Max Boot: America's 'Pacific Pivot' Craze





Max Boot, a contributing editor to Opinion, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present.

Is there any organization outside of Hollywood more prey to intellectual fads than the Department of Defense?
 
A decade ago the buzzword around the Pentagon was "transformation." Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wanted to force radical change to take advantage of information technology. So the individual services took to justifying every program, even hulking tanks and massive aircraft carriers, as "transformational."
 
Then, as the armed forces became more deeply embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan, the buzzword became counterinsurgency, or "COIN." The Army and Marine Corps retooled themselves to fight insurgents. The Navy and Air Force felt left behind, so they took to rebranding everything they did as COIN-related. I remember a fatuous briefing from an Air Force general in Afghanistan who solemnly informed me that his MPs were doing COIN around their own air base, which just happened to be located in one of the most insurgent-free areas of the entire country.
 
Now the buzzword du jour is "Pacific," as in "Pacific pivot."..


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