Chester at the 5th Defense Forum
Chester sends a dispatch from the 5th Defense Forum in Washington, where he is a participant. One of the keynote speakers was the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Edmund Giambastiani who made a point which was coincidentally raised in the last post, New Lamps for Old. Giambastiani also believes that in the "Long War" in which we find ourselves (aka the War on Terror), every element of national power must be brought to bear. “We are engaged in an 'all-hands fight,' and that it requires “friends, allies, and a focus on those who would destroy our way of life.” "All-hands" as in all hands on deck, that is, the fight requires everything we have. (The immediate problem with that is that a large part of Western society has recused itself from the fight. "All hands" in their context means "youse guys".) Chester went on to quote Giambastiani as saying:
“Developing the right human capital to fighting the Long War is essential,” he argued, and included cultural skills, a diplomatic knack, and changes in career patterns as key points of this effort. “A central challenge to winning this long war is how we invest in our human capital.”
I am trying, without much success, to imagine how creating such human capital is separable from engaging the Third World in general and the Muslim world in particular in its fullest sense. If Giambastiani's remark means anything it must imply acquiring a practical knowledge in fighting the enemy when necessary, befriending the Islamic world where possible and engaging in a intellectual dialogue at every opportunity: in a word, it means engagement in exactly the opposite of the word as it is used today, where "engagement" has been perverted to mean diplomatic appeasement, bribery and concession.
When Tigerhawk asks "What will the 9/11 Generation Accomplish? in a post some weeks back, he was actually making Giambastiani's point in the interrogative.
So what will be the impact of the generation that has come of age during the last five years? More than 300,000 young Americans have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many of them will come home and eventually enter careers in government, journalism, business, academia and politics. There are many more Americans who did not fight in those wars, who know virtually nobody who has, and who know what they think they know from abstract media -- press accounts, books, photographs and fauxtographs, and blogs of the right and left. What effect will these two groups have when they become the leaders of our government, economy and culture? If you answer in the comments -- and I very much hope you do -- consider particularly the likely impact of this generation on American foreign policy. What will these returning veterans teach us about the Arab and Muslim world, and how will the cohort that stayed at home react to that instruction?
In other words, where does this human capital -- this 9/11 generation -- with it's hard-won knowledge go from here? About all it is safe to say is that it will go someplace different from those whose watchword was "let the UN do it". Returning to Chester's dispatch, it was surprising to see Giambastiani ask the same questions propounded in New Lamps for Old:
“How can we assist the State Department, who normally deals with security assistance and foreign aid, how can we help them with projects that are more than just what USAID does?” He then recounted that “there was a fight on the hill with various congressmen and Senators as to who controls the money [involved in these aid efforts].” Moreover, he stated that “Many government agencies don’t have an expeditionary culture like the military,” but “in the long term, we’ve got the State Department leaning toward longer tours with more senior personnel.
Whether that is an Imperial or 4th Generation Warfare question is an interesting one to debate.