Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Bureaucracy of National Security

This past Friday, ex-CIA chief David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill regarding the September 11th attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Petraeus testified that it appeared the attacks were the works of militants linked to al-Qaeda. Several people were critical of Petraeus' testimony, including Rep. Peter King, R-NY. King posited that the testimony was different than what Petraeus reported to lawmakers on September 14th. "He (Petraeus) stated that he thought all along he made it clear that there was significant terrorist involvement, and that is not my recollection of what he told us on September 14th." (CNN)

The government's response to the attacks and how it handled the public relations aspect of the attacks has constantly been under fire for the past two months. Yet, it is also another clear example of the bureaucratic problems lawmakers and government leaders face on a daily basis. Graham Allison, in his famous Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis analysis, discussed the Organizational Process Model and how different groups within the government have different goals. Just like the Army War College this past weekend, every player in the political game has confidential rules it must adhere to and has particular red lines that cannot be crossed no matter what. Rather than negotiate a solution, leaders often times waste valuable time trying to negotiate these red lines.

From this week's class readings, we saw just how expansive the organizational structure of national security institutions really is. This leads one to ponder, "If there did not exist such massive amounts of separate entities, each with their own protocol and special instructions to follow, would the government be able to respond to crisis in a quicker, more efficient way?"

Granted, part of the reason there seems to have been a delayed reaction from the White House during the Benghazi attacks was that there were conflicting reports coming out of Libya. Not to mention the other reports the WH was receiving from Egypt and other predominately Muslim states where more anti-American protests were occurring. Yet the high levels of overlapping that exists in different bodies that we read about is prominent in this case. There were both domestic and international interests, with the State Department and Defense Department each trying to stick to their protocol which at times, conflicted.

Washington could definitely stand to benefit from some type of reorganization. While this will probably never happen, the synchronization of goals for various groups that deal with national security could prevent the U.S. from finding itself in another Benghazi-like situation. Yet, realistically, how many of us think this will actually take place? I'm willing to bet none of us....


No comments: