Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Defining Humanitarianism

In a recent Stratfor commentary, Robert Kaplan discusses the move from counter-insurgency to maritime strategy and the implications for humanitarian work.  An extract is below...
The United States has made a choice, one in favor of an Indo-Pacific maritime strategy as opposed to a Middle East counterinsurgency strategy. This is not just a matter of what the Obama administration wants but of what the mandarins in the defense community in Washington demand. In other words, for example, there will be more submarines moving about in the South China Sea and fewer Army sergeants helping villagers on the ground in Afghanistan. To continue to conduct ground wars in the Muslim world, even as the U.S. Navy and Air Force pivot to Asia, could mean a rise of the defense budget by as much as a third over time. And that is not going to happen. A war against Iran would be an air-sea campaign; forget army divisions.
This means that the role of humanitarians will be diminished. Humanitarians were front and center advising the Army on how to win over civilian hearts and minds in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though they might have opposed those wars at the outset. Humanitarians prefer to reduce foreign and defense policy to a branch of relief work; patrolling the sea lines of communication for the benefit of world trade simply does not interest them, while saving citizens of Benghazi from the depredations of Moammar Gadhafi's troops does. Humanitarians now demand some sort of action on Syria, even as many of them are oblivious to the rise of Chinese naval power.
Read the full article here at Stratfor.

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