Spencer Ackerman explores
whether Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, delivered
what could be a broad, successive military policy to the Powell Doctrine
in a speech earlier this month. Decoding the speech has not been easy,
nor is there consensus among experts or military officials about
exactly what his message was. The gist, however, seems to portend a
codification of a policy that many critics
of the Afghan and Iraq wars have railed against; namely, the joining of
humanitarian work alongside military operations.
Mullen questions the Powell Doctrine's premise that military force
should be a nation's 'last resort.' He argues, "that military power
not – maybe cannot – be the last resort of the state. Military
force... can, merely by [its] presence, help alter certain behavior." He
goes on to say that even though, "the military may be the best and
the first tool" it should not be the only tool, and by extension
suggest that the state department, including USAID, should coordinate in
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So to be clear: The military holds the guns and the state department
hands out the rice. Eat... or else. Is that the Mullen
Doctrine? This is the plan for Afghanistan, we know.
'Clear-hold-build.' 'Government in a Box.' (BTW, this
government-in-a-box comes courtesy from a nation whose own government is
loudly and repeatedly called 'broken' by its citizens). But still, is
the real treasured insight of this last decade, that in order to perfect
our endless war against a strategy (terrorism) we simpy must combine
the deadly, intimidating force of our soldiers with the plagued efforts
of our State Department? Let's hope not.