July 21, 2024
As the situation on the Ukrainian/Russian border seems to worsen and families and nonessential staff prepare to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, pundits are throwing around the concepts of U.S. credibility and reputation. Interestingly our Editor-in-Chief, Jacqueline Whitt, sat down in the virtual studio last week to discuss this very topic with podcast editor, Ron Granieri. Intuition might suggest that events like Vietnam, Iraq and last year's withdrawal from Afghanistan would seriously damage U.S. reputation on the world stage. Jackie and Ron discuss the reality of how the U.S. is viewed, how these events have created greater internal partisan divisions and how difficult crafting a strategic message is in the modern day world of hyper-connectivity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The current temporary theme we are using only credits a single guest. This podcast featured Jacqueline E. Whitt and Ron Granieri.

As the situation on the Ukrainian/Russian border seems to worsen and families and nonessential staff prepare to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, pundits are throwing around the concepts of U.S. credibility and reputation. Interestingly our Editor-in-Chief, Jacqueline Whitt, sat down in the virtual studio last week to discuss this very topic with podcast editor, Ron Granieri. Intuition might suggest that events like Vietnam, Iraq and last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would seriously damage U.S. reputation on the world stage. Jackie and Ron discuss the reality of how the U.S. is viewed, how these events have created greater internal partisan divisions and how difficult crafting a strategic message is in the modern day world of hyper-connectivity.

I learn a lot from Twitter

Jacqueline E. Whitt is an Associate Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Army War College and the Editor-in-Chief of WAR ROOM.

Ron Granieri is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Army War College and the Editor of A BETTER PEACE.

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Photo Description: Final rehearsal of the parade. Joint photo with participants of the “Army Parade” on the occasion of the Independence Day of Ukraine, 22 August 2018

Photo Credit:  Website of the President of Ukraine and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

6 thoughts on “ON CREDIBILITY AND REPUTATION: EDITOR’S CORNER

  1. As to all the matters discussed in this specific podcast (on credibility and reputation, etc.) — and indeed as to many (if not all?) of the articles and podcasts presented here on the War Room Blog generally — I believe that a good way to do this, this is by (a) first articulating the foreign and domestic policy focus of the United States and then (b) discussing our topics from that such perspective/within that such context.

    As to this such suggestion, let me propose that, since approximately the 1980s, the foreign and domestic policies of the United States have generally been focused on the same thing; this being, to transform the states and societies of the world — TO INCLUDE OUR OWN SUCH STATES AND SOCIETIES — this, so that these states and societies might be made to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy.

    With this such U.S. “global change” foreign and domestic policy focus before us, we can now easily understand the “global resistance to change” challenges — and/or the “global reversal of change” challenges — that have been generated by populations (both here at home and there abroad) of late — and which our military forces, of late, have to deal with (and/or have had to contemplate how to deal with).

    It is from THIS such perspective, I suggest, that we must discuss and consider such things as “Afghanistan,” “credibility and reputation,” “civil/military relations,” the “politicization” of nearly everything, and especially such things as the “weaponization” of “traditional values” — both here at home and there abroad.

    Yes?

  2. So let’s look at one question addressed in this podcast; this being — from a credibility and reputation point of view (as relates to the credibility and reputation of the U.S. and/or the credibility and reputation of U.S. military) — does it matter that we left Afghanistan without “winning?”

    “Winning” here to be understood — as I discussed briefly in my initial comment above — as the state and societies of Afghanistan being politically, economically, socially and/or re: values “transformed;” this, so that the state and societies of Afghanistan might be (a) made to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from (and, should we not add here, better dependent upon?) such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy; this, rather than (b) detracting from, standing in the way of, threatening, etc., same (as Afghanistan did, indirectly, on 9/11?)

    (As to this such contention, note that it is not by accident — and/or by way of some kind of lottery drawing — that the World Trade Center [think capitalism, globalization and the global economy] is selected, targeted and attacked by OBL — not once — but twice.)

    Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:

    If we, thus, consider our efforts in Afghanistan more from a “placing new wine (our way of life, our way of governance, our values) in old bottles” (their outdated way of life, etc.) perspective, then might we, from that such perspective, and sometime in the future, possibly hope to move Afghanistan (much as we were ultimately able to move Vietnam?) more into the “win” column? (Again, understand what “winning” means — for example — as noted in the second paragraph of my comment above.)

  3. Another way of looking at some of the matters that I have presented in my initial comment above, this by considering the following excerpt from our Joint Publication 3-22, “Foreign Internal Defense,” dated 17 August 2018; therein, see Chapter II, “Internal Defense and Development,” Paragraph 2, “Construct:”

    “a. An IDAD (Internal Defense and Development) program integrates security force and civilian actions into a coherent, comprehensive effort. Security force actions provide a level of internal security that permits and supports growth through balanced development. This development requires change to meet the needs of vulnerable groups of people. This change may, in turn, promote unrest in the society. The strategy, therefore, includes measures to maintain conditions under which orderly development can take place.” (Item in parenthesis above is mine.)

    From the above, I believe we can see the relationship that JP 3-22 suggests; this, between (a) a U.S. foreign policy focused on “development” (helping “partner nations” transform their states and societies so that same might be made to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy?), (b) the fact this requires political, economic, social and/or value “change” (for example, “to meet the needs of vulnerable groups of people?”), (c) the fact that this such “change” is almost guaranteed to “promote unrest within the society” (via state and societal change, the status quo conservative population groups are bond to lose — and/or may have already lost — some degree of power, influence and control?) and that, accordingly, (d) military force is likely to be needed (this, to deal with those conservative individuals and groups who would “resist — and/or who would seek to “reverse” — these such necessary changes?). Thus, the reason why the U.S. military, etc., is there to help?

    From that point of view, now to ask ourselves this question:

    a. In scenarios such as that I have presented above, and from the perspective of these “threatened” conservative population groups, should we not expect that “the credibility and reputation of the partner nations’ military” — and such things as “civil/military relations” in those such countries — these might be in steep decline? This given that:

    b. The military — given their “enforce change” role — would be seen (a) by these conservative elements (b) as, potentially, their deadliest enemy?

    (And if these nations’ militaries are used as THE example of the required “changes,” then this steep decline in reputation, credibility, civil-military relations, etc., would become even much more easily understood?)

    Bottom Line Question — Based on the Above:

    Although my discussion above relates to the “foreign policy” portion of the thesis that I present in my initial comment above, could certain aspects of the dynamics presented here also be in play; this, as relates to the “domestic policy” portion of my such thesis?

    (Yes I know about “posse comitatus,” but cannot Congress, if it deems it necessary, repeal same?)

  4. The following is the introduction to this podcast above:

    “As the situation on the Ukrainian/Russian border seems to worsen and families and nonessential staff prepare to evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, pundits are throwing around the concepts of U.S. credibility and reputation. Interestingly our Editor-in-Chief, Jacqueline Whitt, sat down in the virtual studio last week to discuss this very topic with podcast editor, Ron Granieri. Intuition might suggest that events like Vietnam, Iraq and last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would seriously damage U.S. reputation on the world stage. Jackie and Ron discuss the reality of how the U.S. is viewed, how these events have created greater internal partisan divisions and how difficult crafting a strategic message is in the modern day world of hyper-connectivity.”

    As to these such thoughts, let me suggest that events like Vietnam, Iraq and last year’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, these have not seriously damaged the U.S. reputation on the world stage, neither have these such events created greater internal partisan divisions and/or have they made it difficult for crafting a strategic message in this modern day world of hyper-connectivity.

    Rather, what would seem to have seriously damaged the United States’ reputation on the world state, etc., this is the fact that — via the U.S.’s post-Cold War grand strategy of transforming the states and societies of the world (to include our own) so that same might be made to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy — via this such grand strategy, the U.S. has — on a worldwide basis — come to (a) pit “Gesellschaft” (market society) against (b) “Gemeinschaft” (community); this, in much the same way that the West did this approximately 100 years ago.

    As to this such contention, consider the following from the Foreign Affairs (Mar-Apr 2017 edition) article “The Jacksonian Revolt: American Populism and the Liberal Order” by Walter Russell Meade:

    “In this new world disorder, the power of identity politics can no longer be denied. Western elites believed that in the twenty-first century, cosmopolitanism and globalism would triumph over atavism and tribal loyalties. They failed to understand the deep roots of identity politics in the human psyche and the necessity for those roots to find political expression in both foreign and domestic policy arenas. And they failed to understand that the very forces of economic and social development that cosmopolitanism and globalization fostered would generate turbulence and eventually resistance, as ‘Gemeinschaft’ (community) fought back against the onrushing ‘Gesellschaft’ (market society), in the classic terms sociologists favored a century ago.”

    From this such perspective, might we, thereby, come to understand that — if such entities as a nation’s military forces come to be seen as being “for” “market society” (and, thus, “for” “transformation”) and “against” “community” (and, thus, “against” “the status quo”) — then THIS would be what would damage the reputation of these such countries, aggravate greater internal partisan divisions therein, cause the credibility and reputation of these countries and their militaries to be called into question, etc. — both on the world state and, indeed, at home?

    1. In both the third full (begins with “Rather, what would seem to have seriously damaged the United States’ reputation …”) and the final paragraph of my comment above, by error, I use the term “world state.” These should have been “world stage.”

      (Can I blame this on some kind of Freudian Slip — this, given that a “world state” might, indeed, be something that “market society” would approve of? Apologies.)

  5. From my comments above, one might suggest that I have painted the United States — and its post-Cold War grand strategy (of transforming the states and societies of the world, to include our own, so that same might be made to better interact with, better provide for and better benefit from such things as capitalism, globalization and the global economy) — as the “bad guys” here; this, for example, given the extremely significant and extremely dangerous consequences of our such post-Cold War grand strategy.

    (In this regard think, for example, from a foreign policy point of view, of such things as the “resistance warfare” of September 11, 2001, and, from a domestic policy point of view, of such things as the “resistance warfare” of January 6, 2021.)

    In all fairness to the United States, however, one must consider at least one basis for the U.S.’s adoption of such a post-Cold War grand strategy; this being that of “survival” — which is now said to require success in “economic competition.” (And that, accordingly, is said to require such political, economic, social and/or value “changes” as are necessary, so as to remain economically competitive?) Here is an example of this such thinking:

    “We agree with (Sir Philip) Bobbitt that a global transition from Nation States to Market States is now well underway. The chief thesis of this Article is that the (U.S.) Supreme Court has embarked on a program of reshaping constitutional doctrine so as to encourage and facilitate the emergence of a fully developed Market State in this polity, with a view to positioning the United States to be successful in meeting the competitive challenges of a new, post-Cold War international order. In taking this course, the Court has increasingly aligned itself with the prescriptive views of American business and political elites, for whom globalization is understood ‘not merely [as] a diagnostic tool but also [as] an action program.’ From this perspective, globalization ‘represents a great virtue: the transcendence of the traditional restrictions on worldwide economic activity.., inherent’ in the era of Nation States. Proponents of this vision of a globalized economy characterize the United States as ‘a giant corporation locked in a fierce competitive struggle with other nations for economic survival,’ so that ‘the central task of the federal government’ is ‘to increase the international competitiveness of the American economy’.” (Items in parenthesis above are mine.)

    (See the Catholic University, Columbus School of Law paper “Moral Communities or a Market State,” by Antonio F. Perez and Robert J. Delahunty; therein, look to Page 643)

    Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:

    If — to achieve “survival” — “the central task of the (U.S.) federal government” is “to increase the international competitiveness of the American economy,” then does not the “transformative” requirements of the U.S.’s post-Cold War grand strategy — that I describe in my earlier comments above — justify both the “transformative” nature — and the “transformative” requirements — of our such grand strategy?

    (From THAT such perspective, of course, those individuals and groups within the United States and overseas — who stand in the way of necessary “transformation” — and thus stand in the way of the “survival” of the United States — these folks become the “bad guys?”)

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