Nei prossimi mesi la competizione per la Casa Bianca entrerà nel vivo. Stephen Walt, noto e notevole docente di relazioni internazionali ad Harvard, ha pensato di elencare le cinque cose fondamentali in materia di politica estera che un candidato alla Casa Bianca non può non conoscere. Un utile reminder per chiunque si interessi all'argomento.
Foreign Policy, inoltre, segnala l'audizione di fronte alla commissione difesa del Senato statunitense di Michèle Flournoy. Già sottosegretaria del Pentagono, una dei fondatori del CNAS nonchè membro di board di altri think tank, la Flournoy è stata candidata al posto di ministro della Difesa ma ha rinunciato per "impegni familiari". Foreign Policy, adesso, ritiene che la vera motivazione fosse, invece, l'insoddisfazione per la cattiva gestione della politica di difesa da parte della Casa Bianca di Obama e dello stesso Pentagono. In particolare la Flournoy ritiene che il problema sia causato da ciò che lei definisce "la tirannia del consenso".
[..] Recently, there has been a chorus of complaints about the growth of the National Security Council staff and the tendency of a larger NSC to micromanage aspects of policy development and execution that historically have been left to the departments and agencies, particularly the Defense Department. Such complaints have been heard episodically since the Kennedy administration, and they do have some merit today. Equally important though less discussed, however, are the problems that plague the policy process within the Department of Defense.
Perhaps the most pernicious of these is what I like to call “the tyranny of consensus” that has come to dominate the Pentagon, particularly in how the Joint Staff (and sometimes the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD)) integrates diverse views from the Combatant Commands and the Services in bringing issues forward to the Chairman, the Secretary of Defense, and the NSC process. Reaching consensus – “focusing on what we can all agree on” – has become an end in itself in too many areas, from strategy development to contingency planning for operations to defining acquisition requirements. Getting the concurrence of a broad range of stakeholders on a given course of action too often takes precedence over framing and assessing a set of compelling options or alternatives to present to senior leaders for decision. This consensus-driven process also takes more time, undermining the Department’s agility and ability to respond to fast-moving events, let alone get ahead of them. While Goldwater-Nichols’ emphasis on fostering jointness in military operations has been absolutely critical to the success of the U.S. military over the last three decades, the emphasis on jointness in policy development is misplaced. In a bureaucratic culture in which consensus is king, the result is too often “lowest common denominator” solutions. […]
Più in generale, evidenzia la Flournoy, è l'intero processo di pianificazione strategica del Pentagono ad essere deficitario. Esso, nel corso degli anni, è diventato un processo "routinario" che coinvolge troppi attori ed è privo sia di una leadership che di chiare priorità:
[…] The second problem I would highlight is that DoD’s strategy development process is broken. At the heart of this process is the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), mandated by Congress. Although the need for a robust, rigorous and regular strategic planning process within the Department remains valid, the QDR routinely falls short of this aspiration. Over the years, the QDR has become a routinized, bottom-up staff exercise that includes hundreds of participants and consumes many thousands of manhours, rather than a top-down leadership exercise that sets clear priorities, makes hard choices and allocates risk. In addition, the requirement to produce an unclassified QDR report tends to make the final product more of a glossy coffee table brochure written primarily for outside audiences, including the press, allies and partners, defense industry, and the Hill. What the Department needs, however, is a classified, hard-hitting strategy document that can be used to guide concrete actions, resource allocation within the Department, and engagement with key oversight partners in the Congress. […]