The High Ground – With Harvey Sapolsky

In The High Ground Professor Harvey M. Sapolsky shares his observations on international security issues, and the role of the US in the 21st century. Harvey is Professor of Public Policy and Organization, Emeritus at MIT and was formerly the Director of the MIT Security Studies Program. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In the defense field he has served as a consultant or panel member for a number of government commissions and study groups.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE NATION BUILDERS GONE?

Six months ago the US military was being praised by many security specialists as finally having gotten it – understanding that its future was counter-insurgency best practices which means nation building under fire from insurgents in the world’s toughest neighborhoods. Yes, it had taken a while, but the military’s top leadership had finally seen the light.

NEW SECURITY IDEAS

I believe in making security a lighter, more fun topic. In this quest to bring stand up comedy to what is basically a sit down field, I offer the following new ideas in part gleaned from conversations with colleagues who surely will not mind my skipping the attributions.

AMERICA’S COMMAND STRUCTURE

I think the geographically based commands should be eliminated with one exception, replaced in part by additional functional commands. As some may know, I stand against our willingness to manage global security as well as our own, a willingness allowed by our great military power relative to others and the encouraged free riding of nearly all our “allies”.

STRATEGICALLY LOST IN AFGHANISTAN

The Obama administration seems to be having big second thoughts about Afghanistan. President Obama in his election campaign promised to make Afghanistan the central front in our unnamed war.

TIME TO LEAVE — KOREA

There is talk about US forces leaving Iraq early, in 2010 rather than the scheduled date of 2011.Terrific.But before one gets too enthusiastic about that prospect, one should consider the Korean case.The war in Korea started in 1950 and is still technically on although shooting incidents are rare events.

WHOSE MORALE COUNTS?

US Secretary of defense Robert Gates said recently that coalition forces have about a year to turn around the war in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is resurgent, or risk losing support in America.Just a few days later the US military command in Afghanistan announced that action reports will no longer mention enemy casualties

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE USAF

The Air Force was for a long time the guiding star of US military doctrine, but it seems to be fading fast of late. Air power did not win the Second World War, but the USAF did, gaining its independence from the Army, a large share of the defense budget, and prominence in the Cold War with the promise of easy victory

NO TO THE HUMANITARIAN AID STRATEGY

Some parts of the American military, perhaps a bit underemployed, propose humanitarian aid missions as a central component in America’s national military strategy. Admiral James Stavridis, the new NATO Commander, in his last assignment, Commander US Southern Command, was certainly an advocate of this approach.

IRAQ QUESTIONS

With American forces turning over security responsibilities to Iraqis as another step toward complete withdrawal from Iraq, I am searching for the war’s lessons and am left mostly with questions.

BLOOD BROTHERS

To understand American policy better, I suggest you consult a recent, very well written and argued paper by Stephen Peter Rosen of Harvard on why we Americans are less the peace-loving people we often claim to be.

SOMETHING FISHY

Afghanistan is a country of 33,000,000 people that has been at war for 30 years, has a life expectancy of only 44 years, an infant mortality rate 151/1000 births, and experiences about 660,000 deaths from all causes per year. Life is hard, brutal and short in Afghanistan

PEER COMPETITOR

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