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American policy requires an integrated strategy

An important reason behind America’s foreign policy failures is the inability to conceptualize and utilize all of the available tools of statecraft, argues Dr. John Lenczowski-IWP’s founder and president-in his 2011 book, entitled Full Spectrum Diplomacy and Grand Strategy: Reforming the Culture and Structure of U.S. Foreign Policy.

Below is a review of this work by the head of the Kościuszko Chair of Polish Studies at IWP, Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz.

A version of this review was published in the UK as 
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, “Diplomacy by other means,” The Quarterly Review, vol. 6, no. 3 (Autumn 2012): pp. 42-45.

John Lenczowski, Full Spectrum Diplomacy and Grand Strategy: Reforming the Culture and Structure of U.S. Foreign Policy (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011)

To survive and prosper necessitates the most efficient use of tools we have at our disposal. Why wield an ax as a war weapon only? Why not also chop wood with it? Why not just brandish it at a thief to scare him off, rather than kill him? A pitchfork belongs in the barn to move hay, but we should also store it in the armory for defense. Farm dwellers ought to be taught about the multiple utility of such implements and they should be trained to apply various tools to various tasks accordingly. This crude rustic analogy is perhaps the simplest way to explain my friend, mentor, and intrepid leader John Lenczowski’s highly sophisticated, elegant, and persuasive strategy to reform U.S. foreign policy.

But wait a minute. First of all, the United States does not have foreign policy. Instead, the United States has a serious attention deficit disorder. If a crisis arises, oftentimes a quite preventable exigency, Washington improvises. It usually throws piles of money at it. In between the crises the State Department repeats its wishful thinking mantra: stability. That is no way to exercise global leadership, argues Dr. Lenczowski, a Reagan administration alumnus. Instead, let us learn “‘integrated strategy’ – a concept that requires the coordination of all the instruments of statecraft, including military policy, intelligence, counterintelligence, economic policy, etc” (p. xi).

Thus, the correct way to proceed with our mission is to identify short, medium, and long range goals congruent with America’s national interest and design a grand strategy to achieve them. Never mind whether in a pluralistic, democratic society we can even form a consensus regarding our goals, in particular lofty aims far into the future. John Lenczowski talks about an ideal world. He blasts the post-Cold War demobilization of America: a national security siesta, “by a bipartisan consensus” (p. 39), which has cost this nation dearly. As a result, “our government fails to take fully into account the role of information, disinformation, ideas, values, culture, and religion in the conduct of foreign and national security policy” (p. 1). To counter this serious flaw, as a scholar-practitioner, Dr. Lenczowski imparts valuable lessons on how to set up goals and devise ways to achieve them with full spectrum diplomacy – “a combination of traditional, government-to-government diplomacy with the many components of public diplomacy” (p. xi). The latter is “the entire array of diplomatic instruments – cultural, educational, political, ideological, information, and intelligence – designed to have relations with, and influence over, foreign societies, foreign publics, and foreign opinion leaders, with the ultimate effect of influencing foreign opinion” (p. 19). Hence, hats off to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, “the most powerful instrument we wielded in the political war against Moscow,” (p. 37) in the 1950s and 1980s, in particular. Full spectrum diplomacy requires all tools of statecraft: persuasion backed by power, which always remains the ultima ratio.

Yet the author does not like war. He is no pacifist, however. One should keep all options open. Further, one has a right to self-defense. Just war resonates with him. But why fight if one can achieve one’s objectives without bloodshed?  Full Spectrum Diplomacy and Grand Strategy is an introductory manual to such conduct. It is a guide to a symphony orchestra of statecraft.  Dr. Lenczowski aims, no less, “to teach lessons in diplomacy and strategy that apply to all times and places,” (p. ix) with a particular stress on public diplomacy for “it is the ground on which the hearts and minds are won and lost, and it constitutes the tools with which the perception of America is formed” (p. ix).

Incidentally, “integrated strategy” is what the U.S. military already does with the tools of war at its disposal already. With Dr. Lenczowski’s imagination we can project the military institutionalmodus operandi onto the conduct of American foreign policy. In other words, “hard power” habits must be translated into “soft power” reflexes (p. 52-58). It works. For example, “by applying social science and cultural anthropological expertise to the conduct of full-spectrum military operations… the Army has succeeded in minimizing the need to use force to achieve political objectives in Iraq” (p. 77).

The ride will not be smooth. There will be a Huntingtonian clash of civilizations between government institutions. “One of the main obstacles to greater collaborative work among the relevant agencies is the cultural division within the foreign affairs and national security community” (p. 52).

There will also be opposition, of course, from the entrenched Byzantine interests at Foggy Bottom which is wedded to a constraining paradigm of government-to-government contacts only, thus virtually ignoring public diplomacy. Consequently, “more than a few diplomats acceded to smooth relations with tyrannies instead of improved relations with oppressed publics” (p. 168). This is to a large extent because the State Department education and training “suffer from too much inbreeding” (p. 104). Sometimes our foreign affairs bureaucracy should simply be circumvented. For instance “because the State Department is antithetical to a culture of strategic influence, another home where such a culture can grow and flourish must be created” (p. 116).  Thus, Dr. Lenczowski argues about “the desirability of institutional redundancy” under certain conditions (p. 146).

Another gargantuan obstacle to surmount will be the secular, and even post-modernist mind frame of some in our foreign policy establishment. There is a tendency to ignore the spiritual and ideological dimension of human relations. According to the author, “the situation is further aggravated by the lack of willingness to acknowledge the strategic role of religion in the current conflict and to confront the enemy in that arena. It is as if our government utterly failed to realize that religious/ideological doctrines lie at the heart of what is arguably the central front in the war against terrorist extremism: the process where new terrorists are recruited. Unless this fact is acknowledged and acted upon, U.S. policy toward Islamist extremism will continue to be nothing more than a policy of addressing the symptoms rather than key causes of terrorist action” (p. 67). All this and more “is mostly a matter of inadequate professional knowledge – not only on the part of Secretaries, but also of their teams of both political appointees and Foreign Service Officers – and we must turn principally to education and professional training as a solution” (p. 100).

John Lenczowski demands that “the days of exchanges between uninformed, naïve Americans and well-briefed official propagandists from adversary countries must end” (p. 190).  To accomplish this we need, first, leaders; and, second, “a conceptual revolution in the character of American statecraft” resulting in “a new culture of integrated strategy that refuses to abandon instruments critical to a successful foreign policy and grand strategy” (p. 191-192). He argues that we must eschew half measures because they “would provide the illusion of a cure (as did the recent reorganization of the intelligence community) when the disease that it must overcome can be cured only by a complete change of thinking – one as deep as a change in worldview” (p. 116). He also cautions us that if we fail to use the various tools of statecraft in America’s service that would be tantamount to unilateral disarmament. And “unilateral disarmament usually does not result in victory” (p. 143).

Critics will say that Dr. Lenczowski wants us to become Chinese to replicate their long range strategic planning and their skillful marshaling of tools of statecraft in foreign policy. Granted, China has had a slight advantage over America of, well, a few thousand years. But the United States, with its Yankee ingenuity, learns fast. It had better, or we shall be swamped by other contenders for global leadership.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, DC, 27 July 2012