Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Grand Strategy for Progressives, Lorelei Kelly, Democracy Arsenal, 05-04-06

This short post from the Democracy Arsenal is about what progressives and the military can learn from each other, and how they could become allies by forging a new civil-military relationship post-9/11. Democracy Arsenal, 'a blog devoted to opinion, commentary, and sparring on US foreign policy and global affairs,' is part of the Security and Peace Initiative, which is a joint project of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the New Century Foundation.

The military can learn from progressives' inclusive and liberal understanding of society to improve their new types of post-Cold War missions, involving important aspects of nation-building:

First of all, progressives, with their populist bent and their intuition about the benefits of broadly inclusive liberal society -- have much to contribute to the kinds of missions that the military has embarked upon since the end of the Cold War. Even the Weekly Standard embraces nation-building in this week's cover story.

Conversely, progressives could learn from the military on how to improve their strategic thinking, by systematically drawing the crucial distinctions between strategy, tactics, and operations, that constitute grand strategy only if coherently articulated:

Progressives, on the other hand, could use a few lessons in thinking about battle plans and the military conceptualization of Grand Strategy with its subdivisions of strategy, operations and tactics. Grand Strategy is a broad and long-term theme -- like containment during the Cold War. Strategy, operations and tactics breaks this theme down into more manageable pieces. This way of thinking, both broad and simultaneous, might be helpful for a group of citizens who often mistake tactics (public protest) for strategy (600 page outline on world peace) and vice versa.

Indeed, what we at The Progressive Strategies Project have found in our review of contributions to progressive strategy, is that - with few exceptions - most authors and organizations use the term 'strategy' synonymously and interchangeably with goals and vision or simply with policy, typically without even addressing tactics and operations, much less resources and the likely response of adversaries.

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