McCaffrey's Insights

By Marjorie Censer / September 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Obama administration faces significant national security challenges today -- and should expect even more in the future, according to a recent briefing prepared by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

The document, available on McCaffrey's Web site and dated July 23, identifies nine "insights" into the United States national security strategy, including a "dramatic turn for the better" for the war in Iraq, a continued proliferation of nation states with weapons of mass destruction and a prediction that the war in Afghanistan "will go to high-order violence in 2009-2011."

The briefing slides say the "extremely capable and experienced Obama Administration national security team" should "create a foreign policy that takes into account a failing U.S. economy, disenchantment with the Bush/Rumsfeld misjudgments, and enormous animosity to perceived U.S. arrogance and unilateralism."

They argue that diplomacy and international development assistance are under resourced and that U.S. military intervention "must be the tool of last resort."

Though Iraq is a growing success, the slides say, Afghanistan is in peril and Mexico needs additional support from the United States. (McCaffrey also spoke extensively today on Mexico; see our report.)

In the future, McCaffrey warns, relations with Russia will grow more hostile, and North Korea "will come apart." He also says "the situation in Pakistan is unstable" and Iran "will go nuclear and create instability in the Persian Gulf."

Other potential concerns identified by McCaffrey include the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, confrontation with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as well as strategic challenges in the United States, such as the recession, health care and transportation infrastructure.