STUDYING SOFT POWER AT THE WAR COLLEGE (EISENHOWER SERIES)

In September 2019 we introduced you to the Eisenhower Series College Program (ESCP). Though we are approaching life as we remember it pre-COVID, travel limitations significantly limited the ESCP from visiting colleges and universities, interacting with audiences often unfamiliar with members of the U.S. Military. It is our hope at WAR ROOM to bring you a glimpse of what some of those presentations might have looked like via A BETTER PEACE.

In the second episode of academic year 2021 our podcast editor Ron Granieri is joined by War College students and ESCP members Ron Hawkins, Abdul Sami and Kate Sanborn. This time the conversation turns to the concept of soft power versus hard power. What do three War College students have to say about tackling the topic of soft power at the School of Strategic Landpower? Quite a bit. Each with a career’s worth of experience in the Department of State, the Pakistan Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, respectively, they have many examples where China has outpaced the United States in recent years. They each offer a hopeful view of how the United States has and must continue to engage nations around the world with diplomacy and all the tools in the soft power tool bag before ever resorting to the use of military force.

Transcript: https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-087-STUDYING-SOFT-POWER-AT-THE-WAR-COLLEGE-EISENHOWER-SERIES-Transcript.pdf

DOS 101: DECODING THE STATE DEPARTMENT PART 2

To many people the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is as foreign as the countries in which our embassies are placed. Fortunately, we here at A BETTER PEACE know some people, and on this episode we welcome back Alex Avé Lallemant to share his experiences as a career Foreign Service Officer. For this second installment in the series he once again joins our own Associate Editor Amanda Cronkhite to discuss the ins and outs of the State Department. Currently the Consular Section Chief in Harare, Zimbabwe, Alex has served overseas in every one of the State Department’s geographic bureaus, including multiple tours in Afghanistan. That experience makes him the perfect guest to conduct what we’re calling DOS 101.
Transcript – https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-076-DOS-101-DECODING-THE-STATE-DEPARTMENT-PART-2-Transcript.pdf

DOS 101: DECODING THE STATE DEPARTMENT

To many people the U.S. Department of State (DOS) is as foreign as the countries in which our embassies are placed. Fortunately, we here at A BETTER PEACE know some people, and on this episode we welcome Alex Avé Lallemant to share his experiences as a career Foreign Service Officer. He joins our own Associate Editor Amanda Cronkhite in this multi-part series to discuss the ins and outs of the State Department. Currently the Consular Section Chief in Harare, Zimbabwe, Alex has served overseas in every one of the State Department’s geographic bureaus, including multiple tours in Afghanistan. That experience makes him the perfect guest to conduct what we’re calling DOS 101.
Transcript – https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/21-061-DOS-101-DECODING-THE-STATE-DEPARTMENT-Transcript-2.pdf

GENERAL HISTORY: H.R. McMASTER (ON WRITING)

A BETTER PEACE welcomes H.R. McMaster, retired Lieutenant General, former National Security Adviser, and accomplished author. On today’s episode he joins our own Michael Neiberg to discuss his writing process and research techniques as he wrote Dereliction of Duty and his newest book Battlegrounds. The conversation takes them on a tour of McMaster’s time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he transitioned from operational armored cavalry officer to PhD candidate. They share stories of their times studying with some of the greatest minds and mentors in the field of history and how that served him throughout his career.

RETHINKING THE QUAD 2.0 – A PARTNERSHIP OF DEMOCRACIES

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which comprises of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, was formed due to the common concerns of a rising Chinese power in the Indo-Pacific. However, the partnership of democracies has been primarily focused on military objectives to confront China’s assertiveness in the region. WAR ROOM welcomes back Tony Palocaren to explain why the varying levels of economic interdependence between the members of the Quad and China, and the economic opportunity cost of provoking China will be dire and it could lead to the failure of the partnership. To succeed, he posits the Quad must focus on international development objectives to first shore up the partnership’s international credibility while challenging China’s soft power ambitions in the region.

SLAM-FEST: A DISCUSSION OF S.L.A. MARSHALL’S WORKS – PART 2

It all started with a Twitter thread. Matthew Ford set his trap with a few sly comments about the ever controversial S.L.A. Marshall (SLAM) and three intrepid historians couldn’t help themselves but to jump into the fray. Listen now to part 2 with Matthew, Robert Engen, Rob Thompson and our DUSTY SHELVES editor Tom Bruscino. The four of them debate the merits and pitfalls of SLAM’s works, the different approaches they each use in their research, the role of rhetoric in military change and just a general ribbing back and forth between historians and journalists.

ALL RAILS RUN THROUGH TSAVO

You’ve got to read the fine print. If you’re a heavily indebted, slightly underdeveloped nation and China knocks on your door with a loan that seems to good to be true you might want to hold off on signing the paperwork. That’s exactly what happened to resource rich Kenya except they signed when the PRC made the offer. WAR ROOM welcomes David Tillman to take a look at Chinese funded railways in Kenya. As the country faces down a $50 billion debt that comes due in 2024, it runs the real risk of losing the Mombasa Port to Chinese investors. David explains how this is all part of the Belt Road Initiative, the core element of China’s “100-Year Plan” and what it means to U.S. national power.

SLAM-FEST: A DISCUSSION OF S.L.A. MARSHALL’S WORKS – PART 1

It all started with a Twitter thread. Matthew Ford set his trap with a few sly comments about the ever controversial S.L.A. Marshall (SLAM) and three intrepid historians couldn’t help themselves but to jump into the fray. The result is a 2-part podcast with Matthew, Robert Engen, Rob Thompson and our DUSTY SHELVES editor Tom Bruscino. The four of them debate the merits and pitfalls of SLAM’s works, the different approaches they each use in their research, the role of rhetoric in military change and just a general ribbing back and forth between historians and journalists.

INDIA: THE PRAGMATIC BALLISTIC MISSILE PARTNER

India’s partnerships throughout the last six decades have swung from East to West to suit the developmental needs of the nation’s nuclear program. It has capitalized on regional conflicts, its strategic location and a bipolar world to gain support, training and funding for its indigenous missile programs. WAR ROOM welcomes back Andrew Narloch as he takes a look at India’s path to nuclear powerhouse and a leader in manufacturing space-based technologies. He explains how the U.S. must maintain a close partnership while voicing opposition to India’s missile programs.

THE GRAND STRATEGY OF CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ

WAR ROOM welcomes Francis Miyata to demonstrate that Clausewitz provides an implicit definition of grand strategy in his magnum opus, On War. Francis argues that the definition is found not in his theory of war but extrapolated from his theory of the state, which is the bearer of multiple means of political intercourse, including war. He examines how the definition integrates all the tools of statecraft into a seamless whole, which today more than ever is an imperative of strategizing amidst the conditions of contemporary global politics.

THE SOUL OF BATTLE: DEMOCRACIES AT WAR (DUSTY SHELVES)

The DUSTY SHELVES series welcomes Mitchell Klingenberg to dust off Victor Davis Hanson’s The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny. Klingenberg examines Hanson’s analysis of the human personalities of Epaminondas of Thebes, William T. Sherman, and George S. Patton. Looking at the nature and character of war through the actions of these three leaders, Hanson illustrates the imperative of a nation to exercise moral authority through armed conflict when confronted with evil.

THE INFORMATION APOCALYPSE PART X: THE ROAD AHEAD

 “Great leaders have a vision of the future that does not yet exist, and an ability to communicate that vision. When we put words to the world we imagine, we can inspire others to join us in creating a brighter future.” Simon Sinek The future is replete with opportunities for managing the pace of change, responding to change, […]

THE ART OF NON-WAR: SUN TZU AND GREAT POWER COMPETITION

As the joint force refocuses efforts to address state centric great power competition it must examine and develop strategic frameworks designed to be utilized in an operating environment where a myriad of systemic factors limit the effectiveness of kinetic military force. WAR ROOM welcomes James Micciche to take a new look at Sun Tzu’s teachings in the context of non-war. The “Art of War” provides the basic tenets for the joint force to enhance competitive efforts below levels of armed conflict.

THE INTERIM NSS: A TOUCHSTONE

Mandated by public law, the National Security Strategy (NSS) is the report that the President of the United States sends to Congress to communicate the administration’s strategy and vision regarding national security. It is to be submitted to Congress in a classified format no later than 150 days after the date on which a new President takes office. But Congress isn’t the only audience of the NSS as there is typically an unclassified summary that communicates the administration’s intent to the military, the citizenry, and friends and foes alike. Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Whitt is in the virtual studio with podcast editor Ron Granieri to discuss the Interim NSS that the Biden administration released on 3 Mar 2021. Ron and Jacqueline take a look at what’s different in this document and perhaps more importantly what is similar to previous administration’s NSS reports.

REFRAMING THE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN

If the western world truly seeks victory in Afghanistan there needs to be a better understanding of what that victory looks like. The ongoing peace talks with the Taliban are a necessary first step. And a wide look at history over many conflicts reveals that western nations have succeeded in the past at reaching political solutions through similar negotiations, patience, and international cooperation. WAR ROOM welcomes Tom Spahr to examine why a U.S. military exit from Afghanistan in May 2021, or shortly thereafter, is not feasible. He predicts getting to an acceptable agreement with the Taliban will take years, if not decades, and political and military leaders should plan for the long haul.

THE IMPENDING CLIMATE WAR WITH CHINA

Climate change is still a divisive topic and some countries are doing better at addressing it than others. China’s economy depends largely on “dirty energy” and their belligerent nature makes them an easy target for pundits to blame. At least one conservative commentator has facetiously suggested military action to curb their emissions. WAR ROOM welcomes back Pete Helzer as he examines why the United States needs to start taking diplomatic and economic steps to address climate change before it becomes an urgent matter that would require military intervention.

INTERNATIONAL ORDER IN A CONTESTED ENVIRONMENT

The U.S.-led rules based international order has been at the forefront of U.S. defense strategy since the end of WWII. However, the environment that enabled the growth and establishment of the order as a central strategic mechanism during the Cold War and following the Soviet Union’s collapse does not exist in present day East Asia. WAR ROOM welcomes Jarrod Knapp as he examines the ideological differences, the pressure of China’s regional hegemonic rise, and a historical reluctance to form alliances among East Asian states that limit the order’s efficacy.

SHARING MORE THAN RED, WHITE, AND BLUE: FRENCH FOREIGN POLICY SINCE WWII (DUSTY SHELVES)

DUSTY SHELVES welcomes Mark Lottman as he examines Herbert Tint’s French Foreign Policy since the Second World War. Tint’s book delves into a number of challenges that the French government had to deal with in the decades following WWII. Lottman sees the parallels with current domestic and foreign policy issues in the United States, and suggests there are lessons to be gleaned from France’s history.

THE ARMY’S ROBERT E. LEE PROBLEM

On 5 February, 2021, newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin directed military leaders to lead a one-day stand-down within the next 60 days to address extremism within the nation’s armed forces. That same afternoon our Editor-In Chief, Jacqueline Whitt sat down with Ty Seidule in the virtual studio to record this episode. Seidule, a prominent figure in the conversation about extremism, has long fought against the veneration of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate cause in the Army, specifically at the United States Military Academy. His 2015 video on Prager University, “Was the Civil War About Slavery?” has been viewed over 34 million times. And his newest book Robert E. Lee and Me is drawing both praise and anger. Their discussion ranges from his childhood in the south to his time at West Point as the Head of the Department of History, and what he’s been doing since his retirement as a brigadier general in 2020.

WHAT NORMS ARE AT STAKE WITH A RETIRED GENERAL AS SECDEF?

The fourth offering in this brief series is this article by Marybeth P. Ulrich and Noah C. Fisher. They examine the erosion of norms that has occurred with the nomination and confirmation of retired Army General Lloyd Austin as the Secretary of Defense. Austin’s confirmation is the third time that a waiver for the “cooling off” period has been granted, but perhaps more importantly the second in four years. Ulrich and Fisher appraise what impact this waiver may have and remind us that “norms that are not enforced cease to be norms, having lost the shared understanding that underpin them.”