INTRO: When the presidential candidates debated foreign policy, they didn’t stray far from the U.S. economy. For more than a year now, military officers from the Pentagon have been saying yes: foreign and domestic affairs are intertwined. They say the U.S. is still steering the global ship. But to bring peace and prosperity, it will require dramatic changes in defense, energy and education. Michigan Now’s Chris McCarus has been following the officers.
First, some history. George Kennan worked at the state department in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. He became an expert on Soviet communist affairs. He wrote an article signing his name only as “X”. The article formed the containment strategy during the Cold War. Kennan, Mr. X, said when the Soviets “confronted us with dangerous hostility anywhere in the world” then we must contain them. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, American military action was spurred on by the “X” article.
Zoom to 2011. Marine Colonel Mark Mykleby and Navy Captain Wayne Porter publish the National Strategic Narrative. It was called the “Y” paper to complete an ‘x and y’ of American policy. The officers’ boss, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, approved of the document. Here’s Captain Porter.
“The institutions and the policies that were built in the ‘40’s, ‘50’s and ‘60’s to combat this threat or control or contain this threat of global communism no longer are relevant in the environment we live in today.”
That’s because the Soviet Union broke up and nation-states aren’t the only threats. Tiny, extremist Islam poses a threat, not all 1.6 billion Muslims. In May, academics from around the country held a conference in Monterey, California based on the “Y” paper. They were eager to hear from Captain Wayne Porter.
“In a much larger sense we are civilizationally at a Darwinian moment. The challenges facing us this century are really things that have to do with water management and agriculture policies and food security and energy. We have outlived the usefulness of fossil fuels as the engine for the global economy and for the economy in America.”
George Bush said in 2006 that America is addicted to oil. But in 2012, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have tried to prove they want more drilling than the other. This could please U.S. oil companies but not climate scientists. They are NO longer debating whether humans have caused climate change. Captain Porter isn’t either.
“So we have produced anthropogenic effects on our atmosphere and on the environment that we don’t understand. We probably don’t have the luxury of time to wait and see what happens.”
Ask an African, Asian or Latin American about the American dream. It might revolve around an SUV, driven from the McMansion to the big box store. This lifestyle makes a big carbon footprint. And Americans have been selling versions of it since World War 2. Says Porter:
“America is ideally positioned right now to generate a new model of sustainable growth in America to demonstrate its efficacies based on values here in our country and allow the rest of the world to emulate it just as they’re emulating the unsustainable model of growth based on a fossil fueled economy that we established in the ‘50’s.”
The thinking goes that if Americans led the world down the wrong path then Americans can change course to the right path. Porter’s co-author, Colonel Mark Mykleby, appears in a video posted at www.nationalstrategicnarrative.org.
“I would say right now that it’s there. We have that capacity. But we just don’t have the right message because we are wringing our hands. We’re looking in the rear view mirror. We’ve got some kind of masochistically nostalgic view of the past when we should have this opportunity based view toward the future. What we need to have is some kind of purposeful participation that allows citizens with a sense of not only destiny but a sense of responsibility.”
Politicians often honor soldiers for their patriotism. These two soldiers are saying it’s patriotic to change the political and economic system. But so far, politicians don’t seem to be honoring them.