Home / Charli Carpenter / Quizzical Defense Rhetoric (QDR)

Quizzical Defense Rhetoric (QDR)


Finally had a look at the 2010 QDR on the plane to New Orleans yesterday. I don’t mean to poke fun of our defense establishment’s hard work. I promise I’ll have some kind of substantive comment on the human security dimensions of the QDR once I’ve fully digested it. But until then, I can’t help but pass along – just for fun – these rhetorical nuggets that jumped out at me:

p. v: “America’s enduring effort to advance common interests without resort to arms is a hallmark of its stewardship in the international system.”

Given the number of armed conflicts in which the US is currently embroiled – and the fact that its use of arms without UN backing is one of key reasons for the decline in US soft power over the last decade – this seemed like an oddly out-of-touch statement.

p. vi: “Until such time as the Administrations’ goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is achieved, nuclear capabilities will be maintained as a core mission for the Department of Defense.”

Oxymorons, anyone?

Finally, readers familiar with Carol Cohn’s work on the sexual politics of defense jargon might have fun with this quotation:

p. x: “US naval forces will continue to be capable of robust forward presence and power projection operations, even as they add capabilities and capacity for working with a wide range of partner navies.”

In pursuing these robust forward power projections with multiple “partner navies,” the QDR directs the following “enhancements” to US “force structure” on p. ix:

“Exploit advantages in subsurface operations;

Increase the resiliency of US forward posture and base infrastructure;

Enhance the robustness of key ISR capabilities;

Secure vulnerable nuclear materials…”

And finally my favorite, a section on pg. 31 entitled “Deter and Defeat Aggression in Anti-Access Environments”

“Anti-access strategies seek to deny outside countries the ability to project power into a region, thereby allowing aggression or other destabilizing actions to be conducted by the anti-access power. Without dominant US capabilities to project power, the integrity of US alliances and security partnerships could be called into question, reducing US security and influence and increasing the possibility of conflict.”

Go wild, commenters.

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