Sunday, January 27, 2008

CinC-o de Mayo, RE: the Dana Priest article

The Priest excerpt alludes to the ongoing debate over the application of U.S. military force as an instrument of U.S. statecraft. In the chapter "The CINCS: Proconsuls to the Empire", the main example of the military taking on a new role is Zini operating in his capacity in Commander in Chief for Central Command, which includes the Middle East, Central Asia, and the more militarily troublesome parts of Africa such as Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

The "Proconsul" function - - described by Priest as being "the warrior-statesman" bringing "order and ideals" from the hegemonic power - seems to be an aspect of the military "tool" of statecraft that far predates that current international state system. Priest seems to suggest that this "Proconsul" role has become more prevalent in the United States, mainly as a result of reductions in the State Department budget and reluctance on the part of the Clinton Administration to confront the military.

However, is it possible that there are certain geographical and policy areas in which the United States should employ the "Proconsul" military "tool" with diplomatic aspects, instead of a diplomatic "tool" with military aspects?

This seems particularly true in Pakistan, where the military is the strongest and most organized state institution and the main concerns - control over nuclear weapons and combating Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in the Northwest Frontier and Federally Administered Tribal Areas - are military in nature. The military aspect seems similarly prominent in the other areas included in Central Command, such as Somalia, Sudan and the Middle East.

So is the Proconsulship a fluke temporary phenomenon, a resurgent trend, or nothing new? Is this good? Bad?

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