Objectives, Obstacles and Opportunities for American Grand Strategy in the 21st Century – Final Paper for Dr Andrew Ross 2008

POLS 400R    National Security Strategy and Defense Planning     Dr. Andrew Ross

4/29/08           Final Paper                                         Timothy Sipp

The World After Next: US Policy and Strategy After Next: The US Military After Next

Objectives, Obstacles and Opportunities for American Grand Strategy in the 21st Century

What will the World After Next look like? What will US policies be in the World After Next? What will the US Military After Next look like? Those questions must all be answered by the next and subsequent administrations. We will address those questions, here, with respect to arguably the single greatest challenge in geo-politics today: the realization that enduring global climate change must necessarily affect our assessments of national interests, commensurate policy, subsequent strategy and the alliances and assets required to facilitate the express political will of the United States of America.

How could global climate change influence policy, strategy and military planning? The great 5th century B.C.E. Chinese military genius and general, Sun Tzu, admonishes us to, “Know the enemy, know yourself; your victory will never be endangered. Know the ground, know the weather; your victory will then be total.”(Samuel B. Griffith. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. p. 129) Every field commander from Sun Tzu to Napoleon to Eisenhower knew it was vital to comprehend the nature of terrain and changing weather when determining strategic and tactical operations. There can be no greater change to weather and terrain than the lasting effects of global climate change. Therefore, I believe, it is prudent to consider planetary evolution as an important factor in determining sustainable policies that promote the national interests of the United States of America well into the future. It is imperative that we understand the implications of climate change on our foreign policy, our National Security Strtegy and the military assets (National Military Strategy) necessary to support the successful implementation of these informed policies.

According to the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change), climate change is a fact and not political rhetoric. Acceptance of the degree of changes and the impacts of those changes varies from lobbyist to lobbyist and across the aisles, but these facts remain unquestioned by a majority of the experts and are supported by the computer models: Several regions around the world, including Africa, India and China, will suffer immense drought and subsequent famines. China has already lost 1/5th of its arable land to development, pollution, and desertification since 1978. This pressure on global food supplies will be exacerbated by expanded use of ethanol as an alternative bio-fuel. Several regions will suffer a severe lack of drinking water (e.g. Africa, Asia, China, Latin America) and face the very real threat of having significant portions of their populations die of thirst. As the oceans rise and atypically intense storms become the norm, coastlines around the world will suffer; from the poorest, developing island-nations at risk in the Indian Ocean to centers of trade and commerce like Canton, London, NYC and Dubai (Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007).

The world’s economy will degrade with each natural disaster, aggravating the already competitive marketplace with extreme needs and increased scarcity. The Stern Review on the economic impacts of global climate change, commissioned by the British government in 2006, asserts that “business as usual” will cost the world around 20% of adjusted GDP by 2050. The increased competition could easily lead to rivalry and open conflict among regional powers and ultimately, the emerging great powers of Russia and China could find themselves at odds with the US over oil and influence in addition to their regional concerns of food and potable water. Though global climate change is not as urgent as preventing terrorists from getting and using WMDs, it will intensify our concerns with, and multiply the difficulties associated with resolving issues of energy security, water and food scarcity, sustainable global economic growth, and homeland defense.

However, global climate change is not without unique opportunities for America and indeed the world. We as a nation must adjust our thinking to incorporate a realistic and practical understanding of the potential for sustainable growth in light of climate change. Leveraging international alliances and using new policy instruments (modifying or replacing the Kyoto Protocol) and newer technologies, to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and assist developing nations to adapt, we will open markets for American products that previously didn’t exist. The US can enjoy increased economic growth at home while performing its role as  facilitator of liberty, stability and prosperity around the world. To these ends, let us consider what the World After Next may look like with regards to emerging powers, American foreign policy and the implications for military strategy and subsequent asset allocation.

Russia has recovered rather well from the ashes of the former Soviet Union and is a powerful actor in the regional affairs of both Europe and Asia. Russia’s economy grew significantly under Putin and is currently ranked eighth in the world. They hold the second largest reserves of US currency following China (CIA WFB 3/31/08). Russia’s strongest instrument of foreign policy is manipulation of its vast reserves of oil and natural gas with the effects of disrupted or limited supply on its customers, primarily member nations of the EU and former Soviet satellites. Russia is also in the enviable position of benefiting from global climate change. The opening of northern ports due to melting sea-ice facilitates increased trade and allows economically feasible access to significant oil and natural gas deposits. The Russian Federation will experience an increase in agricultural productivity due to a marked increase in arable land (Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007). This food surplus will be a boon to Russian exports and strengthen Russia’s position in both European and Asian markets for food and energy. This position could give Russia significant sway over the domestic politics and international relations of their clients. They have already proven to the world that they are not above breeching contracts and international law to make a point as evidenced by recently cutting off the gas to  Western Europe over disputes with Belarus (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/09/AR2007010900749.html).

Simultaneously, China is developing at an alarming rate while experiencing the pains associated with a lack of sufficient environmental regulations and enforcement. While much of the eastern regions and coastal areas of China are flourishing and the GDP per capita is reaching respectable levels, it has not been without a high price. A loss of 95% of its potable groundwater to pollution, the eradication of 20% of its farm land to unsustainable development, pollution and desertification and the permanent loss of 80% of the Qinghai-Tibetan glacier place China’s and much of Asia’s populations in imminent danger of starving to death or dieing of thirst. India will also experience extensive droughts and subsequent crop failures. In conjunction with India’s exploding population, this food and water shortage will compel India to look to regional imports to prevent a chronic humanitarian crisis (CIA WFB 3/31/08).

US interests necessarily include unencumbered global access for itself and its allies. In order for the US to promote its national values of liberty, stability and prosperity, the US must ensure its positions are not weakened by agreements between emerging regional and great powers. Though the US has no peer competitor, it is not difficult to imagine a potential coalition worthy of a second look.

In the World After Next, Russia will prosper and have surpluses of desperately needed food and energy to use as instruments of foreign policy. Russia’s largest and most powerful regional neighbors will most likely become their most valuable customers and if attention to ongoing developments isn’t vigilant, the nature of those relationships could transition to something reminiscent of the former Soviet client states of which China was one until the late 1950s and India until the 1990s.

With the advent of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2001, the world saw the desire of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to consolidate their efforts around common goals. The mission statement of the SCO is to prevent, “terrorism, separatism and extremism” in the region. The SCO has engaged in several cross-border joint military exercises in recent years, the largest of which involved 10,000 troops, but Russia’s Grigory Logninov claims that the SCO is not now and does not plan to become a military bloc and that these exercises are aimed at cross-border drug interdiction and disaster response (Joint Russo-Chinese Military Exercises: Aimed at Whom? Heritage Foundation. 2005).  Interestingly, Russia approached India with invitations to join the SCO in these joint exercises in 2006.

Russia, China and India have sufficiently large enough conventional forces to render them dangerous. More importantly, they have vibrant economies and enormous reserves of US currency that could be used to manipulate markets and political wills. They also have overlapping and sometimes conflicting interests in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East. It is debatable whether a coalition of these three states, China, Russia and India, could challenge the US in a direct, unlimited conflict by limited means. Regardless, they could significantly alter the face of international relations and erode US predominance if they were so inclined and left to do so.

How should this assessment of potential danger from the coalescing of emerging regional powers into  an economic and military bloc with global reach influence American policy in the World After Next? “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”(Samuel B. Griffith. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. p. 114)

What should US foreign policy and strategy be in order to ensure that the American national interests are being served with regards to unfettered global access and maintaining a world order favorable to continued international economic cooperation and security? What does the military need to look like in order to support these policies and strategies regarding traditional actors, while remaining flexible enough to counter rogue regimes and non-state actors? What new technologies, if any, would be exceptional assets in pursuit of these political objectives? Are nuclear weapons still needed to deter attacks against the homeland or have we entered a new phase in international relations where economic interdependence presents a variation on the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)?

First let us begin with a brief reminder from Baron Carl Von Clausewitz about the nature of policy and strategy in the conduct of war. According to Clausewitz, throughout history one principle remains clear and inviolable in matters of war. This principle is that policy must determine strategy and that the value of the political object determines the level of commitment. Clausewitz is clear in his assertion that policy driven strategy is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of miscalculation.“First, therefore, it is clear that war should never be thought of as something autonomous but always as an instrument of policy; otherwise the entire history of war would contradict us. Only this approach will enable us to penetrate the problem intelligently.”(Clausewitz. On War p. 128). With this understanding in mind let us proceed to establish a probable policy and strategy for addressing the traditional actors in the World After Next.

The US should take the lead in strengthening the international institutions associated with adapting to climate change and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. This leadership position allows for more direction of the conversation at large and the opportunity to introduce  

new concepts for consideration. One such concept is a Technology Transfer Initiative (TTI) that in conjunction with Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) and Adaptations projects, under the Kyoto Protocol or its successor, could make significant reductions in emissions possible in the near future and add greatly to America’s prestige. These TTIs would basically set the framework for opening new markets to American products that are energy efficient, have a low carbon footprint or would be beneficial to a nation facing significant adaptation to climate change. These technologies would be made available at a discount to developing nations in exchange for carbon credits to be applied towards America’s emissions reductions commitments. The need to exploit this channel for engendering domestic economic expansion and building international goodwill can not be overstated.

China is in the unique position of being able to forcibly implement sweeping changes in its country. This fact is usually frowned upon, but could become quite useful when considering the implementation of highly efficient LED lighting and/or electrical appliances in efforts to reduce or at least slow the growth of energy demands in China. By providing China and other large developing nations, like India, with discounted technologies that lower energy consumption and reduce the cost of water treatment or waste disposal, we would alleviate several concerns that could drive these Asian nations into a closer working relationship with the Russian Federation.

Of course, one must consider the history of intellectual property rights abuses in China when considering these TTIs. These technologies are to be built in the US and sold to China (and the rest of the developing world), not licensed for production in China, unless otherwise specified. Any technology sold, we must assume, will be molested with the intent of discovering the method of its manufacture in order to circumvent payment to an outside vendor. However, this internationally monitored mechanism should discourage rampant fraud,  due to the funding initiatives for TTI, CDM and Adaptation making it less expensive to buy than to steal. Also, there would most certainly be an enormous loss of prestige if a nation was found to be violating the terms of these humanitarian efforts. Additionally, several of these technologies would require manufacturing facilities that would be economically unfeasible to build in a timely manner.

If any sensitive, advanced technologies were to be exported to China or India for the purposes of meeting emissions reductions for both countries, agreements could be enacted, restricting access to those sensitive technologies to cleared American personnel housed in embassy like compounds with similar rights under international law. The benefits of the technology would be appreciated by all participating nations and America could rest assured that its competitive advantage has not been lost. The difficulty would be in convincing the host nations of America’s altruism and intent to never use these items as foreign policy instruments like Russia has been prone to do with oil and gas. That being said, this opportunity to extend our grasp with a good faith offering to likely partners in a US led balance of power is paramount to alleviating the negative pressures of Globalization while ensuring its continued success and a re-balancing of trade to favor the US and its allies. 

This policy and strategy uses international diplomacy and economics as its tools for success. The military wouldn’t necessarily be transformed in order to compliment or support these endeavors. However, the branches of the military may find uses for the energy efficient technologies in their efforts to curb their own energy consumption and lower costs, extending their budgets.

Rogue regimes and non-state actors in the World After Next will still test the resolve of America and her allies. The nations of Iran, Syria and North Korea have continued to violate the international mandate on nuclear non-proliferation with clandestine programs seeking ownership of the enrichment lifecycle and, in the case of North Korea, have already developed nuclear weapons capabilities. In the future, the risk of nuclear strikes will most likely not come from a traditional actor but a rogue regime or terrorist group without the restraints of MAD or a significant economic base to be adversely effected by the ensuing aftermath of a nuclear attack on the US or a major power.

A nuclear attack on the US by any regional power, would necessarily involve a counter-attack and a huge economic loss by all parties involved in international trade and would therefore be counter productive for any rational actor. This proxy deterrence by prosperity, though reassuring, is no substitute for a vigilant counter-proliferation regime within the context of existing non-proliferation agreements and a functioning store of nuclear weapons.

For the foreseeable future, nuclear weapons will remain in integral portion of the national defense of the United States of America. (The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy. Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press. ForeignAffairs85.2 (March-April 2006)). Though the US and the Russian Federation agree that stockpile reductions are necessary, no one has established the minimum amount necessary to maintain a credible deterrence threat. It appears that if it were possible to ensure that no one had even a single nuclear device, that the nations possessing them and extensive conventional forces would be happy to do without the nuclear weapons. But in the absence of the ability to verify with certainty that no one was breaking the rules, it seems highly unlikely that unilateral abolition of nuclear weapons will occur, even in the World After Next. The US military wouldn’t need to change in order to maintain the status quo.

Dealings with rogue nations in the current geo-strategic environment will translate to the World After Next. The question remains: how do we encourage regime change without fomenting armed conflict and ensnaring ourselves in protracted engagements with high costs to the public morale and the treasury? In Iran, for example, we could tug on the threads of dissent and play the strings of suspicion to our advantage by turning the Supreme Council against the president. We could also provide Iranian intelligence with ample proof of rampant alcoholism and vice in the senior military leadership facilitating a Stalinist cleansing of the ranks. Subsequent losses of institutional knowledge, oversight and internal checks would facilitate the placement of our own assets or indigenous sympathizers within the Iranian government fomenting a relatively quiet and low cost counter-revolution. 

The Global War on Terror (GWOT) must be fought not just against armed militias with extremist mandates, but also against the very ideas of intolerance and hatred that drive these groups to armed conflict against unarmed civilian populations and military targets alike. This “hearts and minds” approach suggests extensive engagement with the parent cultures from which these fringe groups grew in efforts to understand the situation, co-opt militant concerns where possible and facilitate internal dialogue within the cultures in question to alleviate the perceived need to violently express their concerns outside of their borders (US Counter-terrorism Options: A Taxonomy Daniel Byman. 2007).

The best way for the US to ensure successful containment of terrorists is to continue working in cooperative security agreements and increase information sharing between its allies in the  GWOT. The existing US military strategy and inter-agency assets available for this difficult task are sufficient for monitoring, tracking and interdiction. Additional funding could be made available for specific technologies and training deemed necessary in defending against these asymmetrical threats. It is worth stating that care should be given to not trample on the individual liberties which we Americans hold dear in an effort to protect us from the enemy.    

At the same time that I recommend extending a hand to China and India with technology transfers intended to alleviate some of the negative pressures of Globalization and climate change and foster greater cooperation between our nations; I reaffirm the absolute commitment to defend America’s competitive advantage in crucial areas of science and technology.

To this end I recommend, the research and development of alternative encryption methods intended to defeat the looming and ever changing threat to our national security and basic telecommunications infrastructure. It seems that no sooner is a system installed that it can be compromised by an ardent attacker or group of hackers, state sponsored or otherwise.  There is an emerging branch of optical physics that promises a future without the possibility of hacker intrusion.

Slow Light Optics is the study of signal propagation and amplification in a gain medium. Erbium doped optical fibers receive input signals and amplify them as they pass from one end of the optical fiber to the other. A phenomenon unique to these fibers and the particular test setup allows for an observable ‘backward’ movement of a light pulse through the medium. This ‘backward’ movement of light is not observable to anyone but the on-site attendant and is entirely dependent on several physical variables that cannot be derived by any outside observer/hacker. This observable backward pulse of light could be used as an encryption key that is not dependent on any known or deducible mathematical algorithm and never passes through a CPU for processing. By circumventing the CPU and standard paths and utilizing a RAM-driver for light pulse verification, information could be encrypted and sent over open lines without anyone knowing that vital information was involved.

This slow light optical encryption system could be adapted to safeguard America’s most sensitive information, data centers and strategic operations centers from the prying eyes of China, India, Russia, Israel, or even that kid down the street. This technology is one of the few additional assets necessary to ensure lasting American predominance in the World After Next. Though it is yet to be realized, progress has been made in the last year towards the goal of turning a new branch of science into a mature technology tasked with protecting our most precious national interests, our intellectual property and 4C capabilities.  

Another computer technology that could greatly extend America’s capabilities is the development of advanced data architectures that allow for unparalleled computing power, speed, pattern matching and subsequent predictability with unheard of precision.  Based on complex, interactive, multiple-instance multi-dimensional Markovian decision matrices utilizing stateless object caching and an n-tiered distributed hardware and software architecture, this system is years ahead of even the most advanced efforts by any would-be peer competitors. Presented to a DARPA convention in Memphis in 2005 by a private entrepreneur, this system is the basis for advanced Artificially Intelligent agent based human interactions and can be designed to fit military, industrial, commercial, educational and personal needs. The effects of implementing this architecture are wide ranging; from immense savings in the reduction of duplicated efforts and training costs to unparalleled data integrity, data-mining and non-linear pattern matching. This data architecture and subsequent network system will become the backbone for future US efforts to predict terrorist attacks, track illicit funds, profile people of interest and calculate taxes more efficiently.

In addition to these advances in science and technology to protect our earth based assets is the need to safeguard our space based assets. The US military depends overwhelmingly on space based assets for 4C and command of the battle-space. How do we ensure the safety of our own satellites and space assets without weaponizing space? The simple answer, is with effective diplomacy. The realities, however, are less simple. Terrestrial-based hyper-velocity anti-ballistic missile (ABM) missiles will only suffice to shoot down an ASAT missile before it leaves the atmosphere. After that any Kinetic Kill Vehicle (KKV) collisions could create a catastrophic cascading debris field. Any space-based ASAT system or defensive measure that can be used without risking a catastrophic debris field will necessarily be based on focused energy or beam technologies.

With advances in infrared lasers for long-distance, line of site communications, we will see the phasing out of radio based satellite communications which are more easily intercepted. There is no language preventing the deployment of additional “communications” satellites whose distinct but clandestine purpose is to act like a remote control with “On-Again” “Off-Again” capabilities in order to take control of either a failing satellite or a satellite that a rogue regime or terrorist has commandeered for use as a missile (KKV) in order to attack US space based assets. These “communications” satellites could also serve as signal jammers preventing any ASAT missile from locking on its target. This would be a significant development spanning several agencies in the military and intelligence communities with far reaching implications for sustaining American power in the World After Next.

There is one more advanced technology, alluded to earlier, that could revolutionize not only military affairs but also assist us in weening ourselves from oil in a predictable and controllable way that doesn’t disrupt international commerce or facilitate global unrest. This technology has many forms from the nano to the macro, but they all employ the same physics. This technology translates vibration into usable and storable electricity with the aid of engineered materials that respond to physical deformation by generating a static discharge. These deformations could occur once a second, a thousand times a second or a trillion times a second. Each of these deformations generates a high voltage static discharge, that over time, can be rectified into high voltage, high frequency electric current that can be stored in high efficiency capacitors and used at will. This family of technologies could be adapted to fit active electrical generation via tuned hydrogen/oxygen combustion chambers, to passive noise-canceling Helmholtz resonators that also generate substantial electricity while lowering ambient noise. The possibilities for this family of technologies is nearly endless and requires only the foresight, insight, and fortitude to correctly estimate and counter fears and objections with well-crafted non-proliferation regimes and undeniable advantages to National Security and prosperity.

There is one remaining suggestion for the US in the World After Next. This is based on the understanding that refreshing the ranks is becoming increasingly difficult. As businesses often draw the best and the brightest from colleges today, and private security firms entice soldiers to their ranks instead of re-enlisting for additional tours, the US military is finding it increasingly difficult to field the forces it needs to adequately defend the national interests of America. In answer to this dilemma I offer the ‘mortgage meltdown’ and subsequent credit crunch. Already, three major banks that make student loans have stopped doing so due to the  loss of capital needed to make additional loans and the expectation that less jobs will be available for graduates,  imposing difficulties with timely repayment. Several other banking institutions are expected to follow suit by this fall. Federal student loans are the one item of debt that cannot be remedied by filing bankruptcy. The government would be wise to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to institute a “debt assumption and credit repair” enlistment structure that will open the opportunity to serve the nation to college graduates and not just prison alumni. To maintain the integrity and reputation of our armed forces, as the most highly trained and capable group of dedicated men and women in the world, we must broaden the pool of talent from which to recruit. As the draft in any form isn’t palatable to the American frame of mind, perhaps “debt relief” and “credit repair” would suffice to attract thousands of educated, diversely talented individuals to serve their nation. Each prospective recruit could negotiate a settlement that they felt was fair and equitable with the skill sets they bring to the military and hope to acquire while they serve. 

The US faces enormous challenges today, but no challenge is so great as the failure to recognize and exploit opportunities to extend our grasp with diverse, intelligent solutions to existing problems and likely future developments including planetary evolution. In the World After Next we must consider the emergence of traditional state actors with renewed vigor and ambitions, rogue states with ulterior motives and non-state actors with mega-deaths on their minds.

Implementing advanced technologies to bolster already impressive resources will work to ensure lasting American predominance into the foreseeable future, while opening new markets to American goods. The wise employment of international institutions concerned with climate change, supplemented by proactive coalition building in cooperative security arrangements, enables the US to selectively engage in diplomacy backed by the most powerful economy and military machine in human history. The United States of America has the ability to meet its objectives and overcome the obstacles of the World After Next and to enjoy the opportunities for sustainable growth while championing liberty, stability and prosperity.

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