No Point-Scoring: A Fresh Look At A Link In Foreign And National Security Policy

Some of you know that I have an expertise in national security issues with a specialization in irregular warfare. I'd like to draw on that body of knowledge in order not to score political points (you see enough of that with various talking heads yelling at each other on cable and the internet). My purpose is to illuminate an interesting connection in current foreign and national security policy in the Obama Administration.

I've said consistently that in years to come, when documents are declassified, we'll likely see a very intense pursuit of drone warfare as a quasi-strategy in Barack Obama's presidency. I say “quasi” because drone warfare is fundamentally a tactic, not a strategy but that the high frequency of its use in 2009-201j7 will show its rise into a sort of strategic level.

Now, I'd like to point out something else in the news with regard to American responses to Russia and its aggression in Ukraine. Notice that the instinctive response of the Obama Administration has been to target a handful of people for economic sanctions. Critics of the Obama Administration assert that this technique is a sign of weakness. Perhaps. I'm inclined to agree.

However, it's also a sign of applying a method that the Obama Administration has already favored in drone warfare–the person-by-person approach of conflict, punishment, and power in international relations. That could well be the default and preferred position of President Obama and his key advisors. Individualized sanctions are the peaceful equivalent of drone strikes.

It used to be said that the unique twist of the Obama Administration would be the use of so-called “smart power.” I suggest something different, or maybe a variant of smart power, which is this: individualized aggression.

Who knows? Perhaps this will grow into a new type of methodology in great-power relations–IA, or individualized aggression. It might make more sense than it did in previous generations because of developments in nano-technology, digital technology, and so forth.