Monday, October 24, 2011

Melvin Laird's Strategy for Peace: a 2011 Analysis

Evidently this essay is a popular one, especially amongst those attending the country’s various professional military education institutions. In order to maintain the integrity of the original essay, I’ve reloaded it here as a downloadable PDF. This is the same version as was originally posted. I am however, submitting a cleaned up version with some very minor grammar adjustments and updated references to one of the professional forums. As soon as it is published through them, I will provide that link. As always, I appreciate your interest in the website and in these essays. Please comment and carry on the discussion of how this world works."  style="text-decoration: underline;" >Melvin Laird's Strategy for Peace: a 2011 Analysis (Original Blog Post).docx


  1. an interesting analysis of Laird's ideas. what prompted this excursion? Do you think we have statesmen capable of thinking in as principled a way as Laird? Could Kerry have written the Laird paper?

    ken long

    1. This excursion was part of a class exercise regarding considerations of restructuring military priorities and restructuring the military to suit those priorities. You raise an interesting question about principled thinkers, in particular principled members of administration staffs in history. Laird certainly seems like an example. Kennan was another example. Marshall was another. There are any number of senior staff officials we could name in history that seemingly executed their duties out of both deeply held principles beyond their own personal motivations and a sense of duty to seek best options for the country writ large. However, if I’m reading the premise of your question correctly, I think even those individuals personal motivations and ideological foundations factored into the execution of their duties. I do not think they wrote policy and performed their duties on principle alone.

      I do think principled thinking still exists today, even in someone like Kerry. While I do not have access to similarly sensitive (and since declassified) records, I have no substantial reason to believe that Kerry would not seek principled policies. The perceived tone of partisan rhetoric and a viewing public’s nostalgic notion of public leaders being self-interested ideologues is, I think, misunderstood and misperceived by the public. The nuances and complexity of domestic politics in general and international politics in particular are too great for individuals to alone pursue contrived visions. I certainly think personal influences factor into the execution of public duties, but I think the nature of public offices, especially at that level, require individuals to rely on principles.

  2. I agree with you that we seem to discount any possibility of principles among our political class and attribute to them the basest of partisan political motives. I also agree that one ought to incorporate personal principles into one's work provided that doing so doesnt violate either your own nor your positions values/requirements. Thats what make people "principled" and complete as authentic human beings.

    Les Aspin is a guy who gravitated to national defense as a representative and clearly tried to apply his bets principled judgment when reforming DoD, and I respect his efforts regardless of political stance disagreements we might have had. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, keep thinking :)

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Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your interest in the topic. It adds a little more to how we understand our world.