Military's strategists promote 'soft power'
Portland visit - Navy, Marines and Coast Guard to stress war prevention, admirals say
Friday, February 22, 2008
By RICHARD READ
U.S. military leaders in Portland on Thursday said a new strategy stressing international cooperation was not intended as a departure from Bush administration policies that have emphasized a troop surge.
Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers said they would emphasize war prevention, humanitarian assistance and international cooperation.
"Although our forces can surge when necessary to respond to crises, trust and cooperation cannot be surged," says a summary of their new policy, entitled "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower."
Despite the new directions and the reference to a surge -- a term associated most recently with President Bush for Iraq tactics -- the strategy is not a jab at the administration, Navy Vice Adm. John Morgan Jr. said during an interview.
[THIS IS NOT CERTAIN. HOWEVER, WHAT IS CERTAIN, IS THAT THE 'NEW' POLICY IS ACTUALLY AN 'OLD' POLICY RECYCLED FROM THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATIONS. THAT POLICY, WHICH IS FORMERLY KNOWN AS 'MILITARY OPERATIONS OTHER THAN WAR', FOCUSED ON FOSTERING INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW COOPERATION. DURING THE CLINTON ERA, U.S. MILITARY RESOURCES, INCLUDING THOSE OF THE U.S. NAVY, HAD BEEN SYSTEMATICALLY RE-ORIENTATED TOWARDS ENSURING MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP AS PART OF AN INTEGRATED AND 'REVISED' U.S. NATIONAL MILIATARY/POLITICAL STRATEGY. ARGUABLY, TO THE EXTENT THIS MODE OF THINKING CONTINUES TO BE REFLECTED IN TODAY'S RECYCLED THINKING, IT ARGUABLY IMPAIRS THE SOUND PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT OF THE U.S. NAVY'S OFFICER CORPS (WHICH CURRENTLY SUPPORTS UNCLOS RATIFICATION), AND WILL CONTINUE TO INTERFERE WITH THE U.S. MARITIME SERVICES' PRIMARY ROLE OF PROJECTING AMERICAN POWER ABROAD IN ORDER TO PREVENT AND/OR TO RESOLVE INTERNATIONAL CONFLICTS AND TO ENSURE THE SECURITY OF THE AMERICAN HOMELAND. SEE: Myth & Realities # 2 Concerning UN Law of the Sea Treaty: U.S. Naval Freedom of Navigation and Avoidance of LOST Tribunal Jurisdiction, Despite Europe’s Aggressive Use of the Precautionary Principle? at fn#s 30-32, AT: http://itssdjournalunclos-lost.blogspot.com/2008/01/myth-realities-2-concerning-un-law-of.html .]
"I'm confident that we're in sync with this administration," said Morgan, citing approaches advocated by State Department officials. "We follow their lead."
[THE FACT THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT ADVOCATES THIS POLICY IS REASON ALONE FOR CONCERN].
Military officials picked Portland as the first West Coast stop in a series of national "conversations." They invited community leaders to respond to the new strategy, which goes beyond traditional sea combat, in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent wars.
[THIS IS NOT LIKELY TRUE. THE REASON MILITARY OFFICIALS HAVE PICKED PORTLAND IS BECAUSE OF ITS ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP ROLE. PORTLAND OREGON HAS THE DUBIOUS DISTINCTION OF BEING ONLY ONE OF THREE MAJOR U.S. CITIES, ALL LOCATED ALONG THE WEST COAST, THAT HAVE ADOPTED THE EUROPE UNION'S HAZARD, NOT RISK-BASED PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AS MUNICIPAL LAW. THE OTHERS, NOT SURPRISINGLY, ARE SEATTLE, WA and SAN FRANCISCO, CA - THE HOME DISTRICT OF THE SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES].
About 200 members of the World Affairs Council of Oregon and other organizations attended the one-day event at a downtown hotel. Invitations were sent to more than 2,000 community leaders, academics and people interested in maritime issues, said Coast Guard Rear Adm. David Pekoske.
The strategy emphasizes the use of "soft power" in an approach that could appeal more to doves than hawks.
But defense analysts in Washington, D.C., agreed it would be a mistake to interpret the strategy, crafted before the current presidential campaign, as an attempt by the military to prepare for a potential Democratic administration.
Defense Department officials have recently elevated missions such as peacekeeping to a "purported par" with war-fighting, said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank.
"When they start building warships that hold food packets as conveniently as they hold missiles, I'll find the claim more compelling," O'Hanlon said, "at which point I'll also probably object to it, since militaries are first and foremost about combat."
What's especially significant about the strategy is that the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are collaborating, instead of duplicating or even competing, said Stephen Pietropaoli, executive director of the Navy League of the United States, a nonprofit supporting the sea services.
Morgan, 57, participated in the first strikes on Afghanistan after 9/11 as battle-group commander aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, in charge of about 10,000 personnel. He said war prevention and international cooperation were the most significant new points in the strategy.
A University of Virginia economics graduate, Morgan said U.S. forces at sea secure the flow of commerce. "We can never take that for granted," said Morgan, noting Portland's heavy reliance on international trade.
Morgan received applause when he endorsed U.S. ratification of The Law of the Sea Treaty, which would govern ocean activities.
That stance appealed to Joella Werlin, a Portland personal historian and World Affairs Council member who attended Thursday's event.
"What an extraordinary experience in a democracy," Werlin said, "that the military is actually asking for public input." Richard Read: 503-294-5135; firstname.lastname@example.org. %%endby%%
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