Monday, October 31, 2016

You Fight Like a Girl

It is a sentence that many girls hear too often growing up in a patriarchal world. You could probably replace “fight” with any verb you’d like and the sentence would still be too familiar. This old adage has many implications for the world that we live in today. It reflects the gender inequalities that, despite much of the positive advances we have made toward improving them, are still very apparent in today’s society. More specifically, these types of sentiments have a large impact on women’s roles in the military and civil-military relations in a broader sense. Women have been officially serving in the military as early as World War I, but have been severely limited in the types of roles in which they are allowed to serve. In 2013, proposals were made to allow women into all combat roles and since then, in 2015, the implementation of these proposals has begun. This is a very large step for women’s equality not only in the military, but in civilian society as well.

Traditional theories of civil-military relations have a lot of merit in these changing dynamics of the military. Samuel Huntington’s The Soldier and the State discusses the different types of influences on and control of the military by civilian society. The two imperatives that Huntington specifically mentions are the functional and societal, functional being that the military operates solely on its duties to protect its homeland and societal being that the military possesses less autonomy, largely influenced by civilian society. It is a balance between these two imperatives that produces the most successful civilian society and military. It is contested, however, that full integration of women in the military, mainly by allowing them to serve in combat roles, will disrupt the balance between the two imperatives of the military.
In one camp are those who believe women are not physically equipped enough to serve as effectively as men in combat roles. In another are those who believe the opposite, and in most cases have witnessed women demonstrate the same very physically challenging qualities as men. One of these people is Michael Baumann, a retired lieutenant colonel who commanded many women in a particularly dangerous area in Baghdad. Baumann originally was in the former camp, believing women were simply not as capable as men to serve in combat roles in the military. However, after leading a number of women into combat and serving alongside them, he switched over and now says that he had no hesitations in believing they were fully capable to perform the same duties as male soldiers and that he had full trust in them.

It is under the societal imperative that women have been able to integrate more fully into the military. However, Huntington warns against this type of subjective control of the military by civilian society. He argues that without the degree of military autonomy that the functional imperative and a more objective control of the military, the military can become less effective. But it is not women serving in combat roles that will threaten the effectiveness of the military. Rather, it is the military’s inability to reflect the realities of society that will ultimately create a significant disconnectedness, which will in turn render it less effective. I acknowledge that the majority of women do not wish to serve in these demanding roles of the military. But allowing those who do will eventually be a necessity for the military.

Hero Worship: The Slayer of Healthy Discourse

               The post-9/11 period in American civil-military relations has proven to be unlike any of its predecessors. In each of the post-war periods of the 20th century, there was public debate as to the future role of the military, necessary strategic reforms within the military, and the proper balance between civilian control and military advice. This debate has been largely absent this time around.

               In the aftermath of World War II, the United States was faced with a serious external threat to its security for the first time since the War of 1812. The birth of the Cold War ushered in a new era of civil-military relations. Alongside this was a reform movement within the armed forces. This not only entailed top down direction, but bottom up refinement.

                After the catastrophic failure to accomplish any of the overarching political or strategic military goals in Vietnam, an activist component within the professional officer corps emerged, pushing for reform and questioning the competence of the previous generation. Such debate can be messy, but it sheds light on organizational problems and opens to floor to those who would bring about necessary change. This activism was fueled by a society that cared deeply, and was affected deeply, by the Vietnam conflict.

                In the wars of the post-9/11 era we have seen none of the activism from within, nor the interest from without. The professional officer corps has been strangely silent, though we are concluding the longest war in our history and have suffered immense strategic and political failure. The money (albeit a slightly smaller amount), keeps flowing, and military leaders are riding the wave of popularity while avoiding any real scrutiny. Reforms have focused on social issues and budget cutting, but not on strategic accountability and functional discourse. The military isn’t learning from its failures, because nobody will acknowledge them.

                A healthy civil-military relationship is one that fosters debate between the two communities in order to maintain accountability within the strategic leadership, identify reforms when necessary, and breed innovation. Within a democracy, this cannot and will not happen absent a clear understanding of the military by the general populace. Such a relationship comes from connectedness. The growing chasm between the people and the military has effectively allowed it to run on autopilot, which has, in turn, killed discourse both within and about the armed forces.

                While there may not be a crisis of American civil-military relations, the current situation we find ourselves in is one in which the conversations are decidedly one-sided. Military leadership has no real need to advocate as strongly on its own behalf, because it is almost always ensured a large degree of support from law makers. Though the relationship is functional, it is no longer fruitful. A healthy perception of the military, one in which there is admiration, but acknowledgment of its faults, helps to keep civilian policy makers skeptical. This, in turn, forces the organizations to police themselves.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gen. Dunford Provides Leadership

It is as if Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford knew that our National Security Policy class was discussing civil-military relations this week. On Monday, Gen. Dunford wrote a Medium blog post in which he encouraged his subordinates to “guard against allowing our institution to become politicized, or even perceived as being politicized, by how we conduct ourselves during engagements with the media.” Gen. Dunford rightly understands that his role “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” trumps (pun intended) partisanship. Mr. Dunford has provided a welcome reminder that the military should conduct themselves with professionalism in carrying out their duty, regardless of their  personal political views or the political make-up in the Executive and Congressional branches. These are timely and important words from the Marine Corps general.

In the midst of a chaotic election cycle that is generating a lot of hysteria and panic, Gen. Dunford's blog encourages the military to "keep calm and carry on." And in all actuality, the majority of the military and defense establishment is most certainly worried about a Trump presidency. In fact, many have threatened to resign if Trump wins. See here, and here, and here. Yet, "summoning up all his self-discipline against that unmanly emotion, panic", Gen. Dunford has conducted himself just as he should.

Indeed, Gen. Dunford's blog post exemplifies the military leadership we need during this election — something that seems to be increasingly rare. For throughout the past year, both Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Party nominee Donald Trump have been courting voters by touting their military supporters, which is threatening to blur the line between civil and military relations. We have witnessed two retired Generals publicly campaign for the candidate they support. As Mackubin Thomas Owens, a retired colonel in the Marine Corps reserve put it, "The military is not a partisan prize, and it should not be used for this."

Former Generals Mike Flynn (Left) and John Allen (Right) have publicly endorsed Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respecively.
In The Soldier and the State, Samuel Huntington argues that their are two approaches to civilian control of the military: subjective and objective. The former involves a close interaction between military and political elites whereas the latter advocates for a hard distinction between military organizations and civilian.  Huntington favored the objective approach and makes a great argument as why it should be so. Yet, one of the essential components of objective control is that "civilian control is more secure when the military is politically neutral." When the military interferes in a civilian election, the objective control model is compromised. Current Military leaders should listen to Gen. Dunford.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Culture Wars: Cold War 2.0

            In light of the recent DDoS attack that suspiciously relied on Chinese products, let’s discuss the renewed cold war. The US faces increasing hostilities with China and Russia. Chinese leaders have been preparing for this confrontation for a long time. Cultural warfare and psychological warfare are a few of the strategies discussed in Unrestricted Warfare. Written in 1999 by two Air Force colonels and political officers in the People’s Liberation Army, the memo describes the costliness of direct military action and establishes unconventional means the Chinese government could take to undermine United States dominance in international affairs. Under the state capitalist model, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) employs such strategies to extend the Party’s influence globally. The Chinese government seeks to control the world’s perception of China and the Party. To achieve this goal, the CCP has intelligently used its economic power to gain influence. The Chinese government seeks tighter control of the internet globally. More importantly, China is influencing Hollywood and buying global media firms.
Post-apocalyptic nuclear fallout? Might as well be.
            The US is in the process of relinquishing control of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to an international organization. IANA regulates domain name registrations for websites, handles the Domain Name System (DNS) to ensure internet users are directed to the websites they intend to visit, and also handles internet protocols; the recent attack worked by targeting a server hosting many DNS. The integrity of DNS is critical because it is one of the primary systems manipulated for state censorship that can block access to specific websites. ICANN is only a piece of the CCP’s overall plan. Chinese leaders have drafted an authoritarian set of laws that governs every facet of the internet. The CCP has formed domestic institutions or gained control over international bodies to press these new laws for the internet through the United Nations, through domestic enforcement including on foreign companies inside China, and through organizations formed to work directly with major technology companies abroad.
Grab them by the cash (Forgive me).
            The CCP not only seeks control over the infrastructure but is gaining control over the content of media as well. China increasingly decides what Hollywood can and cannot produce. Chinese companies are now buying key businesses in the American film industry, while many American filmmakers are partnering directly with Chinese companies and working directly with CCP offices to censor and alter their films. Hollywood studios have been open to the CCP’s censorship because they believe there is more opportunity in the growing Chinese market over the declining American one. McCarthy must be spinning in his grave. The CCP cleverly manipulates Hollywood’s desire for access by limiting how many foreign films are allowed in, even though this quota system violates rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Only a few dozen foreign films may be shown in China each year.

Tony may be American, but his suit was made in China. 
            Hollywood studios may also work directly with Chinese companies on the films to gain market share. Taking this approach means the films aren’t classified as foreign films. Since the movies still must pass censorship review and Chinese law requires most companies in China to have a CCP liaison, this option grants CCP officials even more direct control. And at the higher levels of the Chinese regime, the CCP has clearly stated its interest in using films and other forms of information and entertainment to strategically push its own agenda. In October of 2012, Chinese President Hu Jintao stated that China must strengthen its cultural production to defend against the West’s assault on the country’s culture and ideology. The President drew a sharp line between the cultures of the West and China and went so far as to say that the two sides were engaged in an escalating war.

            In conclusion, the CCP, using China’s enormous economic power, has made a concerted effort to undermine the US. Therefore, US officials should make immediate moves to guard against further creeping Chinese incursions. Despite boasting the most powerful economy on earth, the United States too often reaches for the gun instead of the purse in its foreign policy. US leaders should protect the American national values of liberty and democracy. First, the US should reestablish its leadership role in protecting an open internet to promote the freedom of speech internationally. Other measures could include direct incentives for Hollywood to reverse its international trend and instead produce movies promoting American values. Above all, US leaders should develop a national policy of economic statecraft that would protect American national values and promote the respect for human rights at home and abroad.

This Song is called "Americans Do Nukes Better"

best choice ever. whether to blow up megaton or not. Ynu' lost Karma! Hull that, my friend, is beautiful.. BLOW UP CITY WITH INNOCENT PEOPLE IN IT USING NUCLEAR BOMB LEVEL OUT YOUR KARMA BY GIVING WATER TO HOBOS
Oh well, I'm sure it'll be fine.
In American Civil Military Relations: The Soldier and the State in a New Era, Christopher Gibson highlights the unique structure for control of nuclear weapons in the United States. The civilian Department of Energy manages and maintains the nuclear arsenal, and the Department of Defense handles the launch process. This structure is a compromise that has roots in longstanding tension between civilian scientists and military officials.

Among American nuclear weapons policy experts, there are a some widely-accepted norms. Among these are a few central ideas:
  • The use of nuclear weapons must be a civilian-initiated decision because the Constitution gives civilian government primacy over the military
  • Expert military and civilian perspectives are paramount to WMD strategy because nuclear weapons have both martial and political implications
  • The launch process should follow a clear, standardized chain of command that must originate at the highest level of government because nuclear weapons carry far reaching implications in the international community
  • The use of nuclear weapons has staggering moral implications due to the potential for mass destruction in a short period of time and as such, WMDs should be a tool of last resort
  • Nuclear weapons have as much (or more) value as symbolic political tools as they do as actual weapons because of the international culture that has been constructed around the weapons
These ideas are not exemplified by every state in possession of nuclear weapons. Nor have they always been present here in the US. Part of the structure that ensures nukes don't go off on accident are Permissive Action Links. PALs are failsafe plans that allow for the verification that launch orders are legitimate. As terrifying as it sounds, PALs are relatively new, and not all nuclear-armed states have advanced ones.

There are also serious concerns that some nuclear-armed states are prone to put command of nuclear forces with military leaders in the field. This is particularly worrisome because (a) military leaders might be more likely to use tactical nukes when under serious pressure mid-combat and (b) though these countries are not bound by the standards of civilian control of the military, their nukes carry the same international implications as ours.

As fun as it looks, I would prefer not to...

So, the US may have some issues with our nuclear arsenal and its management. We may even be the only nation to use nukes in aggression. But we remain the global leader of responsible nuclear policies such as PAL reform and disarmament. This is due in no small part to our embrace of the values described above. These values have helped with restraint and peace so far, and even if some politicians disagree with them, they're the best ideas humans have come up with yet for the responsible stewardship of such destructive weapons.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I went to vote and all I got was this stupid sticker.

Oh Election Day. The most important day of our executive quadrennial. I just cannot wait perform my most important civic duty on what will likely be a bone-cold November day on the second day of the American work week during work hours after standing in line for probably over an hour and make my voice heard for our supremely democratic elections where every vote matters (enough prepositional phrases there, bub?).

Lol. Oooookay.

Image result for i'm just a billThe United States government is a Federal, Presidential, Constitutional Republic. Meaning, we have a central government (federal) that is headed by a president (presidential) and governed by a constitution (constitutional), all run by elected representatives; by the public, for the public (republic).

America is great at elections. We have the best elections. Believe me. We are the land of democracy, after all. So it only makes sense that this great land uses a most democratic process to democratically elect the leader of the democratic world, and I am so glad that we do.

Image result for election memesSpeaking of elections, I want to talk about the electoral college (it even has the word "elect" in it! this could not be more perfect!). When we all (and I say all because I know we're all going to vote) tap that touchscreen or archaically poke a hole through a piece of paper (who even?), our vote is tallied up and counted along with every other American to determine who becomes the president of the United States.

I can't even sarcasm anymore.

Image result for your vote doesn't matter memeOur vote actually goes to tell our "electors" in the electoral college from our state how we want them to vote. In every state but Maine and Nebraska, the candidate who gets a plurality of votes gets those electoral votes. The candidate who gets 270 electoral votes wins.

Why does the electoral college exist? Why add this extra layer of "democracy" to the presidential election? The founding fathers were a bit afraid of democracy. It makes sense; they came from the monarchy of England. They also seemed to fear the "tyranny of the majority", where in minority opinions are trounced out by the majority class.

This isn't to say that we don't have a democratic government. So many officials are subject to a direct election. On the other hand, Article III allows for a supreme court justice to be appointed for life, and the only executive officials subject to any type of election are the president and vice president. Now that we have an election that has caused such turmoil, many more people than usual are learning about the democratic process. Some may argue that the electoral college helps to balance an innately unbalanced system where a more populated region could always help elect one party. It can also be argued that the electoral college allows for an even playing field in that candidates cannot (should not..) entirely ignore a state due to its low population. In opposition, I'd actually argue that the low population states are already essentially ignored (cue Wyoming).
Image result for election memes

I'd just like to see the popular vote at work in our nation. It seems to have made some pretty good decisions in the past (sup Gore?) and I think it would be a good idea to give Americans a little more confidence in their vote. Maybe we wouldn't have such a deplorable turn out rate when compared to other democratic nations. At least the UK voted during Brexit. I would love to live in a world where votes that do not align with a state's majority party still count in the election. Maybe one day our votes will actually matter. I definitely don't think they do right now.