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Military Intelligence

In 1946 the article “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” was published, laying out the policy of containment that proposed that the best way to defeat the Soviet Union was not to attack it, but to contain it. If the US was able to merely counteract Soviet influence, then the internal problems of their communist system would inevitably lead to its collapse.

The article had a profound impact on American foreign policy, and it worked.

When it was published, the article was simply signed X, but the author turned out to be the American diplomat George Kennan. Now a new article has been published, but this time signed Y. The new article points out that the policy of containment — with its massive military build-up and quasi-imperial policy aimed at countering Soviet influence — is still in place even though it is no longer needed and is actually hurting us. The fact that we spend more on defense than all the other countries in the world put together might have made some sense when we were facing down the Soviet empire, but is now pointless and is bankrupting us.

When we have so much military power, we tend to favor military solutions instead of political solutions. Which is why we have gotten bogged down in multiple wars and vastly overreacted to Islamic terrorism. And we have fallen into the oldest trap in the world:

Washington needs to make sure that the United States does not fall into the imperial trap of every other superpower in history, spending greater and greater time and money and energy stabilizing disorderly parts of the world on the periphery, while at the core its own industrial and economic might is waning.

Instead of running up our national debt on pointless wars, the article says that we need to be investing in the real sources of national power: our youth, infrastructure, and economy. Instead of seeing the rest of the world as threats to be fought, we need to fight hard to promote American competitiveness, influence, and innovation. Above all else, we need to spend more money on education and invest in our children in order to ensure our future.

By investing energy, talent, and dollars now in the education and training of young Americans — the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members, and parents, of tomorrow — we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future. Our first investment priority, then, is intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth.

But what is really ironic about this article is that it was not written by some bleeding heart socialist, it was written by two senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That’s right, two of our top military strategists say that we need to stop throwing so much money at the military and instead spend more money on our people.

I am shocked and awed.



  1. Dan wrote:

    As a retired military member I have but one word to add.


    Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Jason Ray wrote:

    I couldn’t agree more. And it is especially noteworthy as military leaders absolutely have to look at the facts of a situation, not their wishes, remain professionally apolitical, and recommend that best way to accomplish the ultimate mission – keeping us safe now and in the future. Making this statement says that this is what they believe is the best way to accomplish that.

    I applaud them and all our professional military men and women who have not only proven they put the good of the country ahead of their personal agendas, they testify to that fact every day with their continuing service.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Now IK – I am disappointed. I have been professing on this blog that we need to end our wars, reduce the military spending and bring our boys home and do I get any headlines. Jeez man, just when you think you know someone, I feel like chopped liver.
    You’d actually be surprised by the number of military members (past and present) who agree with those authors. Its not necessarily the military who is opposed to downsizing or resizing. Take the F136 fighter jet engine project. The DOD said it doesn’t need it, but congress still wants them to have it. Guess who is lobbying for it…GE. Thats right, GE stands to gain. The same company who tops the list of tax cheats and whos CEO got hired by the Obama administration. Yep, makes sense to me.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    You’re absolutely right, I have treated you like chopped liver. Sorry. It is just that I’m not surprised when the people who actually have to, you know, fight these wars question whether they are a good idea. But when the brass at the top start questioning military solutions…

    Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  5. Effisland wrote:

    I suppose it takes people on the inside to reveal the infinitely ‘socialist’ structure of the military.

    It loses money every day of its existence. If someone crunched the numbers and treated like any other “corporation” (laughable considering it is 100% funded by government) they would have cut it back decades ago.

    Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Permalink
  6. Eric wrote:

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the ones who favor a military solution are usually not the ones who have to carry it out. It was Eisenhower himself who warned us to guard against the military-industrial complex.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 3:09 am | Permalink
  7. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    The really surprising thing to me is not the anti-war theme, it is the pro-education theme. Kudos for them.

    The anti-intellectual thing is becoming a bit stale, even if I know that the people pushing it don’t actually fully believe in the idea (i.e. they are still saving for their child’s college fund while talking about how liberal and useless colleges are).

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 5:07 am | Permalink
  8. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Effisland – your analogy of the military losing money actually applies to the entire goverment. Anyone who’s ever worked for any branch could attest to the waste, fraud and abuse which exists and the frustrating fiscal mode they operate in.
    To further make that point, every group has a budget and at least 1 budget analyst. Their job is to manage that budget and make sure every penny is allocated and spent. There can be no unspent money or that analyst gets a bad eval or worse. Every August all the depts have to prepare a list of things they’d like to have (not need), so in September when the analyst determines how much money is left they can all spend it. If they don’t spend it, they could lose that money the next year, the budget would shrink, dept heads become less powerful, (smaller budget = less power).

    In the corporate world, saving would be encouraged and rewarded. It would be regulated by customer satisfaction and ultimately sales which controls how much savings is good vs hurtful to the business. There are no such controls anywhere in any branch of the government.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 5:37 am | Permalink
  9. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Yep, no waste, fraud, or abuse in the corporate world.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yeah, I was totally cracking up laughing when PSgt was praising all those wonderful “controls” in the corporate world. I’ve seen plenty of corporations where there was a frantic scramble to spend the remaining department budget before the end of the year.

    Yes, the threat of going out of business because of competition acts as a control on business spending, but you can’t argue that elections don’t exert a similar control on governments. Those controls do fail, but they fail for both big companies and big governments.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  11. Sammy wrote:

    “Military intelligence, two words combined that can’t make sense” ~ Dave Mustaine, “Hangar 18”, (c)1990

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    That was the irony I was going for, Sammy.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  13. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Sammy – Military Intelligence has long been known as the ultimate example of an oxymoron, in the military anyway.

    You guys got me on the big corporate waste, fraud and abuse. I admit my big corp experience is zip, I only have experience with smaller companies who tended to watch all their pennies and reward the same.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink
  14. Iron Knee wrote:

    I have some big company experience — that’s why I only work for small companies now.

    I’ve also had experience with big companies when small companies I start or work for are acquired by larger companies, and the amount of waste is stunning (especially during an acquisition, where every manager is jockeying for power and budget money).

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  15. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Roger that IK and of those I prefer ones in my community. I’d rather give my money to people I know then stangers.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  16. Sammy wrote:

    I have mostly worked for small companies, and while I prefer them, they also have their problems. One that I have witnessed at length for many years is wasteful spending by owners who treat company money as personal money. Maybe in one sense it is, but it makes trying to justify certain expenses very difficult.

    The bigger issue that I’ve seen over and over (at meetings with others in our industry) is nepotism. Basically, you’ve got people who have jobs in Daddy’s or Grandpa’s company by virtue of the “Lucky Sperm Club”. People who love to brag about working on the lot as a kid, thereby “earning” their stripes. The problem with that philosophy is that no other kid “on the lot” was ever going to have a shot at owning the company. Not all of them whom I’ve met are unqualified to own the company. But I’ve seen a lot who have ruined what Grandpa started. And among them I’ve seen THE worst sense of entitlement compared with any other group.

    When someone says to your face that “you don’t know how much pressure it is to work for your parents”, when that person never in his life has had to worry about a job and you’ve been laid off several times due to others’ bad management, it gets old quickly.

    Friday, April 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  17. Iron Knee wrote:

    Sammy, have you read the book “The Millionaire Next Door”? By Stanley and Danko. They studied the ways that people become millionaires and find that nepotism doesn’t seem to work, for some of the reasons you mention. The bottom line is people don’t value something unless they had to earn it.

    Me, I’m in favor of inheritance tax being as close to 100% as possible (with exceptions for taking care of minor children, etc.). There are so many things more valuable than money that you can give to your children.

    Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink
  18. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK – you got to be careful when you use a line like “The bottom line is people don’t value something unless they had to earn it.” People like me will think you agree there should also be limits to unemployment, and other welfare programs, etc. I understand the argument for inheritance (the monarchy’s of the world must drive you nuts), but freedom is being able to leave your money to whoever you want, good bad right or wrong. Many give it all to charity, others a stranger, others spread among many and yes a few to just one person. IMO its akin to stealing to tax that money away completely. However, there is and should be a compromise in there somewhere.

    Sammy – you’re right on the companies. I seen it both ways myself. Owners who truely appreciate employees and those that only care about themselves. Most that are only in it for themselves that I’ve seen don’t make it as far or for long because they’re not thinking about later just now.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink
  19. Iron Knee wrote:

    Oh no, not the “freedom” argument. If freedom is being able to leave your money to whomever you want, then it is also to spend it any way you want, including not paying any taxes at all.

    The “freedom” argument is crap. Freedom is being able to choose if you serve in the military. Freedom is being able to use drugs responsibly. Freedom is being able to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. Freedom is being able to decide if you want to stop at a red light or to drive on either side of the road, oncoming traffic be damned.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  20. PatriotSGT wrote:

    OK then substitute prerogative for freedom, or choice, or preference, or desire, or right, selection, or priviledge etc. 🙂

    Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  21. BTN wrote:

    I think that we need to elect a general. They seem to have the ability to play politics when necessary, but still have a low tolerance for bullshit.

    You know what Republican could whip Barrack? 4-star General Colin Powell. Too bad he’s already said no. He may be a little old (70s), but then again, that probably drops his bullsh!t tolerance to near zero.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink