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Foreign Policy Analysis
Military Options | Model Diplomacy

Military Options | Model Diplomacy


There are a great range of military options available to policymakers in the United States. You have large conventional forces that go up against armies on the other side. You can use missile strikes, airstrikes, a combination of the two. You can use ships to signal presence. A great example is our aircraft carriers signaling to the rest of the world that the United States will keep the seas open for business. And then you have things like space, and missiles, and special operations raids. And on the very high destructive end, we do have nuclear weapons. Some on the things that we use military force to do include ousting a regime that is hostile to either the American government or maybe to its own people. We also use military force to attack terrorist organizations. We use military force to deter people from doing bad things–
and that’s really important because often the threat of force is much more effective than actually using force. We also have a presence around the world with military force, and that serves to assure our allies and to dissuade our possible adversaries. One of the most important ways
to use military force is in a role of building the peace, or keeping the peace. And we call those peace building or
peacekeeping operations. And one of the things that we are very
good at and that we spent a lot of time doing is helping military forces of other
countries get better so that they can solve their own
problems. The Prussian military officer named Clausewitz connected political ends with military means. You don’t want to use military force to go kill people or to break things. That could be a means
to an end, but the end is always the political goal. In the end the civilians make the decisions over the United States military. If you consider the last 75 years we
have seen the range of military options, everything from World War II, where every
part of our economy, every part of our society was mobilized,
all the way to the special operations that have been occurring in our time
against terrorist groups. Recently the United States has used military tools in ways that don’t involve killing and capturing people or destroying things. The disease Ebola broke out in West Africa, and the United States military was sent by the president to do some very important things
including building isolation shelters, and also advising the medical operations. As we go away from the Cold War and into the information age, it’s interesting to think about how our military force has had to adapt. And there’s a great debate both within and outside of the military about what cyberspace really means for military options in the future. We of course want to defend ourselves and
our interest in cyberspace, but we also have the option of using this connectedness to go out
against our adversaries, and possibly use offensive operations
as well. Interestingly, there’s almost no problem
where military force alone offers a solution. And every
potential option has advantages, and most of them have disadvantages too.
A great example of that is the problem that President Obama has
dealt with going after ISIS. He has had to figure out what the best
possible options are, out of a bunch of bad options. And sometimes in our messy world that’s
exactly what’s required of our policymakers.

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