January 03, 2019

A Question of Statecraft

By Julianne Smith

Any Western policymaker working in the field of national security over the past decade has had to grapple with the same disheartening reality: the structures and processes that governments created decades ago to analyze threats and coordinate policy responses are ill-equipped to cope with today’s fast changing geostrategic landscape. These days governments must play what international relations scholar Joe Nye calls “three-dimensional chess,” requiring policymakers to address military, economic, and transnational challenges simultaneously. Whether it is Chinese anti-access/area-denial strategies and capabilities in the South China Sea or the Russian use of energy and cyber-attacks as instruments of coercion, asymmetric warfare is presenting unique challenges not only to national security professionals but also to government ministries, which were designed for a different era.

National governments have responded to these changes by developing new strategies, policies, and tools. The homepages of Western foreign offices and ministries of defense are awash in white papers and national security strategies that outline how the world of foreign policy is evolving and why a pan-governmental approach that draws from the respective strengths of multiple government agencies is needed. Less has been done, however, in regards to statecraft. National security professionals know full well that even the best, most innovative strategies and policies will fail if they aren’t accompanied by a process that enables them to be realized. Yet statecraft—the machinery that ensures that national governments can efficiently and effectively execute policy—rarely garners as much attention.

Read the full article in Berlin Policy Journal.

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