Misdiagnosing the wrong problem -- the military quietly worries

Misdiagnosing the wrong problem

by digby

This is kind of a blockbuster if you ask me --- if a blockbuster can be defined as something that nobody except Susie Madrak even notices:

On Friday, April 8, as members of the U.S. Congress engaged in a last-minute game of chicken over the federal budget, the Pentagon quietly issued a report that received little initial attention: "A National Strategic Narrative." The report was issued under the pseudonym of "Mr. Y," a takeoff on George Kennan's 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow (published under the name "X" the following year in Foreign Affairs) that helped set containment as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union.

The piece was written by two senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CAPT Wayne Porter, USN and Col Mark "Puck" Mykleby) in a "personal" capacity, but it is clear that it would not have seen the light of day without a measure of official approval. Its findings are revelatory, and they deserve to be read and appreciated not only by every lawmaker in Congress, but by every American citizen.

The narrative argues that the United States is fundamentally getting it wrong when it comes to setting its priorities, particularly with regard to the budget and how Americans as a nation use their resources more broadly. The report says Americans are overreacting to Islamic extremism, underinvesting in their youth, and failing to embrace the sense of competition and opportunity that made America a world power. The United States has been increasingly consumed by seeing the world through the lens of threat, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness, and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.

Courageously, the authors make the case that America continues to rely far too heavily on its military as the primary tool for how it engages the world. Instead of simply pumping more and more dollars into defense, the narrative argues:

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.

Damn hippies.

Seriously, this is a hugely important (and common sense) observation and coming from this source you'd think it would be taken seriously. We are worrying about all the wrong things. And it isn't just Islamic extremism, although that does head the list of foolish obsessions. This deficit hysteria contributes to the same thing. Maybe it's human nature or just a form of denial, but it seems that social change and globalization has made us create a bunch of false demons in order to avoid dealing with the real ones. It's an extremely odd phenomenon.

And look at the list of priorities they say we should be concentrating on --- it could be right out of the People's Budget or President Obama's better rhetorical moments. But it's as if these concepts are perceived as being a sentimental nostalgic portrait of a soft America that could never exist again. We're all id now, primitive "realism" no dreams. Damn hippies indeed.