Friday, February 27, 2009

State and DOD differences on regional organizations are driven by underlying structural factors

This graphic shows the discrepancy between State and DOD regional organizations that the NSA, Gen. James Jones, said he was going to resolve (We'll see). Generally I like State’s org, but it's important to understand that the logic of these structures are driven by State and DOD's fundamentally different way of engaging the world. Not just defense vs. diplomacy. It's DOD's regional approach vs. States fundamentally bilateral view of the world.

For instance South Asia though DOD made a deliberate decision not to put Pakistan and India in the same command, the to better facilitate relations between the COCOMs and the leaders of those countries. Since the Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia isn’t really the US face for Pakistan or India, it isn’t a problem for the current bilateral State model. If State were to really empower a regional authority, issues like Pakistan/India would have to be carefully thought out.

The defense/diplomacy divide also matters, the mission sets. To some degree AFRICOM makes sense for the DOD as it's currently structured. The State Department's model would make addressing transnational threats in the region more difficult, like the AQIM. AQIM is most active in Algeria, but also have rudimentary training camps in Mali. Conversely it's important to the State Department needs to account for the important relations between North African states and the Middle East proper (Morocco was key in the Israel-Egypt rapprochement) .

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