Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Interview with KQED Radio: the Afghanistan Drawdown and the Strength of Enduring Alliances

by Janine Davidson
June 4, 2014

us allies U.S. marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, March 31, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters)


I was recently interviewed by KQED Radio’s “Forum with Michael Krasny,” alongside Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with many of the themes discussed. Among my observations:

  • President Obama’s May 27 announcement about Afghanistan troop levels was very much directed toward our allies; they need to know our long-term strategy for their own planning purposes. The handoff of combat authority between ISAF and Afghan forces should also be an iterative process, with a reassessment of trajectory after a year. As Richard Haass pointed out, “There’s a difference between an exit strategy and an exit calendar.”
  • Obama’s May 29 speech at West Point was a discussion of strategic vision, not a laundry list of regional challenges and solutions. It was important for the president to reaffirm the need for American leadership and his vision for how and when to use military force.  We do hope, however, to get more meat on the bones for specific issues and regions in the coming weeks as the White House reportedly plans to continue the national security messaging.
  • As I’ve said before, the rebalance to Asia is grounded in multilateral engagement and alliance-building, especially when it comes to military cooperation. This is useful both for strengthening U.S. partnerships and for preventing the sort of escalation that comes when lines of communication are not firmly established.
  • Finally, it’s fundamentally in the American interest to promote global governance through international institutions and architectures. In many cases, like NATO and the UN, these are organizations we were instrumental in founding. As the situation in the Ukraine has shown, such institutions are being tested in new and troubling ways. It will be our job to keep them strong.

Listen to the whole interview below:

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