By Anthony H. Cordesman
April 16, 2015
The United States now faces a rapidly evolving world filled with new challenges at a time when real-world defense
planning is focused on budget cuts, when U.S. “strategy” lacks plans and program budgets, and when talk of
strategic partnership lacks clear and specific direction. Far too much U.S. strategic rhetoric is a hollow shell, while
the real U.S. national security posture is based on suboptimizing the budget around the fiscal ceilings set by the
Budget Control Act (BCA), persisting in issuing empty concepts and strategic rhetoric, and dealing with immediate
problems out of any broader strategic context.
The end result resembles an exercise in chaos theory. Once one looks beyond the conceptual rhetoric, the reality is
a steadily less coordinated set of reactions to each ongoing or new crisis: the strategic equivalent of the “butterfly
effect.” To paraphrase Edward Lorenz, the chaos theorist who coined the term, “the present state determines a
series of changes and uncertain adjustments in U.S. force postures and military actions in spite of the fact the
approximate present does not approximately determine the future.
Put more simply, the United States has no clear strategy for dealing with Russia and Asia and is reacting tactically
to the immediate pressures of events in the Middle East and Afghanistan without any clear goals or direction.
Worse, these military tactical reactions are steadily more decoupled from the need to create an integrated civilmilitary
strategy: Grab any short-term form of “win” and ignore the need to “hold” and build.”
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