Towards the end of 7 Deadly Scenarios, after 290 pages of doomsday stuff, Andrew Krepinevich offers a few choice words on strategy:
There are numerous barriers to crafting good defense strategy […] One is the government’s tendency to equate strategy with a list of desirable outcomes. Such lists involve little or no discussion of what obstacles stand in the way of achieving these goals or how they might be overcome. Rather than working out how best to employ scarce resources to achieve a challenging security objective, the mere statement of a desire to meet the objective is deemed sufficient.
This is exactly what bothers me about Obama’s new plan to tackle the challenges in Aghanistan and Pakistan. The white paper presents a commendable list of objectives but little in the way of how to achieve them. It’s a sign of how desperate the times are that Obama received plaudits from both the American left and right for merely stating the obvious after eight years of executive denial. As Krepinevich points out, it’s almost as if it were enough to express a desire for an outcome regardless of how far-fetched that outcome is.
Sure, we all want a peaceful “Af-Pak” borderland, and we’d all like a nuke-free world, and it would be great to save the environment and stave off all other disasters. But please — let’s not break out the champagne just because someone says this aloud.