below the threshold of declared war—coercive diplomacy and small wars. The War Department stood by with plans to mobilize for war, to raise an army, should Congress declare war. Today’s national security apparatus is defined in the National Security Act of 1947. The act was the product of an extensive examination of shortcomings identified in World War II—a war between great-power alliances. The Navy and War Departments were unified under the new Defense Department. Amendments to the act were made throughout the Cold War—another conflict between great-power alliances. At the end of the xx Introduction Cold War great-power competition, there is little reason to believe that the security system is aligned with the needs of the twenty-first century. An era of great-power conflict ended when the Berlin Wall came down, but great-power conflict will come again. A period between major wars— wars between major powers—is an interwar period. Interwar periods are not peaceful, but they are not characterized by wars between major powers; they are characterized by conflict between major and small powers—small wars. Official Washington failed to recognize the change in the geostrategic environment for what it was, the end of a period of great-power conflict and the beginning of an ugly interwar period. Instead, the system designed for great-power conflict replaced the Soviet Union with China as the threat and continued churning unabated. But commanders in the field immediately were drawn into small wars with a military force ill-suited to the task. More important than the military force structure, major-war thinking was imposed onto small-war problems with less than optimal results. The evidence piled up. Studies from inside the Washington Beltway and beyond drew the same conclusions. Political scientists and practitioners have a name for the condition when disparate interests from within and without government come to the same conclusion at the same time— policy ripeness. The time is ripe to reconsider the design of the country’s national security system. What is the nature of the geostrategic environment, not just the terrorist threat? What strategy best assures the nation’s security in that environment? What instruments of power must be brought to bear? Which agencies of government house those instruments? Are the capabilities resident in government sufficient in mix and scale? And are we able to orchestrate the instruments of power to assure our nation’s security? Formulating national security strategy is the process of answering these questions. Instability in Organizing Principle The difference between major wars and small wars is not measured by the number of forces committed, the number of casualties, or the war’s duration. The Marine Corps’ Small Wars Manual of 1940 provides a definition: Introduction xxi Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable , inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation.1 The manual further identifies characteristic differences between major wars and small wars: Major wars are conducted between “first rate” powers. Small wars are the interventions of a major power into the affairs of a lesser power, typically failed or failing states. “In a major war, diplomatic...


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