09/28/2016 05:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Fortune Favors the Bold

An intelligence surge is appropriate, lawful, timely, necessary, and critical to achieving the foreign policy aims of the next administration.


This election is a turning point for American foreign policy. Disengagement has emboldened our adversaries. Violent, sadistic non-state actors like the Islamic State, Hezbollah, and the Badr Organization pose a threat to United States personnel and installations arrayed across the Middle East. A rising China continues to flex its muscles in cyberspace and the South China Sea. But even more dangerous is the confederacy of an increasingly brazen Russian Federation and its allies in Syria. To confront this constellation of threats, America must go on the offensive. America must lead, not abdicate. Information is power, and to wield it effectively will require an adjustment in national security posture both here and abroad in January 2017.

Even in an era of unprecedented instability, the United States remains an exceptional nation. Despite pleas to put America first, the reality is our security commitments require sustained involvement abroad for centuries. The so-called alternative right populist movement would have America withdraw from the international order and cede hegemony to ascendant powers. This is an exceedingly dangerous and cancerous worldview that must be squelched post-haste.

Globalization has not lessened our status as the indispensable nation, it has strengthened it. We're still the country of Reagan and Kennedy: a great, unselfish, compassionate country. There is no substitute for American leadership. The current array of security challenges demand a bold strategy of relentless engagement, not retrenchment or containment.

With regards to Syria, Iran and Russia should pay a price for their continued meddling and naked support for Assad. We are entering a period of prolonged societal conflict, and it is time to demonstrate American resolve. Russia has begun to challenge the NATO alliance first in Ukraine, and now the Baltic states. ISIS has swept across the Middle East, giving new fuel to questions of Kurdish statehood, Turkey's relationship with NATO, and Iran's role as administrator of the region. Now is the time to demonstrate American leadership.

A good first step would be to craft an elastic authorization that doesn't limit this or any future president in the event no-fly zones or humanitarian corridors are established in Syria. These moves would accompany an increase in military intervention in Syria to include the supply of anti-aircraft weapons to select groups on the ground in Syria to cratering the runways and supply depots with airstrikes and submarine missile strikes Assad needs to sustain the barrel bombing campaign. The United States, in an unclassified forum, remains unmatched in the cyber domain and nation states thinking of contesting the reigning superpower should not.

The contours of this new approach could be seen at the Democratic National Committee where General Allen stated, "To those acting against peace, civilization, and the world order: we will oppose you. " By no means is the United States limited to overt military intervention; we are the nation who captured Saddam Hussein and brought Usama bin Ladin to justice.

Henry Kissinger's strategies in Laos and Chile are also a model of success that should be emulated, not criticized. Critical to advancing American foreign policy will be an acceptance that reinventing the wheel should give way to duplicating past successes of Operations PHOENIX, NOBLE ANVIL, AMBER FOX, CELESTIAL BALANCE, and JUNIPER SHIELD.
The proven synergy of special operations forces working in concert with the interagency, particularly but not exclusively the intelligence community, should be built upon significantly.

Parallel to this shift in doctrine and national security strategy should be a dramatic increase in funding and personnel to support the activities of organizations as varied as the Cyber National Mission Force, the United States Army's Office of Military Support, the Global Engagement Center of the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Transitional Initiatives of the United States Agency for International Development, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, and Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. JMTG-U, which has "the unique responsibility of assisting in strengthening Ukrainian Land Forces interoperability and training capacity", will aid in efforts to partner with and train the Ukranian armed forces to counter Russian aggression now and in the future.

The President has flexibility as the commander in chief and Congress would be wise not to create unnecessary impediments. The statutory authority of the existing authorizations--passed in 2001 and 2002--should not be altered in any meaningful way and should, if anything, be strengthened. It will be necessary to exercise American leadership in this century, and beyond. That means strengthening the President's hand with regards to Article II authority, not limiting it; and expanding the purview of traditional military activities at the Pentagon.

Congress should also move to outlaw de facto support for the Assad regime. The Assad regime facilitated the emergence of Islamic State and is far from being the lesser of two evils. Furthermore, Assad enjoys the twin protection of Russia and Iran. The United States is uniquely positioned to lead an international coalition that removes Assad from power and confronts his benefactors, both economically and militarily. Any legislation that does not afford the next president flexibility to pursue a transition for Assad should be viewed as patently unserious.

While Democrats (and even some Republicans) may view requests for expansive authority as brazen, the current national security strategy as executed by this administration is too restrained. Congress should not tie the hands of our military and intelligence professionals with geographic limitations or time restrictions. Ideally, language of the final authorization should allow for both large-scale ground combat as well as dramatically increased funding for intelligence activities abroad and in cyberspace. Ultimately, any authorization of military force should be elastic enough to allow for unforeseen contingencies and directly address a resurgent Russia, a belligerent Iran, and the white-hot radical ferocity of an ISIS.

This Republican-led Congress has done little with regard to Syria and telegraphs a clear preference for disengagement, abdication, and restraint. The passage of a robust and enduring authorization to use military force that supersedes the 2001 AUMF is an opportunity to rectify this oversight in its role as the legislative branch. In the course of its deliberations, Congress should aim to craft language that brings to bear every element of national power to resource what is unarguably a generational struggle.

While these efforts will not always require deployment of combat troops, the bulk of the fighting can be done by moderate groups vetted by our partners on the ground, unilaterally in the cyber domain, or a combination of both under the auspices of a covert action program. Working in tandem, our special operations forces and the Central Intelligence Agency would keep up a relentless pressure on the enemy while conventional forces and our diplomatic and development agencies built capacity and reassurance.

It is incredibly difficult for an opposing force to distinguish enemy combatants from noncombatants. And because insurgents weave themselves into the population and society, investing in an intelligence community that understands our future adversaries and moves away from a reliance on intercepts will be critical to success. While signals intelligence collection remains a critical capability, a reinvestment in human intelligence and the application of its core principles in cyberspace will be required to maintain an overwhelming and decisive edge over America's adversaries. An intelligence surge, here and abroad, is appropriate, lawful, and necessary.

Confronting radical Islam and resurgent nation states is not an impossible task but will require all instruments of national power. Congress can play a vital role in this endeavor by appropriating the resources to ensure success. Fully resourcing the State Department, Commerce Department, Agriculture Department, and USAID will be as important as reversing the damaging, unintended effects of sequester on our military and intelligence community.

But the United States cannot win this fight alone. It takes a network to fight a network, and to confront emergent threats like ISIS and cyber attacks requires a coalition. What is needed is a network operating at the speed of the enemy, on the ground and in cyberspace, keeping boot to neck. There should be serious political, economic, and military responses for any provocation in cyberspace or elsewhere. We must not let the adversary outpace us in cyberspace or anywhere else, and public-private partnerships will be key to turning the tide.

The international community will look to the next administration and its first few official actions to gauge the seriousness of American leadership in the 21st century. Presidential transition teams for both parties should prepare for unforeseen crises and assemble teams of dedicated professionals committed to strengthening, not weakening, the international order. Disengagement and disinterest have not worked to advance our foreign policy aims the past eight years or at any time during the past two centuries of this nations existence.
It is time to stand tall against our adversaries and with our allies. Fortune favors the bold.

The above, excerpted from Fortune Favors The Bold: Principled Leadership In A New American Century, has been republished from the deliverable with the express permission of the client.