They fail, they lack, they misunderstand, they pander, they don’t get, and they just don’t know national security – not according to our Future of War roster of experts.
“The President shall be Commander in Chief…”
If history is any guide, the answer is no. When George Washington took the oath of office for the first time, he didn’t expect he’d soon be leading a force of some 13,000 troops into Western Pennsylvania to put down the Whiskey Rebellion (the first and last time the president served as a commander in chief in the field). Abraham Lincoln, at his inauguration, expected conflict was on the way, as seven Southern states already had seceded since his election. But no one expected the Civil War would last four more years and introduce industrialized warfare. More recently, George W. Bush entered office lamenting “nation building” and would leave it presiding over two massive nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In turn, Barack Obama pledged to responsibly end America’s involvements in these wars. He will leave office not only with forces still there, but also having commanded air and drone war campaigns in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.
The Future of War project is a joint effort of New America and Arizona State, in partnership with Defense One, that brings together a diverse group of experts, whose backgrounds range from Navy SEALs and scientists to historians, journalists, and lawyers. As a lead up to the project’s “Future of War” conference on Mar. 10—which you can livestream here—we asked them:
“What do the 2016 presidential candidates get most wrong about the #FutureofWar?”
Their answers covered areas that ranged from strategy to terrorism, but a theme that cut through was the need to be honest to the American people, and themselves, about what awaits. In an age of TV soundbites and Twitter trolling, let’s hope that whoever wins the upcoming election is the exception to the rule that presidential candidates just don’t get the Future of War.
Read the Remainder at Defense One