Pentagon strategists propose greater focus on intellectual capital, sustainable security, & environmental sustainability

It is time for America to re-focus our national interests and principles through a long lens on the global environment of tomorrow. It is time to move beyond a strategy of containment to a strategy of sustainment (sustainability); from an emphasis on power and control to an emphasis on strength and influence; from a defensive posture of exclusion, to a proactive posture of engagement.

That’s from a recent article titled, “A National Strategic Narrative.” It was written under the name Mr. Y — a direct reference to George Kennan’s iconic “X” article of 1947, which laid out the strategy of containment that would guide US relations with the Soviet Union. The real authors behind Mr. Y are Capt. Wayne Porter, USN and Col. Mark Mykleby, USMC. They both work for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

One interesting section of the article proposes that America invest in three priorities: intellectual capital, including education, health and social services; “sustainable security”; and sustainable use of natural resources. Here’s how they elaborate on the idea of sustainable security:

Rather than focusing primarily on defense, the security we seek can only be sustained through a whole of nation approach to our domestic and foreign policies. This requires a different approach to problem solving than we have pursued previously and a hard look at the distribution of our national treasure. For too long, we have underutilized sectors of our government and our citizenry writ large, focusing intensely on defense and protectionism rather than on development and diplomacy.

I read that as subtly suggesting that our nation over-invests in the military. What’s interesting here is that it’s not some liberal think tank advocating for these priorities. These views are coming from within the Pentagon. The military-industrial complex has long proved resilient against attempts to cut even the most wasteful Defense Department programs. Could it be that insiders are finally starting to see the light?

Clearly, the message hasn’t resonated quite yet. Discussing the Y article in Foreign Policy, John Norris notes:

The budget deal over the weekend lopped $8 billion off of funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Defense spending was left untouched. Congress doesn’t seem to have gotten the wake-up call.

Read Mr. Y’s full article here.