Watching a few TED/CSIS/Albright Center videos on my week off of class and it got me thinking. There are some issues that need to be addressed and aren't being to the degree.
-Our chronic lack of intelligence on the ground. We've gotten (as a country) have gotten into an 'device' heavy Intelligence community. The man in the field (or woman) working assets to get information on what is going on. The intelligence community is still a lot of 'theres an app for that' rather than taking time to cultivate networks. The fallout of things like the Valerie Plame outing and more recently Wikileaks release has impacted in the field. We are suffering from a lack of trust, investment (in time, money and trust).
-Looking at growing stable countries and economies rather than 'allies of the moment'. One of the CSIS videos had a comment from someone who was dealing with the leadership in Afghanistan who said that we were dealing with leaders who focused strictly on their clans and people and the idea of 'true' cooperation isn't the affair of the day. A TED Lecture by Maajid Nawaz was very enlightening. It covered how extermism was out pacing the moderate reform movements. I particularly appreciated this as he himself was an extremist. We need to rebuild 'infrastructure' with our allies. Stable countries aren't always what we've gone looking for in the past. A lot of the problems that Egypt and Turkey are suffering from today are part and parcel from our efforts to build 'walls' between us and the soviet union. A change in outlook and instead of building dependent countries led by men who have been bought by us, we need to start thinking about building allies and peers. Countries that in time will be strong, stable and able to play in the same arena as us. Of course, that means instead of doing something like we did with Iraq and what we're doing in Afghanistan. That requires: a group of countries to help, Intelligence, and the acceptance that it will take time.
Lots of stuff out there if you're willing to listen/watch hour+ talks.