Shadow Government

No Civil-Military Crisis, No Problem? Not Quite.

Yesterday, I explained why General Martin Dempsey's promise to give his best professional military advice to the president, regardless of whether the president wanted to hear it, did not constitute a civil-military crisis. But just because there is no crisis of "generals out of control" does not mean that all is hunky-dory with civil-military relations in the Obama administration. I worry that the halting way the administration has crafted its new war strategy could contribute to a lingering civil-military relations problem.

Continue Reading

Civil-Military Disagreement? Yes. Crisis? No.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey made headlines yesterday when he told the Senate Armed Services committee that his professional military advice to President Obama would be based on conditions on the ground. Framed that way, the story has more than a bit of dog-bites-man feel to it and, quite frankly, it does not warrant the breathless coverage it has thus far received. The headline provided by the Daily Beast is particularly egregious, "Can Obama Keep his Generals in Check in the War Against ISIS?"

Continue Reading

Beijing Memo: What America's Halfhearted 'Pivot' to Asia Must Look Like from Afar

MEMORANDUM: Strategic Planning

To: Central Military Commission Chairman, Xi Jinping

From: Vice Chairman, Gen. Fan Changlong / Vice Chairman, Gen. Xu Qiliang / Minister of National Defense, Gen. Chang Wanquan / Chief of PLA General Staff, Gen. Fang Fenghui

Continue Reading

Scotland and the Centrifugal Force of Globalization

The possibility that Scotland may vote this Thursday to withdraw from the United Kingdom threatens to upset some of the most basic economic and political structures of the current world order. It is remarkable that this tumult could emerge from a region with a population just over half that of metropolitan Chicago. It is also remarkable that this could happen at a time of supposedly inexorable globalization.

Continue Reading

If Somalia Is a Success, What Does Failure Look Like?

President Obama laid out a strategy for "degrading and destroying" the Islamic State (IS) on Wednesday night. He called for targeted airstrikes, training local security forces, and more intelligence. Interestingly, he said, "This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us while supporting partners on the front lines is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years." The analogy with Somalia is troubling because it suggests the Obama administration is committed to endless military strikes with no political strategy.

Continue Reading