Jeffrey LewisStrategy of the Weak

The National Defense Strategy, released last week, strongly implies that international fora threaten to US security:

Our strength as a nation-state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak, using international fora, judicial processes and terrorism.

That is a very strange sentence to read, sitting here in the Palais des Nations. The Palais, and the League of Nations, were created in wake of the devastation of World War I, which was a harsh lesson that seems forgotten by the likes of Doug “Spanky” Feith.

Asked about the sentence, Feith seemed a little testy:

The only point that we’re making is that we’re in a fascinating new, complex international security situation because of ease of travel, technology. There are a lot of things in the world that affect the security environment. And there are various actors around the world that are looking to either attack or constrain the United States, and they are going to find creative ways of doing that that are not the obvious conventional military attacks. And we’re just pointing out that we need to think broadly about diplomatic lines of attack, legal lines of attack, technological lines of attack, all kinds of asymmetric warfare that various actors can use to try to constrain, shape our behavior. And that’s what that point is flagging.

As the most powerful state in the international system, “international fora” ought to be viewed as a mechanism to influence the international system.

If international negotiations are a strategy of the weak, the National Defense Strategy is one of the weak-minded.


  1. Stephen Moore (History)

    The 2001 Rumsfeld report on space management takes a similar line on the subject you’re conferring about in Geneva: “To counter U.S. advantages in space, other states and international organizations have sought agreements that would restrict the use of space.
    For example, nearly every year, the U.N. General Assembly passes a
    resolution calling for prevention of “an arms race in outer space” by
    prohibiting all space weapons.”

    Rumsfeld and his panellists prefer an interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty’s language that permits “anticipatory self-defense,” and they’re careful to note this, “In addition, the non-interference principle established by space law treaties would be suspended among belligerents during a state of hostilities.”

  2. EARL (History)

    perhaps the gentlman was referring to international flora, a much more fearsome beast, and certainly one that is well within the sites of our great government for eradication..??