Strategy is as much about what not to do as it is about what to do. It appears in many areas that the US Government as a whole (vs. the slices the parties claim as theirs) lacks a sense of strategy. If they had a strategy, they could explain in clear terms what the trade-offs are between programs. But rather than explain, they obfuscate, from the executive and legislative branches at least. Unlike legislators, the Supreme Court is forced to articulate its thinking. That is a good thing, even when you disagree with them.
One area of focus should be discretionary military spending. I’m not sure what wars we plan to fight. I have not had the weapons systems aligned, for me the tax payer, to a set of circumstances under which those weapon systems will be used. Why in the current financial straights we find ourselves in, we aren’t canceling programs that have no strategic imperative? Ah, because we haven’t created a strategic framework in Washington that allows reasoned argument to say no to things that aren’t strategic. I do understand that working Americans are strategic, and that many military investments put people to work, but putting people to work for the wrong reasons in non-sustainable jobs isn’t the right answer. A good strategy would also inform where to invest. But at the first order, it would make those things that don’t make sense very visible.
So my challenge to the White House and the legislators: Let’s stop reacting and create and share a strategy with the American people. Put your priorities in the context of the strategy. Tell us what you think US Inc. should be in the future and how you plan to get us there. No amount of reactionary or populist rhetoric will substitute for meaningful, consistent vision, a strong mission and a plan to navigate forward. Let’s agree on the strategy before we unveil the tactic de jour.