March 16, 2016

Our Overworked Security Bureaucracy

By Julianne Smith

Over the last two years, the West has been caught by surprise by a number of transformative international crises. From Russia’s annexation of Crimea to the Ebola outbreak to the rise of ISIS and the resulting refugee crisis, international organizations and national governments have repeatedly been caught flat-footed and left scrambling for policy responses.

For the men and women working upwards of 14 hours a day, seven days a week on the President’s national security staff, the pace and complexity of international crises surely feels daunting, particularly inside a national security apparatus that was designed decades ago. When unexpected crises erupt, U.S. policymakers tend to ask themselves—often as they are running to the Situation Room for an “emergency session”—whether they might have done more to either prevent or prepare for that particular scenario. More often than not, those thoughts are quickly eclipsed by both the pressing need to respond and the well-established fact that one simply can’t predict the future.

Read the full piece in Democracy Journal.

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