November 7, 2016

A NEW SOLARIUM WARGAME?: Steve Metz says a 2017 edition of Ike’s 1953 analytic game would help “re-set” US global strategy. I wonder if Metz’ Solarium 2017 will be classified or could be kept classified — fair question given Hillary’s record. Ike’s “seminar-type game” was top secret and remained top secret until the mid-1980s. Ike’s Project Solarium analysis produced a Top Secret document, NSC 162/2, which articulated the strategic concepts that guided US Cold War security policy. Note I said guided, not dictated. To use a phrase Metz uses, it provided “conceptual clarity.” As Metz notes, during the Cold War the US could focus on one primary opponent, the USSR. After 1991 the bi-polar world faded and multi-polar conflicts returned. Since then there have scores (if not hundreds) of serious attempts to do what Metz advises, “reassess the fundamental organizing concepts of American security” in a multi-polar world. Some of these attempts have used Solarium-like methods.

Did these assessments have the president’s focused attention? I doubt they did. It was different in 1953. Ike possessed one of the country’s finest strategic minds. He was a highly experienced Army officer who understood the benefits conducting “structured, participatory thinking exercises” — that’s a phrase I’ve used to describe seminar-type war games. Ike initiated Solarium and made the final assessment of the team reports. We don’t have an Ike in the White House now, and we won’t in 2017.

Which is actually a good reason to conduct a Solarium 2017. Solarium 2017 would be a valuable training exercise for our new president.

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