Our Security Strategy ?!

My weekend homework for blogging. This post has piqued my interest and I think it will focus in on a number of points which are crucial. Of particular interest there is a 50+ page paper by the White House highlighting and stating to Congress our current National Security Strategy. The first link in the linked piece is to a downloadable document which of primary interest. In reading a statement like that one has to read it twice to avoid falling into the Satan’s Hermeneutic trap. One should read this first adopting and trying to fit in and understand within the context of the writer what points he is trying to make and his argument. In that reading when one encounters points which are troubling or incomplete … it an exercise for the reader to supply possible and likely solutions which perhaps were either overlooked or assumed. This is the part of reading which is only typically done by and between sympathetic parties. The second reading is adversarial and is aimed at finding and highlighting the essential flaws in the understanding or thesis of the writer. Many of these points are made already in the piece linked and are a key point in why this document might be interesting. Why?

  • One fundamental flaw pointed out is Mr Obama’s tendency to academic modes of practice. That is talking the correct talk, but lacking follow through and any serious commitment to the same.
  • Another flaw is Mr Obama’s (and his administration’s) lack of general expertise in executive positions. For example, in the linked piece note Mr Levy has noted an implicit (or even explicit) assumption of mercantilism as a working and useful economic model for today’s economy. Now it is highly likely that his economic team advising him on matters of national and international economic affairs wouldn’t make that sort of mistake. Apparently however, there is nobody who might easily catching those sorts of mistakes in the room when overall security strategies are being crafted. 
  • In Mr Obama’s numerous foreign addresses there seemed to be a number of flaws and defenders pointed out that an over-arching strategy was in play but never offered any suggestions what that strategy might be. Well, this document should give us that. Why for example, does is he so short with our allies. Why the verbal appeasement and praise for our putative enemies? This document should clear that up.

Anyhow, I’m not diving into flaws or other points yet. I haven’t read the paper … even once and I’m going to read it twice … and take notes. My discussion will follow at the tail end of the weekend.

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  1. Boonton says:

    I’d be curious to know more detail about the charge of mercantilism.

  2. Mark says:

    From the linked post:

    The administration’s rhetorical embrace of trade now also carries the new taint of its fervent mercantilism.

    “We will see a greater emphasis on exports that we can build, produce, and sell all over the world, with the goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2014. This is ultimately an employment strategy, because higher exports will support millions of well-paying American jobs, including those that service innovative and profitable new technologies.”

    The exclusive focus on exports misses the value of imports to consumers and the globally integrated nature of production these days (trade in component parts). It also begs the question of why others should open their markets to us, if we are only interested in exports. Mercantilism is hardly a novelty in U.S. trade policy, but it is not usually this blatant.

    Is the reference to mercantilism.

  3. Mark says:

    Oh, I found a better source for the pdf. Here.

  4. Boonton says:

    Doubling exports doesn’t imply holding imports constant. Mercantilism isn’t increasing exports, its increasing a trade surplus thereby accumulating stockpiles of other people’s money (or in the old days gold). The goal of doubling exports isn’t that unrealistic given a recovery will drive up both exports and imports around the world.

  5. Mark says:

    You’re likely more expert on economics than I but my reading was that the key to mercantalism is that today’s economy isn’t measured best by looking at imports or exports per se.

  6. Boonton says:

    Well exports and imports are a relatively minor part of the US’s economy….but not so much for other economies. Lots of economies do grow through exports (see Japan from WWII to today). That is a perfectly valid strategy and isn’t by itself mercantilism.

  7. Mark says:


    Well exports and imports are a relatively minor part of the US’s economy

    … and what economy are we talking about? The US. Hmmm. You make a valid point which is critical of the document in question.