Austin Bay

So what's the point of NMS 2011? The Joint Chiefs of Staff have seen the recession, know tight budgets are inevitable and are providing planning guidance for a decade of economic retrenchment in a dangerous world. Their guidance reflects a classic military principle, "economy of force," which means employing all available power in the most effective, practical way. To put it colloquially, if you can get there by walking, do it, and don't pay for the bus.

The document also advocates a comprehensive approach to long-term planning -- with an eye on effectiveness -- which is just common sense, and also nothing new. Heavens, Donald Rumsfeld supported the concept of Unified Action (i.e., coordinating and synchronizing every "tool of power" America possesses to achieve a political end). For decades, the U.S. military has used the acronym "DIME" to describe the four most basic elements of national power: "Diplomatic," "Information," "Military" and "Economic" power. Crafting then conducting policy to achieve a goal so that diplomacy, economic power, military power and information power (both the ability to communicate and to gather intelligence) reinforce one another is the acme of statesmanship.

NMS 2011 is steeped in the language of fiscal constraint and DIME. "Our Nation's security and prosperity are inseparable." As budgets shrink, leaders "must ... make difficult choices between current and future challenges." DIME appears on page one: U.S. foreign policy must "employ an adaptive blend of diplomacy, development (i.e., economic assistance and investment) and defense." We "must continuously adapt our approaches to how we exercise power" and use "the full spectrum of power to defend our national interests and advance international security and stability."

That's old wine served in a new skin, in an era when the old wallet is dangerously thin. Preaching it, however, is easy. Achieving it without loss of lives and treasure is all too rare.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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