April 22, 2024
It's time again for the Eisenhower Series College Program (ESCP). Established over 50 years ago, the ESCP engages colleges, voluntary organizations, think tanks and other public forums across the nation to introduce War College students to audiences that might be less familiar with the military. Their goal is to have reasoned and thoughtful discussions with the society they serve and protect. In past years A BETTER PEACE has augmented the limited travel plans of the ESCP and though travel has increased again we're pleased to bring you the first of several discussions for the Academic Year '22 forum. Joining podcast editor Ron Granieri in the studio for this episode are Leila Green, Jason Groat, Mike Rossman and Amit Talwar. Interestingly enough not a one of them is in the U.S. Army and only one of them is a U.S. citizen, they represent, but of course don't speak for, the British Army, the Australian Army, USAID and the Indian Army, respectively. The four guests share their expertise and insights regarding the U.S. shift away from a focus on terrorism and violent extremism toward a renewed interest in great power competition. Much of their conversation with Ron centers on allies and friends and the balance of soft power versus hard.

It’s time again for the Eisenhower Series College Program (ESCP). Established over 50 years ago, the ESCP engages colleges, voluntary organizations, think tanks and other public forums across the nation to introduce War College students to audiences that might be less familiar with the military. Their goal is to have reasoned and thoughtful discussions with the society they serve and protect. In past years A BETTER PEACE has augmented the limited travel plans of the ESCP and though travel has increased again we’re pleased to bring you the first of several discussions for the Academic Year ’22 forum.

Joining podcast editor Ron Granieri in the studio for this episode are Leila Green, Jason Groat, Mike Rossman and Amit Talwar. Interestingly enough not a one of them is in the U.S. Army and only one of them is a U.S. citizen, they represent, but of course don’t speak for, the British Army, the Australian Army, USAID and the Indian Army, respectively. The four guests share their expertise and insights regarding the U.S. shift away from a focus on terrorism and violent extremism toward a renewed interest in great power competition. Much of their conversation with Ron centers on allies and friends and the balance of soft power versus hard.

My observation is that many instruments of U.S. soft power operate independently and not in a mutually supporting way. Therefore I would submit our greatest strength, our universal values is not attracting or influencing as much as it can and I would like to correct that.

Leila Green is a British Army Colonel with operational experience in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa. She has experience in working with the U.S., NATO, and UN. Her area of interest for the Eisenhower Series College Program has been Alliances, specifically the role of U.S. leadership within European security and the Special Relationship with Great Britain. She is a member of the AY22 Resident Class at the U.S. Army War College.

Jason Groat is an Australian Army Colonel who has enjoyed a variety of postings and has commanded at every level. He has deployed to Timor-Leste, Iraq, and Afghanistan and has enjoyed numerous training opportunities in the United Kingdom, United States, Africa, and the Southwest Pacific. In addition to his Bachelor’s degree, Colonel Groat holds Masters degrees from the University of New South Wales and Deakin University. He is a member of the AY22 Resident Class at the U.S. Army War College.

Mike Rossman is a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Agency for International Development. He is an international development professional working more than 15 years outside the U.S. serving in Kenya, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Mali, Haiti, and Georgia. His expertise is in program management and overseas contracting. Following graduation, his next assignment will be in USAID’s Pakistan Mission. He is a member of the AY22 Resident Class at the U.S. Army War College.

Amit Talwar is a Brigadier General and Armoured Corps officer in the Indian Army. He has served in all operational environments in India and has held varied command and staff assignments. He is a graduate of the Indian and Bangladesh Staff Colleges. In addition to the two master’s degrees, he holds a Master of Management Studies from the Osmania University and has represented India in various meetings at the UN HQ in Geneva and participated in joint exercises in India and abroad. An Armor Brigade commander in his last assignment, he has been honored with three distinguished service awards. He is a member of the AY22 Resident Class at the U.S. Army War College.

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, Department of Defense, United States Agency for International Development, or U.S. Department of State. The guests do not speak on behalf of their own nations.

Photo Credit: Kilogram photo created by kues1 – www.freepik.com and 3d circle vector created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Other releases in the “Eisenhower Series”:

5 thoughts on “RECONSIDERING GREAT POWER COMPETITION
(EISENHOWER SERIES)

  1. Problem/Thesis:

    From a “soft power” perspective today, ALL of the U.S./the West’s opponents/adversaries/enemies/ competitors would seem to be “winning” (or at least “advancing”) recently; this, to include our great power and small enemies, our state and non-state actor enemies, and our at home and abroad enemies.

    The basis for ALL of these such enemies, etc., being able to — uniformly — “win”/”advance” via their “soft power” of late, this would seem to be due to these enemies, etc., (a) embracing such things as traditional values, beliefs and institutions; these, (b) in the face of the threat posed to same by the U.S./the West’s post-Cold War efforts to advance capitalism, globalization and the global economy more throughout the world:

    “Liberal democratic societies have, in the past few decades, undergone a series of revolutionary changes in their social and political life, which are not to the taste of all their citizens. For many of those, who might be called social conservatives, Russia has become a more agreeable society, at least in principle, than those they live in. Communist Westerners used to speak of the Soviet Union as the pioneer society of a brighter future for all. Now, the rightwing nationalists of Europe and North America admire Russia and its leader for cleaving to the past.”

    (See “The American Interest” article “The Reality of Russian Soft Power” by John Lloyd and Daria Litinova.)

    As to this such exceptionally long-running and extremely well-understood threat to traditional values, beliefs and institutions — (a) posed by the U.S./the West’s efforts to advance capitalism, globalization and the global economy more throughout the world and (b) exploited by ALL of the U.S./the West’s opponents, etc., today — as to this such threat, consider the following from Robert Gilpin’s book “The Challenge of the Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century” (therein, see the very first page, of the very first chapter, the “Introduction” chapter):

    “Capitalism is the most successful wealth-creating economic system that the world has ever known; no other system, as the distinguished economist Joseph Schumpeter pointed out, has benefited ‘the common people’ as much. Capitalism, he observed, creates wealth through advancing continuously to every higher levels of productivity and technological sophistication; this process requires that the ‘old’ be destroyed before the ‘new’ can take over. … This process of ‘creative destruction,’ to use Schumpeter’s term, produces many winners but also many losers, at least in the short term, and poses a serious threat to traditional social values, beliefs, and institutions. … (These) threatened individuals, groups or nations (in turn) constitute an ever-present force that could overthrow or at least significantly disrupt the capitalist system.” (Items in parenthesis above are mine.)

    Question:

    In circumstances such as these, what aspect of U.S./Western “soft power” can we bring to bear; this, to reverse this trend of “winning”/”advancing” by our opponents today (our great power and small opponents, our state and non-state actor opponents, and our at home and abroad opponents)?

    In this regard, must we not, ourselves, (a) halt our efforts to advance capitalism, globalization and the global economy more both at home and abroad; this allowing that (b) the U.S./the West might “steal the soft power wind” from our opponents, who are currently “winning”/”advancing” using this such anti-capitalism, globalization and global economy approach?

    1. In consideration of the enemy/opponent/adversary/competitor “soft power” problem that I present above, wherein ALL of our enemies (etc.) appear to be winning, or at least advancing, this, via their embrace and promotion of such soft power things as “traditional values, beliefs and institutions;”

      In consideration of this such observation, note that this is not the first time that the U.S./the West has had to deal with this such soft power problem. As Jerry Z. Muller notes in his book: “The Mind and The Market: Capitalism in Western Thought” (therein, see the chapter on Friedrich Hayek) this is a soft power problem that the U.S./the West has — on and off — had to deal with FOR OVER 400 YEARS (since at least the 18th Century):

      “All in all, the 1980s and 1990s (and, indeed, the 2000s and 2010s also — Muller’s book was written in 2000) were a Hayekian moment, when his once untimely liberalism came to be seen as timely. The intensification of market competition, internally and within each nation, created a more innovative and dynamic brand of capitalism. That in turn gave rise to a new chorus of laments that, as we have seen, have recurred since the eighteenth century: Community was breaking down; traditional ways of life were being destroyed; identities were thrown into question; solidarity was being undermined; egoism unleashed; wealth made conspicuous amid new inequality; philistinism was triumphant.” (Item in parenthesis above is mine.)

      Question:

      Given that the U.S./the West would seem to have OVER 300 YEARS of experience in dealing with the soft power problem that I present in my initial comment above, (a) what can and does history tell us; this, (b) as relates to how the U.S./the West has overcame this such soft power problem in the past?

      (As to our allies — real, potential or case-by-case — who might not fall under the heading of the U.S./the West [exs: India, etc.]; as to these such allies, should we not note that they, also, are CLEARLY having to deal with the soft power problem that I identify above; in their case, however, this may be for the very first time.)

      1. An additional item of interest:

        Near the end of the quoted item from Jerry Z. Muller’s book “The Mind and The Market: Capitalism in Western Thought” — that I provide in my reply-to-comment immediately above — at this quoted item note Muller’s use of the term “philistinism;” a term which, might we agree, we do not often see being used.

        In this regard, note that this term — “philistinism” — this is also said to be being used by Vladimir Putin; this, in much the same way that Jerry Muller uses it above:

        “It’s true that Putin’s foreign policy often sounds Duginist. The Russian leader criticizes Western cultural decadence and ‘philistinism,’ while emphasizing the corrupting influence of Enlightenment ideals—individualism foremost among them. In a speech in October 2021, Putin lambasted woke ideology and Western progressivism in general. He lays claim to a Russian civilization and insists upon Ukraine’s central place within it, having called Kiev the ‘cradle of Russian civilization.’ ”

        (See the March 22, 2022 City-Journal article “Does Putin Take His Cue from Alexander Dugin?: A Civilizational War?” by Steven Pittz. And look to the fourth paragraph of the current Modern War Journal article “We’re Doing it Wrong: Returning the Study of War to the Center of Professional Military Education,” where there is a discussion — and a link [“Putin’s favorite global thinker”] — to this such item.)

        Bottom Line Thought — Based on the Above:

        If Putin and Muller are, thus, “on the same page” — and if, as Muller says above, this is a problem that the U.S./the West has had to deal with for over 300 years/since at least the 18th Century — then this certainly is not, so-to-speak, the U.S./the West’s first rodeo/the U.S./the West’s first time to have to deal with this such problem.

        From that such perspective, the appropriate question seems to become: How has the U.S./the West overcame this such problem — which it has had to deal with, CONTINUALLY it would seem, since at least the 18th Century?

        (Thus, “great power competition,” indeed, “reconsidered?”)

  2. Given that the title of our article above is “Reconsidering Great Power Competition,” let me attempt to do this (reconsider great power competition) by asking, and attempting to answer, the following question:

    What is “common” — and what is essentially “new” — regarding great power competition; yesterday vs today?

    Using the following comparison, I will attempt to answer both aspects of this such question, as follows:

    a. In both the Old Cold War of yesterday — and in the New/Reverse Cold War of today — one entity (the Soviets/the communists in the Old Cold War of yesterday; the U.S./the West in the New/Reverse Cold War of today) sought/seeks to transform both their own states and societies, and the states and societies of the rest of the world also. (More along communist lines in the Old Cold War of yesterday; more along capitalist lines in the New/Reverse Cold War of today.) Herein, working more “by, with and through” the “natural allies of change” (to wit: the more-liberal elements of the world’s populations). This while:

    b. The other entity (the U.S./the West in the Old Cold War of yesterday; the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the N. Koreans, the Islamists, etc., in the New/Reverse Cold War of today) sought/seek to prevent these such changes from taking place — and/or to reverse such unwanted changes as had/have already been realized. Herein, working more “by, with and through” “the natural enemies of change,” to wit: the more-conservative elements of the world’s populations.

    From the perspective that I offer above, it becomes easy to see why:

    a. In the Old Cold War of yesterday, the Soviets/the communists would find, as their natural enemies (and as the U.S./the West’s natural allies), the more conservative elements of the world’s populations. And why:

    b. In the New/Reverse Cold War of today, the U.S./the West would find, as our natural enemies now (and as our opponents natural allies now), these self-same conservative elements.

    “Compounding it all, Russia’s dictator has achieved all of this while creating sympathy in elements of the Right that mirrors the sympathy the Soviet Union achieved in elements of the Left. In other words, Putin is expanding Russian power and influence while mounting a cultural critique that resonates with some American audiences, casting himself as a defender of Christian civilization against Islam and the godless, decadent West.”

    (See the “National Review” item entitled: “How Russia Wins” by David French.)

    Bottom Line Question — Based on the Above:

    Thus:

    a. It is from the New/Reverse Cold War perspective that I provide above that:

    b. One must consider such things as “soft power” and “allies” (etc., etc. etc.) today?

    1. Thought:

      If, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, we won by working “by, with and through” the more no-change, and/or the more reverse unwanted change, conservative elements of the states and societies of the world (to wit: the natural enemies of, in that case, Soviet/communist change),

      Then it follows that — in order to win the New/Reverse Cold War of today — we must work “by, with and through” the more pro-change/liberal elements of the states and societies of the world (to wit: the natural allies of, in this case, market-democracy change) — for example, as described (?) by LTG (ret.) Cleveland, and GEN (ret.) Votel (et. al) respectively, below:

      LTG (ret.) Cleveland:

      “… The Achilles’ heel of our authoritarian adversaries is their inherent fear of their own people; the United States must be ready to capitalize on this fear. … An American way of irregular war will reflect who we are as a people, our diversity, our moral code, and our undying belief in freedom and liberty. It must be both defensive and offensive. Developing it will take time, require the support of the American people through their Congress, and is guaranteed to disrupt the status quo and draw criticism. It will take leadership, dedication, and courage. It is my hope that this study encourages, informs, and animates those with responsibility to protect the nation to act. Our adversaries have moved to dominate the space below the threshold of war. It will be a strategy built around an American way of irregular war that defeats them.”

      (See the Rand paper “The American Way of Irregular War: An Analytical Memoir,” by LTG (ret.) Charles Cleveland; therein, see the “Conclusion” of the “Summary” Chapter, at Page xxiii.)

      GEN (ret.) Votel, et. al:

      “Advocates of UW first recognize that, among a population of self-determination seekers, human interest in liberty trumps loyalty to a self-serving dictatorship, that those who aspire to freedom can succeed in deposing corrupt or authoritarian rulers, and that unfortunate population groups can and often do seek alternatives to a life of fear, oppression, and injustice. Second, advocates believe that there is a valid role for the U.S. Government in encouraging and empowering these freedom seekers when doing so helps to secure U.S. national security interests.”

      (See the National Defense University Press paper “Unconventional Warfare in the Gray Zone” by Joseph L. Votel, Charles T. Cleveland, Charles T. Connett, and Will Irwin; therein, see the major section entitled “Doctrine.”)

      Bottom Line Question — Based on the Above:

      The problem of course being that — here in the U.S./the West today — there are still very large numbers of people (some of whom are very important and prominent), who cling to the no-change/reverse change conservative ideas which (a) helped us tremendously, in the Old Cold War of yesterday, but which (b) now tend to help the enemy, in the New/Reverse Cold War of today? (In this regard, see my quoted item, at my “B.C. says: May 26, 2022 at 1:03 pm comment immediately above.)

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