Thursday, July 7, 2011

National Power and Lights at Night: Veterans for Smart Power

Like Groucho Marx, I would rarely join any group that would have me as a member. That being said, I am a member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), specifically the Veterans for Smart Power faction. The USGLC is a “broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating diplomacy and development alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world”. Veterans for Smart Power is for “veterans of all ages and ranks who share a commitment to elevating and strengthening our non-military tools of global engagement – alongside our military – so we can build a better, safer, more prosperous America and world”. My particular focus is on using all the elements of national power (economic, military, political and information) to promote the proliferation of clean, distributed energy in developing countries so that they do not become havens for terrorist organizations. When you turn the lights on, the cockroaches scatter.

As Kissinger said, America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests. Our interest in other countries is as markets or as sources of raw materials, goods and/or services. It is in our interest to help foster the maturation of developing countries so that their economies are markets driven, their security assured, their people are represented and their press is free. Under these circumstances, nations tend to become good trading partners and all boats rise.

If you look at the map of the world above it shows you where the Pentagon thinks the 21st century wars will occur. What is most informative is if you look at that same map at night. Inside the zone, very little light at night. Light at night means kids can study, small manufacturing can occur and women need not travel far to gather wood for fires. Light at night is the beginning of economic development. But without safety and security that does not happen. Safety is being free from molestation in your person and property. Security is believing that you are free from molestation in your person and property. There is a difference. Too often in the last couple of decades, we have turned to the military to fix problems we failed to solve with the other elements of power. I would rather invest in a USAID schools program than deal with the results of a void filled by a madrasa.

Next week in Washington, D.C., the USGLC is hosting a conference to discuss a smart power approach to global leadership. Unfortunately, the reservations are maxed out. It is still possible to tune in to the address by Vice Chairman, JCS, GEN Cartwright’s address streamed on this Tuesday, July 12 at 9:15 AM. I recommend you check out the address and the organization. War is no longer just an extension of policy by other means (sorry, dead Carl); it is the failure to properly use all the tools available. Dan Nolan

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