Raison D' Etre

IWP Mace 444x718The Institute’s Raison d’Etre 

The Institute was founded to fill a major national need for professional education in statecraft and national security affairs that in our estimation is not filled satisfactorily by any other institution of higher learning. 

The logic underlying the Institute’s curriculum proceeds first from a concern that many instruments of power are rarely studied before people conduct professional work in the various fields.  This is very much a function of the regnant foreign policy and national security cultures, with their established career patterns and incentives focusing excessively on arms, money, and the diplomacy concerning them, while neglecting many other instruments of statecraft that are decisive in the successful pursuit of a secure peace.  It also derives from patterns of education and research in the academic and public policy research worlds that, for various reasons, exclude the study of certain instruments of power. 

These other instruments, which require a basis in strategy and in military and economic strength, principally involve the non-material elements of power, such as: the use of ideas and information; respecting the dignity of foreign peoples; keeping faith with allied peoples and countries; maintaining a wide array of human relationships; and the exercise of leadership, including the cultivation of patriotism, civic virtue, moral and strategic clarity, the exhibition of the will to defend national interests, and standing for certain first principles.  It is mastery of such instruments that enables statesmen to prevent war successfully and secure vital national interests while minimizing the need to use force. 

Other examples of instruments of statecraft suffer neglect, underutilization, or distortion due to lack of study or the influence of bureaucratic-political culture within government agencies: 

·         One is public diplomacy.  The current practice of diplomacy focuses disproportionately on relations with foreign governments.  Meanwhile, high-level strategic attention and academic study are almost never devoted to relations with foreign publics through such vehicles as international broadcasting, information programs, exchanges, visitors programs, cultural diplomacy, and various forms of political action.  Yet, it can be argued that today, in an information-based age of mass communications and mass movements, the dynamics of international politics — especially from a long-term perspective — rest more on public diplomacy than on relations with governments. 

·         Perhaps the most important element of U.S. public diplomacy over the years has been the American message of freedom, hope, opportunity, and concern about the welfare of others, with the attendant policy of not seeking conquest or domination.  When this message is accompanied by a policy of treating foreign peoples with dignity, respect, and justice, it is arguably one of the most powerful political messages that can be transmitted on the world stage.  But when this message is either not sent, obscured by failure to transmit any of its components, or compromised by policy actions that undermine natural sympathy for these ideas, relations with foreign publics can severely deteriorate.  The systematic failure to include a significant public diplomacy component into national-level integrated strategy is all the more deplorable in light of the spectacular strategic successes of this form of diplomacy in the past. 

·         Defense against foreign propaganda, deception, and covert political influence operations is a related neglected field.  Perceptions management of these types is a major preoccupation of the statecraft of many foreign countries and movements. In contrast to normal public diplomacy, it often involves dishonest manipulation of the truth.  Despite the remarkable effectiveness of these activities, the United States and other Western countries have systematically failed to study the entire subject of propaganda and foreign political influence operations and to develop defenses against them.  The result has been a greater vulnerability to foreign attempts to distort accurate perceptions of reality and to influence policies that result from those perceptions. 

·         As diplomacy has been frequently bereft of a public diplomacy dimension, so too has defense strategy been missing a strong integration with the political and psychological dimensions of military art.  While the U.S. Army does have a psychological operations group, as well as Special Forces skilled in the “hearts and minds” dimensions of warfare, these capabilities have historically been a tertiary consideration in overall defense planning.  Similarly, political warfare and the capacity to conduct “wars of ideas” are orphans in the defense and foreign policy establishments in the United States (and other Western democracies), with no agency or policy leadership specifically charged with a continuing responsibility for such activities, especially in their strategic dimensions. 

·         American universities have presided over a significant decline in the study of history, particularly intellectual, political, religious, diplomatic, military, and economic history. Insofar as any aspect of history has been promoted in recent years, it has been social history, but all too often bereft of the larger political context.  Particularly severe has been the lack of focus on military history.  The consequences of this trend can only be damaging to our nation’s ability to conduct its national security policy.  The study of military history reveals not simply the lessons of the actual conduct of wars, but those concerning the causes and political-diplomatic circumstances of wars.  Ignorance of military history has affected not only military performance but also the decision making of civilian authorities who have been involved in launching military engagements.  Given that errors in matters of war and peace are the most costly errors that can be made by our national leaders, prudence should dictate greater professional knowledge of one of the most important relevant fields of study.  

·         While diplomatic history is a longstanding field of study — albeit precipitously less so in recent decades — the art of diplomacy is rarely studied.  Cultivation of this art is usually a part of on-the-job training.  It is thus very much a function of the bureaucratic cultures of the U.S. Department of State and other foreign ministries, which rarely integrate it with other instruments of statecraft.  For example, while diplomats are frequently involved in decisions to use force, they rarely study military strategy and its proper integration with diplomacy and political action.

·         In the field of economics, foreign policy practice has historically focused principally on trade, aid, and finance, while neglecting other elements of economic strategy such as: financial and technological security policy; strategic materials policy (including energy policy); defense industrial infrastructure policy; sanctions, boycotts, and embargoes; the use of monetary policy as a weapon; and other elements of economic warfare. 

·         In the specific field of foreign aid and development, assistance to foreign governments to secure political support of foreign policy — while often a worthy strategy — usually serves as a substitute for aid that truly ameliorates the condition of impoverished peoples.  When the U.S. grants anti-poverty aid, it has historically given financing to state-directed (rather than private) development projects.  While that situation is changing, the continuing logic of aid strategy may have the effect of encouraging the recipient state to make investment decisions according to political rather than economic criteria, thus fueling cronyism and corruption, and the continued or even increased impoverishment of the population.  Creative strategies for humane, market-oriented solutions that result in permanent job creation and the elimination of misery are difficult to implement.  This is partly explained by the tendency to ignore the public diplomacy elements of foreign economic policy. 

·         Few intelligence officers study intelligence before embarking on a career in this field.  While this has changed slightly with the modest rise of intelligence studies in various universities, it still remains the general rule.  Elements of this subject that are rarely studied are the history of intelligence, the relationship between intelligence and policy, intelligence epistemology, deception, and the role of cultural bias in analysis. 

·         Counterintelligence has been another severely neglected subject, despite the fact that poor counterintelligence can allow a nation’s military superiority to be vitiated by an inferior power with a superior intelligence strategy.  Counterintelligence is usually subordinate to intelligence collection in the scale of priorities in the intelligence communities of the United States and other Western nations.  This is explained by the fact that counterintelligence involves, among other things, quality control of intelligence collection, an activity that raises the possibility that intelligence agencies have been deceived or penetrated by hostile intelligence services.  Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence collection has focused principally on technical methods to the neglect of human sources.  Analysis of foreign realities, whether conducted by intelligence analysts or diplomats, has focused excessively on material capabilities rather than the political, ideological, religious, cultural, and psychological categories that reveal the intentions and purposes of foreign powers. What analysis there is of these non-material categories has historically suffered from dangerous “mirror-image” perceptions that assume that foreigners are “just like us” and that their views of what constitutes “reasonable” behavior are equal to our own.  

·         Few study protective security policy — the setting of national priorities of valued assets that must be protected, as well as cost-benefit analysis of alternative policies — before going into professional work in this increasingly important field. 

·         Very few study immigration, refugee, and asylum policies before entering the profession.  These topics are intimately related to the similarly neglected subjects of public diplomacy and protective security policy. 

·         Finally, in teaching the instruments of statecraft, the Institute believes that it is necessary to cultivate integrated strategic thinking.  For most practitioners of statecraft who are involved principally in the implementation of tactical components of a larger strategic policy, this means being able to understand the strategic context.  When properly understood, the making and implementation of policy can be done in concert, rather than at odds, with overall national strategic objectives.