On Wednesday, President Obama addressed the graduating Class of 2014 at West Point and laid out his vision for the future of U.S. foreign policy. While there are elements of his speech to applaud — particularly his optimism about the current outlook at home in the US and his emphasis on an international approach to global security — I also believe that left out a discussion of the two most critical ingredients for 21st Century security. Those are the power of 1) interagency cooperation and 2) strong private-public partnerships.
Here’s an example of what I mean, from “Foreign Policy”:
“Afghanistan, where we are withdrawing U.S. and coalition soldiers (too soon, and unfortunately on an announced timeline), will require huge residual efforts by various government agencies: State in diplomacy; USAID in developing the economy and educational systems; DEA to address the narcotics problem; DOJ to work on governance and corruption; DOA on crop substitution to move farmers away from growing poppies; and the CIA to understand what is happening on the ground. But this kind of collective governmental work, aligned carefully and fully, is lacking.
Similarly, in the end, it will be private-sector efforts that salvage the situation in Afghanistan. The key to Afghan success will be continued growth to provide jobs for the young, whether in construction, telecommunications, agriculture, or mining of the $1 trillion in minerals — cobalt, copper, nickel, gold, and lithium. Building government partnerships with private-sector companies who can provide the jobs and technology will be key. The first order of business for the new Afghan president, right after signing the Bilateral Security Agreement, should be issuing a strategic economic plan — something that will require interagency advice and private sector help.
Syria (where we should be providing more real support to the opposition), could benefit as well from better interagency cooperation, notably between CIA, NSA, and the Pentagon. Likewise, the massive humanitarian and reconstruction work that will follow this brutal civil war will require private-sector engagement to rebuild an economy from scratch when the conflict eventually subsides, hopefully after the defeat of Bashar al-Assad…”
Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
Dean James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander.