How much value should we place on national security strategy? Strategy is a way for officials to simplify decisions, cut out the bad policy options, and appease the citizenry. The Obama administration’s policy has been largely retrenchment and retreat after the heavy United States military presence in the Middle East. This is understandable considering recent history. Adapting to a new situation can be difficult when firm strategy is made in advance based on the past. Current national security strategy has lead the United States to playing a more passive role in the Middle East conflict with ISIS and the Syrian government.
It is highly debated as to whether pulling out of the region, in the fashion the United States did, was the most pragmatic decision. Now the Unites States faces another predicament in the region that has many complexities, therefore many differing opinions. The question is, how much value should be placed on set out national security strategy? The current strategy may not fit this particular situation and could be diminishing creativity on how to solve the problem. The early 2000’s invasion of Iraq may be seen as a monumental mistake, but that does not necessarily mean an invasion would be an error in this circumstance. It is important to use history as reference for the future and to take public opinion into consideration when making any policy decision. However, if this is taken to an extreme and each decision isn’t taken on a case-by-case basis, a mistake in judgment is likely.
The appropriate approach to the Assad regime, ISIS and other factors in play is still unclear. The “right” approach could be any number of strategies that imitate past and controversial tactics considered harder and more leadership oriented. By laying out a specific strategy based on a limited sphere of conventional opinion, we could be forcing ourselves down a path that may not be a suitable response. This would be the opposite of “rolling with the punches”. Ultimately, national security issues require adaptability and creativity which strategy can sometimes hinder.