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.

I discussed these concepts in more detail in my OpEd for “Foreign Policy” magazine as well as interviews with NPR, The Washington Post and DefenseOne.

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.

President Obama Speaks at West Point's U.S. Military Academy’s Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham)

President Obama at West Point’s U.S. Military Academy’s 2014 Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham)

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…”

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